It always gives me pause when someone begins a conversation with, “The Lord told me to tell you. . . . ” More often than not, the speaker follows the statement with a criticism or complaint disguised as a “word from the Lord.” God speaks to all of us, but today’s passage tells us that God grants authority to some voices over others.
In the verses leading up to today’s reading (vv. 9-14), God notes the voices and practices that the Israelites are not to heed, specific practices such as divination and soothsaying. God grants no authority to those who practice these activities.
Instead God promises to establish a line of prophets like Moses, authoritative communicators of God’s word to the people. These are the prophets to whom God calls the people to listen. They have the authority to hold both the people and other religious leaders accountable to God.
As Christians, we understand Jesus as the culmination of this line—a prophet who not only speaks the word of God but is God’s Word. We read the Bible through the lens of Jesus. We believe Jesus is the fulfillment of scripture and thus brings to us the full word of God.
When we express skepticism about someone’s “word from the Lord,” we can look to Jesus as the prophet who showed us everything we need to know about God. We follow the example and heed the words of Christ. We need not turn to horoscopes or fortune-tellers for truth; God gave us a line of prophets and an ultimate prophet to bring us God’s word.
God, guide us by the truth of your word. Help us discern what comes from you. When we are tempted to follow practices that do not come from you, guide us to Christ—your Word and our Savior. Amen.
This week’s readings center on God’s authority. In Deuteronomy God promises to raise up a prophet to guide the people, and God warns the people not to listen to voices that do not speak for God. The psalmist overflows with praise for God’s great works. God is powerful and awesome, yet gracious and merciful also. Paul instructs the Corinthians to place the rights of others before their own rights. A person’s conscience may allow him or her to exercise freedom in Christ; however, with this freedom comes responsibility. We must surrender our own rights, if necessary, for the good of others. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus shows his power over the forces of darkness: even the unclean spirits recognize and obey him.
• Read Deuteronomy 18:15-20. To whom or to what setting do you turn when you yearn to hear God’s voice?
• Read Psalm 111. How willing are to you to immerse yourself in life? in your worship setting? What causes you to simply dip your toe in? What would help you make a fuller commitment?
• Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. When have you been conscious of another’s limitation in some area and intentionally chosen to avoid a certain behavior?
• Read Mark 1:21-28. Jesus calls James and John from their fishing nets. He takes them as they are exactly where they are. Where have you sensed a call from God? How did that call change your vocation or avocation?
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