by Pastor Tim Burt
Many people have grown up in a church whose service was for the most part, the experience of religious repetition. Let me explain that. The majority of the elements of the service were the same and repeated at each service. Much of what was said was ritual – not necessarily understood nor did it do much if anything to engage one’s thought processes. Verbal responses were known by heart and repeated whether mentally engaged or not. Few if any understood what the hymns they sang over and over meant. Few understood what the words meant to the author when written and should mean to them as they sang them – resulting in more mindless participation and ritual. For those that loved to sing them, it was more about the joy of singing than a passion for the meaning of the words of worship to God. So, when I say that many people grew up in the framework of a religious repetition, I mean something you did that was about God but seldom engaged your heart and mind. I know that many good people were brought up in this kind of religious framework.
Can you imagine going out on a date with someone that spoke another language but did not speak yours? It might be cute and fun for a short time but the novelty of it would fade fast. Engaging in thought, word, and in deed is critical to any good and intimate relationship.
Can you imagine going out on a date when you really didn’t want to and did so repeatedly? How engaged would you and could you be? Again maybe in the beginning you could be polite and talk about a few things, but after a short time, because you being there was out of duty and obligation, you’d burn out.
God never meant for our times of coming together to worship Him in church to be religious repetition that led to us mentally checking out. He never meant for us to say, sing, or do things that we did not understand in our worship of Him. To the contrary, coming together to worship God was to be a time to learn of Him, of His immeasurable love toward us, to learn of His life-changing Word that represents His will for us, and to pray prayers of sincere faith with confidence that He would hear them and answer them. Jesus wanted to correct that kind of thinking and mindless action and prayer. We see Him in Matthew 6:7 say, “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” The Greek word for “repetitions” is a word that means to prate tediously. “Prate” means to talk excessively and pointlessly implying without thought or from the heart – it means to babble or speak empty words – words without thought and heart behind them.
Jesus taught His listeners to get away from mindless and repetitious prayer with God. He wants our minds to be renewed to His Word knowing what He is like or what He wants. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."
God's Word is to be the basis for knowing Him. God isn't pleased with religious actions and words disengaged from God's will and heart. If you are doing, saying, or singing things that you don't understand and that you can't see in the Bible, it might be good to instead read your Bible and let God's Word direct you. Be a part of a church that teaches the Bible and how to live according to the scriptures. Listen to sermons that are Biblical, relevant to life's experience, and that help you lean on God's grace and the help of the Holy Spirit for the strength to live for Him. Sit under teaching that helps you understand the immeasurable love of Jesus Christ and the salvation and blessing He's promised to you!
Jesus taught His followers God's heart in the scriptures. He wasn't interested in religious mindless activity. He came to help them know and see the Father through His life so that they could love and worship God in Spirit and truth. Jesus wanted their time with God to be a time of intimacy and instruction while being infused with life and power. He did not want His Words to be dead, mysterious, irrelevant outdated words on a page, but words of life and power that were relevant for today.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
The last part of this verse talks about it being “sharper than any two edged sword…” The literal Greek is painting the picture of something so sharp that it slices to the core with one cut vs. a knife that is dull and you have to hack away to make a cut. It reminds me of a expressions I heard many times growing up. “Cut the crap.” “Quit beating around the bush." “Get to the point!” The Word of God cuts through the lies our heart has been infected by and brings the illumination and truth of life we all seek for.
When spend time reading your Bible, ask the Lord to have His Holy Spirit to teach you and speak to you through His Word. You'll learn quickly that He will! He will bring words of life and hope. He will also bring correction and instruction. His motive is love and to lead you into a life filled with His peace and blessing. Let God's powerful word speak to your heart today!
Luke 4:4 (NKJV) But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' "
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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