Summary: Every Day. Routine. Take it or leave it. A dime a dozen. Do we treat the rare like the regular? Do we mistake the extraordinary for the ordinary? Do we overlook the incredible for the common?
Pt. 2 - Preppers
We are confronting and trying to unseat the apathy towards God that we are sick with that causes us to treat God as if He is "a dime a dozen", ordinary, optional, routine, or common! Our revelation of who He is determines our reverence for Him. If our reverence level increases our approach to God will change!
There is one area of approach that I want to address and that is the idea of preparation. We prepare for what we value and we prepare for what we anticipate.
How many of us spend more time preparing for the vacation because of anticipation than time actually enjoying the vacation? We prepare for weddings and fail to prepare for marriage. We prepare for what is important. My concern is that it seems to me that we prepare more for vacations, events, reunions, parties and movies than we prepare for God.
I want to suggest that we underestimate the importance of preparation. Our apathy towards God has caused us to approach with no anticipation due to no preparation. The dime a dozen mentality dictates that we roll in with no forethought or without taking any steps to prepare for who we are about to encounter.
Here are some things that I have learned about the critical need for preparation.
1. God only inhabits prepared places!
The key word in the statement I just made is INHABIT! I am thankful that God shows up unexpectedly and in sudden moments. We really didn't expect anything. We were just marking time and His presence invades the place. However, I want you to understand that those are visitations.
I will read an Old Testament example in a few minutes. But even the in the New Testament when there was a visitation of God people would then make preparation to try to turn it into a habitation. Go read the account of the transfiguration and you see a visitation and the disciples want to prepare to turn it into a habitation. In our lives we can refuse to prepare for Him and in our experiences together in services our approach and our conduct/attitude can mean that at the best we have hope that there will be occasional visitations. But I am challenging you to shake off of apathy and let's individually and corporately make preparation to turn our lives and this place (not building) into a place that is inhabited by God.
How many times have we been guilty of gathering under the banner of pursuing Him but we can honestly say that we have done nothing to prepare for His presence? We get up late, roll out of bed, throw something on, no worship before we get here, no thought, no anticipation, no meditation and because He only inhabits prepared places we miss Him. Remember what Scripture says about the folks of Jesus' day? He came to His own but His own received Him not. I think that is an indictment of their lack of preparation. They weren't prepared for Jesus' arrival. In fact, He couldn't even do miracles in His hometown because they weren't prepared to recognize Him for who He really was! How many times has Jesus shown up and we haven't received Him because we weren't ready for Him? Many us have spent more time preparing for what we will do after the last amen than we have prepping for an encounter with the Holy One.
Preparation speaks to anticipation and desire! Visitations are predicated on right place, right time. Habitations are predicated on preparation. And although I enjoy the suddenlies of God I prefer habitation! There are only 168 Kairos moments listed in Scripture - suddenly, unexpected interruptions. I long for those but I prepare for consistent often unrecognized presence of God.
2. You cannot delegate preparation.
In the Old Testament the priests were responsible to prepare for the presence of God. In the age of grace we are each individually responsible for preparation. But our apathy causes us to want someone else to prepare for us. I hope the pastor prepare this week so we can have a great encounter with God. I hope the worship team prepared this week so the glory will fall. You cannot delegate preparation. The truth is I am responsible to prepare and the worship team is responsible for preparing. But I can't prepare for you! I can't prepare your heart. The worship team can't prepare your spirit. Our preparation will not make up for or override your lack of preparation! We each personally must prepare! Shake off apathy and attitude that this is normal, regular, or routine!
3. The goal is a prepared place for prepared people.
If we have a prepared place without prepared people, then we will wind up with the empty cathedrals of world. Beautiful but empty. No power. No presence. Clean. Ordered. Spotless and spiritless! On the other hand if we have prepared people without a prepared place then the result is chaos, confusion, lack of impact, isolation and frustration. However, if we can ever marry a prepared place with a prepared people, then we will see an incredible outpouring of His presence that is unencumbered by obstacles that cause people to miss God!