What sort of people should we be in a world full of conflict, poverty and hardship? In a peaceful land, such as our own, perhaps we are a little insulated from such things. However, we do have the poor among us, and many people struggle with illness and unemployment.
As an answer to our question, there’s a great description in Micah 6:8 of what God wants to see in His people. “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” The statement follows an indictment of the paltry efforts of Israel to approach God. They thought He would be happy with them if they offered a great number of animal sacrifices and expensive oils (v6-7). But without the right character and attitudes, this would fail. The world cries out for justice and kindness; so does God.
What about us? We are rightly concerned about proper worship, and obedience to the New Testament directions of what we should be as His church. But like Israel of old, this would amount to little if we neglect humility, kindness and justice.
Look at the way he phrases these things. “Do justice,” not just appreciate it. “Love kindness” (mercy), implying a great interest in being kind to others. “Walk humbly with your God,” which eliminates arrogance and a failure to notice the struggles of other people. God wants us to be obedient to Him, but He also wants us to develop the right character.
The church can’t solve everybody’s problems, nor can we tackle all the world’s hardships. But we can be just, kind and humble. Didn’t Jesus say the same? “But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire compassion and not sacrifice.” (Matt.9:13)
What kindness do you plan to do for someone else today?
– Tim Johnson
Sunday morning and Wednesday night meetings can be very rushed affairs if we let them. Work schedules and distance can cause this, but at the best of times we can often hurry through these worship and study periods. Like someone wolfing down fast food in a restaurant rather than investing in healthy food at home, the benefits are meager.
Paul told Timothy to be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following” (1 Tim.4:6). How can we apply this to our classes and worship?
His statement implies a deliberate attempt to read and study the Scriptures on your own so you will be prepared for what we do as a group. It is convenient for us to do this for our Sunday morning adult class because we all have a copy of the study book and each lesson is dated. Read it during the week, but don’t just be satisfied with that. Open your own Bible and read the chapters before and after the one to be studied on Sunday. This will give you the background and setting.
On Wednesdays we are at the end of our study of the book of Proverbs. Class members have been reading ahead each week. This has been invaluable to the great discussions we’ve been having. A new subject will be announced soon for our fall and winter quarter. All of us can make an investment in these classes by simply reading ahead and thinking about it.
Worship time is a bit more unpredictable because the sermon topic is not announced earlier in the week. But we can have our Bibles open and our minds engaged in where the lesson is heading. You can follow the flow of scriptures that appear on the screen. Keep distractions down by refusing to fiddle with phone messages and texts. Decide that there are more important things to do for the hour and you can get back to people later. I also know what it’s like to have small children sitting with you, the attention and supervision they need, and the difficulties of trying to learn something for yourself. But for most of us with children, that’s not overwhelming. We can still discipline ourselves to learn and snatch parts of the lesson when you can.
Nourish yourself. Don’t just settle for “fast food.”
– Tim Johnson
A newspaper article warned about buying meat in large quantities. It reminded consumers that there is a considerable shrinkage in cutting and packaging meat. A person who buys a hundred pound side of beef will not have a hundred pounds when he gets it home and in the freezer.
This leads us to think about the shrinkage in worship. The usual service is about one hour long, but few worship for a full hour. Some arrive late, so that time must be deleted. Those who come on time are distracted by late arrivals and various interruptions. It may take a little time to decide where to sit. And a few feel they must leave before the final prayer. All that must be deducted.
Then there is the time to look around to see who is there and who is not. Time may also be taken to chuckle at a misprint in the bulletin. Some feel they must text on their phones. We must also deduct the time when our minds wander during the sermon, the prayers and communion. We might be surprised to discover how little time we spend in actual worship to God.
A holy man described worship in this way: “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
Worship means, “to feel in the heart.” It renews the spirit as sleep renews the body. We should try hard to take advantage of the time.
– Adapted from an article by David Johnson
There’s a curious note at the end of the book of Deuteronomy describing the death and burial of Moses. As you remember, God allowed him to see an overview of the Promised Land from a perch on top of Mount Nebo, then he passed away. “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.” (Deut.34:6) Continue reading