April 6, 2020

Returning to God (part one of two)

Written by Boyd Bailey

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 6, 2020

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring Hosea 6:1-3, NLT

Our global crisis is a clear call from God to return to Him. Every generation experiences some degree of “spiritual distancing” from their Divine Creator, a natural drift from dependence on a higher power. For Christians our ground zero for faith is Jesus Christ, the son of God—He became man to show us God. Our God consciousness through Jesus expressed in humble prayer, grateful worship, loving deeds and generous giving can become inauthentic, even non-existent in the life of Jesus followers and the church. Just as an out of control health crisis increases our social distancing—so it can decrease our spiritual distancing. Pray this pandemic helps us return to God. 

Like many of you, I have extra time to ponder “why” and “how” we got to this fearful place in our world. I don’t know for sure, and my theological construct is definitely limited. I spent several hours this morning rereading the Old Testament plagues, Pharaoh’s hardening of his heart, and God’s hardening of his heart. Bottom line: God was in control—not the government! As I reflect on my hard heart, here are some areas of my life I need altered in my return to God:

Humble Prayer

My prayers have become too routine, not robust and earnest—like a man desperate for God. Do I really believe my prayers matter, or do I pray like things will work out whether I pray or not? As a “professional Christian” have I allowed my familiarity with faith to dilute my passion? I’m afraid so. By returning to God, my innermost desire is to pray confessional, contrite prayers of repentance. I pray for the fire of the Holy Spirit to melt my heart like hot wax. Having discovered and confessed my lukewarm prayer life, I want to repent and pray like Nehemiah 1:3-7: 

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people Israel. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands, decrees, and regulations that you gave us through your servant Moses.

How can I maintain this elevated sense of the Lord’s presence after the current crisis subsides? Maybe there is some level of a crisis of faith looming every day of my life for me to be aware of and address with persevering prayers. Perhaps I say out loud, “Lord I love you, I know you know and love me, show me how you love me”. I am returning to God when my humble prayers slay my proud prayers, with smooth stones of true confession. Humble prayers hound heaven for mercy and forgiveness. In my own strength I am weak, but by returning to God—He makes me strong!

Grateful Worship

My worship has become rushed, influenced by a “taking God for granted” posture. His majesty, mystery and glory have been quietly substituted with a smaller God who I think I have figured out. I am found lacking in  lifting Him up in praise and thanksgiving for His faithful love that endures forever. I yearn for worship that enlarges all my senses with a sense of awe for my Creator and the Creator of the universe. My returning to God means I worship with wonder: 

“Praise the Lord, for he has shown me the wonders of his unfailing love. He kept me safe when my city was under attack. Psalm 31:21, NLT… Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world” (Isaiah 12:5, NLT).

How can I keep the volume of praise to God tuned in and turned up in the ears of my heart, mind, soul and body? Practically, I can practice praise every day when I wake up, when I walk around, when I work, exercise and when I lay my head down at night. Accessible praise music abounds. I’m returning to God when a chorus of angels captures my affections in grateful praise. Lyrics of hymns and praise music feed my faith and fatten my soul. Grateful worship extols God. Returning to God means my heart makes music by singing spiritual songs to the Lord and others! 

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20, NLT).

Prayer

Almighty God, heal our hearts from pride, help us turn from the idolatry of affluence back to fear of you and love for you, in Jesus’ name, amen.


Application

How can our nation start to replace the idol of affluence through generous giving and humble worship of Jesus Christ?


Related Reading

Joel 2:13; Ezra 6:21; Acts 3:19; Revelation 2:5


Post/Tweet today

Our global crisis is a clear call from God to return to God. #return #wisdomhunters #truth #Jesus


Worship Resource

4 minute music video- Reba McEntire: 


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Comments

  1. Lew says:

    Do I really believe my prayers matter?

    During this time of disruption, I’ve looked back over my Christian years and have seen a pattern in my prayers. While God let me know in advance that numerous trials and tribulations will come my way and when they do I should rejoice, my prayers for myself and others were always please don’t! Stop! Why are you doing this? Today I see light at the end of my prayer tunnel because I’m not praying those prayers this time around and it makes me chuckle along with my Heavenly Father…


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