Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lip service

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Jeremiah 10, 11, 12; Psalm 111

Jeremiah 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice; why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? 2 You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts. 3 Yet you know me, O Lord; you see me and test my thoughts about you.

Good morning!

My mother grew up attending a small country church in the backwoods of Mississippi. Nestled among pine trees and in between her favorite cousin’s cotton fields, Mom would walk with her parents and siblings from their farmhouse to worship every Sunday morning. Unless the weather was really cold or wet, they walked barefooted every week to church. There were seven children in all, and Mother ended up carrying one of her youngest siblings on one hip, while clinching her dress shoes between her elbow and forearm. When they came to the cemetery just behind the church, Mother would have the children stop, wash their feet, and slip on their Sunday shoes. This saved wear and tear, and their shoes lasted long enough to pass down from oldest to youngest. Daddy carried a picnic basket full of fried chicken and sweet potato pie for the pot luck dinner later that day.

Everyone in church was related. Mother had scads of cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles, and they saw each other every week at church. Mother would watch as some of her relatives become quite emotional during the worship experience. As the pastor preached, one aunt would regularly fell down in the middle of the aisle, having been slain by power of the Holy Spirit. She would shake and roll around, and Mother could easily read the stamp across her homemade potato sack underwear. If you’ve ever wondered what the term “Holy Roller” meant, my mother could tell you all about it. She watched her relatives roll down the aisle each week. After worship, the whispering would begin to rumble around the picnic tables outside. Gossiping seemed to be a source of information and cultural entertainment. Auntie so and so, who had rolled all over the aisle that morning, had been spotted at the local pub Friday night, doing a little too much “holy rolling” there. Someone in the pew had recognized the stamp across her underwear.

Many people refuse to attend worship today because they doubt the authenticity of our faith. They’ve watched our actions and wonder whether Jesus has the power to truly change lives. You may know of a relative or close friend, who behaves one way at church, and acts totally different during the rest of the week. There are others who believe God will always love and forgive them, no matter how they behave. We hope and pray, and we work hard to try and convince each other that God will overlook the sins we commit. He gave us His blueprint for daily living and we keep trying to rewrite His Word to suit our own personal preferences. For some, the church has become a place to promote a personal agenda. There are many who believe if they can just convince the rest of the world to stop judging them accept the way they choose to live, then God will surely do the same. We deceive ourselves and each other when we try to conform His Word to our life. We are to conform our lives to Him. There is a huge difference. Are we only giving lip service to the Lord, or does our faith take us from holy rolling to holy living?

Jeremiah didn’t beat around the bush in his prayerful conversations with God. He was not afraid to ask the Father tough questions. He wondered why evil and wickedness seems to prevail in the hearts of so many who claim to be the Lord’s redeemed. Jeremiah did not understand how those who had no faith at all lived in comfort and happiness. Like unruly weeds, their sins continue to perpetuate themselves. If God is a God of justice, won’t we receive a just reward for our actions?

Today, I am thanking the Lord for His mercy and grace. I don’t want to give mere lip service to Christ. I want my life to be a living reflection of the One who saves me daily from myself. There was a time when all I ever wanted was what I wanted. I was selfish and suffered from tunnel vision. I wanted everyone to agree that my way was the right way. I confess that my walk and talk did not match. And if God had given me justice for the life I was choosing to live, I would not have the assurance of eternal life today. The Lord helped me realize that I could not serve Him only on Sunday and serve myself the rest of the week. Jesus Christ calls us to stop focusing on ourselves, and begin focusing our hearts and minds completely upon Him.

Lip service can be distracting, distasteful, and misleading. If you are searching for something more than superficial faith, come join me this weekend in the sanctuary of Faith Church. None of us are perfect yet; still, Jesus Christ continues to perfect us in His love. Won’t you spend some time focusing your heart upon the only One who can truly save your life?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: your lip service to become a life song. We need to experience real faith. Jesus Christ is the real deal. Won’t you give up your way for His? If you seek Him, He will find you right where you are at, and He alone can transform your heart today.
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
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