Be very careful

We know love is more than a feeling. And that’s not only because of the song by Boston.

Feelings are temporary and subjective. They are not what you want to base a relationship upon or rely on in your walk with God.

Since we know love is more than feeling loving, many have said that love is an action. If you love someone, you do something. Like I always say, for God so loved the world he did something.

But we can go even further.

Of course, today we’re focusing on our faith in God. If you talk about love between people, the conversation can be different. Science will tell you there are certain areas of the brain that instigate and control love. Our love of God, though, is not a feeling. It involves action, but, more than anything, it seems to be a choice.

I mean that in two ways.

Yes, you chose to follow God. You could live life on your own terms or follow any other model of living. But you chose to believe what you heard about Jesus. His call to “follow me” is less a directive to do what I say and more a choice to live like me.

So, you chose to follow Jesus. Now what? Well, you have to continue to choose to do so.

You don’t learn everything about grace and faith the moment you choose to believe. There’s a lifetime of learning ahead of you. As you learn, you’ll have to keep choosing to believe. What if you learn something that is too hard to follow? Remember when an entire group of people told Jesus his teachings were too much? They left him.

When you’re challenged by grace, your next choice is obedience. You may remember Joshua giving that great line of faith. He said, “choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

He said something as striking in the chapter before that. At this point, Joshua is “old and well advanced in years.” He’s passing on final bits of wisdom, instruction and direction. In Joshua 23:11, he says, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.”

This carefulness connects to the choice the people are going to need to make every day. It’s the same for us, too. 

Every day is a choice to follow Christ. How are you going to respond to that person that speaks unfavorably to you? What are you going to fill your day with? How will you use your time and resources today?

These are only a few choices that come with choosing to follow Christ. It can be a lot. It can seem like a cross you have to bear. As Joshua said, be very careful, therefore, to love (or choose) the Lord your God.

Stay blessed…john

It’s not worship without this

Worship is at the heart of who we are as Christians.

But our definition of what worship is needs fine-tuning. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a gathering of saints and someone leading says something like, “Okay, church, let’s stand and worship.”

That sounds harmless enough. The implication, though, is that worship means standing up to sing. Of course, singing is a part of worship. But only a part. That’s one of the reasons the worship wars are so silly. We get riled up about one small aspect of worship.

While we gather for corporate worship, most of our worship doesn’t happen then. On Sunday mornings, we pray together and listen for God’s voice through scripture. Of course, we sing and give our offerings. Again, those are all aspects of worship. Our true worship is connected to those practices. 

But our true worship happens when we leave. Worship is more than liturgy and holy days. Our worship of God is our willingness to live according to the ways of God. Obedience is worship.

Particularly throughout the Old Testament, God’s call is for obedience. Instead, the people turned to idols. Now, they still said the right things about God and participated in religious services. But they didn’t live according to God’s measure of righteousness. If they did, they would have taken care of one another. They would have provided for the widows and orphans. Justice would have been at the forefront of their relationship with the world. Their idol worship hardened their hearts and perpetuated their self-centered lifestyle. 

In Isaiah 1, God says to a disobedient people, “I hate your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them” (Isaiah 1:14). I wonder how many of our worship gatherings are a burden to God.

We see both these aspects of worship in Exodus 24. God told Moses to bring the elders of Israel up the mountain with him. Moses was to go near to God and the elders were to “worship at a distance.” What do you think their mountain worship looked like?

After this, Moses told all the people what God told him. The people’s response is what we’re considering today. They said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Their obedience would be their worship. 

So, when you’re with your church family on Sunday morning (or whenever you meet), you bring your worship of God with you. In our gatherings, we glorify God and offer our lives as living sacrifices together. From there, our true worship is living as if all that we said about God is true. So true that we will live like it is.

Stay blessed…john