Do you always say what you mean?
The answer for the vast majority of us is no. Even the most literal person is apt to offer a partial truth to flatter someone or to shorten a conversation. We say things we don’t mean. We don’t say things we mean. And too often we’re just plain mean.
Frankly, since human words are often more mean than meaningful, we often have trouble listening to each other. Our listening skills are particularly compromised when we don’t want to hear what’s being said or we’re too busy to pay attention.
Psychiatrist Morgan Scott Peck offers this insight in his best-selling book, The Road Less Traveled, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”
But the truth is we’re often busy multitasking: texting, checking our email, surfing the internet, or planning what we will say while the other person is talking, or what we will do once the conversation ends.
Our current worship series is titled Words. While not all communication requires them, the words we speak or write are powerful. And so are words we don’t say or write.
In this week’s chapters from Woman of Words, the Temple police arrest Mary and Matthew. They bring Matthew before Theophilus, the High Priest, who warns him to stop assisting Mary with writing the stories of Yeshua. They bring Mary before the former High Priest, Annas, who Nicodemus warned was the real power broker behind the scenes.
In a show of power, Annas reads aloud excerpts from stolen manuscripts, shedding light on what happened to the missing stories.
Mary tells Annas her Son is the Messiah. When questioned how she was so certain, she shared how an angel told her what was to happen before Yeshua’s birth. Her Son had no earthly father, for He was the Son of God.
After Matthew’s release, he shares these thought while observing the people going about their day’s busyness. “Outside the Temple, righteous Israel was on full display in the blue robes of the Pharisees, the richly embroidered garments of the Sadducees, and the spotless white robes of the Essenes…Mingling among these pictures of piety were ordinary people like me and Peter and Mary—those who knew they were sinful creatures but who wanted to please HaShem [God] above all else…These were the wounded our Messiah came to redeem, and they were the people for whom Mary and I were writing.”
Matthew’s musing sets up the irony of Mary’s arrest ordered by Annas, who also was the first to question her Son after His arrest. “How do you know this?” was the High Priest’s question after Mary told Him that Yeshua is the Messiah. “I’ve seen Him,” Mary replied.
In the Book of Isaiah, God reminds us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.” In fact, the thoughts of God are so different, so much more powerful, so much more wise, so much more loving, that even to compare what we say to what God says is utterly foolish.
When God speaks, all of creation is affected. God’s word is as reliable as the rules of nature. The rain soaks the thirsty ground, nurturing the seed which brings life out of the ground. This is the way God intended it so this is how it works.
“My word… will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it,” says the Lord. It is not a gamble. It is not about probability and statistics. God’s Word is a sure thing. God gets God’s way all the time.
The Word I speak will not fail to do what I plan. My Word will do everything I send it to do.
In the first part of Isaiah, something went terribly wrong, and the people had ceased being faithful to the covenant that God made with King David. God reduced the land to briars and thorns under divine judgment. God’s acts of grace later removed this judgment, but only if the people repent of their hypocrisy and listen carefully to God’s Word. As they do, there is a reversal of fortunes as God extends the everlasting covenant made with David to God’s people.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Jesus lived among people and accomplished that which God intended.
Are you listening?
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A reminder that we publish this newsletter that we call the Circuit Rider each week. You can request this publication by email. Send a request to connect@FlintAsbury.org or let us know when you send a message through our website. We post an archive of past editions on our website under the tab, Connect – choose Newsletters.
Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. A Woman of Words. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2021.