Isa 56-59; Psalm 70; 1 Cor 16

Something is stirring inside…

Over the summer, I read an amazing book by Dr. Kevin Leman called ‘First Born Advantage’… in the book they describe, a bit too accurately, the qualities and characteristics of the first born child. Some of the qualities described included being analytical, always learning to improve oneself; we’re driven… have big plans and dreams… we demand a lot from ourselves. I share this because lately, I’ve been feeling as though as much as I love my Lord and want to do life God’s way, I don’t feel I’m doing enough or doing life with my Savior as He wants it to be. After much reflection this summer, I don’t believe it’s about doing more, rather doing better with what I am doing for my Savior… quality vs. quantity.

Isaiah 58 shook me… in essence, it spoke “I want your real and genuine worship, not just your actions.” More substance than what appears to be depth from the outside. Do I offer my Lord the real and genuine worship He desires? Do I still have residuals of my old-school thinking that the more I do the more He’ll love me? I remember when I was a young boy giving my father a birthday card with just my name signed on the inside. My father asked me… “Where are the words?” Pointing to the written words by Hallmark, I replied…“They’re in there… see? And, I signed the card…” My father told me… gently, but firmly, “I want to read your words… they mean more to me than any gift you can give me because they come from your heart!” I believe he was onto something… depth is a matter of the heart and it holds immense value to those who love you.

Only Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us God’s salvation, but lately, I’ve been asking myself… what does it take to please God? Does this include a set of to-do’s?

Many of us accept His gift of salvation as a gift we can’t earn; hence the term ‘gift’; only to strive from that point to earn His approval. A backward approach, actually. Remember, He accepted us when He saw us as sinful and unforgiven, we don’t have to earn His acceptance after we have Jesus’ sacrifice cleanse us.

God knows we will sin even after we accept His salvation. The point where people confuse whether they have His ongoing acceptance centers on their wholeheartedness in making Him Lord. Do we commit our lives to Him for real? God sees through phony attempts to appear righteous. He knows the state of every soul, whether it truly wants Him or not. Any spiritual act that doesn’t come from a heart devoted to Him disgusts the Lord because it mocks His limitless knowledge and His right to our unhindered worship.

Our Lord is most pleased when He sees honest desire to please Him. Everyone makes a mess of things from time to time, but God is pleased, regardless when He looks into a person’s soul and sees His Son’s mark of salvation and a heart that seeks to become more like Himself.

If we are His children, then He rejoices over us, and He is even more pleased when our hearts continue to move towards Him honestly, not trying to cover up for devotion that should be there, but isn’t.

Let us commit to keeping it real with our Savior, and don’t doubt His pleasure over us, His accepted children!

Heavenly Father… please help me to be honest with You. Father, thank you for seeing me as more than a collection of actions. I am so grateful that You look for genuine devotion and refuse to accept half-hearted, self-centered attempts to take all I can get from You. Amen!

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

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