When Life Is Out of Focus

10 08 2013

It is not uncommon, as one of the musicians in church, to hear comments like, “Worship was awful. I didn’t get anything out of it.”

The question begs to be asked, “Which part?”

Was it the way we drove to church that was awful? The way we parked the car? It might have been the argument on the way that made worship awful.

Was it the conversation we had with this sister or that brother that was the problem? Or the things we only thought because we didn’t dare speak what was on our minds?

Perhaps it was when they took an offering, or the type of sermon that was given.

“So-and-so should have been here today. The message would have been perfect for them.” Meanwhile we sit with arms folded, nodding off, while our Bible is at home collecting dust.

It could have been the delay in leaving the building because the people in front of us were taking their sweet time.

Oh, the music? That’s what they meant?

The singing is only a small fraction of “worship!”

Romans 12:1 reads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (ESV)

On Sunday…and every other day of the week, for that matter…everything we do with our body is an act of worship: getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, breakfast, the newspaper we read, how we dress, act, speak, think, work, and yes, the way we drive our cars.

Who (or what) do we worship as we live? We worship something. We can’t help it, the need to worship is built into every human being.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV.

Whatever…hmm…that encompasses a very big territory.

Oh, and we can’t miss the focal point…God!

The centerpiece of our lives needs to be God.

Anything short of that is mere religion.

We need to know that we speak volumes when we state, “I didn’t get anything out of church today.”

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b ESV

Ouch!

If we are not careful, we can treat our relationship with God, as well as life itself, like we’re at Burger King –

we want everything our way.

Especially, it would seem, at church.

The music must be a style that I prefer and at a volume that I appreciate. I’d rather they had a box in the back for people to put money in so I don’t feel guilty when I let it pass (again). I want feel-good sermons – nothing that challenges or convicts. When it’s over with, I want people to get out of my way so I can get back to my life.

When the building is emptied, I picture Jesus sitting there alone. His voice echoes in the empty space as He says,

“Well, maybe next week…”





No Blood, Guts, or Gore Required

9 08 2013

A study of the tabernacle is very fascinating. Every detail speaks volumes concerning spiritual truths.

We spent several months going over the various elements in our home group. My husband purchased a model of the tabernacle so we would have it as a visual aid while we studied. It was a fun study, and we spent the first two nights painting and erecting our set. It also came with figurines of priests, cows, and sheep.

At the same time, he and I were reading Experiencing the Cross by Henry Blackaby. One of the topics in this book is the cost of sin. This, we realized, was clearly demonstrated day after day in the tabernacle – then later the temple as countless animals were slain.

Why all the blood, guts, and gore?

Sin is a gory, bloody mess to God. Through animal sacrifices, God gave us a clear visual of the seriousness of sin…it brings death. At the same time, He used the daily sacrifices to help us understand that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.

Once our model was completed, we set the furniture in place, as well as the priests and animals. We set some of the sheep and bulls on the little tables, and set the bent-over priests next to them as if they were inspecting them.

As Wendel read out of Blackaby’s book, I saw what was being displayed in a very different way. Along with the mental image came the verse: Present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable act of worship.

Suddenly I understood what He’d been teaching me:

I am the lamb on that table.

I need to be examined for spots and blemishes…

…not so I can be rejected as unworthy,

nor so I can be killed to pay for my sins.

Instead,

I am there as a living sacrifice.

The Holy Spirit is the One examining me,

bringing to light anything for which I need to repent.

When the inspection is done, I am released!

Jesus already paid the price for my sin; but I am to be holy and acceptable. When I submit to this inspection and correction, it is an act of worship unto the Lord.

Furthermore, I saw that while man (the priest) looks at the outward appearance, God (through His Spirit) looks at the heart.

God used the combination of the model of the tabernacle and the Scripture to give us a better understanding of His truth.

I’m so thankful that, unlike the lambs, goats, and cows, I will arise from

the inspection table

alive

– and hopefully –

“altared”

(okay, changed! :))

With a heart that has been cleansed, I am less conformed to the world – and more transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Father, thank You for loving us and sending Jesus to die in our place. I am so grateful that You are faithful to complete the work You’ve begun in us. Help us to present softened hearts that can be quickly cleansed. Renew our minds, lead us into a better understanding of Your Word. May all we do, say, and even think bring glory and honor to Your great name this day.

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen

\o/