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Matthew Bauer

Matthew's Blog

You are here:  blog  >  September 2012  >  Go Near to Listen

Go Near to Listen

drawnearI like how Ecclesiastes 5 starts off in the NIV… “Guard your steps when you go in to the house of God.” The NKJV puts it this way: “Walk prudently.” The Amplified says, “Give your mind to what you are doing.”

It’s alarming how we have come to take church for granted – to take God for granted – even to take ourselves for granted (the house of God – our health, our circumstances, our spirituality). And no, I don’t suggest that there is any danger of these things going away any time soon, but it’s not an issue of losing it, for if we take these things for granted, we’ve already lost. The issue isn’t even about our appreciation or our care of these things. The issue is about honor.

We so often fill the seats on a Sunday morning for our own sake. Some of us sit there out of duty. Others sit because of expectations or to create an image of ourselves. Still others are there because we are seeking to receive a touch from God. But that’s not what church is about.

“Wait,” you say, “you mean it’s not about a touch from God? Isn’t it all supposed to be about God’s presence?”

Well, yes. But God’s presence does not depend upon our butts keeping the seats warm. God doesn’t show up to put on a good show. God doesn’t care if the singers are flat, or the drummer is off-rhythm. He’s not there because of the nice building, or even because of the great preaching. God shows up when we honor Him.

Ecclesiastes 5 continues and says, “Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

I love the bluntness of this verse. Solomon is essentially saying here, “God is God and you are not, so shut up and listen to Him! This is not about us!!!”

How many of our prayers are full of giving advice to God – of all the things we would have Him do to serve us; of our own dreams and ambitions that we want Him to cater to; of our own wills and desires for Him to meet?

Likewise, how many of us sit on boards or leadership teams or church councils, trying to make the church look more and more like us, instead of trying to make it look more like Christ? Oh, how we fill our prayers, our Sunday Schools, our small group discussions, and our interactions with one another with loads of earthly advice and experience, but we forget to share and receive God’s love!

If we want to experience the transformational, healing, redeeming, never-be-the-same-again presence of God, we need to take a long, hard look at how we honor Him in our churches, in our relationships, and in the innermost places of our hearts. Are we putting Him first? Are we honoring Him in our thoughts, in our actions, in our service? Are we giving Him room to speak to us, to guide us, to move in us, to change us? Or are we too busy trying to fit God into the box of our own comforts and desires?

God is God and we are not. It’s not for Him to serve us. It’s not for Him to cater to our dreams and ambitions. It’s not for Him to fulfill our wills and desires. Yes, He loves us, and as our perfect Father, He does serve us and He does shower us with good gifts and blessings. Yes, He hears and answers our prayers (even if it’s not how we expect). But if we want to touch God’s heart, and if we want Him to touch ours, we need to give Him the space to do it. We have to put Him above all else. It is we who should be serving Him. It is we who should be following His dreams and ambitions. It is we who should be seeking His perfect will for our lives, for the church, and for the world we live in.

I was ministering this past weekend in some powerful meetings, with a well-known speaker who flew across the country to be there, and there was hardly anyone who showed up! Now I praise God for those who attended, but I know there were more who should have come. They stayed back because they knew that these meetings would require them to step up and step out. They knew it was going to hold them accountable for the lives they’d been living. They knew it was going to ask of them more than they were willing to give. Yet if it had been a feel-good, motivational, signs-and-wonders kind of event, the place would have been packed – everyone hungry to get the next touch, the next wonder, the next big sign from God that would make their lives so much better (and I don’t discount in the least that it would).

It takes a different kind of courage to seek God when you give Him room to call you and send you forth and to use you for His purposes, but it is that courage that God is seeking in the earth – those who would not just come to Him to receive another good feeling (and yes, we need His touch of healing, His touch of joy, His touch of strength, …), but who are willing to step up and follow His call, His will, and His purposes to establish His kingdom in the earth.

This Sunday, as you enter the house of God, guard your steps. Walk prudently. Give your mind to what you are doing. This is about God. Honor Him, listen to Him, pursue Him. Put aside your own thoughts for just a moment, and give Him your full attention. You know what? Don’t even wait until Sunday! Right now, in the Holy of Holies, right there in your own heart, meet with Him. Quiet yourself and listen. Let Him speak to you, let Him comfort you, let Him guide you, let Him question you, let Him inspire you and call you and send you. Give Him that place of honor once again, that says, “You are God and I am not – may Your kingdom come and Your will be done.”

God, speak to us, for we are listening.

Posted: 9/15/2012 3:42:03 PM by Matthew Bauer | with 0 comments
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