Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dedication?

Something has hit me this past few days in my Bible reading, and has remained with me. So I feel like I should share it. [Members of our YF might like to read it and forget, in case I use it as the basis of a talk in the next few weeks...]

As you probably know, I work for a victims' support group, and we have a magazine we send out to our members every two or three months. On the front cover, there is always a 'quotable quote', a short, snappy memorable statement. To see more examples, click here. But anyway, one from a while back was: 'commitment is doing something long after the feeling in which you agreed to do it has passed.'

Then I read 1 Kings 8, where Solomon dedicated the new temple he had built. He addressed an important comment to the people at the end of the ceremony:

1 Kings 8:56-61 "Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. [57] May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. [58] May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. [59] And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, [60] so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. [61] But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time."

Obviously the people were caught up in the moment of worshipping God, and were fervent in their worship. They intended, in that instant, to be fully committed to God, and not to wander off to serve other gods. But Solomon warned them that to continue to live in the land, and obtain the blessing of God that they had begun to receive, they had to remain faithful to God, that their hearts 'must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time'. If they were fervent then, they had to continue to be.

Yet, as we read on in 1 Kings, we find that the speaker of those words of warning, Solomon, himself fell foul of them. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines (imagine having to put up with all them, and having 700 mothers-in-law!), who led him astray to the worship of false gods. His sin even led to the division of the kingdom into two - Israel and Judah, after his death.

So if Solomon failed in his task, how can we? Events like Summer Madness can be a 'high' in our faith... I heard someone describe their faith as like an electricty cable, held high at the poles, but sagging in the middle - that the events and weekends are like the poles, the high points, and then 'normal' church is the sagging bit...

If we can jump through to Hebrews 10, we might just find some answer.

Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, [20] by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, [21] and since we have a great priest over the house of God, [22] let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. [23] Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. [24] And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. [25] Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The secret to some measure of dedication and commitment is through having support structures to keep us going. God provided us with the main support structure in the church - there are no 'lone rangers' in the Christian faith (and even the Lone Ranger had Tonto with him!) - so we have the family, the community built around us.

So therefore, LET US:
- hold unswervingly to the hope we profess
- consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds
- not give up meeting together
- encourage one another

There's an old song going through my head 'We're in this together' - I don't even know who sings it, but it expresses what I'm trying to say. Dedication and commitment is easier when you have a good group of friends around you, and someone keeping you accountable. Thank you, to all my friends who support and encourage me!

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