“Our Daily Bread” http://odb.org
The Daily Devotions of Greg Laurie http://www.harvest.org/devotional
Written by Elihu on 10/02/2015 for https://thei535project.wordpress.com
Original post @ https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/ask-not-what-your-church-can-do-for-you/
Ask not what your church can do for you…
“I didn’t get anything out of it”
Have you ever caught yourself saying that about worship services?
The above phrase is merely a euphemism for this one: “What’s in it for me?”
Humans are not masochists by nature. We want what is best for ourselves. We want cars that run properly (and look nice). We want to go to a reputable college. We want to live in a low-crime neighborhood with Mr. Rogers as our next door neighbor. We want to worship with a church that meets our needs. We want to get a return-on-investment so to speak.
There is nothing inherently wrong with desiring pleasant things for ourselves. The problem arises when we want to take more than we give or when we give only so we can get something back. Is that the attitude of Christ? Was his life a selfish, self-seeking, self-serving life or a selfless, sacrificial one?
Are we approaching our service to God and our fellowship with believers with purely selfish motives or do we strive for a servant’s heart?
Do we expect that we should get something out of the experience? Of course.
We want to be edified, filled, uplifted, comforted and given respite from the harsh world. Such is God’s plan with the church—a sanctuary for God’s people. It’s a place of worship, service and edification.
However, we need to ask ourselves this question: What do we offer God?
To snag an idea from JFK: “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.”
Why do we invest our time, talent and treasure in the church? (Maybe the better question is, are we investing in these things?)
Is it so we can be part of a social club?
To be entertained?
to feel better about ourselves?
to get an emotional “high”?
to serve the Lord
to serve others
to give back to the Lord the life we owe
to show gratitude, thanksgiving, love
to obey His commands
to be edified by fellowship and time with God.
The Old Testament provides a great deal of insight about the type of attitude the Lord desires. Leviticus is one of the harder books to explore because of all the minute details about washings and offerings. Yet, if you look at the big picture, God is trying to convey that he wants His people to give their best to Him with a willing heart. It was not intended to be a drudgery, but an outpouring of love and thanksgiving to the God whose providential care had led them safely through many dangers.
What do we give to God and His Church today?
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
~ Hosea 6:6, ESV
There were five primary offerings under the Old Law:
grain (or meal) offering (Lev. 2)
peace offering (Lev. 3)
sin offering (Lev. 4)
trespass (or guilt) offering (Lev. 5)
These offerings were a shadow of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. We don’t need to offer sacrifices on an altar like the ancient Israelites. Aside from the why of the offerings, take a moment to look at how they made their offerings: they were expected to give the Lord their best. They couldn’t bring God bug-infested flour, maggot filled bread or lame/deformed animals.
What kind of offerings do we bring to God today?
Jesus made peace with God for us, but when we go to worship, what do we offer to show our gratitude? Do we bring our leftover self—groggy from a weekend of entertainment, bored with lack of interest, all neatly concealed beneath our best dresses or suits? Have we spent time with God during the week through study and prayer Or do we offer nothing of ourselves and expect to get something back?
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
Psalm 50.23, ESV
2) Firstfruits & tithes (Lev 23.9-14, Deut. 14.22-27, Deut 26.9-15)
And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God.
~ Deuteronomy 26.10, ESV
The Israelites were expected to give the first of their crop to the Lord before they took part in eating it. Do we give to the Lord from the top or do we try to give him whatever is leftover?
When we budget for the month, do we set aside money to give to the church and help others or is it based on whatever is leftover? Do we give intentionally?
What about time? Do we go to church as long as it doesn’t interfere with our other plans—fishing, sports, hunting, golfing, sleeping—or do we make worship our main goal to be prevented only by extraneous circumstances?
Set apart as holy (consecration)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
~ 1 Peter 1.13-16, ESV