April 10, 2014

God’s Word speaks to my shortcomings

I woke up this morning remembering the night’s silly dreams – a muddle of nonsense. If my mind worked like that during the day, someone might lock me in a room with padded walls. Yet when coming this morning to the Word of God, this is what He first gave me . . .

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6–9)

Do my ordinary thoughts appear as silly to God and those dreams appeared to my wide-awake mind? What does God see going on in my head that is “lower” than His thinking and needs to be elevated from its foolishness? The other assigned readings for today give me several insights into how my thoughts could be more like God’s.

First, I need to let His words have their intended purposes. Scripture was written and made available to me so God could change my life. It says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14–17)

The Word of God has brought salvation to me, has taught, tested and corrected me, but how much have I allowed it to train me that I might do good things? Sometimes I treat the Bible as a course in self-improvement, but God has something higher in mind. He wants to equip me so I am useful to Him and can serve others, so I can get to work and not merely have a better looking resume.

Second, cult members and false teachers pick and choose the parts they want to promote or to apply. Most of us find it easier to read our favorite parts and ignore the rest. Often I read the Bible and focus on commands that I obey so as to feel encouraged, but skip too quickly over the parts that convict me of sin or the need to change. Hughes says not to do that, but as I read the Bible, be willing to let the Bible read me.

Third, the psalmist says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) This is normally considered an exhortation to memorize the Word of God so as to avoid sin, but I’ve not done much rote memorization. I can usually recall and find verses, but being able to say them and their location is not one of my skills. Today, He reminds me of a good reason why I should be more diligent in memorizing: When my thoughts are “lower” than the thoughts of God and filling my head with anything other than His thoughts, it is far better to repeat what God says than let my thoughts control either my imagination or the way I talk and act.

The main idea is to pay close attention when I read the Bible (which is the part of prayer where God speaks to me) and act on those challenges to change. The last line of the reading says, “May I suggest that if you are having a comfortable time reading the Bible, the chances are you are not reading it correctly.”

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