Hearing God Speak Part Seven

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, “17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

That is a remarkable phrase: “every good work”! Everything good that God expects us to do, the Scriptures equip us to do. That is an amazing claim. How does it work? How does the Bible equip us for “every good work”?

It’s not by supplying specific lists that cover all possible situations. Thinking that way would be a mistake in two ways. It would be a mistake because there are hundreds of specific situations we are in that the Bible does not specifically address. There were no TVs, computers, cars, phones, birth control pills, Prozac, genetic engineering, respirators, bullets, bombs in Jesus’s day. The Bible does not equip us for every good deed by telling us the specific choice to make for every new situation.

The other reason it would be a mistake to think that way is that it leads straight to legalism — doing things because of outward conformity to a demand in the hope that performance will win approval. That is not Christian morality. Good works are done from a heart that treasures God and his help, and from a heart that loves to display the glory of Christ, else the good works are not good, no matter how they conform to external expectations.

The Scripture, day after day, reveals to us the greatness and the beauty and the power and the wisdom and the mercy of all that God is for us in Christ so that by the power of the Spirit we find our joy in him, and the ways of sin become distasteful — indeed ugly and repugnant. Yes the Bible gives us many specifics as pointers how to live. But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.

Discipling and Disciplining

There is a strange dichotomy in the language of the contemporary church. Much is said and written about the important function of discipling new Christians, while at the same time the function of church discipline has almost vanished. Today, discipline is a word used to refer to the instruction and nurture of the believer. It does not usually carry the connotation of ecclesiastical censure or punishment.

In one sense, this modern version of discipling is linked to the New Testament model. The term disciple in the New Testament means “learner.” The disciples of Jesus were students who enrolled in Jesus’ peripatetic rabbinic school. They addressed Him as “Rabbi” or “Teacher.” To follow Jesus involved literally walking around behind Him as He instructed them (the word peripatetic comes from the Greek word peripateo, which means “to walk”).

The New Testament community was forbearing and patient with its members, embracing a love that covered a multitude of sins. But in the New Testament, church discipleship also involved discipline. Part of apostolic nurture was seen in rebuke and admonition. The church had various levels or degrees of such discipline, ranging from the mild rebuke to the ultimate step of excommunication.

Coram deo: Living before the face of God

Do you accept discipline as well as discipling from your local church body? Ask God to make you more receptive to His discipline.

Where Does Biblical Common Sense Come From?

Without necessarily intending to, we bring our theological heritage, our church traditions, our cultural norms, or our existential concerns to the Epistles as we read them. And this results in all kinds of selectivity or “getting around” certain passages.

It is interesting to note, for example, that almost everyone in American evangelicalism or fundamentalism would agree with our common stance on two passages in 2 Timothy (2:3 and 4:13). However, the cultural milieu of most of the same Christians causes them to argue against obedience to an earlier passage in 1 Timothy: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (5:23). That had only to do with Timothy, not with us, we are told, because water was unsafe to drink back then. Or else, it is even argued that “wine” really meant “grape juice” — although one wonders how that could have happened when Welch’s processing and refrigeration were not available! But why is this personal word limited to Timothy, while the exhortation to continue in the Word (2 Tim 3:14 – 16), which is also an imperative addressed only to Timothy, becomes an imperative for all people at all times? Mind you, one may well be right in bypassing “use a little wine” as not having personal or universal application, but on what hermeneutical grounds?

This example simply illustrates how one’s own culture tends to dictate what is common sense regarding present application. But other things also dictate common sense — ecclesiastical traditions, for example. How is it that in many evangelical churches women are forbidden to speak in church on the basis of a probably spurious moment in 1 Corinthians 14:34 – 35 (spurious because it is a marginal gloss found in two different locations in the manuscript tradition, and clearly contradicts 11:2 – 3), yet in many of the same churches everything else in chapter 14 is argued against, as not belonging to the twenty-first century? How is it that verses 34 – 35 belong to all times and cultures, while verses 1 – 5, 26 – 33, and 39 – 40, which give regulations for prophesying and speaking in tongues, belong only to the first-century church?

Reading the Bible – Learning what God thinks

Many new believers wonder how they can know what God wants them to do. God reveals Himself to us through His Word, the Holy Bible. He also shapes our hearts and lives through His Word. Learn to rest in it and find truth. Spending time in the Bible is transforming and it slowly brings you closer to God.

The Bible is God’s true word – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Word of God is a living and active word that we can interact with – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

All believers, especially new ones, should read and study the Bible every day. As with any book, we must read it in context and in its entirety to truly understand its meaning and what God is saying. That can feel a little overwhelming at first, but use a simple process for getting the most out of each passage.

Ask the following three questions: What does the verse say? What does the verse mean? What does this verse mean to me? Often doing this with an experienced believer will help put things into context and increase your understanding.

God Guides You Part 3

Life is truly a journey, but sometimes while on the trip we are faced with turns, stops and forks in the road where we desperately need God’s divine guidance. In the middle of the indecisive moments in our lives, we must do our part in seeking God’s will.

The word of God is designed specifically for the believer to utilize in reading, studying and meditation regarding any situation. God additionally provides his children with the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth and revelation concerning our life’s purpose, plan and assignment.

Frustration often occurs when we independently choose our own plans apart from God’s word and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Similarly, irritation attempts to creep in when we follow God’s word and heed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and change in our situation doesn’t happen instantly.

During those waiting periods I encourage you to wait some more, trust, pray and praise the LORD because additional guidance and revelation is on the way. Without faith it is impossible to please God and sometimes He doesn’t provide the entire picture of your life’s plan, just one pixel at a time.

When you feel like you don’t know where to turn, remember God’s word is the light that guides you and illuminates your path. God continues to reveal, speak and guide his children. Be encouraged today and make sure that you are in alignment with his will, word and way. Then you will begin to notice God’s divine guiding power in your life.

God Guides You Part One

Purposely aligning with God’s word is vital for any believer to be guided in Christ, Jesus. In order to be led by Christ, we must first and foremost follow Christ and not focus on what others are doing. Intentionally positioning yourself under God’s directive leadership is the only way to know you are in the right place to receive his guidance in every aspect of your life. God guides us through his written word, the Bible, the Holy Spirit and with many other divine resources that will indeed capture one’s attention, but we must be receptive and ready when God’s guidance is introduced.

Jesus is to be LORD over all, and when one deliberately journeys through life, choosing to intentionally live independently from Jesus, it leads towards a definite danger zone absent from God’s divine covering whilst enduring uncomfortable consequences.

It is important to spend time studying and meditating on God’s word, because the Bible is our instructional reference guide regarding any circumstance we face in life. Wisdom, repentance, trust, faith and application of God’s word opens up the divine directive pathway God can work with as he guides his children according to his plan and purpose.

God’s way is not popular with the world, and Satan’s lies appear alluring, but don’t be deceived by the mirage of believing it is better to go through life Your way and not God’s way. Don’t be discouraged as you take a stand to follow Christ’s guidance, and teasing, mocking and harassing ensue. Also be encouraged today that as you begin following God’s guidance some relationships will come to an end. You must guard your heart and put on the full armor of God as you allow God to guide you into your destiny.

Today make sure your heart is receptive, repentant and ready to receive God’s loving guidance. God is our divine guide and when we align with him we are in the best position to thrive. It’s time for children of covenant to heed, listen and follow God’s plan and thank God in advance for continually guiding his children!

God’s Purpose: Giving Meaning to Life

The broad question that the writer of Ecclesiastes seeks to answer is, “Is there any meaning to the time that I spend in this world?” We put on a man’s tombstone that he was born on a certain date and that he died on a certain date. Between these two poles of time we live our lives. The basic question is, “Does my life have meaning?”

A common refrain echoed in Ecclesiastes is that there is futility, vanity, and “nothing new under the sun.” If our lives begin under the sun as a cosmic accident, a result of random collisions and mutations of inert matter, and if our ultimate destiny is to return to the dust that bore us, there can be no purpose.

When we cease to look “under the sun” and seek our destiny “under heaven,” we find our purpose. Our origin was not in the primordial soup but in the very hands of God, who shaped us and breathed life into us. Our destiny is not to return to dust, but to give honor and praise to God forever. Under heaven we find purpose. If we have God as our origin and as our destiny, between those poles there is purpose and meaning.

The writer answers the question with a resounding “Yes!” There is a reason for our lives. There is a reason for our suffering and a reason for our pain. There is also a reason for our joy.