In these verses, the psalmist steps aside and God comes to testify against the people. As in Isaiah’s time, worship has become a time to glorify self. The people misunderstand sacrifice; they are not walking the talk. Worshiping God rightly requires more than a perfunctory expression. It involves genuine engagement of the whole person. God has less interest in what we have to offer that is external to ourselves (sacrifices, gifts, the forms of observance). God seeks us.
The people have forgotten God, so God as judge tells them to “mark this.” God calls for a renewal of commitment and states that the offering that pleases God comes through the sacrifice of thanksgiving. When we praise God we declare our awe at who God is in God’s being, wisdom, power, and holiness. Through thanksgiving we acknowledge God’s specific acts of blessing and benefit visited upon us as God’s children.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul prescribes an antidote for worry and anxiety. He tells us to bring our prayers and specific requests before God. He also encourages us to mix this with thanksgiving. Why? Because taking time to be thankful lessens the load of our burden. Our anxieties don’t seem as large when compared to the manifold grace of God experienced in our life. And the refrain in Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:7 is that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
As a pastor I have observed families going through the most difficult circumstances imaginable with a calm dignity and quiet certainty that can only be explained as God’s peace that passes understanding. Invariably, this peace grows out of a sense of gratitude for the sustaining power of God—the salvation of God.
God, may we count and name our many blessings received at your hands. Amen.
ThelessonfromIsaiahandthepsalmcallthe people of God to “Hear!” The message has to do with sacri ces and burnt offerings: God does not want them! The sacri cial system had come to be understood as a means of attempting to manipulate God for self-centered purposes, and the texts there- fore call for worship that is God-centered. The Gospel lesson also calls the people of God to decision. Our use of nancial resources is inextricably linked to our conviction that the future and our destiny lie ultimately with God. What we believe about the future affects how we live in the present. This af rmation is precisely the message of Hebrews. The entrusting of one’s life and future to God is “the reality of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen.” For those who trust in God’s reign, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
• Read Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. In what ways can you let go of a self-centered focus in worship?
• Read Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23. What are your antidotes to worry? How do they allow you to deal with anxieties in your life?
• Read Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. What allows you to focus on the awe and wonder of being held in God’s grace?
• Read Luke 12:32-40. Where do you see God at work in your life? How is this awareness a part of having your “lamp lit”?
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