Learning from God; September 8, 2019

Psalm 107:43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the Lord.

After giving such a recitation of how God has rescued people out of a wide variety of situations that were mostly created by their own actions, the Psalmist expresses the point of the whole Psalm. We tend to observe events and not process them in our hearts and minds, and so fail to learn from them. The Japanese translates this verse as, “Who is the person with wisdom? Let him fix his heart on these things, and so grasp the grace of the Lord.” God would much rather not have to teach each of us the same lessons over and over. Frankly, those lessons can be rough to experience, as this Psalm makes clear. What God would like is for us to see and really think about how He has dealt with others, and so receive those lessons vicariously, without having to go through all the mess. That’s a major reason for the historical sections of the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. As Paul said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11) Whether we’re reading the Bible or simply watching the people around us, we need to open our minds and hearts to recognize the incredible grace and love of the Lord, as well as the reality that “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Neither legalism nor “hyper-grace” (libertinism) understands the character and heart of God.

This is truth in which I am continuing to grow. I had the huge advantage of parents who were excellent examples of what it is to follow God in full commitment, and I have also seen countless examples of the other extreme. As a pastor I seek to point people to God and help them really think about and assimilate what they have seen and even experienced. However, as someone with Teacher gifting I have a tendency to lecture, and that is seldom the most effective way to go. That’s why I’m grateful for my recent exposure to what is called coaching, as an outgrowth of the Cell Church movement. In coaching, the aim is to help people recognize what God has already spoken to their heart, rather than lecture to them. It is coming alongside, rather than speaking down to them. Between being a school teacher as well as a pastor, along with having a high IQ to begin with, I have tended to feel like it was my job to tell people what was right. I am to do that, but never with the feeling that I am the authority, much less the source of the truth I express. Rather, I am to seek to help people recognize these things for themselves, and so own them to do them, instead of resenting my lectures. I’ve had more than enough of that sort of reaction!

Father, thank You for this reminder. Last Monday You gave me a message on “Saints” for today, before I entered the hospital on Tuesday. Keep me from coming across as though “I’m a saint and you aren’t, so get with the program.” Help me be an accurate channel of Your grace and truth to all who hear, so that together we may indeed grasp Your grace and love, and so be transformed. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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