As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:27-28)
During a quiet time this verse opened up to me and I’d like to share what I feel this verse is saying. Let’s put ourselves in the position of this woman. She sees Jesus in the flesh professing the truths of God and healing people. She has no doubt He is a great man and great teacher. I hear people that are like minded today believing that a great teacher with a great life philosophy walked around teaching 2000 years ago. They see the truth in His wisdom but can’t move into what He truly brought to earth.
Then there are those who believe in who Jesus was but neglect the relationship with the Father that His death provided. The Bible says that even the demons believe in who Jesus is. In the gospels they refer to Him as the Son of God before He casts them out. Believing that He existed as a great teacher or even believing He was the Son of God doesn’t provide the salvation His blood offers. The woman in the passage above admired and believed in His. She blessed the woman that gave Him life and was grateful for Him. She professed in front of a crowd her admiration for Him.
But let’s look at Jesus’ response. He explains that the true blessing is in the Word He brought to earth. The blessing is in Him as the Word and not a man. Jesus wants us to experience all that is available through Him, not just admire the miracles. Not just who He is, but the fullness of God’s Word manifest through Him. The true blessing comes in walking with the Lord and not just seeing Him walk by. The greatness of God is seen when we follow His lead, submitted to Him, instead of walking ahead and asking Him to catch up when we need Him. While His existence as God in the flesh is important to believe, it’s in the grace and love showed to us through His death that must be experienced to see God’s blessing. Hear God’s word spoken through the lips of the Savior. Follow His example of love and compassion for the lost. Submit to the Father just as the Son did and be filled with the same Spirit that brought Christ out of the grave.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land. (Isaiah 6:9-10,13)
The first verse here, from Isaiah 6, describes those who walk blindly through the darkness of this world. They have access to the holiness of God but refuse to let it penetrate their heart and cause changes that lead to sanctification. They miss the fullness they have access to in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. The biggest hindrance is people’s refusal to submit to God bigger purpose for His people. They can’t imagine that they are not the center of His movements in this world. The thought of suffering or becoming a servant leave them seeking gratification in their own way. The constant struggle against the pull of their hearts toward their Father cause them to become calloused so that the desire for God becomes dull. They fall into the trap of putting their desires over those of God. God desires that submission to Him and a deep relationship rooted ion love would lead our desires to become His desires.
The voice of God becomes drown out in the business associated with self-servitude and self-gratification. The calloused heart isn’t the pliable vessel where the Holy Spirit is meant to thrive and shine forth the light of God through His children. When a person wrapped in the cords of the enemy comes to the end of themselves, they are then in a position to receive the greater gifts of God. Their eyes can then see, ears can then hear, and hearts can then receive the power found in Jesus Christ through their weakness. They can then turn to the faithful Father who stands patiently waiting for His children so that none may parish.
The second verse above talks about the holy seed of God. In this case it refers to the remnant that God uses to carry His glory through time even as the people turn away with callused hearts. I think of this as the holy seed found in every person that we refer to as a conscience. God speaks into our spirit and writes His moral code upon mankind made in His image. Even in a calloused condition the draw toward God, the empty place we look to fill with lesser things, still causes us hardship and struggle. Acknowledge the holy seed that pulls at you when God isn’t first place in your life. Never let your heart become so calloused that the Holy Spirit cannot shine through your life. Refuse to let yourself be ruled by your fleshly desires. Be restored to, submitted to and led by your Heavenly Father so that your life finds the purpose and joy for which it was created.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:22-23)
If someone draws closer to God through certain practices, we are not to judge as long as they don’t go against scripture. This includes denominational differences. We have to let all things lead to Christ even if we might think of them as senseless. We shouldn’t let the things that make us different draw us apart. God creates many diverse parts to make up the church, the bride of Christ. God uses many ways to touch the hearts of each of His children. Just like God used ceremonial law to keep the focus of His people on Him, He will use multiple ways to draw people from the darkness of sin.
The danger comes when people lose focus on God and develop a reliance on acts. This is where people become legalistic and think that their actions take the place of the faith we are called into. Be careful not to let differences in practice draw believers apart. Keep your opinions between you and God so that your thoughts don’t create division.
If you feel God call you to a certain place, walk with Him. If you have a practice that you feel draws you closer to God and honors Him, draw close to Him as He draws close to you. As long as your practice doesn’t contradict scripture, praise God in what draws your heart to Him. Don’t rely on your practice, let those moments develop your intimacy with God and grow your relationship with Him. The ultimate intimacy with God is found in relationship with Jesus Christ. Let your walk be yours and let your neighbor’s walk belong to them.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews (believers) or to Greeks (unbelievers) or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. (Job 33:14)
“Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life. (Job 33:29-30)
I had a concept put on my spirit and could not find the verse until a friend opened his bible randomly and felt compelled to share with me that verse. It happened to be the one I needed to confirm God’s word to my spirit with His written Word. The two-edged sword that cuts through the snares that seek to keep believers from walking in peace and joy with the Savior. Praise God for His Word and its confirmation in my spirit which brings an overflowing joy to my heart.
As we walk in the guidance of God through His Spirit we have to remain open to, not only His Will at all times, but His correction during the process of sanctification. Our human nature attempts to draw us away from God’s path and convince us that we can walk alone at times. We tend to try and walk in our own understanding or at our pace. God has to correct His children as they run ahead of His leading. The passages above speak to a God that provides correction, not once, but multiple times in different ways so that we might receive it. This shows the love of a God who seeks for us to understand His plan. He seeks after those who seek Him. The second piece of scripture shows a God that loves His children so much that He is willing to take the time to repeat a lesson multiple time as He seeks to grow His Spirit in their hearts. I see times where God has given me a lesson to learn and then as I continue to move forward my fallen nature pulls me out of alignment with Him. He then stops me and repeats the lesson because He cares enough to take the time to make sure I walk rightly as I grow to fulfill the purpose He created for me. I found a journal that had notes of a time God had given me a lesson, I see that He has brought me back to repeat that lesson. I was floored at His patience, steadfastness, and faithfulness in correction of my sin of independence.
How grateful I am to have the chance to serve a God with such love and patience. How grateful I am to have the opportunity to return to a lesson God finds important enough to repeat for me in order for me to live complete in Him. How humble I am to my Heavenly Father as He puts His word in my heart and then uses a friend to hand me a piece of His written Word, bringing fullness and confidence that my faith is placed in a God worthy of all glory and praise for all eternity. Praise the God of Heaven!
Along with the New Covenant found in Jesus Christ came new ways of understanding God. Describing the infinite God already proves impossible. So why shouldn’t Him becoming man cause us to have to repurpose or create whole new words to describe a reality unique to Him? Two words I’d like to focus on form the basis of God and our relationship with Him through Jesus.
The words are agápe (love) and charis (grace). The word agape which means love in Greek is unique to Christianity. It refers to God’s quality of love. This kind of love is not known to man outside the presence of God. Agápe love is different because it is unconditional and not based on merit. You cannot earn or deserve a Godly love. Loving like God is a choice and not based on emotions which drive man. The writers of the New Testament had to create this word to describe a concept foreign to man before Christ came to be an example of such an amazing thing. There are many words for love in the Greek language including éros(sexual), philía(friendship), storgē(parental),and ludus(playful). None of them had the power to describe a love that cannot fade or change.
Charis (grace) is a word that had to be reconditioned. When the writers of the New Testament began to use it to describe the gift of God to His adopted children it gained a power it never had before. The word originally described kindness or favor (Hebrew ‘hen’) in the Old Testament (as in God’s favor toward Noah or Moses), but took on a meaning much larger and powerful with the coming of the prophesied Messiah. Where the law of the Old Testament fell short and drove man away from God, the grace found through faith in Jesus brings glory to God and a new meaning to a word that also fell short of the undeserved gift of our Lord.
I like to think of the bible like a diamond that is flawless, colorless and ideally cut. It is the most valuable word ever spoken. The diamond can be turned in the light and the way it reflects the light changes with each turn, but its beauty never fades. Sometimes the light is white and sometimes it is divided into colors, like the rainbow of God’s promise. The closer you look the more you can appreciate the details of its shape. Each time you see it you can truly appreciate its purity and splendor. The word of God is the same way. It grows with you as you mature, its wisdom becomes greater as you dive deeper.I marvel at the way the same passage can touch your heart in so many ways. I word that humbles you at one moment can bring you strength in the next. The bible is alive as if it was breathing alongside you. Breathing the Spirit of God into your heart. The word of God is as steadfast as He is. No matter how circumstances change, His word is always applicable as the truth! Seek Him in His word and you will find peace. Be led by His word and you will walk in joy. Believe in His word and you will be saved from your sin. Be changed by His word and you will be sanctified.
(Hebrews 4:12) For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. – Martin Luther