According to our church bulletin yesterday, the first hymn was #407, How Firm a Foundation. But when I turned to that number in the hymnal it wasn’t the right song. So I tried 704—maybe the digits got reversed? Nope. How about 497—because 9 is next to zero? Nada. Okay, I give up. I looked up the the correct number in the back of the book. It was 408. The bulletin was so close—just one page off!
So I started thinking about, “close, but not quite,” moments in the Bible. Remember good King Asa? He “conducted himself well before God, reviving the ways of his ancestor David.” – 1 Kings 15:11 (MSG) The Bible says Asa kicked the male shrine prostitutes out of Judah, and destroyed all the pagan idols the evil kings before him made. He even unseated his own grandmother, from her royal position, because of her idol worship! – 2 Chronicles 15:16
King Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and was fully committed to God all his life. But there’s an unfortunate footnote: “He didn’t get rid of all the local sex-and-religion shrines.” —1 Kings 15:14 (MSG) Meaning, he kicked out the prostitutes, but left their pagan temples standing.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades.” Yet kings Asa, Solomon and David, who were all, “close, but not quite,” were beloved by God. This must be partly because, though each of them was imperfect, they respected the Lord and kept trying.
This is the one I esteem: He who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”
Isaiah 66:2 (NIV)
A pastor friend of mine has a favorite saying: “Obedience is when you DO.” Kind reader, we can think about , talk and plan to do what’s right in the eyes of God, but if we don’t take REAL action little will change.
Sally, from Theology of a Newfoundland Housewife shared a post yesterday, Praying Twice, about an enthusiastic singer at her church who was regularly off key. As often happens here on Word Press, this brought to mind a similar circumstance. One that God used to teach me a valuable lesson.
As a singer in my church’s choir, I always keep my eyes and ears open for potential members. One Sunday, as we walked in to the sanctuary (singing the first hymn), I noticed a man on the second row—singing and praising God with great fervor. “O boy, we’ve found ourselves a new member!” I said to myself. But when I passed by the gentleman, he was TERRIBLY off key. “How embarrassing,” I thought.
I know, that wasn’t very nice of me. God didn’t think so either. Because after we got to the choir loft, the Holy Spirit said to me, “David, just who do you think you are?” The worst angel in my heavenly choir can sing circles around you! Do you think I’m looking for perfect notes? I seek perfect hearts.”
You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Luke 16:15 (NIV)
Jesus said this to some Pharisees who were sneering at Him, because He told them they couldn’t worship God and money at the same time.
Which brings to mind the following thought: when it comes to the Kingdom of God, people don’t naturally know how to keep score.
Many churches take pride in their buildings, budgets and baptisms. Yet God looks for humble and contrite hearts (Isaiah 66:2). We worship to the music of professional level praise bands and choirs, but are we TRUE worshippers—in spirit and truth? (John 4:23-24)
Of course, God is the ultimate judge of such matters. However, my encounter with the enthusiastic off key singer was a wake up call. The Lord is most interested in right hearts; all the other trappings of our worship are secondary.
As Sally concluded (in her post I mentioned earlier): God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3)—even when they don’t get the notes right.
Note to Doris, my choir director: right notes ARE important—if you have the ability to sing them.😃