Emotion and Devotion

How could this have happened? God provided for them. They saw miracles. They witnessed answers to prayer. But, in a day, they ditched everything and tried to replace God with an idol! As I read the story about the Israelites from Exodus 32, I kept asking myself, “How could they have abandoned the Lord so quickly?” After the parting of the Red Sea, they danced and praised God. At Mount Horeb they heard the thunder of God’s voice and trembled in awe before Him. And yet, Moses is gone a little longer than anticipated, and they fall apart. They want a god they can touch and see, so they go to Aaron (Moses’ brother) and ask him to satisfy their feelings. “And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:4, 6). After reading this distressing event, I became more aware of the deceptive power of the sinful nature. How easily we tend to serve God based on our emotions…rather than on our devotion. I’ve seen it too many times. People I know who at one time fervently sought the Lord but now have forgotten Him. It seems the world won their hearts because it offered more thrills and feelings. If we’re not careful, emotions can rule us. We can end up trading intimacy with God for intensity with the world. Please don’t get me wrong. Emotions are not evil. As Christians, our goal is not to stoically try to eradicate our emotions. We are to love God with our emotions as well. However, emotions make dangerous drivers when we put them behind the wheel! It’s devotion to God that steers us through the journey. When you study the life of Moses, you see someone who sought the presence of God. He humbled himself and continually devoted himself to the Lord and His Word. At times his emotions screamed to give up, but Moses sought the Lord and received strength to overcome his negative feelings. He stayed faithful to the end because his love for God was grounded in devotion. A growing Christian is one who makes decisions based on lifetime devotion—not fleeting feelings. May we be like the early Christians who understood the importance of devotion. Acts 2:42 declares, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayer.” Mature love for the Lord always deepens into devotional love…not just emotional love.

Pastor Mark Boucher

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