What Sacrifices is God Pleased With Today
A couple of Wednesdays ago we looked at Jeremiah chapter 6 and saw how God said He was not pleased with their sacrifices. Jer 6:20 To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me. The people where bringing not just any incense, they were importing it from a far country. They were coming to services and bringing sacrifices on the Sabbath. The problem was that their heart was not in it. And during the rest of the week they were worshiping false gods on every high hill and under every green tree. Their devotion was really to idols of wood and stone.
In the last verse of chapter 6 God says The Lord hath rejected them. The people thought they were ok with God for several reasons. They had preachers preaching peace peace when there was no peace. False teachers helped sooth their conscience. They also where the seed of Abraham the father of the faith, and God had called them His chosen people. They thought that their bloodline made them ok with God. And they had the location. They had the temple. God’s house. And they showed up at the right time of the week at the right building and did the right things. They were worshipping God, but He was not pleased with it and rejected it.
I said when we went over Jeremiah chapter 6 that one of the great things about our Lord is that He never just tells us what is wrong. He will also tell us what is right. He never only tells us what displeases Him, He also tells us what does please Him. He does not leave us scratching our heads or in the dark guessing. He gives us all the information we need so that we can know. And that is a good thing. We can make good informed decisions. The Lord tells us both what is not pleasing to Him and He tells us what is pleasing to Him. We saw in Jeremiah the type of worship that displeases Him.
We are going to look at what pleases Him out of Hebrews chapter 13.
And I said that in Jeremiah you can also see what kind of worship does please Him, and I was going to also show that out of Jeremiah, but I think the Lord wants us to look at that from the New Testament. In their day they had a specific special location and that alone did not make their worship pleasing to God. There are many people today that still think that because of the building or location that God is pleased or in some cases even impressed. Some would never go to a church plant that is in a store front. They only want the big church building. But the external is not what pleases God. The location is not important.
This topic of where to worship came up when Jesus was talking to the woman at the well.
Joh 4:19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
Joh 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
So she asked our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but Jews say in Jerusalem. She perceived that Jesus was a prophet and is basically asking a question.
Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Joh 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Jesus said the time is already come where the location does not matter. God is not looking for that. Jesus clearly said what God desires. The Father seeks people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is talking about from the heart and according to truth. His truth. His Word. According to how He wants. Where in the Bible can we find clear direction on what He is pleased with.
There are many places. The end of the book of Hebrews is one place and that is what we are going to look at this morning. Go to Hebrews chapter 13. While you find that some context. In Hebrews chapter 12 a comparison is made between the law, the old covenant and Jesus who brought a new covenant. Between the law which is hard and threatening and condemns men and how it was removed and how we have received a kingdom which cannot be moved. Salvation thru Jesus cannot be moved. Since that is true let us have grace and let us serve God acceptably with reverence. That is the premise of the end of chapter 12.
How do we do that? Chapter 13 tells us. In some bibles there will be a heading over chapter 13 that says Sacrifices pleasing to God. And I want to you to notice something as we go thru this list. Nowhere does it say only on one day of the week. Yes we gather once a week, and for many reasons. To sing together, to learn, to be encouraged, just to name a few. But doing what Jesus said worshiping in spirit and in truth is to be done every day.
Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
The first thing he talks about in this list of what we are to do that pleases God is Let brotherly love continue. Jesus said the greatest commandment was love God and the second is love your neighbor as yourself. When we do this, God is pleased.
Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
And this love is not to only be limited to people we know. I believe the some have entertained angels unawares could be a reference to an Old Testament event where a man and his wife cooked a meal for a stranger and it turned out to be an angel. This is given as an example for this principal. You have no idea what may come of your kindness. You have no idea of how God is working. You might think you are only doing a small kindness to someone, but it might turn out to be something much bigger. Something that would have never crossed your mind. So we have brotherly love, and kindness showed to strangers and third we have compassion.
Heb 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Remember them that are in bonds. Some clarification here is needed.
The book of Hebrews had to be written before 70 A.D. because the people who he was writing to still had the temple. That was destroyed in 70 A.D. The closer you get to 70 A.D. the more Christianity has spread thru the Roman Empire.
Hebrews was written between 64 and 67 A.D. Persecution from the Roman Empire is in high gear. Christians are being put in jail for their faith. It says remember them as bound with them. Put yourself in their shoes. Really consider what they are going thru. It says them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Care about the hard times that someone else is going thru. Care like it was happing to you. I think the entire verse implies that the remember is talking more about remember as in do something for them if you can. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And if you were suffering what would you want someone else to do for you.
Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
God is pleased when we keep pure in that area. Keep your promise to your wife or husband.
Heb 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Everything you say and everything you do communicates. In the Bible when it says let your conversation be, it is talking about everything about you that communicates. It includes the words you say and how you act. Let your conversation be without covetousness. And be content with what you have. And attached to this is the declaration of His promise that He will never leave thee nor forsake thee. That means He is with you and that means He knows exactly everything that you have and everything that you do not have.
So have some faith. If the Lord wanted me to have something, He will let me have it, and if I don’t have it, then I should have faith that there is some reason. Maybe it would not really be good for me in the long run. The bottom line is God is pleased when we trust in Him and when we choose to be content. He is pleased when we consider Him our helper.
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Faith in Him, in His presence, Faith that He is indeed with us Pleases Him. He wants to be trusted and counted upon. He is pleased when we believe that He has our best in mind.
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
He is pleased when we follow, careful here, when we follow the faith of those. Not following the man. Following the faith that he has. Whose faith follow.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Heb 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
God is pleased when we do not chase after and get carried away by false teaching. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then His teaching would also be the same. God is pleased when the truths that we believe are stable. Solid bible based truth is what pleases God. Remember Jesus said He wants people to worship in spirit and in truth. Truth does not change it is stable. God is pleased when we stand for and hold to truth and when we reject false teaching.
In verses 10 thru 14 an illustration is given that is pulled from the Old Testament. When preaching the men who wrote scripture often pulled in other verses to back up their point. Here he refers back to the Tabernacle. The instructions were given in Exodus and it was used for hundreds of years.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
Heb 13:11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
Heb 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Heb 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
Heb 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
In that system, when they brought the blood into the sanctuary for sin (Once a year the high priest would atone for the sins of the people) He would take the blood into the holy of holy place and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat. Forgiveness happens because of mercy. The body that paid for that atonement would be taken outside the camp. It was a picture that sin would be paid for outside the camp. A foreshadowing that Jesus would pay for our sins outside the gate. Outside the camp. Those who were reproached where cast out. Jesus is pleased when we are willing to go outside our sinful society and stand with Him.
So far in this list we have.
Let brother love continue, kindness showed to strangers and compassion for the adversity and suffering of others. Keeping your promise to your wife or husband. He is please when we have faith to be content and faith that He is our helper. He is pleased when we follow the faith of those who preach, and He is pleased when we follow and stand for truth. And the one we just went over not being ashamed to stand with Him outside the camp.
Quite a list. A list of 9 good things. But we are not quite done. We have two really big ones left to go. Much of the book of Hebrews is comparing the worship and the type of sacrifices that they used in the Old Testament for worship to the much better covenant that is found in Jesus. And here at the end of the book we have a list of the type of spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God.
Heb 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
The sacrifice of praise to God and it clarifies it when it says, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. This is not the praise of singing being discussed here. It is the praise to God of saying thank you. God is pleased when we tell Him thank you.
A soldier in the American Third Army was sent to a rest camp after a period of active service. When he returned to his outfit, he wrote a letter to General George Patton and thanked him for the splendid care he had received. General Patton wrote back that for 35 years he has sought to give all the comfort and convenience he could to his men. And added that this was the first letter of thanks he had received in all his years in the army.
Since the nice polite right thing to do is say thank you, you would expect many thank you’s but 35 years he got only one.
Now the Lord is much more deserving of thanks and the Lord has done far more for us than any general ever did for his soldiers. But sad to say many do not return to tell the Lord thank you.
When Jesus healed 10 lepers only one came back to say thank you.
Luk 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
It is clear that Jesus expected to be told thank you. He is very pleased when we give Him the sacrifice of thanks.
How can praising God by giving thanks be called a sacrifice?
A sacrifice is when you give something that you have. You give it up voluntarily. When you stop and tell God thank you, you are giving your time to do it. You are giving your thoughts to do it. You are giving up other things that you could be doing at that moment. You are giving up your pride. Some do not say thank you because they think that they deserve it. And you are giving Him glory.
Luk 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
Luk 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
Luk 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
Luk 17:18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
This stranger that returned to give thanks, returned to give glory to God. He put God first. Stopped what he was doing and gave the sacrifice of praise giving thanks unto God. This can be easy when things are going great. But it can be hard when things are not so great. I had a hard time with this when I went thru my 3 year illness. But even when in pain and hard times there are still many things that the Lord deserves to be thanked for.
Thank God for the comfort of a bed
A pillow soft beneath my head,
The blankets warm, the elderdown
To cover me when I lie down;
Four walls secure, a roof above,
All prove to me that God is love.
Thank God for the cozy sitting room
All tidied, clean swept with a broom
For the one who labors day by day
For the place of rest, and place of play
The blazing fire and easy chair
All tokens of my Father’s care.
Thank God ‘tis not by these alone
I prove His love; I freely own
A greater proof –at Calvary,
The gift of His own Son for me;
So take from me all earthly bliss,
I still can prove this love of His.
And He is pleased when we give the sacrifice of praise giving thanks to Him.
How can we do this in hard times? How can we do this when it is hard? Vs. 15
Heb 13:15 By him therefore
He will empower us. By him therefore. He has the grace. A good prayer to God would be Lord I want to be more thankful. I want to give you the praise of giving thanks more than I do. I realize you are worthy, please help me in this area. Ask that with the right heart and I believe God will help you with that.
Heb 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Do good. God is well pleased with such sacrifices. Plural. God is pleased when we give up our selfishness and our pride and instead give of our hearts, our time, our actions and our prayers to give Him such sacrifices.
And we need to do it in spirit and in truth.