“For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.” Psalm 51:16-19
The Joy of Religious Expression
God takes no delight in heartless sacrifice. He does not delight in religious expression when the heart is far from Him. When sin dominates, religious rites offend God. However, God loves our tangible acts of worship. He loves our worship when our hearts are engaged. In verse 16, David stated God’s displeasure with sacrifices. However, just two sentences later in verse 18, he states that God delights in sacrifices. What a difference verse 17 makes! When we have contrite and broken hearts before God, He receives our worship. The heart of the worshiper is the difference in God’s attitude toward our worship. David distinguished between the sacrifice offered in verse 18 from the rejected sacrifice described in 16 with the word “righteous.” God loves “righteous sacrifices.” God distains religious expression offered without a right relationship with Him. God is a God of relationships. If our relationship with Him isn’t right, no amount of religious actions can bridge the relationship. But God loves it when we use tangible expressions to worship Him when our relationship with Him is right. When we approach Him in humility and contrition for sin, He welcomes our worship because He is a God of relationships. As we approach this coming Sunday, now is the time to prepare our hearts, minds and bodies for a time of worship. There is great joy in bringing to God tangible expression of our love for Him.
God, prepare my heart for worship. Use the gathering of the church and our offering of song, prayer, service, fellowship and giving as a means to please You and to fill our hearts with joy. Reveal to us any areas that are causing a barrier to our relationship with You. Refine us and restore us. Maximize our worship of You and Maximize our joy in our relationship with You. Amen.
Sermon by John Wesley, The New Birth
“Ye must be born again.” John 3:7
Before a child is born into the world he has eyes, but sees not; he has ears, but does not hear. He has a very imperfect use of any other sense. He has no knowledge of any of the things of the world, or any natural understanding. To that manner of existence which he then has, we do not even give the name of life. It is then only when a man is born, that we say he begins to live. For as soon as he is born, be begins to see the light, and the various objects with which he is encompassed. His ears are then opened, and he hears the sounds which successively strike upon them. At the same time, all the other organs of sense begin to be exercised upon their proper objects. He likewise breathes, and lives in a manner wholly different from what he did before. While a man is in a mere natural state, before he is born of God, he has, in a spiritual sense, eyes and sees not; a thick impenetrable veil lies upon them; he has ears, but hears not; he is utterly deaf to what he is most of all concerned to hear. His other spiritual senses are all locked up: He is in the same condition as if he did not have them. Hence he has no knowledge of God; he is not at all acquainted with him. He has no true knowledge of the things of God, either of spiritual or eternal things; therefore, though he is a living man, he is a dead. But as soon as he is born of God, there is a total change in all these particulars. The “eyes of his understanding are opened;” (such is the language of the great Apostle;) and, He who of old “commanded light to shine out of darkness shining on his heart, he sees the light of the glory of God,” his glorious love, “in the face of Jesus Christ.” His ears being opened, he is now capable of hearing the inward voice of God, saying, “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you;” “go and sin no more.” This is the purpose of what God speaks to his heart; although perhaps not in these very words. He is now ready to hear whatsoever “He that teaches us knowledge” is pleased, from time to time, to reveal to him. He “feels in his heart,” to use the language of our Church, “the mighty working of the Spirit of God;” not in a gross, carnal sense as the men of the world stupidly and willfully misunderstand the expression; though they have been told again and again, we mean thereby neither more nor less than this: He feels, is inwardly sensible of, the graces which the Spirit of god works in his heart. He feels, he is conscious of, a “peace which passes all understanding.” He many times feels such a joy in God as is “unspeakable, and full of glory.” He feels “the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him;” and all his spiritual senses are then exercised to discern spiritual good and evil. By the use of these, he is daily increasing in the knowledge of God, of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent and to all the things pertaining to his inward kingdom. And now he may be properly said to live: God having quickened him by his Spirit, he is alive to God through Jesus Christ. He lives a life which the world knows not, a “life which is hid with Christ in God.” God is continually breathing, as it were, upon the soul; and his soul is breathing unto God. Grace is descending into his heart; and prayer and praise ascending to heaven: And by this intercourse between God and man, this fellowship with the Father and the Son, as by a kind of spiritual respiration, the life of God in the soul is sustained; and the child of God grows up, till he comes to the “full measure of the stature of Christ.”