"The Christian's life in all its aspects-- intellectual and ethical, devotional and relational, upsurging in worship and outgoing in witness-- is supernatural; only the Spirit can initiate and sustain it. So apart from him, not only will there be no lively believers and no lively congregations, there will be no believers and no congregations at all."
Last Christmas I received a GPS from my in-laws. I don't travel much, but I really like having my Mio Moov 200 there to guide the way. You see, I have been known to stress-out when dealing with directions. To hear someone give directions to a location, and end the conversation with, "You can't miss it", makes me break-out in a cold sweat. I CAN miss it, and I most likely WILL miss it. That's why I love my GPS. She guides me to where I need to go.
Last weekend I took my daughter Taylor to a swim meet in Milford (where the heck is that?) at 6:00am. Without Claire (the name I gave my GPS), I would have been a mess. We got to the meet in record time, and I never once had to turn on the light and frantically try to read printed-out directions from Mapquest. I was really happy with Claire. In fact, I think I even uttered to Taylor that I loved her (it). Taylor looked at me kind-of weird, but I think she got the heart of what I was trying to express. Having something or someone to lead the way is wonderful. It is empowering and encouraging to know that every decisions for every turn does not depend on my judgement and short-sightedness. I was free to just drive.
On the way home from the meet I wondered to myself why I don't use Claire the GPS more often. In fact, many times I just leave it in the electronics drawer under out TV at home. It doesn't do me any good there. More often than not, I miss-out on the direction it could give me to get from one place to another. I subject myself to the pressure (check that...stress) of finding locations while also trying to drive my car. Anyone with any kind of sense would encourage me to keep the GPS in my car and use it regularly. It is downright stupid to not use it.
My contention is that I and many, many other believers in Jesus Christ do the same thing with God's Word. All of us, at one time or another have acted in obedience and consulted His Word. We have reaped the blessings of guidance, peace and security that can only come from God. Then we do the unthinkable. The stupid. We forget about it. We ignorantly forge forward with how we feel the Christian life should be lived, without consulting the true source for wisdom, knowledge, and instruction.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." -2 Timothy 3:16
This past week I had a conversation with at friend about the need for believers to be constantly fed by the reading of the Word of God. These are the questions that arose from the discussion: Does a believer really need to be in the Word in order to know and please God? Can he/she simply know God by serving others, through fellowship with other believers and by listening to K-LOVE? What if he/she is a poor reader or even a dyslexic? Surely God wouldn't ask us to frustrate ourselves by asking us to do something we find very difficult. Right? Isn't that equivalent to asking a physically disabled person to run in the Turkey Trot 5K?
In Jeremiah 29:13 God says to the exiles in Babylon, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Does that mean we are left on our own to make the decisive move toward seeking God? Do I really know how to seek him with ALL MY HEART? I have to say that this one is hard for me to figure out. Does it mean that He won't act until I figure out how to seek Him in this seemingly impossible way? This puts a lot of pressure on the believer. How can this be accomplished? Is it even possible?
Encouragingly, it is possible. Not through our own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Look back 5 chapters in Jeremiah for the context in which Jeremiah 29:13 was written. Read what God says in Jeremiah 24:7 to those same exiles in Babylon: “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”
Pastor and theologian, John Piper recently chimed in with this commentary of Jeremiah 24 and 27: "This is one of the most basic things people need to see about the Bible. It is full of conditions we must meet for God’s blessings. But God does not leave us to meet them on our own. The first and decisive work before and in our willing is God’s prior grace. Without this insight, hundreds of conditional statements in the Bible will lead us astray. Let this be the key to all Biblical conditions and commands: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). Yes, we work. But our work is not first or decisive. God’s is. “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). "
The Word is essential! There innumerable ways to excuse our individual decisions to neglect the Word, but none of those excuses hold any water. We are not left on our own to seek God with all our hearts. He works in us to give us the heart to do this. We are not left on an island to figure this out on our own. We are given power to get this done. The guidance is there. Why don't we more often tap into it?
I Corinthians 11:31 says: "But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged." We are called to take a serious inventory of ourselves as believers. Are we growing in Christ, or are we just treading spiritual water? Over time, others can look at us and tell. Dr. David Jeremiah is quoted as saying, "There is no standing still in the Christian life since the plan of God is continually moving forward. To fail to grow is to lose ground in the kingdom of God." Am I, are you where you should be in regard to our spiritual growth?
ARE WE TAPPING INTO THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GIVE US A HEART TO SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS?
The guidance and power is at our fingertips. God has pre-ordained it. Will we use it?
"God never puts anyone in a place too small to grow"