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Be Teachable

Another lesson that we can take from Proverbs 4:20, My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings, is to be teachable. In asking one to “give attention to my words” and “incline your ear to my sayings,” the writer of Proverbs is asking that the student maintain a teachable heart.

The heart is mentioned throughout scripture. Most often it is a weak organ which must be guarded and supervised to avoid problems. For example, we are told in Proverbs 4:23, keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

In Matthew 15:18, Jesus taught, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

In Luke 6:45, Jesus says, “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

So how does one develop or maintain a teachable heart?

  • Avoid self-righteousness, the need to be important or right in your own eyes.
  • Avoid self-reliance. Learn that faith requires reliance on God rather than self, and that self-reliance and keep us from yielding fully to God.
  • Avoid arrogance. If you feel you are the smartest person in the room, you are not teachable.
  • Avoid laziness. Being unwilling to engage in what God is asking of us because of a lack of diligence make us unteachable as well.
  • Avoid compromise. Allowing compromise into our lives will give us a divided heart and make us unteachable.

The teachable heart desires more of God and less of self. Be teachable.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. . .  Ephesians 5:8

Some days, you were once darkness is an easier truth than now you are light in the Lord.

When I consider things that I sometimes do and say, light is hardly the description I would apply.

What does it mean to walk as children of light?

In Galatians, Paul tells “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22 to 26

When I consider the fruit of the Spirit, I know it is only possible to have that fruit when I allow the Spirit of God to flow in and through me. For this to occur, I must have a pure heart and clean hands–I must keep short accounts with God.

It is a lot to consider, but allowing the Spirit of God to move in and take up residence in my heart, my being (and booting out the old tenants) seems like a good way to start.

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It is in the heart of every man and woman to question God. It is His longsuffering and mercy that lull us into the sense that it is our right to question Him. Those of us raised in America have “authority-challenge” in our blood.

We desire to rail against God and alternately plead with Him when situations go out of our control, beyond our resources–like in a global pandemic. We want to rush into His presence and have our say.

But how can a sinful person be in the presence of a holy God?

But without the shedding of blood, there is no atonement for sin. (Leviticus 17:11) Without atonement for sin, there is no approaching a holy God. Without a way to approach God, we are left shouting our complaints and pleas to the ceiling, to the social media abyss.

The only way to approach God is on His terms, in the way He has defined. It is only blood that can open the way–blood of an acceptable sacrifice. One might ask if an animal sacrifice will suffice–not if you don’t have a God-ordained place to offer it. No sanctuary–no sacrifice.

What hope is left? One sacrifice has been accepted by God–the blood shed by Jesus the Christ. He was without sin and offered His life as payment for the sins of the whole world.

If you believe He was who He said He was–the Son of God (God incarnate) and that He died sacrificially for the sins of all men, then when you acknowledge your condition–separated from God by your sin, you can come under the covering of His blood and be cleansed of your sin and acceptable in the sight of God. You need only believe. No works are required.

Believe and be saved.

 

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For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2 NKJV

Paul’s statement is worth considering as we sit here in time less than a week out from the celebration of the Passion of the Christ.

What is Paul on about?

The words, “I determined,” speak of a choice. The fact that there was a choice implies that there were other ways Paul could have approached his ministry. For example, he could have tried to be relevant to his audience, modify his message to fit the population, work to attract the world to Jesus and the message of the cross. He could have employed music or drama to appeal to their tastes and make the crucifixion palatable.

But instead, he chose to put aside all rhetoric. This was no small thing because as a Jewish student of the law, he had been trained since a very early age to make arguments and support his position with theological statements of great thinkers from the past. It would have been well within his strength and religious training. He chose instead to let the cross speak for itself.

“[N]ot to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” speaks of a singleness of focus. It speaks of intentionality of thought. Why would he be so narrow in his focus? Perhaps because he knew the liberty of the cross–he himself had been a slave to the law, and had found great freedom in Christ. He wanted that for others. It might also have been the exigency of time that he felt. He may have felt that making the main thing the plain thing was the best use of time. Perhaps he knew the time was short before Christ would return for His church and Paul wanted as many to be ready as was possible.

Paul gives voice to his focus in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul saw that the cross changed how one lived in the temporal.

The cross presents a rift in the fabric of eternity–a fracture in the seemingly unchangeable progression of humanity from the garden forward. At the cross, the futility of the life of man has an end. It is possible for him to be no longer a vapor; no longer like the grass. At the cross, the human soul finds its potential to become a companion of God . . . forever.

Human argument is silenced by this horrific act of God.

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Even if you didn’t understand the sacrificial system under Mosaic law or the significance of the tearing of the veil in the Holy of Holies, granting access to God directly for the first time since God gave instructions for the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness–the Son of God, beaten within inches of His human life, hung on a Roman cross in a rock quarry like a common criminal has to draw your attention.

Paul “determined not to know anything . . .  except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” because that was all that mattered. It is still all that matters.

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For He has rescued us and has drawn us to Himself from the dominion of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
Colossians 1:13 (AMP)

Sometimes the short verses can pack a big wallop. Colossians 1:13 is such a verse. As I unpack it, I find

Rescue
He rescued us. It is a completed work. But why was it necessary? Because we were in danger. We needed help. We couldn’t save or help ourselves.

Relationship
He didn’t stop at pulling us out of the mirey clay, back from the abyss. He drew us to Himself. He sought closeness with us, relationship with us. This, I would suggest, is the heart of God. He desires to be in relationship with us.

Relocation
He didn’t leave us where we were. God relocated us. He took us from the dominion of darkness–where we were threatened–to the Kingdom of His Son (Jesus). In the kingdom of His Son, our sins have been paid for. In the kingdom of His Son, I am an adopted son, I am grafted in to a rich history with God and a future that has no end.

Hallelujah!

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4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

It is in times of trouble we most need a reminder to rejoice. It is more natural to rejoice when things are going well, when we are being blessed, experiencing success, and healthy. It is far different and more challenging to rejoice when we are afraid, isolated, or sick.

But God in His wisdom has commanded that we should rejoice in the Lord always. We are not rejoicing in the trouble, but in the One who is able to protect us and guide us through the trouble.

Rejoice Always
Does always really mean always? Yes. But we are not just rejoicing–we are rejoicing in the Lord. He is always good and always sovereign. He is always with us.

Paul repeats it. Because it is worth repeating. It is a super truth. It is a truth that stands the test of time and circumstance. It is a truth that is virus-proof.

Be Gentle
He goes on to say that we should let our gentleness be obvious–visible to others. We should be known as gentle. They should see Jesus in me, gracious, gentle, unselfish, merciful, tolerant and patient just to name a few of His character traits. When everyone else is falling apart, panicking, self-seeking, self-preserving and out for their own interests, we should be visibly and audibly gentle.

Let Nothing cause You to Lose Faith
Paul tells us, “be anxious for nothing.” Does he really mean nothing? Maybe if he were here with us watching this virus take over nations, crush healthcare systems, take lives, he might said something different . . . No he wouldn’t.

We are to be anxious for nothing because there is no real threat to us. Nothing that can separate us from the love of God. There is no person, no principality, no circumstance, and no illness or disease that can separate us from the love of God. And if the Ruler of the Universe loves you and me, what is there really to worry about. He spoke it all into existence, and He can surely take care of us. We need to banish fear. We need to feed faith. We need to do all to stand in this day.

Prayer is the cure. By prayer and supplication and making our requests (and our fears) known to God, we engage in the great exchange. We give our concerns to God and He gives us peace–a type of peace not available in the world–the peace that passes understanding–peace from God. This peace that God gives us will protect us. It will protect our minds. It will allow us to grow in faith. It will allow us to stand.

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Set your Mind on Things Above

 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2 (NKJV)

To set your mind on something speaks of mental discipline. It means to keep one’s thoughts habitually focused on the subject matter or to say it another way, to think about the subject matter it all the time. When your thoughts drift, they should drift back to that subject matter.

According to Colossians 3:2, the subject matter that we, as believers, should be focused on is “things above” or in other words, heavenly things–things of God, things of eternity.

  What might some of those things be?

  • Eternal Life with God We should be thinking now about what life with God in eternity will be like, e.g. that He’ll dry every tear. There’ll be no more sorrow. In eternity, we will have perfect knowledge of God–nothing will be hidden. Sin will no longer be a problem. We’ll have our glorified bodies. Life will be as it was intended by God. His Kingdom will have come and His will be done. Thinking on these things will help us to be sustained when challenges and difficulties, illnesses and failed relationships plague us here, in the realm of now.
  • The throne room of God (Revelation 4-5). We should be thinking about what we know about the heavenly realm, namely what we have been told in scriptures. For example, we’ll be there in the throne room, witnessing the things described in John’s prophetic vision in the Book of Revelation. The angels will be around the throne of God. Worship of the Almighty will never end.

So take heart, this world is passing away. We are just pilgrims here. One day, we shall be in heaven. Let’s set our minds on that.

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