Wednesday March 17 – Day 29 – BE REAL OR GET LOST

 In Lenten Devotional

Wednesday March 17 – Day 29 – BE REAL OR GET LOST

“1Shout the message!
    Don’t hold back.
Say to my people Israel:
You’ve sinned! You’ve turned
    against the Lord.
2 Day after day, you worship him
and seem eager to learn
    his teachings.
You act like a nation
that wants to do right
    by obeying his laws.
You ask him about justice,
and say you enjoy
    worshiping the Lord.
3 You wonder why the Lord
    pays no attention
when you go without eating
    and act humble.
But on those same days
    that you give up eating,
you think only of yourselves
    and abuse your workers.
4 You even get angry
    and ready to fight.
No wonder God won’t listen
    to your prayers!? – Isaiah 58:1-4 (CEV)

“O.K. God, I know You aren’t listening to me anyway but just this once, could You please open your ears to my pleas?”

Do you wonder why it feels as if the Lord is not listening to your prayers?

Do you wonder why even when you do everything God requires of you?

Chapter 58 of Isaiah makes pretty clear why you might be having a problem with connecting with God, and this is going to be brutally honest and hard to hear, but here is is:

You are thinking only of yourself.

This chapter is a most convicting one for me, being a worship pastor.  On most days I would say that my conviction is there to love God, and other days, it seems I am only loving myself.  If you saw me behind the wheel you would wonder where Christopher went and who this maniac was yelling at people.

For the rest of the week we are going to look at Isaiah Chapter 58 with a hope to uncover some of the truths here that will help us in our Lenten journey.

Shallow worship is something that God detests.  He wants only those who have sincere hearts to worship Him, otherwise the worship is mere words and actions.  Sincerity is what God wants.

And to be honest, isn’t that what we all want, too?

How often when we visit churches do we desire an authentic and sincere time of worship?  As a worship pastor, my desire is to see the hearts of our people moved during our gatherings.  When I look out and see the responses, my heart’s desire is that the community is connecting with the Living God.  So often I wonder if the responses are genuine, even though they look genuine.

Authenticity in life is what we all wish to experience.  If your employer is commenting on your work and tells you that you are amazing and yet deep down is not happy with your achievements, this lack of authenticity affects us in the long run.  If we find out years later that our spouse actually DOESN’T like our hair style or how we dress after lying to us just to make us happy, the truth will hurt.

God has no time for lies.  He detests when we try to pull a fast one on him, and we see this laid out clearly in chapter 58.  We can do all the right things before God in accordance with His law, but if our hearts are far from Him, our worship is worthless.

And this is where it gets important: if we believe that our worship leads to change (social action and personal convictions to mention two), then if we aren’t real about it, then the consequential actions and convictions will be based on lies and eventually fail.  We see this so often in large churches that tend to have a lot of money:  they make the appearance of their worship seem legit but deep down, their hearts are focused on money and power.  Are we surprised then, when God doesn’t respond to us?

During Lent, we need to be honest about our intent and our motivation behind what we do, especially in our worship of God.

Are you being completely honest with Jesus today?

If you are angry with God, tell Him!

If you are empty and have nothing left to sustain you, ask God to fill your cup!

If you don’t really believe all of this mumbo jumbo about God and yet your partner or family members assume you have a relationship with Jesus because you are playing the part to make them happy, be honest with them and God.

There is always a moment in the life of a believer when doubts and questions plague us and make us feel that God really doesn’t exist.  We have all experienced it.  The worst thing we can do is pretend so that Mom and Dad don’t get mad at us.

It is crucial that, if God means something to you, then you need to be honest with those around you and God.  Then, that can be a starting point to either investigate Jesus or to finally reject His claims and live without Him.

My hope, is that you will give God another chance as you do you best to be real.

For those who are walking with the Lord and you are experiencing silence, take this time to examine your heart.  Is there something or someone that is causing your heart to be cold towards God?  Be real with God.  Tell Him exactly what you are feeling.  I am amazed at the number of Christians who won’t tell God when they are upset with Him.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but that word fear is speaking about reverence, not feeling scared that God will strike you down dead.

As you pray, leave time to listen to God.  Still your heart, let the silence fill the space and listen.  Are your thoughts being moved in a different direction?  Test those thoughts to know that they are from God.  Do they honour Him?  Do they glorify Him?  Do they line up with his laws and expectations for us based on scripture?  If so, write them down and continue to pray on them.

A relationship with God is not about doing all the right things in the hope that our hearts will change, a relationship with God is about having our hearts and minds changed and then doing the right things in response to His love.

Let His love fill you today, even when all you feel is hatred and anger.

Let His love lead you today, to a new way of listening and praying.

Let His love transform your patterns and actions into ways that honour God and desire Him to listen to you.

If God is not listening to your prayers, be real or you most certainly will get lost, and being lost is an awful state to be in.

May God see you where you are at right now, and may He draw you closer to Him.

If the silence of God is overwhelming and you feel your heart and actions are right in God’s sight, speak to a trusted friend of the faith and share with them what is going on.  Ask that they could share things with you in confidence, and then pray together.  In this Lenten journey of drawing near to Jesus, we need to do this in community which has been made nearly impossible because of COVID-19.  Call your friend, make a Zoom meeting or FaceTime them.  Reach out to fellow believers that you trust and get them to pray for you.  It is only through our relationships with other believes who understand and have been down the same roads that we can feel truly supported and encouraged.

In other words, don’t do it alone.

Today, in your Lenten journey, be real with the maker of the heavens and the earth so that you will never be lost. Be encouraged that He wants you to be open to Him and trust Him.  He wants you, not the concept of you imagined in your own mind.

Be real, so that you never get lost.

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