Has it ever happened to you that you had no doubt that something was true because at the first glance it looked familiar and authentic, only to realize later that you were far, far away from the truth?
I have fresh in my mind an incident that happened yesterday at church towards the end of the service, that I would like to share with you. Like all bible believing, Christ-centered churches, we had a wonderful time yesterday worshiping the Lord as a body of Christ. Oh, the gathering of His saints on a Sunday morning, having the promise of the Lord that He is there! Right after I finish preaching my sermon, we always follow up with a Congregational Hymn, then we close the service in prayer and dismiss the church. I usually lead this last hymn that comes up right after my preaching. The name of the closing Hymn yesterday was “Blessed be the Name”. I knew from our music director that we would be singing this hymn, days before Sunday. Then on Sunday morning before church, I looked at the printed bulletin once again and read the name of the hymn and the hymn number. “I know this hymn so well”, I said to myself with confidence without bothering to open the hymnal before the service and look at it.… “I grew up singing this hymn so many times”, I continued whispering to myself.
So right after my sermon was finished, (we are in a series of messages on the Attributes of God, and last Sunday I preached on The Patience of God), I asked the congregation to stand and open the hymnal to hymn number 52 – “Blessed Be the Name”. I too opened the hymnal and to my unpleasant surprise the words on that page were so different than what I knew. Immediately after, both the pianist and organist started playing something that sounded like a totally different tune than what I had in my mind and was so accustomed to. So there I am, in front of a congregation expected to lead a song that up to 10 seconds ago I had confidence in knowing, only to realize in the last second that I am not familiar at all with the tune and words of that particular song. Now, by God’s grace I can type this today with a smile on my face, telling you that we made it to the end of the song, but if I were to be graded that morning by a music panel of judges who were in the congregation, I am most certain, that I would have failed the test and received a very low score. This incident reminded me of some basic spiritual truths and taught me a few personal lessons, some of them that t I would like to share with you in this post:
• Don’t be fooled; Do your homework!. … Open God’s Word!
I am thinking, how many times are good-hearted folks tempted today to believe something that sounds “spiritual” to be truth, just because they heard it before (it sounds familiar, therefore it must be right) or that’s how they were brought up believing it and practicing it? When I grew up in communist Romania, we had no Christian stores that we could go to and purchase bibles or buy Christian books to read. In spite of that, I thank God for the privilege I had as a child to be exposed to God’s Word, to get my hands on a Bible and to open it and read it. We are so blessed in America to have access to all kinds of Christian books, and most importantly, all kinds of versions of the Bible. I encourage you to open it and read it and join a bible believing church that teaches the Word of God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” – Romans 10:17
• Names (labels) don’t mean much – it’s the Content (heart) that matters
Just because you think you know the truth, because you were born in a nation that calls itself a Christian nation, or because you always have labeled yourself as a Christian, that doesn’t mean that you will be justified on exam day. Don’t be confident in a familiar Christian label (may it even be Baptist) or accept a label just to be part of a group, but become what you profess. Familiarize yourself with God and His ways and know God by entering into a saving relationship with Him that comes through faith in His Son Jesus.
God’s abundant blessings on you all!
Pastor at First Baptist Church in Kasson, MN