Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Words of Knowledge

“Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the 
words of knowledge.”Proverbs 19:27

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”—Hosea 4:6a

Christianity is a belief system in which its adherents are encouraged to study. That does not mean we need doctorate-level (or even college-level) studies in order to practice our faith more perfectly. No. All of God's children have varying degrees of intelligence and varying degrees of interest. One believer may have a moderate level of education, for example, and loves to delve into the Scriptures by way of word studies. This believer may know he needs to understand God's view of patience more clearly, so that he may apply that quality to his own life. He would then seek out verses that use this word, read and memorize those verses, and then read those verses in context to the verses surrounding it for a deeper perspective and a clearer understanding of how patience applied in each of those circumstances.

You may also have a believer that just can't get enough of theology and how individuals down through history approached their faith. She would study the lives of great theologians and learn the concepts they defined and then learn the concepts of others (contemporary or not) who may or may not agree with this theologian's concepts, and then begin to study what they believe. From there, through her own knowledge of Scripture and by way of much prayer that God would guide her into all truth (John 16:13), she would seek God and ask Him to show her what He thinks of these rich theological concepts by way of His word.

There are Christians who love studying the end times and can't get enough of learning about current and future events and how they relate to biblical prophecies. There are Christians who love poetry and wisdom and so want to read the poetic books of the Bible, over and over and over again, so that the truths in these passages (of Proverbs for example) just start to become his own thoughts as he goes about his days. There are Christians who love to read missionary tales of current and past individuals who lived their faith out loud to a lost and dying world. Simply said, there is so much we can be fascinated with about God and His word that would encourage us to study deeper.

Studying God's word also protects us from the lies that we come across in false doctrine and false teachings. God expects us to study to show ourselves approved unto Him so that we can rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). This is key in our age of too much information because there are many voices and many ideas out there in our world that are clamoring for our attention. In order to clearly maneuver in these waters, we need to make sure our ship and our sails are without damage, and that our anchor is sure. That ship, sail, and anchor can be said to be God's holy and precious word and the basic truths He communicates to us through His word. Without knowledge of His truth to steady us, we will be like children, the Bible says, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

So, how do I cease from hearing instruction that leads to my destruction? I feel very fortunate because I happen to love studying. I love learning and diving deeper into subjects that interest me, and I am blessed with a thirst to know God's ways and to know His word. He has blessed me over and over in my own personal life with deeper understandings on this or that subject. But that thirst is not constant and it does change as far as what subjects I want to study or that He’s leading me to study.

For example, in my earlier walk with the Lord, I loved studying other religions and all the different views even within Christianity. That changed into a desire to know and understand my Bible better, and then led me into the discipline of reading my Bible every day. As time went on, I was then led to take a three year Bible college course that taught on every book of the Bible and how each book fit into the other to make the whole Bible. That was a beautiful and enriching study. I also love preaching, so I am someone who actually likes to attend church and listen to the biblical messages God has given His man to speak on in the pulpit. Today, though, I haven't been as thirsty, and I began to ask God to revive my thirst to know Him more and to live for Him better according to His word. I can speak honestly that God has given me a couple lessons this week alone that have begun quenching a newly growing thirst for Him and His ways.

But even if I'm not thirsty, I try to read my Bible every morning. It may be a chapter or two or several chapters. Lately, I have been reading one chapter in the Old Testament, one chapter in the New Testament, my daily Proverbs chapter, and as many as five chapters in Psalms. Before I read my chapters, I pray Psalms 119:18, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” With that prayer comes an expectation that God will bring to light any subject my spirit needs to feed on before I begin my day. And I think that's why I have a love for His word. He has used my morning Bible readings over and over to speak truths to me that I desperately needed or didn't even know I needed until He showed them to me.

So, as God's people, we need to study His word. This is a truth we see throughout the Bible. We need it so that we understand our place in the world and so that we understand His will for our lives better. But, perhaps most importantly, we need to study His word because if we don't, our knowledge of Him will slowly fade away and we will be setting ourselves up for destruction.

Let us be Christians who study God's word. But more than that, let us be Christians who love His word.

"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
—Joshua 1:8

John 6:13 in my Bible

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Long Enough

“And the LORD spake unto me saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.”Deuteronomy 2:2-3

Reading the Old Testament can be such a faith boost. The story of Israel's wandering in the wilderness for 40 years captures that spirit for me—how that God was with them and guiding them each day through the pillar of fire by night or of cloud by day.

“He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar”(99:7a).

“And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:36-38—Emphasis mine)

The story of Moses receiving God's Ten Commandments is another great example of God's divine direction—how God gave us His Law so that we may obey it and live the consequences of our obedience or disobedience to it. (Not for justification before God but for an unburdened conscience before Him along with a freedom to be in fellowship with Him.)

God also spoke through Moses, as was the case in the featured passage above. I love the clarity of direction in this passage. I love the phrase “long enough.” It's as if God is saying, My child, your trials, your journeys, are finished. You are now going to the next phase of your walk with Me. Oh, this phase, too, comes with its trials and battles, but this is the phase I have had for you all along. See, you are now going into the promised land. Despite your little faith, doubting the plan I had for you all along, I was always guiding you to this place in subtle and non-so-subtle ways. You may not have always had the sight to see it afar off, but nevertheless, your promised land was always there for you.

So it is when God speaks to me through my devotional Bible reading from His word with the teaching of His Holy Spirit, guiding me into all truth. It is as if I'm Israel with my own personal pillar of fire by night and of cloud by day, where He is guiding me to the right or left, but always into the direction I should go. When a verse strikes me in its clarity, I trust God is using that verse to guide and comfort me.

There were many years I had pined for a husband and of a family of my own. Upon giving my life to the Lord in my early twenties, God had planted that desire in me. Before then, I had it in my mind that I was going to be a career woman. I told myself I was allergic to men.

I believe getting married and having a family was God's promised land for me, but I had to wander in the wilderness for 14 years while I waited. During that time, God slowly changed my heart and made me ready to receive the man He had for me. God, in effect, at the end of my journey, had said I had been in my wilderness long enough!

So, dear reader, whatever your trial, whatever your waiting, whatever your journey, take comfort in the fact we have a God Who guides our steps along the way, many times despite our lack of faith in Him or despite our grumbling along the journey. He has a promised land He's leading you to. It may not be the promised land you were hoping for or expecting, but He wants you to trust Him that it is the promised land He has for you.

Someday, the promised land He has for all of us who call upon Him for salvation, will be Heaven, itself, where we will forever be in His presence. He will in effect say to all of His children, You have wandered long enough. It's time to come home.

View on Drive Home to Spokane from Seattle
(September 2007)

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