Do you go to church? Good! But do you actually change your behavior—ultimately, your life—as a result of what you’ve heard? Or is church just a habit for you—going, listening, coming back home and doing exactly what you would’ve anyway?
“So they come to you as people do, and they sit before you as My people. They listen to your words, but they refuse to do them. Though they speak of their longing for Me, they act out of their own interests and opinions.” (Ezekiel 33:31 CEB)
It’s so important to actually go to church, read the Bible, pray, and spend time with other believers that sometimes we miss the point that there is a purpose to all of this besides just the actions themselves—they’re supposed to be effective for making us into the people God wants us to become; for changing us! If there is no result, if we’re exactly the same after as before, what was the reason for doing any of it?
I’ve been going through the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, a man God used to deliver messages to His people, in my Bible study time. One of the things that has amazed me is that a lot of what was going on back then—so many thousands of years ago—is exactly what’s still happening today! Apparently, God’s people back then, the nation of Israel, knew who the prophets were and would go to hear what they had to say from God, much as we go to church today to hear what the minister will say. As a matter of fact, the very first verse before today’s verses—God’s words to Ezekiel, says:
“As for you…you’ve become quite the talk of the town. Your people meet on street corners and in front of their houses and say, ‘Let’s go hear the latest news from GOD.’” (Ezekiel 33:30 MSG)
People do often come—to Ezekiel the prophet then, and to church today. But what’s the result? Do we come to actually do what we hear, what God tells us? Or is this just the equivalent of an amusement or ritual; a distraction from our daily lives?
If so, our coming is useless; it isn’t achieving its intended purpose in our hearts and lives! You see, what God says important, and His Word is effective for achieving the goals He has for us in our development:
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:12-13 NLT)
Moreover, God assures us:
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV)
If we listen; if we really hear what He says and let Him enact change in us, God’s Word will accomplish genuine miracles in our lives because it is powerful! They may or may not not be the kind of miracles we think we want, but He will mold and shape us into the image of the holy Son of God, Jesus—our Lord and Savior, God who became human to die for our sins—the most difficult and improbable of miracles!
“You were chosen according to the purpose of God the Father and were made a holy people by his Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be purified by his blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure.” (1 Peter 1:2)
So, when we go to church, or read the Bible ourselves, or listen to to a sermon on the radio—let’s have receptive hearts to what the Spirit of God is telling us. Let’s not only hear it; let’s actually do what He is urging us to do!
Dear Lord Jesus,
“…All power…[has been] given…[to You] in heaven and in earth;” (Matthew 28:18 KJV) You can do everything! Please open our hearts to be receptive to You; help us not just hear, but also change as a result of what You say! Amen.