1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?
2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. Is. 66:1-3
If someone asked me who the greatest singer of all time is, straight off I would answer: Whitney Houston. There is no question about that, as far as I am concerned. Whitney had the sweetest voice I ever heard.
Now, let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that Whitney sang for the Lord. The sad fact associated with this is that, in all probability God might not have been aware either of her sweet voice or her touching lyrics. This is because it is not our sweet voices nor the beauty of our lyrics that move God. What moves God is the heart – a humble and repentant heart. A repentant heart is a heart that can turn around from its sinful ways and begin obeying God. I do not know if Whitney had a humble and repentant heart. The only thing I am sure of is that her sweet voice wouldn’t move God an inch unless she had that kind of heart. In order to please God, we need to walk in the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is the revelation of the gospel? Revelation is having God’s viewpoint. Revelation is knowing what pleases God. There are many things that believers do believing that in doing them they are pleasing God. But there is only one thing that we can do to truly please God: it is to see things as God sees them and by the grace of God align our lives with that vision.
When we have God’s viewpoint, we see things differently. Let us take the example of a pastor who has 10,000 members in his church. That’s a good thing – taking so many people to heaven! But if that pastor’s sights are set on the numbers, then he does not see things as God sees. He has no revelation.
On the other hand, if that same pastor can see the transformation that is needed in his church members’ lives through the working of the cross, and desire that transformation to be effected in even one person amongst these 10,000, then that pastor is walking in the revelation of the gospel. He has realized that God is interested in a transformation, not numbers.
Unfortunately, many pastors rejoice in the numbers.
But the New Testament is full of exhortations to believers to desire to be transformed and to grow in grace. God is not pleased when we remain babes all our lives, even babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-3).
God desires all men to be saved, but the Kingdom of God is not about numbers. On the contrary, it is about transformed lives, no matter they may be few (Mat. 7:13). That is why, when it comes to praising and worshiping God, we cannot attempt to persuade God with our sweet voices and wonderful lyrics. God listens to our singing with a spiritual ear, an ear set on the condition of our hearts.
God is looking for transformed people!
In any case, there is nothing we can ‘surprise’ God with. God says in verse 2: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD”.
God is the creator of all things.
But – surprise! – there is one thing that is outside the realm of God. There is something that God did not create. That thing is sin. Incredibly, this sin nature lives in us! But sin separates man from God.
The only thing, therefore, that we can do to truly surprise God is when we allow His revelation to come into our hearts and there bring about a transformation. God, who knows our rebellious human nature, is moved by a heart that can humble itself and repent.
It is for this very reason that God in Isaiah draws a disturbing distinction between our activities for and on behalf of Him and how He views those activities if they are not carried out on the platform of a crucified life:
“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.”
When we do anything for God, but are careless about the condition of our hearts, God abhors that which we do. Actually, at no one time, for example, did God ever feel that He needed our praise so much that He could overlook the purity of our hearts. Never.
The Apostle Paul brings this into closer perspective when he admonishes us under the New Covenant: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1 Tim. 2:8)
When we go to church we should not just love to raise our hands and voices in prayer to God. We are to do it
“… without wrath and doubting”.
That cannot be without a crucifixion of our carnal nature since there will always be situations in our lives that will tempt us to get angry or to doubt God. And we cannot take these things lightly.
When God’s revelation comes into our hearts, we realize the things that please God have to do with the condition of our hearts. And, most important of all, we realize how we must first crucify our carnal nature before we attempt to do anything for God or to ‘please’ Him.
[Below: A praise session. Whatever we do for God, He looks at our hearts first]