Thursday, February 7, 2008

Gems of Hope

Living overseas, we often end up listening to Bible teaching off of one of our favorite web sites. We recently listened to some great sermons taught by Sunder Krishnan (www.rexdalealliance.org) that were especially good. I know this is a lot of text to post- but this stuff has been pretty life changing for me and I hope it might be for you as well! My notes are kinda flaky- the sermons were much better- but I hope that you will be, as Matt and I have been, re-inspired to come with fresh hunger and thirst to the Word of God, the Bible, as you look over these points.

Learning from Saul's Fatal Errors
1- Impatient Worship, I Samuel 13
Saul wasn't willing to wait. His impatience led straight to disobeidence. For Israel (Exodus 32:1), impatience's offspring was idolatry. Why is it that we (the church) and that I myself tolerate this sin as if it's not anything too terrible?
Sunder suggests that a key way we allow impatience to rule in our times with the Lord, are when we hold (knowingly or not) our To-Do lists as more important than His Word.

2- Utilitarian Worship, I Samuel 24:16-21
Just like an old ad, "things go better with Coke," too many times we come to God because we think He should make things better, nicer, easier for us. We come to Him only or mainly for blessing, guidance, help or instruction. (side point- SK mentioned a quote from Bible professor Bruce Waltke that sometimes our obsession with "the will of God" is primarily a pagan obsession... because we can get too focused on some magical, mystical perfect plan, instead of focusing on relating to and loving, honoring the Perfect God whose plans cannot be thwarted.)
The Word has more to say about our need for God for strength, hope, courage for trials than it has to say about happy, easy lives for believers. Jesus said we are His branches- to live intimately (in relationship) wrapped around Him.

3- Rationalistic Worship, I Samuel 28:5-7
Too often we worship God just like Baal worshippers worshipped... our worship is defined by, tyrannized by our feelings and emotions. We worship the experience of worship. It wasn't a "good worship time" unless we were deeply caught up in exciting, sensory emotion... Yes, worshipping God can be like this (David's experience was just this when the ark was brought into Jerusalem) but we must not limit worship, ourselves, or God to be only this.

Recapturing the Wonder of the Word
The Word of God is not just words: data, information to be communicated.
Genesis 1 shows us how God's voice creates out of nothing.
Psalm 29
For Hosea, his whole life became a vehicle for communicating God's voice, His Word to him.
For Jeremiah, God's voice to him was like a "fire shut up in [his] bones."
For Amos, God's voice was like a lion roaring out of his mouth.
God's Word is, still today, spoken to us with His own living voice. It is not a dead message, merely words on a page... The Word is not just a transferable piece of info.
The Voice of God that creates, destroys, transforms... invites all people into dialog with Himself.

(Sunder acknowledges learning this from Eugene Peterson- not sure which book)
The Printing Press brought big changes
A Shift from Listening to Reading
Before the press, the Word would usually be read over people, from a pastor in an elevated pulpit. The Greek word for obedience means something like "to listen under." Readers initiate the start and stop of reading (unless you follow a reading schedule of some sort.) Listeners are more submissive, less in control.

A Shift in Education- from relating to the teacher/ master to acquiring information. *We need to refocus our time in the Word to come ready to hear the Living Voice of God, eager to relate to the Speaker and not just acquire information.

To turn our reading eyes (which can easily skirt letting words' message enter our hearts and minds) into listening ears, receiving hearts: Expose yourself continually to all of God's Word. SK suggests reading through it yearly or some comparable plan. "Let the texture of the text get into you," Eugene Peterson.

Like the Word, prayer is not dry either... (we are not merely talking at God like we could talk to the ceiling) we are responding to the voice of God in His Word.
Let the Word be your fuel in prayer. God initiates prayer by speaking to us in His Word. He tells us of Himself, His ways, His promises. Engage with Him in His words, respond to Him.

Prayer is like learning a language. How many children are nervous about learning their mother tongue? How many parents tell their child, "I'll start talking to you once you learn to talk"? Dive in. Pick a passage and respond to what the Lord has spoken there in His Word.

Final Thoughts
The burning bush didn't burn up not because it was some extraordinary species of bush, but only because the fire didn't need it for fuel.
The purpose/ life work that God gives us to do, is not our gift to Him, but it is His gift to us... He uses it to refine us, recreate us in His image, refresh us with His own faithful care and presence in our lives.

These teachings are affecting lots of change in my heart and perspective when I come the Word. I've known that it is the Living Word of God... but did I really know it? Lord, work your transformation in me!
Matt and I are going to try to listen to a little bit together- either straight from the Word or a short teaching- together two mornings a week. You can check back with me in a little while to hear how it's going...

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