Focus on God

Hearing That Leads To Understanding And Action

I tend to see things as either good news or bad news. Life is a lot simpler if I stop at good or bad labels and don’t let anything get more complicated than black and white thinking. Despite my best efforts to keep life simple, it has a way of getting both complicated and messy before me. Ed, my old neighbor in Saskatchewan, has told me for years to keep it simple and be ready to claim the weather as the blame for anything that seems problematic.

Ed says that the weather can account for poor crops, bad road conditions, cancellations, migraines, aches, drought, flood, hail, wind damage, and fires both grass and forest. The fact is that the most common cause of forest fires is humans. Even though 55% of wildfires are traced to humans and 45% to lightning strikes, Ed says that it is the weather’s fault for fires. The forest was dry instead of wet and soaked with rain. I am glad such reasoning works for Ed, but I still keep finding other reasons for what happens in life beyond blaming the weather.

Speaking of blaming, hearing, and understanding are difficult for me. My wife thinks I listen to her like I was in a coma when she speaks. I blame her for hearing only what she wants to hear when I talk.

Some years ago, I did some research on what church members heard in my sermons. At random, people were given a form to complete about my sermon that they had heard. Reluctantly people gave their feedback. It was apparent that a few folks had been in a coma during the sermon. It was also clear some only listened to what they want to hear in the message. Interestingly, many heard different things from the same message.

This pandemic has been bad news for the regular holding of church services. Many services are now streamed or viewed at home. Churches here have a limited number of people who can attend in person and keep a social distance from others. I feel it is good news in that the emphases with fewer people attending worship gives more focus on the word of God and less on the numbers in church and who is serving or singing in church before others. It is my opinion that often we make church services about us, rather than God’s Word, His sacraments, and each person’s encounter with God as they gather before Him as his sons and daughters.

The number gathered together at church does not guarantee those assembled will listen to and understand God’s word as presented to them. Some people will finish your sentence for you. They are in church to have their preconceived notions confirmed and are ready to dismiss anything that challenges them, even if it is God’s word. God is to be the focus of our worship. May God direct us of the vision of worship in heaven. (Revelation chapters 4 and 5) “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come… Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Our focus is to worship Almighty God.

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Raymond Maher
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