Today: Psalms 78:1-8; Acts 16:1-15; 1 Kings 12:25-33; 1 Kings 13; 1 Kings 14:1-20
“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” Psalm 78:2-4
Matthew quotes this Psalm as a prophecy of Jesus: “So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world,'” (Matthew 13:35) referring to Jesus speaking in parables.
The book of Acts illustrates to us how the early Christians were guided by the Holy Spirit. It is fascinating to see how the Holy Spirit operated through words, dreams, visions, signs, and circumstances. (Notice how Luke, the author of Acts, uses the word “we” in verse 10: “Now after [Paul] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Luke isn’t telling us a second-hand story. He was there! This is an eye witness account.)
The very same Holy Spirit that led Paul and Timothy can guide us today if we listen. We learn to listen just as the first Christians learned… by seeking God (1) through prayer, (2) in the Scriptures, and by (3) having a pure heart that loves God and is surrendered to His plan. All three of these are important for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Scripture forms the foundation to understanding how God works. Prayer is personally interacting with the Holy Spirit. The state of your heart is the most important of the three. All the prayer and Scripture in the world will not help us discern God’s leading if we do not love God and willingly submit to His authority.
1 Kings 12
Immediately Jeroboam attempted to manipulate the hearts of the Israelites away from God to himself. He provided replacements for God: golden calves and shrines on the high places. He set up false priests and celebrations to replace the ones God had ordained. And the people so willingly complied, and “went to worship” at the shrines.
People may mock the Israelites for their golden calf worship but are we any different? We hungrily consume all of the distractions our ‘leaders’ offer to us as well…
1 Kings 13
What a strange and sad account about the “man of God” in 1 Kings 13. We are never told his name, but God prophesied mightily through him and worked amazing miracles. The man of God resolutely followed God’s instructions not to “eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way your came,”(v.9) when King Jeroboam invited him to his palace.
But then he was tricked by a lying “old prophet” to disobey God’s command and was subsequently killed by a lion. The old prophet mourned for the man of God (even though he was the one who lied and tricked him). It’s an odd story.
My takeaway is this… we should never get too confident in our own ability to discern and follow God’s guidance. Both our discerning and our following can be wrong sometimes. No matter how close we are to God or how mightily He works through us, we are still completely capable of screwing things up. We never reach perfection in this cursed life. We do well to remember that only God is perfect, all powerful, and all knowing. This story should give us a healthy dose of humility.