WHAT DIFFERENCE WILL THIS FEAST MAKE?
Eric Snow, Sermonette, October 29, 2005, UCG Ann Arbor
Most of us here have just returned from going to the Feast, and have been to many Feasts before. We are eager to talk about and share our experiences with each other. But will this Feast make any difference a year from now in our spiritual lives? After all, did the Feast last year make a difference to us this year? We know many of our own spiritual problem areas and what sins we struggle with. Will we use the sermons we heard and other experiences we recently had help us overcome various sins we have? Or did we just participate in a ritualistic obligation that has little further significance?
We need to resolve that we will really aim to change this year some against the spiritual problems that have dogged us for years.
S.P.S. We should use the spiritual lessons we learned from this Feast as a springboard to help us struggle more successfully against our sins.
Do we find that the Holy Days’ rituals are far easier to keep than the lessons they teach? Is it easier, for example, to deleaven our houses than to deleaven our attitudes? Is it easier to live in temporarily dwellings for a few days physically than to confess ourselves as exiles on the earth spiritually for the rest of our physical lives?
If we want to live like the patriarchs did spiritually, do we leave behind the world’s race to accumulate material things? Or, did we just keep a ritual at some distant tourist area, and just come back here to live just as the people around us in the world do? Do we have the faith to live differently? Or are we secretly somewhat doubtful, and want to accumulate as many riches and get as many physically pleasurable experiences before we die, just in case?
Keeping the ritual isn’t good enough if it doesn’t spiritually change or reflect our true way of life.
Prayer is good, the sacrifices were also, but they aren’t enough by themselves. For example, do we find it easier to prayer about someone’s needs instead of visiting them or writing them a card?
We hear things at the Feast. Do they change us any? Do we just ignore them? Do we act on them at all? Or, is it, as someone told me not long ago, “THEY NEVER CHANGE!” That is, for example, the people with bad tempers, still have bad tempers, the people who have a problem with pride, still have a problem with pride, the people who are too materialistic in their concerns, are still too materialistic in their concerns, people who don’t pray enough, still don’t pray enough, people who don’t study enough, still don’t study enough, etc., etc., etc., etc.
A cute yet cutting definition of Insanity: Doing the same thing, but expecting different results. Are going to resolve to do anything different in our spiritual lives over the next year?
Anger book example: If someone says, “I never read such books,” but you still have about the same problem with your temper when you came into the church decades ago, I’d say it’s time to give it due consideration, and to do something different. The same goes for other spiritual sins and problems: There are all sorts of spiritual books out there dealing with all sorts of “issues” we’ve got.
Random mode example for CD player: Do we approach our days like things just only happen to us, without any plan, and just go through the motions? Compare this to physical discipline: If we want a strong & thin body, we have to exercise and avoid eating certain things on a daily and weekly basis. It just doesn’t “happen.” The same goes for our spiritual lives.
To improve in character takes effort, as we are helped by the Holy Spirit. If we don’t take effort to actively improve, we may well get worse instead, since the world, our human nature, and Satan’s continuing influences will wear us down. Example of man who’s temper got worse over the years, not better.
I Cor. 3:12+
How well have we been doing in improving our character over the past year? For example, think of last year’s Feast. Did you hear one or more good sermons, or sermons that especially applied to you, that made you change your behavior or way of life any? Or did we just go through the motions of keeping a ritual once again?
Change not necessarily good: In what direction is the change? Motion or activity shouldn’t be confused with progress or improvement. We have to take personal responsibility, personal initiative, and commit to a plan of action to do better, such as praying or studying a certain number of minutes each day at a certain time. We have to take specific, concrete steps, not idly think about vague generalities, if we wish to improve in character.
Conclusion: If this just completed Feast will mean more to us than the Feast the year before, we have to resolve to live our spiritual lives differently. Just going through the motions of keeping a ritual doesn’t necessarily improve our character any. Let’s resolve to make this Feast that just ended a Feast that will make a difference if other Feasts haven’t.