Word of the Month

Helpful and useful

September 2007

Even during their captivity in Babylon God, the Holy One of Israel, turned to His people and promised them that He would guide and teach them. This has not changed. He still works the same way today. God always teaches His own: on the one hand through His word, but also by permitting certain circumstances. This is also always a teaching of God! But in so doing He never just leaves His people to wander at random: through His Spirit He leads and accompanies them on their way. These thoughts find their root in Isaiah, where it says: “I am the Lord Your God, who teaches you to profit” (Isaiah 48: 17).

In our life of faith we discover many things that are profitable and useful to us. The first thing is prayer. In the book of Daniel we can see what prayer is capable of effecting. Daniel was a powerful prayer. His prayers set so much into motion! Of course this did not change the fact that he had to go into the lion’s den. In other words, prayer does not guarantee us a life without hardship! At times we too are thrown into the “lion’s den”. But the preserving power of God was with him. That was the result of his prayers. Praying always helps!

The second point is the fear of God. This is always profitable! The favour of the Lord rests upon those who fear the Lord. Such an attitude allows us to feel God’s blessing. Take Joseph, who feared the Lord and did not give in to sin (cf. Genesis 39: 1-12). Although he had to spend two years in prison as a result, the Lord did not forget him. Let us never abandon our fear of God. Rather may it always be the basis of all our actions. And let us keep our distance from sin.

A third point that always helps is faith. On many occasions Jesus said to people: “Your faith has helped you.” Let us therefore never stop believing, even if it at times becomes difficult, or if there is adversity. The power of faith is expressed in the Lord’s statement that faith can move mountains.

Closely related to our faith is our trust and confidence in the Lord: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence [trust],” it says in Hebrews, “which has great reward” (cf. Hebrews 10: 35). It pays to “invest” confidence in the Lord. It will always bring us gain. Let us never cast our confidence away but demonstrate it in all situations. That is certainly not always easy, particularly when we have to deal with serious trials and concerns. But is it not in just such circumstances that we can best prove it? As long as things are going well for us, there are no problems with this. But woe betide if we ever have to bear a burden! Then it will be revealed whether we really have confidence.

I would still like to mention a fifth point, namely serving the Lord. Apostle Paul expressly refers to this: “[Know] that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15: 58). These words apply to all children of God. All are to work along. Perhaps here and there someone may have the impression: “No one really notices what I do any more.” A minister may think: “The visit we made to that family had no effect.” Nevertheless, the fact remains, if we serve the Lord, it will be of help! The result will one day also become evident. Let us therefore always have this willingness to serve the Lord, even in small matters. These do not have to be spectacular works – after all, the Lord looks upon the heart.

To come back to the word of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord teaches us all these profitable things. And everything He teaches us will not only serve us here but also into all eternity.

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)