Is it possible that the Church-goers spend so much money and energy on materialism the very week that is designated for us to stop and be genuinely thankful, that by the time the last Sunday of November rolls around we have nothing left? No energy? No money? No desire to worship God?
Having been a senior pastor now for 10 years, I have seen the same occurrence happen each year. The attendance on the last Sunday of November is less than normal in small groups and in worship, the offering is significantly lower than what is needed, and the tenor of the worshippers is noticeable disconsolate. I pray the American church can reverse this trend.
As I understand the Bible, what is acceptable worship is worship that results in God being pleased and the worshipper also gets blessed. God desires that we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, but that includes having clean hearts and then clean lives before God. Only when our hearts are clean can our lives become clean, then God will accept our worship and then God will bless our worship.
What is the reason we are most often frustrated and lacking productivity? For the returning Israelites, it was the sin of comprise, and their sin resulted in a curse. But, when the people began to obey God and build the temple, God took pleasure in their worship. When God is pleased with our worship, His pleasure manifests itself tangibly. Even so, when God is pleased with us, He expresses His pleasure tangibly. God was no longer frowning on His people. Frowning means chastisement and curse, but now God turns His face toward them in love and delight, and gives them peace. Acceptable worship always results in God blessing us. Look at Haggai 2:18-19 in The Message, ‘Now think ahead from this same date—this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Think ahead from when the Temple rebuilding was launched. Has anything in your fields—vine, fig tree, pomegranate, olive tree—failed to flourish? From now on you can count on a blessing.’
Repentance and obedience always result in God blessing His people. This promise of God is for us this day as well. Do you want to be blessed by God? Let me warn you: If you want God’s blessing, you must be interested in true repentance and forsaking of sin. Remember, every promise of God is conditional. If you want to receive God’s blessings, you must first examine yourself and see if your frustration is a result of your sin.
This coming Sunday is a celebration of the Lord’s Supper at Mobberly. How thankful I am for public opportunities to get right with God! I hope many of you can join us this Sunday! Worship is more exciting when we come clean, when we come prepared to give, and when we come seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.