Asa was not completely obedient in the outward, visible areas of his life. He was obedient in what he considered the most important areas, but he was not entirely right. Beware of ever thinking, “Oh, that thing in my life doesn’t matter much.” The fact that it doesn’t matter much to you may mean that it matters a great deal to God. Nothing should be considered a trivial matter by a child of God. How much longer are we going to prevent God from teaching us even one thing? But He keeps trying to teach us and He never loses patience. You say, “I know I am right with God”— yet the “high places” still remain in your life. There is still an area of disobedience. Do you protest that your heart is right with God, and yet there is something in your life He causes you to doubt? Whenever God causes a doubt about something, stop it immediately, no matter what it may be. Nothing in our lives is a mere insignificant detail to God.
Are there some things regarding your physical or intellectual life to which you have been paying no attention at all? If so, you may think you are all correct in the important areas, but you are careless— you are failing to concentrate or to focus properly. You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.
|APRIL 15, 2015
The Danger of an Empty Heart
“You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16 (NIV)
I’ve come to the realization that every choice I make is actually a trade.
Some trades are good. On the days I trade a half hour of sleep for extra time with Jesus in God’s Word … that’s a great trade. The time I chose to keep dusting as my daughter shared her heart with me … that was a horrible trade. Taking care of my body or indulging in a little more dessert? It’s all about what trade I will make.
There’s a guy in the Bible, not much different than me, who also made a trade. His name was Esau, and the story of his dealings are found in Genesis 25.
Esau was the twin brother of Jacob. Esau, like me, was an outdoorsy type. Jacob, unlike me, liked to hang out in the kitchen.
One day, after being out in the open country, Esau returned home exhausted and famished to find Jacob cooking some stew. He said, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew!” (Genesis 25:30, NIV).
Jacob, being the conniving type, saw an opportunity to play let’s-make-a-deal with his older brother. He made a proposition, “First, sell me your birthright” (Genesis 25:31, NIV).
According to Jewish tradition, fathers gave the birthright to the firstborn son. The eldest would receive the title of the family name (maybe something like the way royalty passes on the family title) and a double portion of his father’s inheritance.
Maybe Esau thought Jacob’s proposition was a lighthearted toss, so he threw back an exaggerated, sarcastic response: “Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32, NIV)
That’s all it took. He swore an oath and got his bowl of stew.
When I first read this account I thought: Really? Give away all of your rights for a bowl of stew?
What would possess Esau to make such an uneven exchange?
Take a closer look at the word describing Esau’s condition: famished. Extremely hungry, starving, empty, hollow. I think Esau’s condition had a lot to do with his decision. Past the point of being hungry, he was empty.
If Esau would have grabbed a snack while waiting for the meal preparation, he could have been sated until all was ready. The temptation to give up the best of later for the quick fix of now wouldn’t have had such a tantalizing pull.
Esau and I are a lot alike. When I’m “hungry” — whether that looks like loneliness, fear or tiredness — I can make some unwise decisions. When my heart is empty, I can make an unequal trade out of desperation. In this condition, I am tempted to:
Make quick decisions
Speed had everything to do with Esau’s choice. He wanted his problem fixed now! It wasn’t hard for Jacob to manipulate a man who wouldn’t wait.
Exaggerate my condition
Esau told his brother he was about to die. Someone who has been out in the open country all day doesn’t seem to be at death’s door.
Make unwise decisions
Esau gave up the best of what he had for a bowl of stew.
What’s the trade you’re facing? Does it have to do with how you spend your time, invest in relationships, or take care of yourself? Maybe you find yourself trading intimacy with your husband for a romance novel? Sacrificing financial freedom for “having it all”? Bypassing time with your kids for the project at work? The trade presents itself in many different ways.
Today’s key verse in Psalm 145:16 tells us, “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Jesus will satisfy our hungers and allow us to see the truth of the trade if we turn to Him. Then, we can see the exchange for what it is.
What trades are you tempted to make today? Let’s learn from Esau. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worth the trade if it means giving up God’s very best.
Trusting God’s Word
From: streams in the Desert
I trust in thy word” (Ps. 119:42).
The parable of the sower
From: Charles Spureon
“A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:5-8
Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 1:1-10
The ground was good; not that it was good by nature, but it had been made good by grace. God had ploughed it; he had stirred it up with the plough of conviction, and there it lay in ridge and furrow as it should be. And when the Gospel was preached, the heart received it, for the man said, “That’s just the Christ I want. Mercy!” said he, “it’s just what a needy sinner requires. A refuge! God help me to fly to it, for a refuge I sorely want.” The preaching of the gospel was the vital thing which gave comfort to this disturbed and ploughed soil. Down fell the seed; it sprung up. In some cases it produced a fervency of love, a largeness of heart, a devotedness of purpose, like seed which produced a hundredfold. The man became a mighty servant for God, he spent himself and was spent. He took his place in the vanguard of Christ’s army, stood in the hottest of the battle, and did deeds of daring which few could accomplish,—the seed produced a hundredfold. It fell in another heart of like character;—the man could not do the most, still he did much. He gave himself, just as he was, up to God, and in his business he had a word to say for the business of the world to come. In his daily walk, he quietly adorned the doctrine of God his Saviour,—he brought forth sixtyfold. Then it fell on another, whose abilities and talents were but small; he could not be a star, but he would be a glow-worm; he could not do as the greatest, but he was content to do something, even though it were the least. The seed had brought forth in him tenfold, perhaps twentyfold.
For meditation: Quantity of fruit is desirable, but quality of fruit is essential—fruit that has gone mouldy is useless. The Lord Jesus Christ is looking for fruit in quantity and fruit which lasts (John 15:5,16).
Sermon no. 308
15 April (1860)
Inward Assurance (Isaiah 32:17)
In the Old Testament, the words confidence and assurance are different forms of the same Hebrew word. Isaiah adds the concept of quietness, “In quietness and trust” (Isa 30:15) we find our strength. Isaiah also tells us that “quietness and confidence” are the effect of righteousness (Isa 32:17). In the New Testament, the Greek words translated “full riches of complete understanding” (Col 2:2) and “convinced” (Ro 8:38) convey the same idea as similar words in the Old Testament.
Assurance is not based on optimism about your own abilities. Rather it is an inward peace based on God’s righteous work in you. Such confidence is not self-confidence, for that would be false security and reliance on something unreliable (Pr 14:16; Jer 9:23–24). Scripture states that those who have confidence in their own strength (Isa 30:12), beauty (Eze 16:15) or righteousness (Eze 33:12) are to be considered fools (Pr 28:26).
True confidence—rooted in the Lord’s capabilities and his relationship with his children—is a quiet strength that brings rich reward (Heb 10:35–36), a lasting security that is fully satisfying.
Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible