Sunday, July 6, 2008

Seeking God in a Way that Pleases Him (church bulletin cover)

God is certainly not impressed with outward shows of devotion when our hearts are not actually seeking Him. I can read my Bible, attend special Saturday night worship meetings and write this devotional, and my heart can still be far from God, leaving none of the above pleasing to God or of any benefit to anyone. The prophet Amos addressed this when he wrote that God actually hated his people’s festivals and assemblies and sacrifices (Amos 5:21-22). Even their songs were as noise to God (5:23). Are my songs or my blog postings noise to God? Amos offers some appreciated insight into how to avoid this. Amos was speaking to a people who loved the outward stuff – their rituals and offerings (4:5), but whose hearts were far from God (4:11). So he brought the word of the LORD to them: “Seek Me that you may live” (5:4). The sort of seeking spoken of here is about what I do between the rituals so that the outward things are an expression of the genuine life I have in God. “Seek Me” can be done anytime, all the time – it’s the posture of one who is eager for God, not just interested in attending spiritual meetings.

But Amos was also urging God’s people to a better kind of outward expression in their devotion to God. Rather than stressing religious rituals and gatherings, which typically only impact the individuals in attendance, Amos stressed deeds that impacted others for good. He spoke of justice and righteousness (5:24). He said to “Hate evil, love good, and establish justice” (5:15). That is how to avoid singing “noisy” songs to God (5:23)! This isn’t a message exhorting us to stop singing, or even to avoid meeting together. It’s about what direction I’m facing as I sing – toward God or self? And it’s about what I do between the meetings – pursue righteousness or personal gain? What I choose could mean the difference between “Seek Me that you may live” (5:4) and “Prepare to meet your God!” (4:12).

© 2008 by Ken Peters

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