The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 24:30-34 I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.
If you have ever planted a vegetable garden, you have surely given thought to all that goes into bringing vegetables to fruition: selecting the proper garden site, tilling the land, removing rocks and other foreign debris, insuring the proper PH balance in the soil, whether to fertilize, or not, choosing your seeds, planting the seeds at their proper depth, and taking steps to ensure that varmints couldn’t have their way in your garden. Planting a garden is labor intensive. After all of that work, it would be the height of laziness to then leave the garden unattended, unwatered, and uncared for. To assume that the garden would thrive with no effort on your part, would show a lack of understanding about how to maintain a garden so that it produces. Neglect would lead directly to weeds, thistles, and nettles growing and choking the life out of any plants that may have been growing. Barriers put up to keep varmints out would fall into disarray, leaving your garden susceptible to raids from unwanted visitors. Think of the impact this sluggardly, senseless behavior could have on those who depended upon the fruit of your labors. This is the state of the field and vineyard of the sluggard with no sense. “Well, I’m not a gardener” you might say. Or perhaps “I have the best fields and vineyards, this doesn’t apply to me”.
As we have been reminded by Pastor Mark on many an occasion,
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The child of God bears fruit in its season. He is planted firmly by streams of water. The child of God is one that has been born again, given a heart of flesh, filled with God’s Holy Spirit, saved by grace through faith, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Our Heavenly Father does not plow your heart, plant His Spirit within you, and leave you alone to your own devices, guided by your own imaginations. He knows you cannot walk through the narrow gate in your own strength. He knows you do not have the wisdom to navigate this life on your own. He knows you are weak, feeble, men, women, boys, and girls of dust. That is why He has given us means of grace to grow us up into maturity, to strengthen us along the way, to encourage us to persevere, to give us hope, and fill us with peace and joy even in the darkest valley’s of life. What are these means of grace? I will briefly cite two: 1) The faithful preaching of God’s Word by your pastor. Faith comes through hearing and hearing by the word of God. It is not enough to listen to your favorite preacher once a month, or to read and like the occasional verse on facebook. Having memorized the bible as a child and sat under preaching in your youth, only to neglect those means of grace in your advancing years, is akin to the man who planted a vineyard and left it unattended. It is sluggardly, and foolish. Being a member of a faithful, bible believing church, sitting under the teaching of biblical, God honoring preaching, with a Pastor who seeks to apply the Word to your life in his role as undershepherd, is one way God gives us grace to grow as believers. 2) Prayer. Prayer is where you cry out “Abba Father!” if you are a true believer. Prayer is where we confess our sins. Here we give thanks. Here we praise His name and give Him glory. It is where we submit to His word. This is where we say to God “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, not mine”. Prayer is where we ask God for grace, seek His will, and persistently make our petitions known to Him. Jesus didn’t say “If you pray”, He said “When you pray”. As I remind my children often, prayer is the most potent weapon in our arsenal as Christians. Remember what Pastor Mark read from Revelation last week? Our prayers go up before God out of a golden censer as incense, a sweet smelling aroma, and they are flung back down to the earth onto our enemies: the flesh, the world, satan, and sin. Do not neglect this means of grace. And do not be deceived: The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29). If one turns away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer is an abomination.
Let us kneel in prayer and confess to Almighty God how in our neglect of the means of grace that He provides for our growth and sanctification, we become as the sluggardly and senseless one.
Heavenly Father, Your Son Jesus is full of grace and truth. He prayed to You to sanctify us by Your Word, and taught us to pray. Yet, far too often we drift. We wander. We are easily distracted. We love our sin. Father, we truly are like sheep gone astray. We are like the sheep who looks into the pasture next to the one You have us in, and wind up stuck in a bush of thistles and nettles, or cast down, unable to get up. We trade your glorious Word, Your perfect Law, for the thoughts of our own imaginations. We pray to you requesting 3 wishes as if you were a genie in a bottle, rather than saying with the tax collector “Be merciful towards me a sinner!” Please be merciful towards us, O LORD. Please grant us clean, repentant hearts and steadfast spirits. Please forgive us of our sins. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 10/14/18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)