THE PRESENCE AND POWER
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
  Job 8-10 | Acts 8:26-40

“When anyone brings from the herd or flock a fellowship offering to the LORD to fulfil a special vow or as a freewill offering, it must be without defect or blemish to be acceptable.” —Leviticus 22:21

There are people who feel they have only a little taste of the presence of God, and that the power of God in their lives is so rarely evident. This is not unique to our day, but can be traced back to the Israelites when their worship of God was seen in sacrificial offerings brought to the tabernacle and later to the temple in Jerusalem.

Although the Israelites followed the right procedures, they were unmoved in their worship of God and God was unimpressed. The reason is not hard to track down. Through the prophet Malachi, God says to the people, “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you?” (Malachi 1:8).

The Lord required animals without defect, but the people were short-changing God, bringing blind, crippled and diseased animals. Despite their sacrifices being offered with wailing and weeping, God did not find favour with them. In their attitude toward the sacrificial rituals, the people were clearly violating God’s command, but this was only a symptom of the real problem, which was their attitude toward God.

It was with God the people needed to do business. They wanted His blessings, but they had vested interests of their own, and tried to synchronize the two together. They believed in the need to approach God through the sacrificial system, but why give the best of their livestock when they could get away with offering a maimed animal? With the acquiescence of the priests, the people thought they could cheat God by simply going through the right procedures. There was no substance, no honesty ?with God, only ritual. If they were going to experience God, then God required a relationship rooted in intimacy and honesty.

In the same way, we can religiously say our prayers, read our Bibles, attend church and engage in Christian service yet remain spiritually barren. Though these have important functions they are simply an aid to spiritual life, not the substance. If we are going to experience the presence and power of God, then we cannot put the cart before the horse. Our practices and service must not become a substitute for God in the hopes He will work in our lives, but must come out of a living, active relationship with God. It is the centrality of Christ in our lives that breathes vitality, and moves us to be who He wants us to be. The Christian life thrives in intimate union with Christ, and this is where we truly experience the presence and power of God in our lives.

PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, keep me free of empty religious procedures. My earnest prayer is for a deepening and strengthening relationship with You. Thank You, Lord.


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