Their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men. – Isaiah 29:13
At the time Isaiah wrote that, Israel was within 100 years of being destroyed by the Babylonians. The people were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were nowhere near Him. They were going through the motions with God’s commands while simultaneously serving other gods. I wonder sometimes if the American church isn’t doing the same thing right now. Maybe we attend church for an hour a week, but how do we live the other 167 hours in the week? Maybe we click on the livestream on Sunday, but where do our other clicks take us?
I look back on my church life and easily see how I could have relied on the precepts that were taught by the men leading. At my first church, I could have simply thought that taking communion regularly was important and as long as I did that at least once a month, I’d be okay. At my next church, I could have easily thought that now that I “said the prayer” and was baptized, I was good to go . . . now just hold on until the rapture takes place. At my next church, I could have chased and chased the Holy Spirit until I achieved some sort of spiritual status that was always going to be just out of reach. At another church, I could have simply done good deeds and made sure there was this image me and my family portrayed. If we looked religious and kept hidden any real problems we were having, we would remain accepted by God and His people.
I am not saying that there were not real and authentic believers at each of these churches, there were, I’m just saying that it would have been easy for me to rely on looking the part and gotten stuck. Remember, Satan is crafty and does not want us to move forward in our relationship with God. Matthew 7:21-23 are by far the verses that make me worry more than any other verses. People will petition God when they stand before Him and try to justify their entrance into Heaven. Here are the reasons they will give:
Did we not prophesy in your Name?
I have been to powerful church services where they prophesied. In fact, there was a lady that prophesied over me that I would preach messages that went all over the world. I thought she was crazy, and I totally forgot about it until the day I saw that one of my WMD’s was read at a church service in Africa. I immediately remembered the prophecy and could not believe it. With that being said, I could not imagine petitioning God for a place in heaven based on that alone.
And in Thy name cast out devils?
I don’t think I have ever been to a service where this was done, but I’ve sure heard stories. I have seen it done, but it was not in a church setting. Once again, I’m not going to petition an entrance into heaven by saying, “Remember that time, Lord . . .”
And in Thy Name done many wonderful works?
I think right here is where so many in the American church lose it. Many people are banking on their works to get them into Heaven. “Didn’t I tithe? Didn’t I go to church every time the doors were open? Didn’t I give to that food shelter? Didn’t I volunteer for this or that? Wasn’t I a pretty good person?” I’m not against any of this at all. I’m sure Jesus isn’t either. But the fact of the matter is that a person can experience and do many things in God’s Name and still hear these words: Depart from me, I never knew you.
I’m thinking that part of the reason God has me out in the wilderness right now is to strip the safety I’ve always felt from church and make sure that I’m serving Him because I love Him. I don’t really get to bank on my works because there isn’t anyone else around to see them. I don’t get to look around at other people and make myself feel better by comparison because there aren’t a lot of other people present. It was kind of easy to preach sermons and go with the flow when I knew a fairly large number of people would be present in church. Now, I put in the same amount of preparation and there may or may not be at least one person, family, or group come to a service in the wilderness. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter if someone comes or not . . . God is asking me: “Will you do it even if nobody shows up? Can you do this just for Me?” The answer is “Yes, Lord . . . I will!”
Lord, with all my heart I want to truly know You. I want to help others know You. I don’t want to make this Christian walk about just what I do or have done for You. I want to know You! I want to love You! Help me! On that glorious day when my faith becomes sight, may I hear those sweet words from You, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Thank You that as I type this, it is like You are with me. I pray for every reader, that as they read it . . . it is like You are with them. Help the American church to get this right. Help us to learn to put our denominational differences aside and really learn how to love You and each other. Keep us constantly moving forward in our relationship with You. Amen