November 21, 2017
Back to Bethel
And let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone. – Genesis 35:3
Each week when we come to church, figuratively speaking, we are arising and going up to Bethel. We are renewed. We turn away from finding our joys and our happiness in this life and turn back to find that this life is temporal and passing away. We find our real joy in God.
However, some of you do not come to go up to Bethel; you come to go through the motions. You need to arise and go up to Bethel and not just go through the motions. You let the cares and the concerns of this temporal world crowd out the things that really matter.
Let me ask you, what about the word of God? Where is the word of God in your life? How are your devotional times? Do you really study the word of God? Do you read your Bible at home? How about the church? How important is the church to you? Is it one of many things in your life? Or, although you may do other things, is the church the center of your life? That is going back to Bethel.
How clean are you living? Where are you going? What are you watching? What are you listening to? Who do you run with? Some of you need to arise and go back to Bethel. How about giving to the causes of God? Are you faithful in returning tithes and offerings? Some of you need to go back to Bethel. What about your prayer life? When was the last time you paced the floor pleading with God over a lost soul? When was the last time you wept over an unsaved child or spouse? Have you pleaded with God to bless this church that He might get glory to the ends of the earth? Why haven’t you? Some of you need to go back to Bethel. What about serving others? Are you faithful in your small group? Was there a time when you were excited about the things of God? Was there a time when you enjoyed serving others? Have you drifted away from that? You need to go back to Bethel.
B. B. McKinney wrote this song some years ago. I like it for the folksy simplicity of it.
“Back to the Bible, the true living word, sweetest old story that ever was heard, back to the joy life my soul longs to know, Bethel is calling and I must go. Back to the beautiful path I once trod, back to the church and the people of God, out of the cold world of sin and its woe, Bethel is calling and I must go. Back to the giving of money and time, back to the life of contentment sublime, back to the protection the world cannot know, Bethel is calling and I must go. Back to the prayer life in Christ I once knew, back to the beautiful life-cleansing view, back to help others to conquer each foe, Bethel is calling and I must go. Back to Bethel I must go, back where the rivers of sweet waters flow, back to the true life my soul longs to know, Bethel is calling and I must go.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
While Israel wandered in the wilderness, God sent enough manna from heaven to sustain them every day. This manna is a wonderful picture of Jesus, as He said in John 6:35 that He is the “bread of life.”
This gospel is the key to the kingdom – not a man, not a personality, but the gospel. So He is saying that He is going to build His church through His gospel, and His church is His ministry of building His kingdom until He comes again to establish the literal kingdom on the earth.
Do those who fear the Lord see you and, in watching you, are inspired to go on for God? Are they encouraged to be faithful to God? This is what the psalmist is praying.
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