Common Temptations to Neglect God’s Word
As summer approaches and many new opportunities are on the horizon for our church, there is one opportunity that we must not neglect. I was reminded of this opportunity when I was looking at an evangelism site on the web. On the sight there was a picture of an old Bible that obviously had been neglected for a long time. Covered in mold, with mushrooms growing all over, particularly on the sides where page ends were exposed, this Bible was not cracked open and its content now was far from access. Though I am sure none of us would want our Bibles to become in such disrepair as this one, I am afraid there is a severe temptation for all of us to quickly allow the Bible to lose its voice in our lives. Let me describe these temptations for you.
We can harden our hearts (Psalm 95:7-11). Israel on her way to the Promised Land hardened their hearts to the voice of God. How did they do this? They quarreled among themselves seeking a practical return to their comforts instead of seeking God’s face as he had been revealed to them. Our tendency to harden our hearts and quarrel among ourselves happens often when we go through significant changes. Even so, there is a better way! Instead of facing God’s wrath for quarrelling among ourselves why don’t we simply take our concerns to God and trust him to do what is best for us and most glorifying to Him. We question one another, but always in this manner – Can you show me where God’s Word teaches us to do this?
We can refuse to herald the good news (Isaiah 40:1-11). Another temptation is to cease speaking the good news to those around us. Just as easily as it is for us to harden our hearts is the temptation to assume that because there is resistance we can just give up. How can we refuse to heed God’s voice which calls us to preach, teach, sing, and share the good news with other people, particularly those in our circles? In this passage Isaiah the prophet encourages Zion and Jerusalem to lift up their voices to proclaim to Judah the good news of the Lord’s coming both in might and as a gentle shepherd. Notice as you read this that it is the gospel that is preached primarily here. There is the word of comfort because of God’s judgment has ended (1-2), the proclamation of man’s sinfulness (6-8), the provision of a Messiah (4-5,10-11), and the simple call to prepare the way for the Lord (3, 9). If we give up anything, let it be those practices, programs, or pursuits that give less comfort to God’s people and less help to trust Christ as the promised Messiah!
- We can refuse to repent and welcome Jesus as our Lord. (Revelation 3:14-22). This is a passage we have often heard in terms of evangelism, but evangelism is not the purpose in this passage. Here the apostle John writes down what Christ’s voice speaks to those who have become useless for the kingdom because they neither refresh as a drink from a cool spring nor do they soothe as a warm bath would. These people have come to rely on their practical abilities and possessions (see verse 17). They do not want refinement through suffering for the Word, purity though putting off sin and putting on Biblical living, and healing through being conformed to Christ as he is revealed in his Word. Therefore Jesus tells them all to repent, welcome him again, and conquer in Christ the sins that so easily beset us. Can we ever rely on our abilities and possessions? NO – heaven forbid that we ever seek to trust self rather than the Savior.
Friends as we come to another summer, let us not lay aside our Bibles. Rather let us pick up God’s Word that we may hear his voice and be transformed by it!