Though faith is a matter of the heart, and I would typically be the first to defend that mere logic or intellect is not how a person is brought to knowing the Lord, Jesus seems to emphasize here that to grasp the Word of God with one’s mind is of extreme importance!
- “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. (Matthew 13:13)
- “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.'” (Matthew 13:14)
- “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)
- “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.” (Matthew 13:19)
- “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
But even in our desire to know God with our mind, heart, and soul, we strive for something unattainable, yet worthy of our energy.
- “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
When Josiah was 8 years old He became king of Judah. He did what is right in God’s sight just like his ancestor King David did. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
When Josiah was 16, he became a worshipper of God and when he was 20 he began removing all the idols from Jerusalem and Judah. He cleansed the land by breaking down all the altars that were made for false gods and removing all the priests who taught people to worship them.
When Josiah was 26, after he had cleaned up the land, he sent a group of people to go repair the temple of the Lord his God. They went throughout the land receiving donations to help. They took the money to Hilkiah the High Priest so that he could pay all the people who came to work on the temple. The men who worked were honest, and trustworthy, and they did their work faithfully.
Now, while they were working, Hilkiah found the Book of the Law of the Lord that Moses had written! So the men whom Josiah had sent went back to him and told him how all the people were working on the temple just as he had told them to. They also told him about the book that Hilkiah found and began to read it to the king.
When Josiah heard the words of the Book, he was so sad that he tore his clothing, and he told the men to go and pray to God for him and for all the people in the land because up until now the people had not been doing what God had said was right and God was angry.
So they went back and got Hilkiah and together they all went and found a prophet. The prophet told them that God was indeed angry that the people had been worshipping other Gods and doing evil things. But because Josiah had a soft heart, and was humble, and had been sad about all the things the people were doing when he heard the words of the Book that Moses had written, God said he would not bring disaster to the land while Josiah was still alive. So they came and told Josiah everything the prophet said.
Then Josiah gathered everyone in Judah together and read to them the Book of God’s Promise that had been found in the temple. And the king in turn made a promise to God to walk in His ways and keep His commandments with all his heart and all His soul. And he asked everyone else to promise as well. So for as long as Josiah was king the people did not stop following God.
There was no other king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, to do what God says is right in the Bible.
1 Samuel 15:21-22
"What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols."
"You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise."
If you are seeking God for direction, remember that He is much more interested in the conduct of your life than the course that you take. He will be with you wherever you go. Whatever school you choose to go to, the questions is: what kind of student will you be? Whichever girl or guy you marry, what kind of spouse will you be? Whichever career you pursue, what kind of employee will you be? Yes He can, and will, direct your path—but much more important, He wants to direct your heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
“Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it” (Micah 1:2)
Hear intelligently. Listen with understanding. Discern what is being said.
God is speaking, He is not silent.
” I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I the LORD speak the truth; I declare what is right.” (Isaiah 45:9)
“Our God comes; he does not keep silence.” (Psalm 50:3)
“The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.” (Psalm 98:2);
All of you
God’s word is not for a select few. It pertains to everybody.
“Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:2-4).
“Jesus answered him, ‘I have spoken openly to the world'” (John 18:20).
“He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:3).
Focus. Apply your mind. Engage your thoughts on this. God’s perfect word deserves more than just a glance.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:20-22).
“I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.” (Amos 7:14)
No prophet, no servant of God in any capacity, appoints himself. God does not collect resumes and choose the best candidate for a job based on prior experience. God chooses the weak, the feeble, the inexperienced, the humble.
- “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
When we feel insufficient, insignificant, unworthy, and unable, we are in exactly the state of mind that God prefers. It’s not a formula for guaranteeing a certain ministry, but it is an indication of a heart that is ready to be used by God.
- Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).
Competence, sufficiency, adequacy–qualification for ministry is only through the Lord. Rejoice in Him, in His divine choice in you, who are completely unworthy, yet found to be useful to the master.
In the days before there were kings, when Israel was still being ruled by judges, there was a famine. During this time, a man from Bethlehem which was in Judah left his home to go live in Moab for a while. He took his wife and His two sons with him. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife was Naomi. His sons were Mahlon and Chilion. The family had always lived in Bethlehem but now they were moving to the country of Moab to live there.
But Elimelech died and Naomi was left with her two sons. Each son had married a wife from Moab. One of them was named Orpah, the other was named Ruth. After about ten years, Mahlon and Chilion also died. Naomi was left without her husband or her sons. Then she heard that the Lord came to care for His people in Israel by giving them food. So she began to leave Moab with her daughters-in-law to go back to Bethlehem in Judah.
On the way, Naomi said to Ruth and Orpah, "Go back! Both of you return to you family! May the Lord be kind to you just as you have been kind to me and my husband and sons. May the Lord give you rest and let you find new husbands." With that, Naomi kissed them and they all began to cry.
And Ruth and Orpah said, "No, we will go with you to Israel—to your people!" But Naomi said, "Turn back, my daughters; why would you want to go with me? I have no more sons to give to you as husbands. Turn back! I am too old to have a husband, and even if I did, and I gave birth to two sons tonight, would you wait until they grew up so you could marry them? Would you really want to wait for them instead of remarrying now? I am very sad for you that God has stretched out His hand against me."
Then Ruth and Orpah began to cry again. Orpah kissed Naomi and left, but Ruth held on tight to her. And Naomi said to Ruth: "You see! Orpah went back to her family and to the gods that they worship—go with her!" But Ruth said, "Please do not tell me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people will be my people, and your God shall be my God. Where you die, I will die and wherever that is, I will be buried. May God make sure I keep this promise: that nothing shall separate us but death!
When Naomi could tell that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing else. So the two of them went on their journey
Oh give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His love, which never changes, lasts forever! Let those whom He has set free say so, those whom He has set free from trouble and brought back from faraway lands.
Some people wandered around in the desert. They were looking for a road that would take them to a city to live in, but they could not find any. They were so hungry and thirsty that their souls became weak and nearly fainted. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He walked with them, leading them on a straight road that brought them to a city to live in! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He fills up the empty soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Some people sat in the dark, in the shadow of death. They were prisoners, they were depressed, and in shackles of iron. This happened to them because they did not listen to God and because they rejected His advice—the advice of the Most High God. Because of this, God made their hearts sink low with weariness, and they fell down and had no one to help them. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke into pieces the chains that were holding them captive. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He breaks through steel doors and splits iron bars in two!
Some people were foolish because they did bad things, and because of their sins were miserable. They couldn’t stomach food anymore and were drawing near to death. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He spoke, and they were healed! God saved them from being destroyed! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them thank the Lord and sing about all the good things He does!
Some people got in ships and did business in the sea. They saw the God’s wonderful work in the deep ocean. God commanded the stormy wind and made giant waves. The waves were so high they seemed to rise up to heaven and then drop down to the bottom of the ocean. The people in the ships lost all their courage, staggered all around, and had no idea what to do. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He made the storm be still and He made the sea be quiet. They were glad when the waters were quiet and that God brought them to the place they wanted to go. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them worship Him in the congregation and sing praise to Him with all the leaders!
God makes rivers turn into a desert. He also makes springs of water into dry ground. He makes a land that could grow lots of food to be useless because those who live there do evil things. But He also turns a desert into pools of water, and dry lands into springs of water. He lets the hungry live there and make a city to live in so that they can plant fields and grow food. Because of His blessing they have abundant crops and lots of livestock.
When people are in trouble because they are doing harm to each other, God causes their leaders to be disrespected and despised and to wander around aimlessly. But He raises up the needy and blesses their families. Those who do right see this and are glad, but those who do bad have nothing to say.
Whoever is wise, let him pay attention to these things and let him think about the love of the Lord which never changes.