"But then they [God's people] would flatter him [God] with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant." (Psalm 78:36-37)
It is Sunday. Morning worship has ended. Lunch was satisfying and now I find myself in my office with a freshly brewed cup of hot coffee. Nothing frees my mind to commune on the mysteries and teachings of God more than a cup of coffee. I sip it when I pray and talk to Him, and I sip it when I study his Word. If I thought I could get by with it, I would sip it when I preach - I am certain I would preach better!
As I read these two verses, I find myself wondering how many lies filled the ears of our God today, lies spoken, not by rebellious heathens, but by God's own people. Churches are filled with liars, people who sing "I surrender all" but who have surrendered nothing to God. I remember reflected on this some years ago when I noticed John was not singing as we lifted our voices in this hymn. "All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live." John loved to sing. He sung solos. He sung on the worship team. He sung in his pickup truck - John loved to sing! After service I spoke with John and told him I had noticed he was not singing. John said, "Pastor, I can't sing that song, because I know I haven't surrendered everything to Jesus."
Many Christians mouth the words without considering what they are singing to God. If Christians sing to the Triune God, we should mean every word we sing. If we pray to the Triune God, we should mean every word we pray. It is better not to say or sing it that to do so and not mean it.
The Psalmist speaks of God's people flattering God. It seems so natural to so many people because it is the normal way so many people speak to each other. I am most sure you have heard people use flattery, perhaps you have been guilty of obsequiousness yourself. "I like that dress you have on; it is so attractive on you." Which interpreted means, "that is an ugly dress and you would never catch me wearing it." Words of flattery from lying tongues.
The Psalmist speaks of the hearts of God's people being disloyal and isolated from God. While singing "Trust and Obey" these people neither trusted God not obeyed Him. I stood in a church today that is dying. Unless hearts and minds change, it will soon be one of the 4,000 churches that close their doors each year in America. Why? I believe this passage tells us exactly why so many churches close.
The Psalmist speaks of God's people not being steadfast and dedicated to His Covenant. I have learned that I cannot make other people be trusted. I cannot make others people live in total obedience to Jesus. However, I can work on myself. Just talk to the people that really know me, I have many flaws to work on.
Most of your know that I write an Urban Ministry blog and consider myself to some extent knowledgeable on the subject. Churches across America are dying for lack of change, but the change is not so much in worship, preaching, or music styles, churches are dying of like of changed hearts and lives. Do not talk to me about bad locations, bad buildings, or bad styles, talk with me about disobedient people. That's right! Let's get real and discuss the disobedience of God's people, His lying people.
So how about it? Is the Psalmist describing what you did today? Have you muttered lying words of commitment and love to Jesus? Have you prayed words to God in prayer today that are untrue?
In funerals I have often spoken of living our lives in "the dash" between birth and death. This "dash" can be found on almost every gravestone. Will your dash read: "Here lies one who flattered God with his mouth, lied to God with his tongue; he was not loyal to God, nor faithful to God's Word."
"Father God, forgive this reader and me for those times we have failed You. You are so faithful to us, having never let us down. Please help us to be faithful and true to You. May our words and meditations always be pleasing to You. When we fail You, please forgive us and reveal our failure to us. Help us always to be truthful to others in the Church, and never use sycophancy and lies. Help us always to be faithful and intertwined with You, never disloyal and isolated. Help us to study Your Holy Scripture that we might gain a deeper understanding of You, and that we remain steadfast to Your covenant. Amen"