Thursday, 24 February 2011

Just kill me now, Lord!

I think we all know the story of Jonah and the whale.  How he was to go announce God's judgement on the city of Nineveh and how he tried to get out of it..only to land up in the belly of a whale.

Why did God want to go pronounce judgement on a city? What happened to Him being a God of love?  Well, the chapter ends with a verse that explains God's heart towards Nineveh and even it's animals.
But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”  (Jonah 4:11)
God was not rubbing His hands together in glee, just waiting to distroy Nineveh. He wanted SAVE the people and the animals.

After Jonah went to Nineveh and gave them God's judgement, the people repented and changed their ways.

Did Jonah feel happy about it? Oh no! Oh no!

In fact, he complained to God saying the reason he ran away the first time was because he knows God is kind and compassionate and merciful and slow to anger and that if the people of Nineveh repented God would save this city.   He went on to say "Just kill me now, Lord! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted (the destruction of the city) will not happen."  (Jonah 4:1-3)

Can you imagine that?  He'd rather be dead than see God save the people of Nineveh?!

What saddens me is that some Christians also react this way when God saves people they think don't deserve it..people they deem sinners, freaks, evil or whatever they have labelled them. How dare God save them? God is love but surely He can't love those people.

Sobering people. Sobering. Are you judging someone God accepts?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Away with your noisy hymns of praise

When you start singing with a music ministry band again, even if it's only informal jam sessions, and you read the book of Amos it is humbling.

Amos is definitely not a pleasant Bible book to read, but Sunday I found myself reading from it:
I hate all your show and pretense — the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
(Amos 5:21-24 nlt)

You sing trivial songs to the sound of the harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David.
(Amos 6:5 nlt)

The interesting point this book highlights though is the reason God found their worship offensive was because their lifestyle didn't match their singing. It says "You care nothing about the ruin of your nation." (Amos 6:6)

It would seem to me the biggest sin these people were committing in God's eyes were in oppressing the poor and the needy. (Amos 4:1-2)

God is just not interested in our worship, our lip service, if we ignore hurting people around us, or worse, are the ones hurting them.

"Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living." (Amos 5:24)

Or as it says in Matthew 25...
For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’
(Matthew 25:42-45 nlt)

Wednesday, 09 February 2011

Ignorant of the very thing you worship

It is actually physically uncomfortable to watch or be part of worship when the singers/band do not reach out to God with their spirits while they worship. You can feel it. It's.. flat..dead. I start squirming in my seat.  And, no matter how hard I try on my own to just worship God irrespective of what's going on in the service, the fact is I am still very influenced by it.
Matthew 15:8-9
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’
Why does this happen?  Why do people who profess to love and want to worship God not really worship Him then?  I can give you a reason - It's hard to worship God if you don't really love Him, but actually just feel it's your duty, or worse,  fear Him.  

Acts 17, verse 23 talks about worshiping a God you don't know, a God you are ignorant about.  I feel this is sadly what happens in so many churches, or even happens in the hearts of Christians.

You're not going to love God if you don't know Him. You're not going to get know Him by obeying the rules, and doing or saying the right thing. He's not about rules.  Got that? He is NOT ABOUT RULES, no matter how much your pastor preaches on sin, preaches on how you fall short, preaches on how you better stop doing this or that and get in line. God is about relationship. He is about love. He is about drawing you with kindness.

When do you feel love for someone? Isn't it when they accept you unconditionally, love you, care for you, look out for you, are positive and fun?

So why do we think God is like, completely the opposite of the above! That He doesn't accept us, love us, care for us, look out for us. That He's not positive or *gasp* fun?

Just read this, from that dusty book Deuteronomy that we all usually avoid like the plague..
In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
The Lord alone led him; no foreign god was with him.
He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag,
with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.
(Deut 32:10-14)
Start thinking about love, about God. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 .. would a God like that not be worth getting to know... learning to love?

And then, when your heart is overflowing with that love for God..guess what happens? * drum roll please* Yup, you guessed right! True worship!