Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hello, my name is Gomer and I am a…

Wanderer.  Prostitute. Whore.
I actually wasn’t even reading Hosea, I was reading Joshua.  But in reading Joshua I came across 10:25 in which Joshua relates God’s instructions to Israel and says, “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is going to do this to all of your enemies.”  After finishing my reading I started journaling all the things that I’ve been afraid or discouraged about.  There are a couple things on that list, but one of the main ones was how discouraged I am with the amount of (or lack of) time that I give to God on a daily basis.
Immediately God took my thoughts to Hosea, but more specifically his wife Gomer.  If you’re not familiar with the story, the short of it is this:  God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, and bare children with her.  After marrying Hosea and having children with him, Gomer returned to her life of prostitution.  Upon doing so God sent Hosea to bring his wife, out of her filth, back into his home and make her his wife again.  God had Hosea do this to illustrate the sin of idolatry Israel had committed.  Israel had turned their back on God and began worshipping other gods.  God used Hosea and Gomer to show the extent of Israel’s sin and that even in their adultery with other gods, He would be their God and return them to Him.  In 2:20 God says, “I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” Then 14:4 says, “The Lord says, ‘Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.”
 So here is how God related that to me.  I’ve previously mentioned that the things of life can sometimes highjack our time with God.  Of course I’m not worshiping “other gods”, but recently I’ve put some things before my time with God.  What God asked me is this:  Is my putting time with friends, TV, other hobbies, functions and meetings before time spent with God any different than Israel’s sin of idolatry?  If I’m honest the answer is, “No it’s not.”  In that aspect I share in Israel’s sin of idolatry.  This isn’t to say that I’ve spent no time with God, but it gets easier and easier to make excuses for missing devotional time or to hurry through that time with God as opposed to soaking in His presence.
The bottom line is this, even though we don’t view the things that draw our attention from God as “bad” as Israel’s actual worship of other God’s…it’s not at all different.  Our back is still turned and our affection for God is drawn away from Him.  And God just wants to be faithful to us and make us His, so that we may finally know Him as Lord.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

REPOST: God Heard His Prayers Because… (By: Jeff Maness, Lead Pastor, Element Church)

I was reading Pastor Jeff's blog and his post on Dec 1st about prayer (HERE) really got to me.  Lately I've realized that I pray but recently it hasn't felt the same.  Recently it seems so rushed, so hurried.  Almost as if it hasn't been an intentional act of submission or this time of intimate connection surrounded by deep respect for who my God is.  Then I read Pastor Jeff's post and...well God shined His light on it.  In the verse Pastor Jeff mentions (Hebrews 5:7) the word "reverence" is used in relation to how Christ prayed.  

To get this, understand that reverence is defined as honor or respect felt or shown or a gesture of respect.  What God showed me through reading Pastor Jeff's post not only had to do with how my heart was focused in approaching God in prayer, but for me it also revealed how I physically approach God in prayer.  

In the past couple months I've gotten to a point where I have let everyday life high-jack my time with God.  For me prayer time has always been very much about intentionally submitting myself to God, both spiritually and physically.  Not just in the time I gave Him, but in the way that I gave it to Him also.  As an act of reverence I spent all of my prayer time (during morning devotional and prior to bed, then if I felt it necessary and had the opportunity throughout the day) on my knees.  Sometimes I would bow low, but I was ALWAYS on my knees.  It was my "gesture of respect."  But recently I'm so hurried that 5 or 10 minutes sitting in a chair was "good enough."  Realistically, it just doesn't suffice and with God there should NEVER be a "good enough."  

Here's the original post:

On Sunday, I was doing my normal quiet time with God before heading to church and I read a verse that I saw for the first time, or at least saw it in a new light.  I’m in Hebrews right now, which by the way is an INCREDIBLE book.  So rich and deep.  Anyway, I came across Hebrews 5:7 which says this 7While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.”

Now think about it.  Theologically, Jesus WAS God.  God incarnate.  God in the flesh.  THE God man.  So you might think that the verse should read “And God heard his prayers because HE WAS GOD”.  But NO!  It says God heard them, because of his “deep reverence for God.”  (We won’t get into the lengthy and unending discussion of “If He was God then why did he need to pray, and was he praying to Himself?”)  It just made me think.  If Jesus’ prayer was heard because of His deep reverence for God…what does that say about me?
I think sometimes when I pray I have a deep regret…or a desperate situation…or adeliberate request…or a demanding requirement…and there isn’t anything bad necessarily with any of those things.  The problem is, I often feel like God will hear me because I have the deep regret.  Or because my situation is desperate or my request is deliberate or I’m facing a requirement that’s demanding.  And I’m not saying that God doesn’t hear us, it just struck me that JESUS was heard because of His DEEP REVERENCE for God, not for ANY of those other things.  Not because of his pleadings, loud cries or tears…but His reverence.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the kind of prayer that comes to God out of deep reverence for WHO He is, not WHAT He can give me.  I get the feeling from Hebrews 5:7 that that is why Jesus went to God in prayer.  And because of that, God heard Him.
Good stuff.  God deserves our physical acts of respect, submission and praise AS MUCH AS (I'd say if not more than) our verbal ones.
Back on my knees,