Tuesday, April 19, 2016

More than an hour

Do you ever feel that you sit in church and the pastor giving the sermon throws out thoughts and ideas that amp you up and get you ready to take on the world - with God right by your side? But when you leave, you are right back to where you started... as if church is a great goal board that falls under the cliche - out of sight, out of mind. Why is that? Why does this happen? I hate to burst your bubble, but 1 hour in church each week does not give you a free pass to meet "the" man one day. 

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I've been reading it again lately and it always gets me thinking. In chapter 5 (NIV), the first verse says "Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen, rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong." Yes, listen and do not open your mouth to spew out nonsense, and for no good purpose. 

Listening should be our number one priority when we walk into church. We may be well trained at doing this for an hour or so. We may listen to the pastor speak, we may nod, we may hear about church happenings and events and we may even put them on our mental calendar! We stand up, we sing songs such as "Open the eyes of my heart Lord... I want to see You," or "My Jesus, my Savior, Lord there is none like you... " But then what happens? Church ends and we get up to wish everyone well for the week to come, share a few laughs, give a few hugs. Then we go on about our life. Yes, we may feel an extra little pep in our step for a moment, but does it last? Do you work to make sure that it lasts? Many of us don't. We move on through the week slowly creeping back to our foolish, selfish ways... letting God drift further and further away. Well... until the next Sunday.

Feeding yourself breakfast one day each week does not mean that your body does not need nourishment for the rest of the week -  no matter how much you eat at that breakfast! Our physical bodies run on energy from food and water, but, emotionally and spiritually, we need nourishment, too. God can give us that. But, we need to make sure we give more than 1 hour a week to Him!

I mean, Ecclesiastes 5:2 can kinda put you in your place, if needed -- "...God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." BAM! Nothing like pointing out just how inferior we are (for lack of better terms). After all, He is God Almighty, our Father, Jehovah, Yahweh, The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our Savior, the Most High! And you and me? Well, ha ... yeah.. exactly... we have a hard time shutting up for an hour each week. Sometimes less. 

It is always best to come honestly before God (I mean, he knows everything anyways... you cannot hide). "Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth with declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." - Psalms 51:15-17 (NIV)

Doing anything part way is never the key. Going to church and not giving your whole self is pointless. God just doesn't want you to sign off on an attendance sheet and he surely doesn't want your payment in the form of tithing to justify forgiveness for your foolish ways. No. He wants you to come before him, praise Him, worship Him, learn from the teachers he has sent to you... and do this all with YOUR WHOLE HEART! 

Yes, sometimes it is hard to focus when we have so many earthly things going on in our head. But make a point... this weekend when you attend church... to remember why you are there. It is not to just socialize, or catch up on Facebook, or write a mental grocery list, or even to count how many blue cars drive by. In fact, consider it a dinner date with God - a time to fill yourself of spiritual food. Then, use that food to begin fueling your week. Just don't forget to turn to God daily to keep that fire burning. 

I'll end with a little side of Whitney & Mariah for ya.. 


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