It is so easy to get caught up in a routine. Even with our relationship with God, we can get into a routine. In time we might even start to consider the fulfillment of this weekly routine as what matters. Well I attended the elder meeting and I made it to the prayer meeting. Well I tithe every Sunday. Well I made it to choir practice and I even have the solo. Well I have perfect attendance for this quarter. Well I have done my daily devotion each day this week.
Your relationship with Christ is not about meetings and checking off a list. Your relationship with Christ is not about works. Your relationship with Christ is not about offerings and sacrifices alone. We should want “a love that lasts.” Hosea 6 says, “I want you to KNOW GOD.” To know God.
God wants you to know Him and to show love. Yes we should aim to read our Bible daily, to attend church, to tithe, and to serve the Lord however He leads. There are works; however, there is something else that is more important. Relationship. Knowing God. Loving God. Never take your focus off of those things. When this is your focus, everything else comes with it. When you are focused on the meetings, on the offerings, then it becomes less about God and more about something else.
“I’m after a love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know GOD, not go to more prayer meetings.” – Hosea 6:6 [MSG]
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 [NLT]
We see images and signs posted all over asking for help. There are homeless men, women and children holding signs on the street corners. There are advertisements for particular causes. Breast Cancer Awareness. Human Trafficking. Pro-life. Organ Donation. So many signs. So many people in need of help, in need of hope.
When there was a large group of people in need of food, the disciples wanted to let them go to travel in search for food. They didn’t believe they could feed them so that was what they thought was in their best interest. But Jesus told them, “YOU FEED THEM.” He gave them this command because they had the power to help.
Sometimes we have the power to help, whether it is in a small way or a big way. If you feed one person, it’s a start. If you donate a bag of clothing, that’s a start. If you give a few extra dollars, that’s a start. There are moments when God does miracles and there are moments when God uses people to accomplish His miracles through them. He can use you. Simply ask Him to use you. It’s time to get those hands and feet moving.
“But Jesus said, ‘That isn’t necessary–you feed them.’” – Matthew 14:16 [NLT]
“Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’” – Mark 6:36-37 [NIV]
As I was reading the Book of Mark last night, it was very confrontational. The disciples were with Jesus and a large crowd of people. It’s estimated that there were five thousand men so there were most likely at least ten thousand people if counting women and children. It was getting about the time to eat and the disciples suggested that the large crowd get sent away so they could find themselves some food. In all fairness, the disciples were considering this because they wanted the people to have the time to get food. But Jesus saw things differently because God sees a much bigger picture. While the disciples saw the large crowd and limited food and thought logically that the people would need to leave and hunt for food, Jesus saw what was lacking and did what only He could do to fill the need.
Sometimes we like to send people away because we don’t want to help. Helping might require a sacrifice and time we aren’t willing to lose. Sometimes we see what we are lacking and immediately want to turn in the other direction. But Jesus said to the disciples “YOU give them something to eat” and sometimes He tells us that WE are to do something—not send people away in need, figuring they will find what they need elsewhere.
Today, if God is calling you to do something—do it. Trust He will make the way. Trust He has a bigger picture. You never know what He may do through you unless you allow Him to use you like only He can.
Sample excerpt: “The hardest item to overcome when thinking about having faith is fear. Fear is certainly difficult to cope with at times. Fear and worry can be scary. When we are afraid, it changes how we cope with everything else in life. It is vital to understand that our God is big enough. It’s also important to understand that God gives us everything we need in life to get through each obstacle. We need to have our ears and eyes open to see and to hear. We must have faith that He has it covered, because whether we admit it or not, He has it covered.”
As I was reading the blessings and curses in Deuteronomy, something jumped off the page in Chapter 28 of the book. It says, “They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendents forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you” (v. 46-48a). The words “joyfully” and “gladly” are words we do not always see with “serve.” Sometimes the word “serve” gives us a bad taste in our mouths. The very thought of serving is to perform a duty for someone else. What about us? So we are to serve joyfully and gladly? As if we are happy to do it? As if we like doing it?
The number of church members who serve the church is simply sad, with studies showing that about 20% of the members are serving the Lord. If we consider the people who are serving the church, which is a small number of the actual congregation, we then should consider how many of that small group is serving “joyfully” and “gladly.” To serve in this way, means that the person’s heart is in this service. To serve in this way, means that the person is not doing it because it is what a person does, but because the person desires to serve the Lord out of love for the Lord.
Today, consider if you fall into the 20% category at your church. Are you serving the Lord? If yes, consider if you are serving “joyfully” and “gladly” at the church. Is it a burden or a joy? If it isn’t a joy, perhaps the area you are serving in is wrong. Whether or not you serve, seek out the talents God has given you and see how you can use them to serve Him. When you find that place at the church that you were meant to serve, the joy will come. It is important to serve the church, and it is important to have that joy to spread around to others. We all need more joy in our lives.
No matter how many times we attempt to keep things in balance, we must constantly be reviewing our lives to make sure we are on the right track. It is not something that is difficult to do and it is not something that should stress us out. Simply speaking, we need to keep looking at our lives to see if we are having a relationship with God and allowing Him to move in our lives or if we are Christians doing the walk.
Christians doing the walk go to church most Sundays or maybe even every Sunday. Christians doing the walk could even be involved in some other activities within the church besides service attendance. Perhaps the people are going to Bible study, volunteering at youth nights, and adding their talents to the upcoming bazaar. But in signing up on all of the service volunteer lists and using our hands to serve, are we communing with God?
It is sad when we help to overwhelm ourselves. It happens so easily. We accept a task, and then we take on another. We think that if we are serving we must certainly be doing the right thing. Moses spent so much time serving others that he was a bit overwhelmed. When Jethro came for a visit, he noticed this problem and advised Moses to distribute his responsibilities. Do you take on too many things in life? Do you have time to actually commune with God or are you too busy serving at the church or living life your own way? See those who are not spending time with God can range from the people who do not know about God and His Word to those who know of God but do not give Him time and do not take the time to listen.
If we spend so much time serving or ignoring, there is little to no room to listen, to commune, and to have the relationship with God that was intended in the first place. God understands that life is busy and that we can get distracted. He put in place a Sabbath day for rest. He knows the importance of rest. It is not so difficult to find the proper balance in life if we take time to listen to God and allow Him to direct our paths.
When we take on so many responsibilities, we end up forcing upon ourselves some legalistic standards rather than allowing the grace of God to work in our lives. I know life is busy. God knows life is busy. It is simply a matter of taking that time for God. It does not need to be at a certain time of the day, nor at a particular place. He is everywhere. We can be with Him everywhere and include Him in our lives at all times. That is communing with God.
It is not about the signature on the volunteer lists or even about the hours put in– it all comes down to one thing– having a relationship with God. If we have that relationship with God and if we are seeking His will for our lives, everything will be balanced. We will not be overwhelmed. Everything will be in place and there will be a peace like no other. So today, take God with you. He’s already there– just take the time to notice. It will change your day!
“You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3 [NIV]