Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Today’s Topic: Spiritual Negligence
Today’s Text: “Go and tell this people: “‘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.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)
Imagine how you would feel if suddenly every connection you had with people using the internet was gone. You were completely off line. That’s how I have felt for the last 13 days as my schedule has not permitted me to sit in my office in the early morning and share with you what God is teaching me through the study of His Word. I have felt totally disconnected.
When I look at the rest of the summer, there are going to be several more extended periods of disconnect, one starting next week. But what a blessing it will be to see family and friends on a trip back to the home state of my wife. My constant and fervent prayer is that your commitment to Jesus Christ will keep you in a consistent state of devotional study. I know you are not dependent upon me for your spiritual health – I don’t want that at all. You have the Holy Spirit to teach you. Keep studying the Bible on your own. Don’t let the summer schedule of vacations, recreation, and pleasure get pushed up into a higher priority position than your intimacy with Jesus.
When the pursuit of God is moved from the top spot on our priority list, we choose to start down a very slippery slope from which recovery is difficult. Many times things have to get pretty tough for us before we wake up to the reality of our situation. All along the slope God’s hand is being extended to slow our slide and pull us back up to the top. But the blindness to God created by the intense light of our pride to pursue our own goals keeps us from seeing His hand. When that happens, we are in danger of sliding all the way to the bottom.
A great lesson can be learned from the historical context of Isaiah’s call to prophetic ministry. The nation of Israel is in trouble. They have succumbed to materialism, hedonism, and humanism. The first five chapters explain their position on the slippery slope of self-indulgence that they chose for themselves by failing to pursue a consistent relationship with God.
Then God call Isaiah to be His messenger, and He gives him the message to speak. We would like to think that at this point God is going to intervene and rescue them from their slide. His messenger must have words of hope, right? Wrong! God says that the consequences of their choice to jump on this slide will have to be fully realized. The will take it all the way to the bottom.
Is God being cruel? No. God is acknowledging man’s free will. God did not force them to make their choice to reject Him. God did not lead them to set Him aside for a time so they could experience what the world has to offer. God did not give them permission to change their priorities. But God did allow them to make their own choices.
When we make choices that hurt us, we tend to believe that God is our first aid kit. We quickly run back into the prayer closet where the kit is stored and take out a few bandages and some anti-bacterial ointment. After a quick application, we put the kit back in the closet and get right back to our lives again, hoping nothing else will hurt us. That’s what the nation of Israel was doing, and that’s what many of us are doing. We run to church on the Sunday’s when we happen to be available and hope that what we hear will carry us through all of the worldly pursuits of summer until we can get back to a normal routine in the fall. All the things we want to do while the weather is nice have suddenly taken on a higher priority than our relationship with Jesus our Savior and Lord. And then we wonder why we are so busy, so stressed, and so unfulfilled by what we thought was going to be all the stuff of summer that would make life meaningful.
We are on the slippery slope of materialism, hedonism, and humanism. And just like God told the people of Israel through Isaiah, He tells us today that our slide will carry us farther than we wanted to go. Our ears will hear these words but we won’t really understand them because we really don’t want to change. Our eyes will see the trouble coming but we will ignore it because we think the benefits of the pleasure will be worth the price we pay. Our hearts will become more hardened to the truth because our pride says we can make this work and have both worlds. Only when we have reached rock bottom will we finally surrender.
That was the message to Israel. That is God’s message to us today. I don’t know where you are on the slope, but if you are on it at all you are in danger. Reach out today and grab the hand of God and let Him stop your slide. Get back to pursuing God no matter how many plans you still have for summer fun. The fun of summer is not worth the recovery period from spiritual negligence.