Friday, September 22, 2006

Exhortation-Hear the Lord

Dear Saints, Open your ears.
Eccl 5:1-2 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. 2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

This verse tells us to listen more than to speak. Some wit once said that you have two ears and one mouth and you ought to use them in that proportion. But this is not an exhortation on speaking but rather on hearing. We find talking very easy but often find listening very difficult. Hearing can be passive. I hear the shouts of children playing. Or it can be active. I am listening for the sound of a deer walking in the woods. Biblical hearing is more than merely hearing the sound of words. Biblical hearing is more than just listening to what the Bible says or what the preacher says. We are to listen, understand and believe. Therefore, we can act.

This is why we constantly pray for both the preaching and hearing of the Word of God. Yes, we desire the preacher to be faithful to the text. We ask God to fill his mouth and to make apt application to us in the assembly that we might know and do the Word of God. But this is not all on the preacher. We also pray for the hearing of the Word. We pray for the Holy Spirit to open your ears and to give you understanding. Are your ears open? Are you awake? Are you eager to hear? Did you get the wax out of your ears last night or this morning?

So, you must come prepared to the congregation to hear the word of God. Did you plan your Saturday night so that your Sunday morning will be fresh, awake, energetic, anticipatory? There is no law that says you must not go to bed late Saturday night before church on Sunday. But the fact that you do so says a lot about what you think is happening on Sunday. It says a lot about how important you think Sunday is.

I often see eyelids on Sundays, drooping, slipping, sleeping, eyelids. I am not condemning an occasional tired Sunday morning. I have had them, droopy eyes, even in the midst of dynamic, Spirit-filled preaching. But when your eyelids droop Sunday after Sunday, it tells me that you are not hearing the Word of God. This is not just a reminder of a petty fault. Your soul really is at stake. And not yours only but also your spouse’s and your children.

Saturday ought to be preparation for the Lord’s Day. We prepare our hearts as well as our homes and bodies. Many of you host families for meals on the Lord’s Day and this is a wonderful celebration of God’s goodness to us. But that hosting should be a result of hearing the Word. I hope you don’t stay up until midnight planning and then have a difficult time rousing yourself for the foundation of the celebration, covenant renewal worship in the presence of God and His saints.

Others of you get up early and work hard all week and see Friday and Saturday nights as your time to stay up late and sleep in on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I think you have it half right.

So, think of these things, think of this day, the Lord’s Day, on Saturday. Plan for Sunday worship, Saturday, so that you and your children can come to this place, awake, rejoicing, cheerful, energetic and hearing.

Also, some of you come and need a pick-me-up here. Your faith is weak. Your sins have overwhelmed you. Your doubts have assailed you. While you can also work on preparing your mind by confessing sins ahead of time, it is true that the very gathering and worship of the saints is also a remedy for the downcast sheep. But if this is the case, you must be more mindful of preparing Saturday night as well. Don’t put more roadblocks in your way to joy as you seek God’s forgiveness, comfort, and communion here. Prepare your home and your mind and your body so that you can come here and hear God's faithful and wonderful promises to you.

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