Words of Life ~ ATTENTIVE

(We are blessed to have Valerie Caraotta as our guest writer for this week’s Word of Life. Visit her Facebook page and encourage her to start her own blog at WordPress.)

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When I studied the word attentive, what struck me most was our responsibility and necessity as believers to heed the Word and draw closer to the Lord. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes ATTENTIVE as: Expresses the direction of thought and interest towards some one point.

The KJV, from which we find our list of Words of Life, uses the word ATTENTIVE six times. We will look first at the five references found in the Old Testament.

Old Testament H7183
Strong’s Concordance defines ATTENTIVE; qashab kash·shäv’ attentive.
The same word is used for attend; to hear, hearken, incline, heed (you can find these references at H7181).

Three of the verses are prayers that appeal to God for Him to be attentive to His servants.
 Nehemiah 1:6 is a prayer for the sins of the children of Israel.

Let your ear now be attentive and your eyes open that you may listen to the prayers of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you; both I and my father’s house have sinned.

Then, in Nehemiah 1:11, he prayed before he went before the king of Babylon that God would grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer. He prayed again before he answered the king’s question of his sadness which was for the affliction of his people in Jerusalem.

Psalm 130 is a short Psalm of degrees and worth reading these eight verses to understand where the Psalmist is in relationship to the Lord.

Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. Psalm 130:1-2

The fourth reference is also from Nehemiah after he had come to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall — when the people were attentive to the book of the law.

And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. Nehemiah 8:3

Elihu speaks of the power and greatness of God in Job 36 and continues in Job 37:

At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place. Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. Job 37:1-2

“The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silent before Him“ Hab.2:20 — evidence of souls that long to be attentive to his Word and promptings.

Attentiveness is not forcing God but posturing ourselves so that when He speaks we are more apt to hear.

Samson was spiritually blind before the Philistines blinded him physically. He didn’t know the Spirit of God had left him. How long does the Lord have to be absent before we miss him? Being aware of His presence in our lives requires our constant attention.

New Testament G1582
Strong’s Concordance defines ATTENTIVE ekkremamaie k-kre’-mä-mäi to hang from, hang upon (the lips of a speaker).

There is only one reference to the word ATTENTIVE in the New Testament.
The chief priests were already envious of Jesus’ popularity and when He turned over the money tables in the temple, they sought to destroy him.

And could not find what they might do; for all the people were very attentive to hear him. Luke 19:48

Are we carriers of the anointing to break yolks off others or mere noise — clanging symbols that have no eternal significance.

Where is our zeal? Did we once burn with passion to spend time in His presence and Word? Has it waned over time or do we love Him more today than ever?

The more attentive we are to the presence and activity of God, the more clearly we will discern His will. He is our Father, attentive to what we need before we ask (Matt.6:8)

We may not perfectly interpret God’s will, but it pleases Him when we stay in His Word, desiring His presence as we grow in our relationship with Him.

As believers, we are called to cultivate attentiveness to God. His Word and prayer are given for us to gain His perspective. This is vital because, in our own thinking, things may appear right, but the wisdom gained from above is far greater than we can imagine. In His leading, we can accomplish more in less time and gain strategies we need for the hard issues of life.

Dear Father in heaven, how blessed we are to have ears to hear – ears that are opened to your calling. We praise you for wisdom and knowledge through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and your Holy Spirit. Draw us closer so that we do not miss anything you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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O The Depths of the Riches of God

What a blessing it is to sit under the preaching of the word of God, especially these last several weeks, as we have heard about the power of the gospel that saves God’s people. Paul’s letter to the Romans is not easy to understand; and so, much of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge are lost. But, I have come to the end of chapter 11 with a better understanding than I had before hearing it preached.

At the same time we are studying this book we are continuing through the Shorter Catechism. This week’s question asks how God’s word is an effectual means to salvation. The answer is, “The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto salvation.”

 The preaching of the word rooted in the new heart brings us to new awareness and desire to know; and the Spirit leads us to plunge into the depths of that which He still wants us to know. If all we experience is a “tickling of the ears” we will never know, or grow. It is when our own beliefs are challenged that we seek more of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge.

My purpose in these last several weeks is to document a little of what has impressed me in the preaching of Paul’s writing; to challenge you the reader to go deeper in your own study and meditation of God’s word, and to seek the preaching of the “whole counsel of God.”

 The Mystery of Salvation
Paul’s presentation of the power of God in the gospel to save His people is brought to an end in Romans 11. He has made known this wisdom of how God planned to save and does save His people of every nation. His explanation and exclamation end with all glory to God.

Beginning in chapter 12 we will see the response of all people who are brought under the power of the gospel through faith unto salvation ~ the obedience of faith.

Briefly summing up, Paul has shown us how God at first chose a people, the people of Israel, through which He would save His elect from all nations. He could have chosen any other nationality, but He chose and made the Jews a special people for the purpose of revealing Himself and executing His plan of salvation.

We see from Paul’s writing ~ himself being a Jew ~ that there is a remnant of the nation of Israel that are elect; just as there are some of every nation who are elect.  He makes it very clear that not all of the nation of Israel will be saved. Whether we understand his meaning to be contemporary or for all time, we must let the text explain his meaning.

Romans 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”   In Romans 8:29 Paul speaks of those whom God “forknew.” The Jews are not set apart, but included in this category.

They are included in the “election of grace.” “

“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Romans 11:5

What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” Romans 11:7

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.” Romans 11:28

 All Men’s Disobedience and God’s Mercy
“For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 

“For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” Romans 11:30-32

Paul sums up the whole plan in these verses. Salvation came through the nation of Israel. Through all the years of their rebellion, finally to the coming of Christ, their rejection and hand in the death of Christ; and their continued rejection of the gospel, salvation has been made known to all nations (the Gentiles). Christ’s death and resurrection put the nation of Israel in the same boat with the whole world. They need mercy as much as all other people. They are included in the covenant of grace ~ not all, but like all other nations, as many as are of the “election of grace.”

Scan 143450000Gracious Father in heaven, we are not able in our own power to approach your throne of grace, nor do we merit your mercy, but we come at the invitation and initiation of your Son, Jesus Christ, on the authority of your word and the power of your Spirit, as sinners saved by your grace.  We thank you and praise you for the riches of your wisdom, the knowledge that is bestowed upon us, in us and through us, that brings us to you and keeps us until the day of redemption.  What a glorious day that will be to see the height of your glory revealed to us who are in Christ.  In His name we thank you and praise you.  Amen.