Thursday, November 17, 2016

insert foot in mouth

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-6:12
mark this: Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
I know all of us have said things that we've regretted, but some of us do it more often than others. I fall into that camp of chronic foot-in-mouthers. But even the worst of us blabbermouths eventually understand that restraining our words is often a good idea. And while we may have figured out somewhat when to be silent before other people, that skill does not automatically transfer to our relationship with God. Don't be fooled into thinking that foot in mouth disease does not apply there.
We've now come to perhaps the most neglected passage concerning worship in the entire Bible. It's one that not many like to hear. But it is one that we ought to hear, and hear frequently. In one word: silence.
When I first was taking Spanish classes in junior high, our teacher's favorite expression was "sientete y callete," which means sit down and shut up! (A very necessary expression to junior highers of any language!) Today's passage has the same message for us- at least in regards to worship.
We know from the Word of God that our Father in Heaven does not care much for showy, self-centered prayers (1), mindless repetition (2), blind adherence to man-made rules and traditions (3), meaningless offerings (4), or hypocritical acts of worship (5).
But unless we are careful, it is our tendency as humans to fill even our most sincere attempts of adoration with all of the above, with mere noise. And by noise I do NOT mean volume. I mean what this passage describes: worship that is foolish, ignorant, hasty, and heavy on words but light on meaning.
Whenever our attempts to praise God end up being about ourselves and our feelings; whenever we sing a song mindlessly, with not the slightest understanding of what is being sung, whenever we are simply hoping that the song ends so we can sit down soon- that my friends, is the sacrifice of fools. Ouch- too often those descriptions come close to what passes for praise in our gatherings.
But before we blame a certain time period or style or culture, we must understand that the sacrifice of fools has been, and will continue to be, a problem for all who would worship the Living God. It really comes down to a matter of the heart. We either worship the Lord in spirit and in truth or we don't worship at all (6).
I find the best thing to make sure my heart is where it should be is the old "sientete y callete" approach. When I understand the same truth that Habakkuk did: "The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him (7)." When I come before Him acknowledging the vast difference between us. It is then and only then that I have anything worthwhile to say. Otherwise- I'm going mum, 'cause it sure beats the alternative.
(1) Luke 18:11-12
(2) Matthew 6:7
(3) Mark 7:8-9
(4) Isaiah 1:14
(5) Amos 5:21
(6) John 4:24

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