- Song of Solomon 2:8-13 and Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 OR
- Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 and Psalm 15 AND
- James 1:17-27
- Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Thoughts on the Word:
This week we have a special guest writer - Daniel Horsburgh, who with his wife and five children has followed the call of God to India. You can read more about Daniel and his family, and support them in their work in response to God's call HERE and also at the bottom of this week's sermon.
Receiving vs Having been given
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:20-22 ESV)
Two hungry people can be given a piece of fruit each, yet one grasps it in their hand and eats, nourishing their bodies in that moment, yet the other let's it fall to the ground, rendering the gift useless to them as they leave it to rot in the dirt.
Much the same is the wonderful word of God! As James exhorts we can receive with meekness the 'implanted word' that has the power to save our souls, or let the words we read and hear fall to the ground, going to waste during the season of our lives for which they were given.
For the latter of the examples we observe someone who is either very rude and ungrateful for what was given or on the other hand totally ignorant to the fact that the gift of food was indeed a gift and was meant for them. The giver of the gift is rejected regardless of their motive or ignorance.
For the fruit that falls on the ground, we can imagine it is mistreated, kicked, distorted or squashed, eventually rotting so that in any case the fruit is seen and understood as bad, distasteful, rotten and smelly. It is out of place, treated accordingly with the rest of its environment, it is totally out of its intended context.
Yet the fruit in the case of the first person was used, appreciated and accepted within the context of food, for that is what fruit is. It is purposed to nourish and bring life to the eater and which it does.
As we see both people were given fruit but only one received it. As we turn to the scriptures we ask the Lord Jesus for grace to open the hands of our spirit and receive what he is giving us through His Word that the Holy Spirit may open our eyes to receive with thanksgiving this life giving gift.
Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and religious leaders in Mark 7 discussing the Law Moses handed down to God's people Israel. The Pharisees like our second person receiving fruit have been given the life giving word of God. they know full well the scriptures from the Torah, the law and it's requirement, yet familiarity has led to contempt and they are unable to receive the law as a gift unto the salvation of their souls, but have treated it as a list of religious acts by which to measure their self righteousness.
The gift, having been given but used out of context of its original purpose becomes distorted, miscommunicated - taken out of the context of being a 'good and perfect gift' being able to save their souls. Instead the rotting process happens and what has been stored in their hearts as word of God becomes corrupted, diseased and poisonous.
The laws regarding cleanliness in Mark 7 were given as a gift to the Jewish people to protect them from disease and bring life, also being a worship to God in their everyday lives. Yet perverted by context and the purpose for its use the word spoken had become rotten, desiring death, as a worship of man's self righteousness not God's righteousness.
Taking the word of God for a purpose other than God's desire is exactly the same thing the devil did as he tempted Jesus in the desert. The words spoken by the devil were for a purpose to see that he was worshiped not God. This sounds extreme, but what do we do with the word of the Lord for our lives? Do we engineer it's context for our own ends or do we let the Holy spirit lead us into all truth understanding it for the purpose for which it was sent.
I am not talking here of using the word of God in sermons, no much deeper than that. When we as stewards of His beautiful words, read the bible and hear The Holy Spirit speak to our hearts, what do we do with those words, do we interpret it the way that suits our conscience, comfort or circumstance, or do we seek the Holy Spirit to lead us into the revelation for which the words were given to us.
Here as people being given the word of God we can receive it or reject it. Receiving the word of God is always an active event, it requires relationship with the 'Father of lights', it requires thoughts submitted in meekness to the Holy Spirit who will always align us with Jesus Christ the cornerstone of our faith. Constantly we must stay in remembrance that we are subject to the word of God, not the word of God being subject to us. It requires acknowledgement of the gift and 'eating', if you will, the words of life that they would bring nourishment to our souls.
Alternatively, rejection of the word of God is incredibly passive as much as it is active. We can ignore the scriptures or overtly, out and out reject the opportunity to receive life and nourishment. Either way the gift of the word of God is rejected.
It is an invitation at each hearing to delve further into relationship with our Heavenly Father. For it is in relationship that obedience compliments love. I don't believe that Jesus merely just obeyed His Father, rather I believe He loved Him, and from this love He desired to obey what was shown Him.
As we return to the Pharisees we can see that Jesus criticism of them was not merely because they observed the Law but rather that they observed the law in the absence of personal relationship. Within relationship is the expression of love. All obedience springing from love will bring life.
In this context lets then re-read James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
"Holy Spirit guide us into all truth. We humble ourselves before the mighty word of God may you empower it in our lives as we worship our Lord Jesus. Lead us into greater love and joyful obedience!"
About Danial and Chhaya
Daniel and Chhaya Horsburgh are a family living in Rajpur, North India. They have 5 children, Deklin, Monika, Mohini, Natarnia and Amiya.
As a family they are called to love India, bringing family to those without. Daniel works with a company building custom made guitars, training and discipling rehabilitated drug addicts to build guitars, worship God and start life anew.
Chhaya runs a business, making and exporting clothing for western markets providing well paid jobs for individuals and families in need.
Apart from these roles Daniel and Chhaya are social leaders providing pastoral love and care to those within their community. Also Daniel as a worship leader is studying with Sounds of the Nations to write worship songs in some of the local languages.
As a family they have self funded their venture to live in India and always welcome much needed financial aide. Please pray for this family and also for how you might support their work here in India.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate - If you can help the Horsburgh family financially in their work to serve the people of India and God then please consider doing so by clicking HERE