How Listening to God Opens Up the Heart of Faith
Been an exciting few days around these parts. Between the holidays and a wedding there is much reason to be thankful for the mercies of the Lord. This next coming Sabbath Day we’ll be going back to our walk through the Sermon On the Mount at Bethany. Our first dab back into those waters is a little on the interesting providential side, Christ’s teaching on divorce from Matthew 5:31-32. Seems a bit daft to have that be next on the rotation, but God’s providence is always correct. The following passage after that is a word from our Redeemer on the question of vows, which of course have a lot to do with marriage and the responsibilities and duties which follow from it. So for today’s worship and prayer help we are going to take a moment to meditate on what a man’s word means and why it matters for all areas of life, regardless of your marital status.
Of all the things that grant us solace in the Christian life there is probably no greater comfort than the knowledge that God is a God of truth. There is no deceit in the throne room of grace. If Jehovah tells Daniel that he is going to see the day of the return to the promised land regardless of what designs Belshazzar or Darius had for him he was going to see that day. As Robert Burns would say, “The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley. An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!” Or as Jesus tells it, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So much of the trouble we face, if we are honest, is of our own making. It often is sourced from the fact that we seek to find wisdom in the cart before the horse. If Darius, for instance, had merely taken counsel from the words of Isaiah then he would have surely known his folly. One of the reasons why Christ in His mercy quotes so much from the Old Testament is to witness to us of the inestimable value of knowing that what is to be known is already revealed for our benefit. A story I like to repeat quite often is the simple, yet profound testimony from the writer of 1 Kings about the situation which the son of Solomon (irony abounds in the Bible) had a choice to make concerning the better part of wisdom, listen to the counsel of his friends or the direction of the friends of his father, the elders of Israel. Rehoboam’s decision would have long-term consequences for the covenant people of God, all put into effect because he, “…rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him.“ If only he knew the truth of the matter. Much to ponder here, for those with ears to hear.
I am not the most mechanically minded person in the history of the world. There’s a lot I can’t do and for me there is no sense in trying to fix the plumbing or run wire if the end of that is just going to be pain for me and anguish for my wife. The Lord in his blessing has provided others with that knowledge and ability. Part of the good news that the Holy Scriptures seeks to provide is to help us to come to a humble comprehension of the weakness of our understanding. That well-known statement from Proverbs is apropos here, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.” We started talking at the beginning of this piece about a particular attribute of the Lord that grants felicity to the one who rests in it and while we’ve been talking about gaining knowledge here we are thinking about that stuff we don’t know, and both are equally important in their own way. It wasn’t until Peter stopped running his mouth that Christ could teach him something. Our own arrogance, and embarrassment, stops us many times in life from learning what we should. It isn’t until we are willing to admit that we don’t know that we can find out what is we don’t know. Seems pretty obvious, but why is that so hard for us to do? Well, I think part of it goes back to what I just wrote, we don’t want to make it seem like we are in need of help, because that would make us weak or something, yet what does the Bible say about that? Something about our being made perfect in weakness. Of course, that would mean even more so recognizing that someone is greater than us, which we are want to do.
The great temptation which undergirds all sin is pride. It’s one of the reasons why the Proverbs testify that pride goeth before the fall. Consider again for a moment the way in which our own unwillingness to ask for help, especially when we know that we need it, leads to peril. It may seem strange that we’ve ended up here after I started this morning’s written devotional with a statement about God’s truth and vows and marriage, yet it makes sense as to why we have. The Lord has told us in His word that we are sinners, dead, ungodly, and without hope in the world. It’s not until we recognize and rest in that truth that we can hear the vow He has made to us in His son Jesus Christ. We can keep running away from it, but the certainty of the matter is what we need is never going to change. It’s always going to be there witnessing to us from the everlasting awesomeness that is our God. Remember the power of His vow, that having come to lay down His life for sinners we have access to the Father through Jesus’s always telling the truth, whether it be the woman at the well or to Ahab in the voice of Elijah. Listen to the mouth of God speaking to you through His word, know it to be true, and be at peace in honest reflection. For that is your hope, both this day and forever more. Amen.
Here’s one more thing:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church