Hearing clearly, responding obediently

Today’s faithful daily read is Luke 13:31-14:6 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

There are many elements I would love to explore in today’s gospel reading… Jesus reference to Herod as a ‘fox’, Jesus reference to ‘today, tomorrow… third day’ and his demonstration of God’s healing work on the Sabbath.

However, this is what hit me most with today’s passage. Jesus lament over Jerusalem.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (v34)

Jerusalem, the home of God’s people and the dwelling place of God on earth, repeatedly fail to hear and yield to the cry of God’s prophets, choosing instead to kill them (v33) [1]. The irony of Jesus words should not be overlooked. God’s people, the very people who should be most sensitive to His voice, willfully refuse to listen and refuse to obey His word. 2 Tim 3:16 makes it abundantly clear that scripture is the very breath of God and I cannot help but wonder in what ways I reflect Jerusalem’s response to the prophets – deaf and resistant to what God says to me? On this side of the cross, do we too easily to take God’s word for granted? Choosing to only listen to it in part, or make excuses why we do not obey?

Our readings today (and every day) are an opportunity to hear God speak and allow us to respond in repentance through a change of heart, mind and action. God’s call to his people in our Thessalonians reading could not be clearer starting with ‘It is God’s will…’ and finishing with ‘… anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God…’ Now, as in the past, God’s people should hear his clarion call and respond accordingly. 1 Thessalonians 4 calls us to live pure lives, characterized by self-control and avoiding sexual immorality. In this call to holiness, our lives will be markedly different from the world (vs 5). So, let me ask you today, as I ask myself… How are you going with self-control and sexual purity – in your thoughts, words and actions?

God’s call to us is for sanctification (v3) – it is both a gracious and a firm call to holiness. We struggle with sin and putting the flesh to death daily, yet we are also washed and purified though Jesus’ blood shed on the cross. Our response should avoid extremes of,

1)   doing whatever we like because of grace (Rom 6:1-2), nor

2)   constant legalistic self-flagellation, rules and guilt because of our sin (Rom 8:1-2)

I confess that my tendency is to oscillate between extremes of guilt and grace. We have been set free from our sin, therefore we should live lives that reflect our freedom. How are your sexual thoughts, behavior and words reflecting this freedom?

I pray that we would hear the God’s voice clearly today (every day!) and respond as His spirit convicts. Jesus life was extinguished at the hands of the very people who should have recognised him as their king. Let us today, as his people, bow our knee before our King, hear his words and respond in loving obedience – allowing his grace to sanctify our lives.

[1] That is not to say that all prophets were killed inside Jerusalem (cf Jer 26:20)


2 thoughts on “Hearing clearly, responding obediently

  1. Thank you Steve. To me talking about sexual purity amongst Christians is like the elephant in the room, which is very sad. When you look up the statistics regarding Christians and the use of porn it’s heartbreaking. Unless Churches get serious about helping those who have given into this temptation it’s just going to be a downward spiral. There needs to be godly men and women who can come along side their brothers and sisters and lead them to the path of freedom which is only found in Jesus. Hopefully this is happening in Lifegroups where there is accountability and unconditional love side by side.

    Jesus sets the captives free even those held captive to porn. As a Christian Jesus has made the way free from guilt and shame. . Get in touch with a mature believer and allow the love of Christ to heal and restore.

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