Heart Work

Done!!  Just finished writing thank you notes for some of the gifts I received this Christmas.  The gifts themselves were small things, inexpensive items but quite unexpected; from residents of the apartment complex where I work.  Actually, I am always surprised when anyone gives me a gift, even on those occasions like Christmas when gift exchange is expected, I am surprised at the thoughtfulness of the people in my life.  Of the Five Love Languages, Gifts is not one of mine so getting a gift, especially from someone I hardly know is very surprising to me.  I enjoy giving gifts if I get an inspiration or see something I know is perfect for the recipient, otherwise giving becomes more of a chore since I am not a big fan of shopping malls or stores.

Recently, I was challenged to think about the gift Jesus would like from me.  What gift do I give to the person who quite literally has everything and already has my heart?  The Book of Leviticus contains verse after verse describing in great detail the who, what, why, where, when and how of God’s commands on sacrifices.  There were times bulls, rams, goats, birds and unleavened bread were to be offered.  Sacrifices must be unblemished and without defect.  Different occasions, sins and situations demanded different sacrifices.  All of this seems so alien and odd in today’s culture and to me; it is difficult to relate to and causes my mind heart and stomach to rebel at the thought of so much blood, work and ritual.

The OT God who demanded this level of sacrifice and dedication has not changed but I am not under the old covenant of law but under the new covenant of grace and since it is the same God some form of sacrifice, of gift, seems appropriate but what?

I found my answer in Romans 12:1.

Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies, a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Myself, God wants me, all of me, my heart and my body, I am to be a living sacrifice.  All the OT sacrifices were dead, killed before being placed on the altar, God wants me to place myself on a symbolic altar and by His strength, to stay there when everything in me is screaming to jump off.  God wants me holy as He is holy, Jesus has covered my sin defects and blemishes, my sacrifice is to remain unblemished but when I do sin (and I will) to quickly confess my sin (blemishes and defects).   All of this process, this life style of sacrifice and awareness that I belong to God and am not my own, is worship.

Worship of God as He is, pure, holy, majestic, awesome, just, righteous, merciful, wise, loving, good, long-suffering, infinite, self-sufficient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal.  Worship that no longer follows a ritual or pattern but is from the heart.  Worship is a life lived God’s way, putting God first, others second and myself last.  Worship that only God can inspire and the Holy Spirit enable me to offer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Jesus.  Here is my gift of worship and here is my open and teachable heart;  I can’t do it without you, so teach me how to be a worshipper, offering my humble and flawed spiritual service to you.

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