So, I’m starting a new bible study online tomorrow using the new Pure Praise book. If you want to join in, head over to TheWorshipCommunity.com for the details.
Being a good student (yes, it does occasionally happen!) I decided to read a bit of it tonight to get my thoughts heading in the right direction – basically skimming the first chapter before diving in.
But I got stuck.
I came upon a portion of day 3 that sent me into Amos… and as I was reading the passage it sent me to, I noticed that there was a coupe of verses that had been underlined at some point in the past… so I re-read them (after all, that’s why we underline them, right?)
Then I went back and read the chapter… chapter 5 of Amos, to be more exact. This is one of those times in Israel’s history that God was sending a prophet of judgment to the northern kingdom… but there are a couple of verses that jumped out at me that I wanted to share.
“Thus says the Lord to the house of Israel. Seek Me – inquire for and of Me and require Me as you require food – and you shall live” Amos 5:4
“Seek the Lord – inquire for and of Him and require Him – and you shall live.” 5:6a
“Seek – inquire for and require – good ans not evil that you may live, and so the Lord, God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. 15 Hate the evil and love the good and establish justice in the court of the city’s gate. It may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:14-15
Are we seeing a pattern here? We are to Seek God – and I loved the insert added into the Amplified Bible – “Inquire for and of Me and require Me as you require food” (emphasis mine) that is what it means to truly seek God. Our souls need Him the way that our bodies need food. He is our nourishment! If we do not require the food that He offers, we will slowly whither away, we will become malnourished. this is not a good thing!
Trust me, there is a reason that these verses jumped out at me. I have been caught up in the business of life and have not taken that time. I have been starving! My spirit is requiring God as my body requires food, yet I have been ignoring those hunger pains.
Then the study sent me over to Psalm 51… and the following jumped off the page.
“O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You delight not in sacrifice, or else I would give it. You find no pleasure in burnt offering. My sacrifice – the sacrifice acceptable to God – is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent] such, O God, You will not despise.” Ps. 51:15-17
Yes, this is an oft-quoted passage, but again, I love the description… a heart that is broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent. When was the last time you were penitent? Does our modern society even know what it means? I decided to look it up.
|1.||feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing and disposed to atonement and amendment; repentant; contrite.|
|2.||a penitent person.|
|3.||Roman Catholic Church. a person who confesses sin and submits to a penance.|
1325–75; ME < ML pēnitent-, L paenitent- (s. of paenitēns), prp. of paenitēre to regret; r. ME penaunt < AF; see penance
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
So, a penitent person is contrite., they are expressing sorrow over sin, and “disposed to atonement” – translation please! If you are disposed to atonement, you are open to or inclined towards receiving forgiveness.
So, how do we find ourselves feeling penitent? Is this something that just happens to us as we randomly walk through life? Not usually.
No, in order for our hearts to find themselves humbled and repentant we need to find a reason to recognize that we have sinned. We need to encounter the majesty and glory of a holy God.
If we never see Him – His majesty, His grace, His holiness – we will merely become as self-righteous fools thinking only of how good we are rather than recognizing that WE ARE SINNERS.
Oh, and a self-righteous fool is someone who finds their righteousness within themselves, rather than in God.
So, can you say that? Can you speak – out loud – the words “I am a sinner” and truly mean it? This is a hard thing to do some days! Go ahead, say it. If you cannot recognize that truth, then you cannot truly recognize the grace of God!
The Pharisees did not recognize that either. They were proud of their righteousness! They were proud that they had kept the Law (and added substantially more of their own!) and they weren’t too keen on the fact that Jesus told them that they had to claim to be a sinner.
Are we any better than them?
We need to find a way to truly experience the majesty and awesomeness of God if we want to truly recognize just how lost we are. When we experience the majesty of God – truly experience it – we cannot continue on the former path. We will recognize our weakness, and realize that this thing called life is not something that we can do on our own.
We need God!
We need to be able to cry out “Abba Father” when we fail or are afraid, the same way that our children cry out for us. If we do not know Him, we will not cry out for Him. We need to know the one who introduced Himself as “I AM” – the one who IS always – there is no yesterday, no tomorrow. God is ever-present. He holds our tomorrows in His hands, so there is no reason to fear.
God is majestic, He is holy, and as such He cannot tolerate sin. He is pure! It is for this reason that He had to send a part of Himself – His Son Jesus – to earth to be a sacrifice. We cannot do it on our own – we are not holy. Without the filter of Jesus, God would only see the wretched, filthy rags of our sin clinging to us. Thankfully, Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross, and when God looks at us through that filter, He sees His perfect, spotless, Holy Son. We can then be accepted into the presence of God.
We now have a direct line of access to the Throne of Grace! We can boldly come before our perfect, majestic God without fear! We can commune with Him, we can talk with Him, we can cry out to Him!
This brings me to the next passage that God put on my heart tonight… Psalm 55.
1 “Listen to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my supplication … (3) I am distracted at the noise of the enemy, because of the oppression and threats of the wicked, for they would cast trouble upon me, and in wrath they persecute me. (4) My heart is grievously pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me”
(16)”As for me, I will call upon God and the Lord will save me. (17) evening and morning and at noon will I utter my complaint and moan and sigh, and He will hear my voice. (18) He has redeemed my life in peace from the battle that was against me… (22) But I will trust in, lean on and confidently rely on You [God].”
David knew God. He had that direct line of communication with the Most High God, and he was not afraid to use it! He cried out to God with assurance that God would not only hear him, but that God would answer his cry! Do we come before Him with that same boldness? Do we have that same confidence in our relationship with God that we will come before Him with expectation of what He will do?
We are surrounded on all sides by an enemy that is distracting. He will do whatever he can to keep us from crying out to God – boldness and assurance or not. He will make us too busy to carve out that time alone with God. He will distract us from the beauty of what God has brought us through in the past by dredging up our past failures – taking our focus off of God and putting it on us. He will pull out any and everything that he can think of to take our eyes off of God.
But what did David do? He cried out to God morning, noon and night! He made his petitions known to a God that could take care of everything – and he knew it.
We need to cry out when we are surrounded by the noise and distractions that come from our enemy. We need to have the confidence in God and in our relationship with Him that He will hear our cry and act upon it.
Yes, God does allow times of trials and testing to come our way, but these times are there to bring us back to God. They also serve to shine out His light to the unbelievers around us. How we react to the trials in our lives will show them the difference that comes from having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The bible says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” We must first humble ourselves enough to seek His face. To come face to face with His holiness, so that we can truly see our sin. Once we truly see our sin – recognize it and admit it – then we can begin to understand our need for Him. For His grace and mercy in our lives.
I challenge both of us to carve out that time in our busy schedules to seek Him. To realize our need for Him that is greater than our need for food. We need to feed our spirit with the Word of God, so that we don’t find ourselves so malnourished that when the enemy distracts us, it’s an easy job.
Instead, I want to be a woman that when I wake up, all of hell groans in fear of what God will use me to do that day. I want to be so close to Him that every aspect of my life is lived out in submission to Him, and – most importantly – in worship of Him.
God alone is worthy of worship. We were created to give Him worship. He longs for it, and our hearts yearn to do it! Why do we stand in the way of that connection?
Let’s open up that connection, let’s seek after the One who is worthy of praise and be humbled by His glory – the glory of the Most High. Let’s give Him the praise that is due to Him and Him alone.
*God works so mysteriously! Thanks to Pastor Chris for letting me borrow some of his points from the sermon today – they helped God get the point that He was making to me through these verses.