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When Words are Not Enough

I have always been challenged by the following two Verses by two different Prophets:


Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”


Ezekiel 33:31 So, my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money.


These verses can be illustrated by today’s example of a conversation with a person who suddenly begins checking their phone. You sense that what is being said in your conversation is not that important because you suddenly were upstaged by a text message or by an email.


God experiences that same feeling when we give Him only lip service. How much of what He is saying to us really is affecting us? Changing attitudes, or changing lifestyles, or changing a practice or habit? I have often gone to a church service with little expectation because most of what happens in church is familiar territory. The sermon is a theme I have heard many times in my church experience, and nothing really stands out to grab my attention, nor is it memorable. I realize I am one man with one opinion and one experience. However, I have wondered if maybe there are more like me coming to church on Sunday morning that are thinking … I’m in church, so that should count for something, right? Well, that statement could qualify as lip service according to Isaiah and Ezekiel. We say a lot with our words, but it’s the actions that are more telling. I have been told that Jewish Rabbis don’t care so much in what you say, they want to follow you around for a while to see what you really mean rather than relying on what your words indicate.


God is saying the same thing. You love to be seen as a worshipper of God, and in today’s church that is a coveted image. Yet, a 20-minute time of praise and worship with uplifted hands, doesn’t mean much if you do not live by the values that you are telling God about in your worship.


So, my challenge is to find ways we can go beyond being the lip service worshiper and fair-weather disciple by thinking through why we attend church:


  • What are your expectations of being in a worship service, and listening to a sermon?

  • Do you anticipate God speaking to you?

  • When you leave the church building, can you say that it was worth my attendance today because …

  • Do you tell others what you learned in church on Sunday?

  • Do you thank the pastor for their message and tell them why it was meaningful to you?


Anticipation is an important attitude to cultivate as a worshipper. Why? Because if God is among us wherever two or three are gathered in His name, why shouldn’t we expect to hear from Him in the church service?


Another aspect of attending church is bringing something to God besides our ‘woe is me’ issues my life has created. I realize there are many people with serious issues that need to hear from God, yet is that all we bring to Him is our filthy rags of disease, disappointment, hurt, pain, or betrayal? Yes, the church should minister to those with great personal issues, but as Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer, we begin by honoring God.

Hallowed be Thy Name means … Holy, sacred, consecrated, sanctified, blessed, revered, honored, sacrosanct, worshipped, divine.


Placing God first to honor and love Him is where we adjust priorities from our grief to His praise, and it will make a huge difference in how we face our personal issues. Give us our daily bread, forgive our debts, and forgive others, deliver us from evil. All these personal issues are important and included in prayer, but we start with an attitude of honoring God. 


Again, lip service is when you only want something from God, it is not honoring God with your whole heart. Some people attend church in a way that resembles an insurance policy … I am covered, no worries, no matter what. Yet, God doesn’t just want to be an insurance agent in your life, He wants you to find your treasure in Him, not just a policy of being covered from the disaster of hell.


Words are so easily said, but the actions of the heart really reveal the truth about who we are and what we believe. That is why we attend church to honor God, and then He will help us discover what is really inside this heart of mine. You will always be surprised when God has access to your heart … He always finds ways to improve your life.


Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler



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