Google+ 11/27/13 Don't Just Read the Bible, Live It!!!

2 Chronicles 31:1-4

 

When the festival ended,

The Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh,

And they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes.

Hezekiah then organized the priests and Levites into divisions to offer the burnt offerings and peace offerings, And to worship and give thanks and praise to the Lord at the gates of the Temple.

The king also made a personal contribution of animals for the daily morning and evening burnt offerings,

The weekly Sabbath festivals, the monthly new moon festivals,

And the annual festivals as prescribed in the Law of the Lord.

In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites,

So they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord.

 

In part nine of our twelve-part devotion series entitled, "Thanks Forever!" we turn once again to the priest and prophet Ezra for some very important instructions to all of us.  As we know, 1 and 2 Chronicles was originally one book.  The translators divided the books and gave them the Hebrew title, which translated means, "Daily Matters."  Chronicles represents a detailed account, from a priest's perspective, of the religious institutions (temple, priesthood, offerings, and feasts) as the essential elements of Israel's national life.  As the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, David has appointed priests to handle each detail and given instructions to the Israelites about what to do daily.  Even the king has gotten involved by contributing animals for the morning and evening burnt offerings.  Notice that there were daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly celebrations.  As the members of my congregation know, I believe the Bible is clear about how important each of these events are to the life of the church and its members.  I am not sure how we got to the point we are in organized religion today, but I guarantee you that neither God, Jesus, the apostles, nor the prophets would approve.  I have been in the gospel ministry in some way, shape, or form for almost 40 years.  As pastors and congregations, we simply don't listen.  The Israelites had trouble obeying God and they were at the temple at least twice per day!  Church was never intended to be a place we visited for a hour on Sundays.  Because the Israelites had stopped being obedient, there were numerous idols and pagan altars everywhere.  Don't be misled.  We have those today too!  We "worship" our cars, houses, bank accounts, jobs, and retirement plans.  Yet, we can go weeks without setting foot in a church or giving anything to God.  Is it any wonder our churches are dying and we don't pray in schools or government buildings anymore?  Many pastors worry more about their days off and benefit packages than they do taking care of the DAILY needs of their congregation.  Let's get back to the Bible.  Here's what Ezra says we should do for God.  We must fellowship in the temple daily and regularly press the "pause button" on our "Caesar lives" to give God thanks and praise.  We need to tear down all of our "false idols and pagan pillars" and erect "altars" for God.  We must participate and observe all daily, weekly, monthly, and annual "festivals" in the temple.  Finally, in addition to our offerings to God, we need to give a small portion of all that we have to the "Levites" so that they can devote themselves to full-time temple work!  We need to stop today, particularly as Thanksgiving Day approaches, and evaluate what we are doing in our lives daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  Whatever does not fit into the pattern laid out by Ezra, and Jesus in the New Testament, we must eliminate now.  Yes, I said eliminate!  The non-Biblical things we do in the world don't belong in our Christian lives, regardless of what the world says.  They make us "too busy" to do what God says.  My challenge to all of us, each day, is simple.  "Don't Just Read the Bible, Live It!!!"