God on the fringe?

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Do you have a hobby, something that you do that brings you pleasure, that connects you with people of similar interest?  A friend of mine loves baseball. He can recite the most obscure statistics, knows details of games played 2 decades ago, and follows his team, well yes, fanatically! It’s fun to watch.  In the past I knew a Trekkie. For the uninformed, that is a person who owns every Star Trek episode on DVD. Hey, what do I know? It’s fun for them.  Whatever our interest – music, sport, camping, travel – these hobbies can add value to our lives by giving us a creative outlet and by helping us to let go of the daily grind of life.

Have you made your Christianity a hobby? How can you know? If you are giving the Lord whatever time is left over after work, school, home maintenance, or sports, He’s your hobby. If you fit in the daily spiritual disciplines of prayer, meditation, and Scripture intake after the other demands of life are met, He’s your hobby.  If your giving to God’s work in the world comes out of the checkbook last – not first – He’s your hobby.

When asked how best to please the Lord, Jesus answered this way – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30, NIV) That reads like a first priority, not a secondary interest, doesn’t it?  Some of you may be objecting that this sounds like duty, a life-killing religious obligation. When we serve from love, there is delight! Ask any fan if their sacrifice to get the best ticket, to find that obscure item, is dutiful and they will tell you it is not. Why? Because they love what they are pursuing!

The preacher Malachi received a word from God for His people. Seems that the Jews were blessed, but they forgot Who was blessing them. God was pushed to fringe of life so that they could pursue their own desires and plans. He was getting the left-overs.  He said,  “I am honored all over the world. And there are people who know how to worship me all over the world, who honor me by bringing their best to me. They’re saying it everywhere: ‘God is greater, this God-of-the-Angel-Armies.’  “All except you. Instead of honoring me, you profane me.  You profane me when you say, ‘Worship is not important, and what we bring to worship is of no account,’ and when you say, ‘I’m bored—this doesn’t do anything for me.’ You act so superior, sticking your noses in the air—act superior to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!  

And when you do offer something to me, it’s a hand-me-down, or broken, or useless. Do you think I’m going to accept it? This is God speaking to you!   “A curse on the person who makes a big show of doing something great for me—an expensive sacrifice, say—and then at the last minute brings in something puny and worthless! I’m a great king, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, honored far and wide, and I’ll not put up with it!

A ‘hobby’ God is unable to meet our deepest needs.  That is one of the reasons that so many Christians are unfulfilled – chasing experience, moving from church to church, abandoning Christ’s Body – the Church. God has not failed to meet their needs. They have asked Him to live in the wrong place on the fringe rather than at the center of their lives.

So, ponder this word from the Word today.  Mediate deeply on it. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV)

________

Center Of My Joy

(A Gospel song that will bless you!)

Jesus You’re the center of my joy
All that’s good and perfect comes from You
You’re the heart of my contentment
Hope for all I do
Jesus You’re the center of my joy

 When I’ve lost my direction
You’re the compass for my way
You’re the fire and light
When nights are long and cold
In sadness You are the laughter
That shatters all my fears
When I’m all alone
Your hand is there to hold
Oh

 You are why I find pleasure
In the simple things of life
You’re the music
In the meadows and the streams
The voices of the children
My fam’ly and my home
You’re the source and finish
Of my highest dreams
(Oh yeah)

 Jesus You’re the center of my joy
All that’s good and perfect comes from You
You’re the heart of my contentment
Hope for all I do
Jesus You are the center of my joy
Jesus You’re the center of my joy
When I’m lonely when I’m afraid
You are there to guide my way
You’re my heart You’re my contentment
Hope for all I do
Jesus
You’re the center of my joy joy
You’re my Joy

 Gloria Gaither | Richard Smallwood | William J. Gaither © 1987 Century Oak Publishing Group (Admin. by Conexion Media Group, Inc.) Richwood Music (Admin. by Conexion Media Group, Inc.) William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)

CCLI License # 810055

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