How Do You Come Before God?

Bible Readings for the day: Psalm 90:1-10, Romans 15:14-33, 1 Chronicles 12:23-14:17
Meditational Readings: 1 Chronicles 13:3, 7-11, Romans 15:15-16
Pastor's Ponderings Illustration1Chronicles 13:3  Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
7  And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart.
8  And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
9  And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.
10  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.
11  And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day.

Romans 15:15  But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God
16  to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

As I read today’s Old Testament reading I was struck by the words in verse 3 of the meditational reading.  They are the first (and most prominent) thing that jumped out at me.  David spoke to the representatives of Israel who met with him at Hebron and declared his intention of bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The telling words are “for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”

David’s motives are above reproach.  He wants to bring Israel back into its covenant relationship with the Lord their God.  He realizes that they did not seek the Lord in the latter days of King Saul’s reign.  But these are still telling words: “for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”  But look how David decides to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem.  They build a new cart; they drove the cart of Jerusalem.  The cart hit a bump in the road; Uzzah reached out to keep the Ark from falling, and the Lord struck Uzzah down.

Wow!  The Lord sure seems capricious!  But for all of the seeking after the Lord, David failed to seek the way to transport the Ark of the Covenant.  The Lord laid out very explicit instructions in how to transport the Ark.  There were long poles that went through the rings on the side of the Ark.  The priests, physical descendants of Aaron (Moses’ brother) were to carry the Ark.  David failed in the very basics of Ark transportation.  David had good intentions, but his methods were wrong.  He did it his way and not the Lord’s way.

As I read these verses it struck me that David’s problem is often our problem.  We have good intentions in trying come before God, but we do it on our way and not the Lord’s way.  We see the Lord’s way of approaching him in the New Testament meditational verses.  Paul realizes and communicates the truth that we come before God, we are acceptable to God, by the sanctifying work of God the Holy Spirit.

Sanctify.  Now there is a church word if there ever was a church word!  It’s not a word we regularly use in English.  Sanctified, in the original Greek, is a passive voiced verb.  We translate the word in a variety of different ways:  sanctify, holy, saint.  It has the same root as the word “Holy” in Holy Spirit.  I am sanctified (made holy, declared holy) by the sanctifying work of God the Holy (Sanctifying) Spirit!

So, what does all of this mean for me and how I come before God?  I don’t come before God, I’m not acceptable in his sight, because I do all of the right things:  I go the church, I know the Our Father, I take communion.

I come before God on his terms, not my own.  God the Holy Spirit has called me through the good news (gospel) of what Jesus did for me.  He lived the perfect life I cannot lead, I do not lead.  He died on the cross as the payment price for my sins.  He rose again on that first Easter Sunday as God the Father’s proof to me that me sins are indeed forgiven and that I have eternal life with him as an absolute free gift–Jesus’ resurrection is all proof of that!

We come before God in one of two ways:  on our terms or on God’s terms.  God has provided all that we need in order to come before him and be with him for eternity.  He’s given us all that we need in Jesus our Savior.

A prayer:  Lord God Holy Trinity, thank you for doing all that I need in order to be in a right relationship with you.  Father, thank you for loving me so much that you sent your only Son to be my Savior.  Lord Jesus, thank you for a love so great that you endured my damnation on the cross in order to pay the full and complete price for my sins.  Holy Spirit, thank you for calling me through the good of all that Jesus did for me and sanctifying me, so that I can stand before you, the Father, and the Son, for all of eternity.  Thank you, Lord God Holy Trinity, for doing all that I need to come before you!  Amen!

Should you wish to access Pastor Kerner’s sermon archive, you can do so at https://gslcsuffield.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/sermon-archive-2010-2011/

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 585 South St. (Route 75), Suffield CT 06078 USA  http://www.gslcsuffield.com  Should you wish to support this ministry, you can mail a check to the church.

If you liked this post in any way, please think about sharing it on your social media sites.  This is an effective way to evangelize on the internet.  You can also friend me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/james.kerner

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