Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:14-15 NIV
I’m always saddened when the shelves in the store go directly from Halloween costumes to Christmas trees. While I love the Christmas season, I can’t help but feel like it’s just another example of the world trying to cut God out of the conversation. I think it would be really hard to have Thanksgiving without God, and yet I think we’re all more guilty of that than we think.
Turns out, we get it honestly, as thanksgiving without God has been common practice since the beginning of time, sadly even with God’s “chosen people”. The Israelites were taught to make sacrifices to the Lord to atone for sins. But in Psalm 50, we read about something more important to Him than just the ritual of sacrifices. God addresses a heart issue that is often present in all our rituals of thanksgiving.
Paraphrasing, the Lord says,
I’m not rebuking you for the ritual of sacrifice, but I want you to understand that I have no NEED for it. I do not eat the flesh or drink the blood. If I were hungry, I certainly would not need you to feed me as every creature is mine!
Certainly makes sense! So, what does God want from us in our sacrifices?
While the Israelites thought they were being “obedient” in their rituals, God says it means nothing to Him unless our hearts are right in the ritual.
I desire mercy, not sacrifice; acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 NIV
What He desires more than sacrifice is our TRUE thanksgiving and praise. In this, we acknowledge our need for Him in our lives!
As we partake in the ritual of turkey and stuffing and gathering around the table with family, hear God saying,
I have no need for “traditions”. It’s not about just coming together on your day off from work. What my heart longs for is your heartfelt thanksgiving and praise!
Not because we want anything from Him or even because of anything He’s done for us this past year; but just because He alone is worthy to be praised and we need Him in our lives!
Write down all your Thanksgiving traditions which you observe. You know the ones you do every year and the ones that would “ruin” Thanksgiving if they were not done. Now, take a look and circle which ones you do just because He is worthy; perhaps consider adding one new tradition this year which would fit that last category.
I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. Psalm 50:8-15 NIV
Father, Thank You for loving us enough to not allow us to continue in our religious ways. Thank You for Your pursuit of us. Forgive us for cutting You out of our holidays, especially the ONE designed to turn our heads and hands upward in thanksgiving. Thank You for who You are. You alone are worthy of all our praise! In Jesus’ Name, Amen! Amen!