Having been back from the Shepherd's Conference I have had time to reflect and consider the many things I have learned. I have been transferring my hand-written notes onto the computer so that I might actually be able to read them later.
One of the striking nuggets of truth that impacted me greatly was made during a message by Steven Lawson regarding the preaching of God's Word. To be sure, the only reliable message by a preacher is a message from and saturated with the Word of God. But Steven Lawson took me a step further. One of the elements of the church service that can be neglected or disregarded is the reading of Scripture. Yet, Paul specifically instructs the young pastor Timothy, "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:13). And here now is what struck me -
The only time the preacher is infallible is when he is reading straight from the Word of God.
Even the man who has studied to show himself approved of God is yet tainted by sin and will yet interject the flesh rather than the divine. With this in mind, we should all look at the public reading of the Word not as some old-fashioned preparation or as some quaint practice that has little impact, but rather as the most glorious and pure receiving of the Word.
As the Psalmist has written: "Your word is very pure, therefore Your servant loves it."
Oh that we would so love the Word of God for in reading and heeding it is the only safeguard against the sin which so easily entangles. Oh how I fear that sin might grip me unawares and lead me down a path away from God. Oh how I pray for the flock that God has entrusted to me, that first, my sin might not be counted against it; and second that those who are engaged in habitual, continual sin, would have their eyes opened, that they would repent, truly crying to God to change their hearts to reflect the genuine fruit of repentance. Let us be reminded that sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to master us.
"12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
There is great joy and encouragement knowing that in Christ, sin has been paid for and that all those in Christ are new creatures. Let us strive to manifest the newness of our creaturehood in Christ to the glory of God the Father.
Soli Deo Gloria,