Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Call to Obedience

(Via Evangelical Outpost)

David Mobley, posting at A Physicist's Perspective, presents a brief but important post expanding on Psalm 119:33-34, "Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law, and obey it with my whole heart."

Mobley concludes:
As I study God's word, read theology, and read various books, this is something I have to constantly remind myself: It's not enough to understand the truth as it's revealed in God's Word, or even to be able to debate about it. It will do me no good unless I really believe it and then put it into practice. A true understanding of God's Word will always affect my life. If I grow in "knowledge" but not in obedience, it will only increase my guilt.

So let's apply our minds to understanding, but not for the sake of understanding alone, or for the sake of pride. Let's apply our minds to understanding God's Word so that we may believe and obey it.
I was very taken with Mobley's challenge. I find myself struggling more with what charge (order, instruction) might be placed upon me in God's word, more than how I am to understand.

I happened to dig through some notes for future posts, and came upon some brief notes on Isaiah 55, which I herewith expand.

His Call and Covenant - Isaiah 55:1-5
1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
2Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--
The sure mercies of David.
4Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
5Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the LORD your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you."
When we hear the word of God and don’t respond with Obedience, we are as the children of Israel. We consume that which does not satisfy, and seek after gain that does not enrich. We muster up the wrong resources, we follow wrong desires, we apply our attentions to the wrong goals. What God offers comes at a price, but the coin of His realm is not an Earthly lucre. It is our mind and heart set in rightful attentiveness.

He points us in the right direction. He gives us all the tools we need. He sends us other caring people and creative circumstances to gain our attention and win our allegiance. From the beginning of the world, He has set his creativity in motion, and as He reveals His wisdom, He continually reinforces His eternal nature.

And yet, we hesitate, we stall. Too often, we avert our gaze. In the very moment of our greatest desire to respond, we allow ourselves to be diverted. We may even publicly dedicate ourselves to pursuit of Him and His purposes, but somehow we sidestep on the path He so clearly sets before us.

Do we not yearn for that which truly satisfies? Then why do we resist Him so? Does not our soul desire to delight itself in abundance? So why do we walk away with treasures left unclaimed?

God promised great things to His people. His covenant promises are eternal, He is everpresent in our time and need and worry. He set in motion a legacy in David that was fulfilled in the person of the Christ. His witness is all around us, throughout time and space, and yet we are reluctant. Do we hesitate because His promise is more than we can bear? Do we allow our shame to slam us down as unworthy of His promise, or do we still not trust that what He has to offer will really be what we want?
6Seek the LORD while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
7Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
God doesn't even ask for us to understand Him or His ways -- He knows full well how impossible that would be. No, it is us in our hubris (an elemental character of our humanity I think), who overmuch first seek understanding. Yet God in His word says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you."

We are to attend to Him, call upon Him and seek His will. Don't expect to understand all that is in His intent, nor can we expect to even see the endstate of our obedience. He has a greater glory, a promise to fulfill that goes beyond our ability to imagine or our capacity to divine. It is His promise, in His time, through His purposes, with His instruments, according to His will. How pitiably often we miss the movement of His spirit as we attend to our questions and concerns.
10"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
12"For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the LORD for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
And what a set of promises He makes!

As reliable as the change in seasons, as certain as new growth, as steady as His creation are His words of encouragement to us. Joy and peace may be ours. The very mountains and the hills will break forth in singing as He join Him at work around us.

In obedience to Him and His words, we shall be part of that fruit, that substance with which His words return to Him. Like the fruit that follows the leaves which follows the sprout which follows the seed. He has set His purpose in motion, that we might see, belief, and obey.


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