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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spiritual Coronaries

Heart disease is one of the major causes of death in the United States, and one of the sources of this illness is the plaque that builds up in the arteries and slowly begins to block the flow of blood. Though it might take years of eating the wrong foods and poor health habits, sooner or later the blockages take their toll on the heart and the person suffers a heart attack or the symptoms of lack of energy, shortness of breath, begin to show themselves and blocked arteries are discovered through a physical exam. What was not seen was the gradual reduction of blood flood to vital organs until finally it was too late, resulting in a catastrophic event.

Our spiritual lives operate in much the same way. From the daily devotional times in God’s Word and in prayer flow the spiritual nurture to our soul and spirit. Consistent times of worship are essential for spiritual health. Yet, within our nature exists another self that resists the commands of God and seeks to undermine everything godly and holy. Most of the time we are aware of the major assaults; we may get angry, but certainly will not kill or take another’s life. But, much like a terrorist that sneaks in to infiltrate and cause mayhem, little sins that are not addressed take up lodging and bunker down into the spiritual veins slowly choking off our spiritual lifeblood, until a catastrophic event occurs.

Oddly enough, we can continue to function externally and many times go through the motions of worship, even though the warm blood the relationship with God has grow cold or has slowed to a trickle. Unconfessed sin, unresolved conflicts, and unforgiveness, all seem to have choked the life until worship loses its meaning and what might have been meant for God’s glory suddenly seems meaningless.

Solomon warns that it is the “little foxes that destroy the vines” [Song of Songs 2:15]. The same is true with our sensitivity to God’s Spirit and hearing Him: as we allow the little things to go unattended, we will wake up later only to notice that things are in disarray. What can be done?

Biblical worship is that obedient response to the God’s revealed nature and character. True worship requires focus on the nature and character of God. Such a focus will reflect how less than like God we are in our nature and character and lead us to cry out for forgiveness, to open our hearts and minds to be able to hear God’s Spirit and respond to Him in obedience. Regular worship cleans out the cobwebs of sin that gather day by day in our lives.

The Psalmist said, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” [Ps. 119:164] Though in the context, this was probably more an expression of completeness, than a literal numerical count, it would not be a bad practice to emulate. Daniel is another excellent example: “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” [Daniel 6:10] The point is that worship can aid in keeping our relationship with God fresh and intimate. Failure to do so could very well lead to a spiritual coronary.

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