THINK: Is it difficult for you to make personal time for God? Do you sometimes take for granted the opportunities you have to gather for worship or participate in ministry? Does it ever seem inconvenient to go to church - or even to pray? Consider the rituals that the ancient Israelites went through as part of their worship and access to God. Because of what Jesus has done for us and how He's fulfilled the Old Testament law, we now have open access to God, and we can worship freely without the constraint of elaborate routines. And when we need forgiveness, we can simply ask and make a change. What great privileges we have. Don't ever take them for granted.
RESPOND: What did it mean to bring an offering to the LORD? (See 1:2 note.) Why was this necessary in order to "come near" to God? Why did people bring offerings to God? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 2.) Why did the sacrificial animal need to be "without defect" (1:3,10)? What's significant about the sacrifice being made at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (i.e., tabernacle) which represented God's presence among the Israelites? What did the sacrificial offerings teach people? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 4.) What does it mean that a sacrifice made "atonement" for people? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 4.) What made an offering acceptable to God? (See 1:2 note, subpoint 5, and 1:9 note.) What was the significance of burnt offerings? (See 1:3 note.) Why did a person place his hand on the head of the sacrificial animal? (See 1:4 note.) What did the grain offering symbolize? (See 2:1 note and the chart of Old Testament Sacrifices, p. 163 in the FBSE.) Why was yeast forbidden in grain offerings? (See 2:11 note.) Why would people bring fellowship offerings, and in what way did this offering point to future events in God's plan? (See 3:1 note.)
PRAY: Give God thanks for the access you have into His presence because of Jesus' sacrifice. Thank Him for the relationship you can enjoy with Him now and throughout eternity.
ACT: It's not a sacrifice to give up something that keeps you from pursuing God's best. Search your life, including your attitudes, activities and possessions - and get rid of anything that could hinder you from accomplishing God's highest purposes.
THINK: Have you ever hurt or offended someone and not realized it until later - perhaps after hearing about it from someone else? Chances are, you felt bad about it, even though you didn't mean any harm - the offense was unintentional. Because we as humans are so prone to sin, this scenario plays out time and again as we fail God's perfect standards without even knowing it. Thankfully, God is merciful and patient, having already provided a covering for our sin through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. If we remain humble, repentant and trusting toward Him - confessing and forsaking our offenses as He makes us aware of them - God continually forgives and remains faithful.
RESPOND: What do you think it means for a person to sin "unintentionally"? In what way can an entire group or community sin in this way? What was the purpose of the sin offering and why was it necessary? (See 4:3 note.) In what way was the sin offering prophetic-pointing to the future? (See 4:3 note, subpoint 1.) In what way does the work of Jesus Christ replace the sin offering? (See 4:3 note, subpoint 2.) How do unintentional sins differ from intentional ones, involving willing rebellion against God? What must we do when we knowingly sin against God? What was symbolic about burning the remainder of the sacrifice "outside the camp"? (See 4:12 note.) In what way are Jesus' followers to "go to him outside the camp" (Hebrews 13:13)? (See 4:12 note.) How did God respond to sincere sacrifices, offered with humble hearts and repentant attitudes? What does 5:1 indicate about a people's responsibility when they see or hear of an obvious injustice? In what way is 5:4 a warning against speaking without thinking or making thoughtless promises? What does it mean for a person to "confess" his or her sin? (See 5:5 note.) What is necessary in order for confession to be sincere? What consideration did God make for people of different "financial" status so that everyone could afford a sin offering? (See 5:11 note.) How did the guilt offering differ from the sin offering, and what was required in addition to the sacrifice? (See 5:15 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to search your life and expose any hidden sin. Sincerely confess that sin and truly repent, determining to turn from it and to rely on God to live free from it.
ACT: Forgive anyone who has wronged you. Take the first step toward resolving any lingering issues and making things right with anyone who has offended you.