In the musical "My Fair Lady," Eliza Doolittle gets upset with a young man who is trying to tell her how much he loves her, and sings a song called "Show Me." The song starts out:
"Words, words, words,
I'm so sick of words!
I get words all day through,
First from him, now from you.
Is that all you blighters can do?"
Sometimes I wonder if God feels this way also. We (meaning I) spend a lot of time talking to God. Actually, I spend a lot of time talking in general. I personally work through things by talking about them, and when I'm not talking, I'm writing, or at least thinking, generally in an internal conversation with myself.
God definitely wants and expects us to talk to him. After all, Paul exhorts us in 1 Thesselonians 5:17 to "Pray without ceasing."
Pray without ceasing.
So we pray. We ask for God to help us. We claim His promises. We pray His word back to him. There are so many types of prayers.
This week, as I was working on the music for Sunday, I was struck a passage in Hosea:
Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips." (Hosea 14:1-2)
Israel had apparently been going around worshipping other gods, and was being taken captive to Assyria. I was a bit confused. This was the old testament. Usually when people did something wrong, they were asked to bring an animal with them to sacrifice on the Lord's altar. Here, they are told to take words with them! The offering that God required of them was the fruit of their lips.
What in the world is that?
In Hebrews 13:15, I found an answer:
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
Praise is the fruit of the lips.
My petitioning and complaining is not fruitful. In these two verses, God is asking us first for repentance, which will lead to forgiveness of our sins, and then for an offering of praise to him.
How do we get to this spot? How can we praise Him when things are going wrong?
That, my friends, is the sacrifice. It is giving up our wants and even our needs. It is giving up our desire to have things go our way. In our humanness, this is impossible. We are hard-wired for self-preservation. If we believe in God, we tend to believe that he is there to make sure that we are okay. We (I, again) get upset when we are sick or injured. We get upset when we can't buy things that we think we should have for our own comfort. We expect a return for our investment.
Investment is not sacrifice. Investment is giving something to someone else, expecting to get more back. We cannot treat God as a stock market or a bank.
God. Is. God.
He was not made for us, but we were made for Him.
We were made to worship. If you don't know how to do this, read last week's blog. In the meantime, here are the steps:
Sacrifice our desires
Praise His name
Fellowship with others
This week, I'm going to try praying in a different way. I am going to spend the time repenting, proclaiming the name of Jesus, and praising Him.