Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Don’t Pretend to Listen

Over the past couple of weeks, the Lord has been placing a message upon my heart. I have tried and tried to avoid sharing these words but Lord commanded me to share them with you. They are harsh words and may offend some, but He has given them to me to share with you nevertheless. I have prayed for wisdom and asked the Lord to give me courage to share them with you.

As He placed the message in my heart, He also directed my readings in the Bible. His hand guided me to the particular books, chapters and verses to share. While I read those passages, the message is very evident and must be given to His children. 

Each passage came from the books written by his prophets. Those books contained the message that God gave to prophets to give to the Israelites. His children had turned their backs on God and moved away from Him. They sought out other gods. They wanted the things of this world and were bound and determined to enjoy the pleasures of this world. In time, they became disrespectful of others. They said that they loved one another, but in their hearts was only hatred and loathing of others. Envy and greed began to guide their actions. The Lord sent prophets to them to warn them that there would be grave consequences for their disobedience. All they had to do was humble themselves before the Lord and repent. God, through His infinite mercy, would forgive them. However, they chose to go their own way. For that, God punished them. I am sure that many wondered why God punished them. 

When they finally got the message and repented, things were good once again. But, in time and with a new generation, the Israelites were, once again, turning away from God and found themselves receiving another prophet and more warnings about the consequences of their disobedience.

We find ourselves in a similar situation. As a nation, God has truly blessed us. People come to our nation for various reasons, but the one that means the most to me is the freedom to worship. When you read the stories about religious persecution you see how people are treated for their faith. Some are arrested and jailed while others are tortured or murdered.

In our great nation, our right to freely worship is guaranteed by a document written by men who also believed in that sacred right. Were they flawed as individuals? Yes. They were. But, we are all flawed. Remember the words of Paul as he wrote to the Romans?

Paul, in chapter 3 of his letter to the Romans, writes, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

God provides His son, Jesus, as our atonement offering for our sins. It is through him that we have the gift of salvation. We cannot justify ourselves or our actions to God and call ourselves or those actions righteous. We are all flawed just like the men who wrote that document, the Constitution of the United States. But, what they did do was to inspire us to create that more perfect union for ourselves and our posterity. Our nation is a nation founded on the basic principles of worship and the love for one another. 

However, things have changed. We have turned our backs not only on God but also on each other. We have seen the riots and the violence. We no longer love our neighbors. In some cases, we loathe and hate one another. We have truly lost our way.

The message that I have received from the Lord is not unique in any way. Many of you have probably received the same message as well. What we have received is that warning. I don’t believe I am a prophet. I do believe, however, that God has given us all the same message. We need to truly listen to God’s message and not just pretend we listen to it. We must heed the warning and turn away from our wicked ways and repent not only as individuals but also as a nation.

In chapter thirty-three of his book, the Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, records God’s words, “Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the Lord is saying!’ So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they certainly will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.

Are we, as Christians, just pretending to hear the warning from God? I know that He has given this same message to many others. It is not a unique message meant for only a few. It is meant for all Christians. It is the wake-up call and the bugle call to action. We cannot just simply hear the words and not act. We must embrace them and turn away from evil. We must repent and ask for forgiveness and return to the path of righteousness. There is no other way. We cannot merely be entertained by His warning while we continue to walk away from the Lord. 

If we fail to heed the warning given to us all, we will see the consequences of our actions. God will withhold His blessings and scatter us to the winds. We will be given over to our own desires and will suffer His wrath. But, it is not too late. We can return to the Father.

God says, in chapter seven of 2 Chronicles, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

The choice is ours to make. We can continue down this path that leads away from God . That path will ultimately lead to hatred, destruction and utter damnation. Or, we can turn away from our wicked ways by humbling ourselves and repenting of our sins. When we do the latter, God will hear our prayers and restore His blessings upon our great nation so that we truly can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 

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