June 9 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“‘May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God, the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.’ And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” ~2 Chronicles 30:18-20

When you look at the history of almost any culture, you will find a correlation between moral decline and the neglect of public worship. In our own day, this is evident in places like Western Europe, where approximately 5-percent of the population attends worship services on any given Sunday. In North America, the percentage hovers around 25-percent, but that is down from around 40-percent in the 1950s. Church attendance does not make people more religious per se, but it is a very important indicator of the condition of a person’s soul. Participating in (or skipping) worship reveals the heart. Tell me where you are when the community gathers for worship and I will tell you where your heart is.

At the point at which we pick up the Chronicler’s tale today, Israel’s ministers have abandoned the place of worship to work other jobs (the cessation of tithes meant payroll couldn’t be met). When they left, they turned off the lights, shut down the music, and bolted the doors (2 Chron. 28:24). But when Hezekiah takes the throne of Israel, he makes a bold statement about his personal convictions, he reveals his heart. Hezekiah “opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them” within the very first month of his reign (2 Chron. 29:3). The grand entryway to the temple is restored, the entire complex is cleaned inside and out, and necessary repairs are made. Hezekiah recalls the ministers to the city to re-install them in their positions. Music once again emanates from the temple, tithes and offerings are brought to the place of worship, and the great festivals to the Lord are held. The revival seeded in the people’s hearts is expressed in the revival of worship (this theme is also seen in the book of Malachi).

The practice of worship not only reveals the heart, it also renews the heart. Worship has a sort of snowball effect on a person’s soul. Attending worship reveals a person’s desire to please God, and whether that desire is strong or weak, the act of worship increases it (see Hebrews 10:22-26). Of course, the snowball can roll down either side of the hill, depending upon which way it’s directed. People who do not attend worship show their longing for other things, and their failure to attend worship while actively pursuing those things (read: idols) increases their cravings, just not in a good way.

Is worship a priority for you? Really a priority for you? I don’t mean that you attend worship when you have no schedule conflicts. That’s low priority. What if I went to work only when I didn’t have anything better going on? What if I spent time with my wife and kids only when I had nothing else to do?   Make the Lord a high priority by making worship an established part of your life. The doors are flung wide, the lights are on, the music is playing, the people are gathering, and the minister is prepared to teach the Word. Don’t miss it!

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.