I wonder what you consider the most valuable thing you can have? Some would say, “family”. Certainly, Family is very valuable. A lot more people when it gets down to it really value “pleasure” even more. That is why, if the marriage is miserable, many people will eventually adopt the attitude that divorce is the solution. By divorcing, they hope to have the chance to rebuild a happy life again. The love of pleasure can manifest itself in thousands of different ways. There is no doubt that for many, it is the supreme value. And doubtless many of those people would call themselves Christians also.
For some, money is the supreme value. Now I know that as Christians we would never say it so openly. But as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words”. What are we really spending most of our effort on, if not for money?
And sometimes even the words themselves speak. My wife was at a party some years ago and some young people from the local mega-church were there. One of them declared, “I want to be filthy, filthy rich for the Kingdom”. This is what some people are being taught today. The idea is that you can’t do much of value for others unless you have a lot of Money. That’s why, for them, money trumps other considerations. Sadly, it has become a fairly common attitude amongst people who want to “make money for the Kingdom”. The truth is, you CAN do a lot without a lot of money. “Having food and clothing, with these things we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). Paul would not say these things if a lack of cash or credit in your life necessarily implied a lack of fruitfulness.
I’ve rarely seen “those who desire to be rich” do anything of MAJOR significance for the Great Commission, by the way. God will not allow His truly important projects to be financed by such people, lest flesh should boast. A lot of the time these people, when they do give, give to false prophets and compromisers who tell them what they want to hear. The Word of God told us that this would happen, and happening it is.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth”
(2 Timothy 3:3,4)
So then, what should be our supreme value? How about spiritual experiences? Just as with money and pleasure, God may give you spiritual experiences, but I don’t believe that they are a healthy “ultimate value” – something to put all your energy into pursuing. The reason is this: even as a Christian, you can have spiritual experiences which are not of God. You can be deceived by false prophets, or by the wickedness of your own heart. New Agers have spiritual experiences, as do people in other religions. What is it that guarantees that YOUR “spiritual experience” is actually going to help you or anyone else? I believe right here we need to subject ourselves to THE WORD OF GOD, or we will be DECEIVED very easily. A “spiritual experience” that is not in harmony with God’s Word may be very real, and very emotional, but I tell you now – the devil’s seducing spirits are involved.
You can’t build your life even on GODLY spiritual experiences. These things are not going to happen every moment of the day. God has not ordained that we continually be “blown away” with amazing experiences. He gives them to us SOMETIMES. But you can’t build your daily living on them.
I would like to say what is becoming all the more clear to me. The thing we must pursue is God’s Word to us. I don’t mean simply Bible knowledge or theology, those these things ARE an important foundation. We do need to study the Bible, because in this God will prepare us to hear His voice. What I mean though, is that we need the knowledge of what God is speaking to us right now. Jesus lived by that, and did nothing without it. And that is USUALLY something from the Bible, or confirmed by the Bible. That’s the way it starts, and the Bible truth should never be far away from what we believe God is speaking by His Spirit. The Bible itself says,
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Matthew 4:10)
When it proceeds (present tense) from the MOUTH of GOD, there will be at least a little of “breath of God” coming out of the mouth of God with it. This breath of God is the Holy Spirit. We need the Word that comes to us with the Holy Spirit – the spoken Word of God.
It could be something we gain through hearing a preacher or teacher of God’s Word, but it does not have to be. We must be careful. We have to be careful because unless we are DILIGENT in pursuing God and forsaking all idols, including the idol of “self”, we are candidates for deception by false teachers. If your favorite Bible teacher rarely rebukes idolatry – be very careful. Perhaps they are one of the ones people “heap up” to themselves to tell them what their “itching ears” want to hear. Itching ears don’t want to hear messages which rebuke idolatry. So if someone DOES rebuke idolatry, its a good sign. Just because you get excited listening to some teacher does not mean you are getting God’s Word to you. You may be. Its just that we need to exercise discernment also. Regular reading of the four gospels should help a lot in this matter. You need to make sure you are reading not just the parts you like, but the parts your flesh does not like, as well. Otherwise, you will be easily deceived.
Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.
Amos 8:12 They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.
Could this happen in our day? I hope not. But the way it could happen is if there would be an abundance of false “words from the Lord” going out – through the internet and Christian TV perhaps – and a real lack of TRUE words from the Lord. How hard is it today to find the true prophetic word, or the true knowledge of God’s will, in amongst all the false and flaky stuff out there?
And we also should ask: “When people are exposed to the true Word of the Lord, are they REALLY _hearing_ it?” Sometimes God is speaking, but we are not listening. We just don’t want to do what it is He is telling us to do. And if that is the case, we can run here and there, to this great one and that great one, but we will never get anywhere. You can’t fool God. You can only fool yourself.
I’m challenged to be willing to love God’s Word more. To desire to hear God’s voice, His instruction, His commandments, and to receive the knowledge of His character. These are things I must pursue, even more than “the anointing”. Friends, you can pursue the anointing and even get it, but if you are not also pursuing God’s instructions, you are in more danger than you think. Again, consider the false prophets who are manifestly “anointed” with power today, whose lives reflect a love of money, a love of influence, and a love of power more than the character of our Holy God.
God told the prophet Jeremiah one day to get a linen sash, and wear it for a while. After some time, God said to bury it near the Euphrates river. That trip must have taken a while. Then after some more time (after many days) God sent Jeremiah to get the sash again. It was destroyed. (see Jeremiah 13:1-11).
We are like that sash. We were meant to cling to God, but for that we have to be willing to HEAR (see verse 11b). Instead, we hide ourselves in the things pertaining to the life of Babylon, and it ruins us for God’s purposes.
God has a great plan for us, “that we might become His people, for renown, for praise and for glory” (vs 11) but we have to be willing to hear, and we have to stay clear of Babylon. We must not be like
“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing” (Jeremiah 13:10).
May God help us to value HIS WORD to us much more than anything which may arise in our own hearts of a mere human origin.