Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: A Boss Your Heart Message

Many thanks to Mr. Kirsten Walkup for today's devo (which I'm posting a day late due to Boss Your Heart/Valentine's Day yesterday):
Looking back, I remember how boring every church service used to be to me. We sang the same songs, the preacher preached a sermon that sounded just like the one he preached the week before, and it would usually end about the same way with someone in tears going down to the alter to pray. By the time I entered my teenage years, I’m fairly certain I’d heard every sermon preached that could be preached and could usually tell where the sermon was going before the preacher himself could. So I sat there with my eyes glazed over looking at the clock and hoping the whole thing would just get over with. Now remember I was raised Pentecostal so for you Baptists out there, just because it was noon or 12:30, that didn’t mean service was over. In many cases it was just getting started.
Often times I would numbly flip the pages of my bible or bring some reading material along with me (I had to be discrete about this, my mother played piano and demanded I sit close to the front) to help pass the time. It didn’t occur to me until later in life that time wasn’t the only thing passing me by in those years; God’s presence was also passing right by me. Sometime around the age of seventeen, the Lord used different circumstances to slap me around and I emerged from my spiritual malaise and actually became interested. Yet I’ve often wondered how many people of all ages do the exact same thing I did when I was a kid.
Growing up in church certainly has its advantages. I’ve lived a life where I have no clue what drug addiction does to the mind, body, and soul and I have no first-hand knowledge of the damage alcoholism can cause to a family. I’ve been blessed, the passing years have taught me as much. Yet there’s a certain apathy that can set in with those of us who have lived most of our lives “inside the walls” of the kingdom. If we allow this indifference to take root in our hearts, we may very well find ourselves living a life surrounded by God’s presence, yet completely missing it.
One of my favorite stories of the Old Testament (you’ll find I have many “favorite stories”) is the story of Samuel when he was a boy. His mother, Hannah, prayed to the Lord to give her a child. She promised that if God blessed her with a baby, she would dedicate him to the service of God. Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to Samuel. When the boy was of age (i.e., weaned) she kept her promise and turned him over to the care of Eli, priest of God most high.
Yet even though Samuel “grew up in the presence of the Lord” (I Sam 2:18), he had no clue as to what the presence was or what the voice of God sounded like. You see, from the time he was very young, Samuel had lived and performed ministerial duties at the house of the Lord. Every day he was doing the work of the Lord and was surrounded by the presence of the Lord yet like so many who sit in church pews every Sunday, he completely oblivious to this. That is until the evening when the Lord chose to reveal Himself to Samuel in a fashion which could not be overlooked.
I Samuel chapter 3 tells us this story. For the sake of space I’ll simply summarize it, but I do recommend you read it for yourself. Samuel was sleeping at the house of the Lord where the ark of God was (think big gold box, not big wooden ship). While the boy was sleeping he heard a voice call to him; “Samuel, Samuel”. Immediately he got up and went to Eli, the priest, and said “here I am, you called me”. Eli’s response was in essence, “no I didn’t, go back to sleep”. This scene played itself out again, with the same result. Samuel heard the voice, went to Eli, Eli sent him away. Though Samuel had spent his short life surrounded by God’s presence, he had no idea that it was God, not Eli who was calling him. A third time Samuel heard the voice and again he went to Eli. This time Eli realized it was more than the overactive imagination of a boy at work. He instructed Samuel that if he heard the voice again, he was to say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening”. The Word of the Lord came to Samuel, and Samuel did as he was instructed as he said to the voice, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening”.
From that time forth, Samuel was used in a mighty way by God and was instrumental in bringing Israel through some its more difficult times. This is due at least in part to the fact that he learned to recognize the presence of God around him and he learned to yield to that presence. In all fairness to Samuel, during that time the Word of the Lord was only revealed to a select few. One could live a lifetime sleeping but a few feet from the Ark of the Covenant and never hear a single word from the Lord. Now, however, the Lord reveals himself to all who would seek him.
As you go through your week I would challenge you to ask yourself whether your walk with Christ has become a “forest for the trees” type of relationship. Are you surrounding yourself with the things of God, but not allowing yourself to truly enter into a full relationship with him? Have you become so bored with the routine of the church experience that you’re no longer allowing yourself to enter into His presence? In other words has spiritual apathy taken root in your heart? If that’s you, I would strongly urge you to reengage your heart and mind. For while you let the time pass you by, you allow the fullness of God’s presence to pass you by as well.

Psalms 100
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
 2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his;
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Boss Your Heart!
BTW, please pray from my wife, Lavenia, as she’s very sick. She’s also the reason for any typos you find as she proofs my posts for me but was unable this evening.

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