[CF Devotionals] 2010-01-16 - Poor, Dry, and Sapless

Deuteronomy 5:24, “Behold, the Lord God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives.”

Why do you go to church? Why do you go to hear a preacher? What is your expectation when you go? I ask these questions, and will relate an account below, concerning our mindset in worship. We go to church to meet with Jesus Christ, with His saints, and to honor the Lord on the day He has instituted. Why do you go? The account below is related in sermon 2516 of Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s sermons. He uses it in other sermons also, but I most recently found it there.

“There is a story told of Mr. Erskine having preached on one occasion before the communion, and a good woman, a child of God, heard him with such delight, and was so much fed and satisfied, that she left her own pastor, and went some miles on the next Lord’s-day to go and hear him again. That morning, he was dreadfully dry and barren, or at least she thought that he was. There was no food for her whatever; and being not a very wise woman, she went in to tell him so.

“She said, ‘Oh, Mr. Erskine, I heard you at the communion with such delight; you seemed to take me to the very gates of heaven; and I was fed with the finest of the wheat; so I have come this morning on purpose to hear you, and I confess that I have got nothing out of you!’ So he said, ‘My good woman, what did you go for last Sabbath-day?’ ‘I went to the communion, sir.’ ‘Yes, you went to the communion; that was to have communion with the Lord?’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I did.’ ‘Well,’ said Mr. Erskine, ‘that is what you went for, and you got it; and the Lord blessed my word to you, and you had communion with him. Now, what did you come here for this morning?’ ‘I came to hear you, sir.’ ‘And you have got what you came for, for you have heard me, and found that I am a poor, dry, sapless thing, there is nothing in me.’ Think of this story when you are remembering the Lord’s servants, and forgetting their Master himself.”

It is good advice. We do not go to hear a preacher, though I imagine we have all done so. We go to meet with, commune with, and seek our Lord. When we go with ulterior motives or thoughts, we are prone to get less than we were expecting. We go to worship the Lord when we attend church. It is not about the preacher. The most eloquent man in the world cannot move a heart. He might move emotions or intellect, but neither of these save. God comes to the heart of us and meets with us there, and that can only occur when the Spirit applies the Word of God to us. When we lose sight of this, and look to the preacher, what have we done? We have taken our eyes off Jesus, and fixed ourselves on one of His creation – one of His creatures. When we take our eyes off the Lord, we should expect to get nothing, for outside of the Spirit’s work, the preacher has nothing to say. However, with the Spirit applying the Word to our hearts, there can be, and often is, life-changing power.

Soli Deo Gloria,

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