Fruitless Spiritual Exercises


My ministry

For a long time, I felt that we as Christians are always looking for shortcuts. However, I was wrong about that. See, a shortcut is an easier and faster way to get to the same destination. What we are doing is not a shortcut because the reality is that we are not getting to such destination; the destination is to bear fruit (Matthew 7:16). Titus 2, Ephesians 5 and First Peter 3 are great examples of what bearing fruit looks like.

The Apostle Paul speaks about dying daily (I Corinthians 15:31). John the Baptist speaks about the need for Jesus to increase in him while he most decrease (John 3:30). Our Christian life is all about dying to our ways and surrendering to the ways of God.

On this article I will address two aspects of our Christian life that we are getting wrong; the reading of God’s Word and our idea of worship through music. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us to just read God’s Word and, there nothing, especially in the New Testament, that attaches any musical note or song to worship… Nothing! There is not one example of any Worship Team in the New Testament, not one. Nevertheless, worship teams are at the center of our Sunday services.

When it comes down to God’s Word, we have two specific mandates, 1) to study God’s Word and, 2) to apply it.

Second Timothy 2:15 tells us,

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV)

The word “study” here is the Greek Word spoudázō; meaning “To be diligent, earnest, or eager.”[1]What we are talking about is to be diligent in rightly dividing the word of truth. This requires more than just reading, this requires time and effort to truly understand what the Scripture is saying. Studying is not enough either, the ultimate goal is application. James 1:23-25 tells us,

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (NASB)

That same fruitless life applies to Christians that have fallen into this hyper-music view of Christianity. Music in the Christian world is indeed overrated. Folks think that they can listen to Christian music and they are magically in the presence of God based on what they feel. However, a lot of what we call the presence of God, based on Christian music, is based on our musical preference. Those who like southern gospel music or Johnny Cash will probably find Fred Hammond not anointed, but annoying. At the end of the day we are reacting to certain styles and rhythms we like; there is nothing spiritual about it. We can call it worship all we want to, but as I said before, there is not one musical note, not one instrument, not one style of music or anything musical attached to worship, especially in the New testament. In John 4:23-24 Jesus made the following statement to the Samaritan Woman,

But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NASB)

The Greek Word for “Worshipers” is, proskunētḗs meaning… “One who reverences God.”[2] The word “Worship” comes from the Greek word proskunéō; meaning. “To worship, to show respect, to fall or prostrate before. Literally, to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or reverence.”[3] Where in these definitions do you see any music? Yes, we are called to sign to the Lord, but singing has nothing to do with worship. Singing and playing instruments is not even named as a spiritual gift. Worship is not a song, is a lifestyle.

            So, at the end of the day we must take a closer look at our faith, make an assessment of ourselves and see how we are doing as husbands, wives, friends, in our jobs, communities, etc. Are we bearing fruit? Think about the older women in the church, well respected by the church and community, but has no respect for her husband. Think about the man, a leader in the church, but has no clue on how to love his wife. Think about the, “worship leader” singing all those wonderful songs, oh, he has people in tears with his “anointing”, while embracing a life of fornication. Think about the pastor who has a wife and children; considered a great teacher of God’s Word, but have been sleeping with his secretary. What went wrong here? How can this be? Beloved this is the exaltation of talents over character; no reverence to God. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus touched on this topic by stating,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (NIV)

The will of God is holiness; a true relationship with God will have a profound effect in our lives; we should never settle for nothing less. When we have a relationship with God that means that we practice finding ourselves in His presence; that means that we will enjoy the benefits of his presence in our own characters. It is impossible to have a relationship with God and not experience change in our lives. In his presence we find many benefits, here I just want to mention a few.

  1. In God’s presence we find joy. (Psalm16:11)
  2. In God’s presence we find divine rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)
  3. In God’s presence we find Peace. (Colossians 3:15)
  4. In God’s presence our secret sins are revealed. (Psalm 90:8)
  5. In God’s presence we find strength and encouragement. (Isaiah 40:31)
  6. In God’s presence we find a change in the things that delight us. (Psalm 37:4)

Let’s get real, if we find ourselves depressed, stress out, anxious, with no conviction of sin, tired, discouraged and, if our delight is in the things of this world over the things of God, whatever spiritual exercise you are doing is clearly not working. I say to those who keep going to the same dry church, for those who keep reading the same books, looking for devotionals online, listening to gospel music and so on, if you are not changing is because you have not gotten a hold of the real deal… that is, you have not gotten a hold of God.

Study the Scripture, throw out those one-year Bible reading plans. Some folks are so busy reading the Scripture, rushing to read the whole Bible in a year, that they are missing what God is trying to tell them. Slow down… Listen!!!! Turn off the radio so that you can hear the still small voice of God. The great Prophet Elijah learned that as he was facing a deep depression in his life;

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” First King 19:11-13 (NASB)

            Beloved, what are you doing in that dark and dry place? That’s not what God wants for you. Get a hold of God… get a hold of the benefits of his presence and let’s bear fruit for His glory.

 

 

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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