Tuesday, August 8, 2017

With this Gift

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored.  Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’  The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the Lord your God. 
Deuteronomy 26:1-4(NLT)
Many things we do in worship echo Old Testament pictures.  Lifting the offering plates before the altar table is symbolic of obedience in bringing our tithes and offerings to God’s house as instructed.  But the deeper meaning is the giving of ourselves, acknowledging that we are God’s servants who have entered the land He promised; it is the land of God’s Kingdom. 
That giving is an important part of worship cannot be over-stated!  Many of the important things we do in life begin with the kind of declaration that signify our love, honor and fidelity. 
·       In worship we declare that with this gift I will serve, worship and be changed…
·       In business dealings we sign contracts that declare, by these words I will
·       In weddings we declare that with this ring I will love, honor and cherish…
If our word is our bond, in worship our gift laid before the altar demonstrates our faith.
Many people contend that they believe in God, indeed that they have strong faith, and are “spiritual – but not religious”.  The meaning in that can be interpreted in many ways, some good; some quite hypocritical. 
On the good side is discarding the façade of being religious, just going through the motions, without any heart for following God.  Deeds without love is hardly responding to the love of Christ.
On the bad side is claiming spiritual depth without obedience to the whole counsel of God.  This would include some of the ritual-like opportunities to serve, such as attending worship at a local church, tithing the first-fruits of our labor, corporate prayer, and working together in the community of faith to spread the Gospel. 
The hypocritical aspect of claiming to be spiritual, yet living outside the community of faith – OK, let’s say this plainly – saying you love God, and are spiritual, but you never darken the doorstep of church, is denying the very faith you claim to have.   
It is also inconsistent to hold that you love and worship God, when you will not love and obey the One who said he would build His church on the pillar of that love. 
So, you want Jesus, but you don’t want the church? 
To discard the church Jesus loved is to discard Jesus. 

For You Today

Make sure the faith you proclaim is the faith you perform!
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

[i] Title Image: By Russell Brownworth (Own work), Mt Zion UMC, Bennett, NC 8-6-17

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