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Monday, August 31, 2009

working in the Word

As I was preparing a devotional post this morning the thought came to me that the teaching involved was a hard one to accept by the nominal Christian. On the heels of that I wondered how many people would really sit and read with concentration when the teaching hit too close to home. The tendency might be to skim it quickly and when it prickles the conscience say to ourselves, “I don’t have time to read this today.” So we page on past to something that is warm and fuzzy.

We read a few days ago about Jesus’ hard words. (“Are We Resistant In Following?’) In that devotion it was pointed out to us that often we simply don’t hear the hard things Jesus speaks to us. We seem to feel that “what we don’t know won’t hurt us.” And we keep ourselves from knowing by turning a deaf ear.

We not only do that when the still small voice speaks to us in our study time or when the pastor preaches a sermon about one of our little pet habits, we also do it when we should be studying the Word to discover what God has for us. We avoid reading those scriptures or devotionals that will make us feel our willfulness or disobedience. The flesh is very clever at finding ways to avoid knowing and doing God’s Will. Unfortunately, with a Just God, this simply isn’t acceptable. He requires that we demonstrate His good and acceptable and perfect will. (be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God Romans 12:2) To demonstrate that perfect will requires that we seek it out. In many, many pulpits today the message is one of social platitudes and love for our fellow man. The hard things of the Word are never mentioned or even consciously avoided.

Following God and doing His Will requires a dedication and conscious application of our mind to finding out His ways and His desires for us. We often speak of the injunction “Work for the night is coming.” (John 9:4)
Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

We think of this as laboring in the harvest field winning souls for Christ, but I suggest that before we can labor in the mission field we must first labor at making ourselves totally familiar with the Word and all God has for us to do. We can not preach the message of salvation to others if we have not fully submitted to it ourselves.

We must work to show ourselves approved unto God, an able workman. This comes by studying the hard words as well as the warm fuzzies. If we consider the hard teachings as the meat and vegetables of our literal diet and the warm-fuzzies as the desserts and sweets we see the comparison immediately. We all love the sweet stories of love and goodness displayed by God toward men. We love hearing the charming stories of someone displaying the love of God to his fellow men. But just as we cannot grow and prosper as a human being on a constant diet of desserts and sweets, even though they are pleasing and good, neither can we prosper spiritually on the sweets of life. We must have the meats and vegetables if we are to be healthy. Spiritually we must study and consume the hard things of the Word—the teachings that point out our shortcomings and the places where we are falling short of God’s standard. The things that we may not have known before cannot remain ‘unknown’ because we are instructed to search the scriptures to find out everything God wants of us.

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