Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Living Word

The grass withers and the flowers fall, 

but the word of our God stands forever.   Isaiah 40:8

The Living Word

by Dr Harold Sala

There are some truths that are so profound and meaningful that it becomes intensely painful to really confront them.  The implications are too great, too all-inclusive, too encompassing; so, refusing to confront them, we do one of two things: we ignore them, pretending that they are not there while all of the time they lie before us like the iceberg did when the Titanic, oblivious of warnings, pushed through the dark night.  Or, recognizing that they are there, we simply trivialize them, pointing out that things are not always as they appear and that there are other options.

OK, you may be thinking. Give it to us straight. With maturity and age (which are not always synonymous) you begin to see some things that just are not obvious at age 25. Now that I'm past that milestone, I see some things far more clearly than I used to. Such is the profound implication of how you view the truth found in the Bible.  "Just a minute," you may be thinking.  "Does it really matter that much what your views are of this book!"

Aha! That's where you find yourself in the category of those who trivialize the implications of this book.  Here's why. The implications of the contents of this book are tremendous, touching every part of my life including my business, my marriage, my money, my ethics, my work, my morality, my sex-life, my views of men and women, how I treat the elderly, what I think about abortion and stem-cell research and on and on.

If you confront what this book says, understanding that what God said in the book is to be taken at face value and embraced, then neutrality about some issues is not an option. In simple terms, the truth of this book touches my life, my conduct, and my thinking.

Many, of course, never get to that point. While vast numbers of people say they are Christians-and yes, own and carry Bibles to church with them-in reality they never fully confront what this book says. They dance around it, spiritualizing it, considering it a benchmark, something nice to shoot at but impractical in the world in which we live.

But most simply ignore the Bible, thus embracing situational ethics and weaving through the minefields of life hoping that they will not be discovered and thus embarrassed when society condemns their behavior.

OK, how do you know whether or not this book should be taken at face value, whether or not it is the living Word of God and that its truth should serve as moral and spiritual guidelines for living?  Jesus made a promise.  He said, "If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17).  Take the challenge to find out for yourself. No other book in the entire world makes claims as does this one. Paul wrote, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). Twice-one time in the Old Testament and another in the New-it says, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

The greater your knowledge of this book, the greater will be your respect for it, and when you come to understand that it is a book given by God, you gradually begin to recognize that God gave us the direction He did for our benefit, not to make us miserable, but to show us how to live.

Don't take my Word for it. Study it and find out for yourself. It will change your life.

Dr Sala was my first bible teacher over 35 years ago.

God bless you my friends, Bob

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Human Viewpoint Thinking

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing

and the woman was very beautiful in appearance

So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?"  

David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her. 
2 Samuel 11: 11-12

We all have Human Viewpoint Thinking. 

We are born with it. It’s not all bad. Without it, we would fail at the most basic daily tasks. 
We learn a lot from our experiences, logic, and feelings. 

But on the other hand ... all of our mistakes, wrong thinking, and wrong decisions are a result of false conclusions, lust, and pride that are now ingrained, and are blocking our mind from accepting God’s eternal truth which is very often contrary.

Uriah was one of David’s bravest and most loyal men. He was obviously extremely important since he lived within view of the roof of the king. What would cause King David, whom God had blessed with everything imaginable, to seek out the wife of this most loyal follower? Evil … Human Viewpoint Thinking took control of David’s heart and mind. God’s counsel in his heart and mind was blocked out by his lust.

The results for David were disastrous. First adultery, and then Uriah was murdered to try and cover up the evil. David’s newborn son died. David was disgraced before God and men. And the resulting problems continued to haunt David until the death of his beloved son Absalom. But worst of all was that David fell out of fellowship with God. Following sinful lust and pride always leads to failure, loneliness, shame, guilt, fear and more evil.

The story of David and Bathsheba demonstrates that even when a person is a faithful follower of God, he is still open to ongoing attack from the god of this world. And the evil one will attack each of us where we are most vulnerable, when we least expect it, and in three primary ways: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. A similar attack led to the fall of mankind in the garden. Genesis 3:1-6 … but when Satan tried this tactic with Jesus, the result was the opposite. The devil's absolute failure (Mat. 4:1-11) led to Jesus Christ’s victory over the evil one, and deliverance for all of those who trust in Him forever.

When compared to David; or to Adam and Eve; there is one major difference in the story of Jesus that resulted in victory over the devil. Jesus simply replied to the tempter with authoritative statements of absolute truth from God’s Word, which is the sword of the Spirit … “and the evil one fled; and angels came and ministered to Jesus.”

How could the same man that wrote Psalm 23 also send his most loyal follower out with the intent to be murdered? That is easier to understand, when we know the depth of the evil that is still alive in the hearts and minds of men.  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9 

The difference is that David was controlled by the Love of Christ when he wrote Psalm 23 and also when he defeated Goliath and Israel's other enemies; but with Uriah, David decided to follow the god of this world when tempted with pride and lust ... and then he was led by the god of this world to commit one evil act after another. 

You might say … “I do not believe that the devil is real, and that he is determined to destroy me” … then a pride problem is clearly in view. You are over-ruling God's eternal truth with your personal views. A humble mind is the way of escape. The lesson for all of us is that we need to understand the truth, and be ready to respond with the truth when tested. And we must accept that the eternal truth often has very little to do with our logic, feelings, experiences, and opinions.

To deny that the devil exists is to also to deny God’s eternal Truth and the author of our faith also … Jesus who we claim to believe. “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:11-12. 

What a difference we see between the response from Joseph when tempted by Satan in Gen. 39, and King David in 2 Sam. 11. One was controlled by the love of Christ and had Divine Viewpoint Thinking; and the other was consumed with lust and pride and fell into Human Viewpoint Thinking which rendered him unconscious spiritually and led him off the edge of a cliff.

God’s Word is filled with examples like David, Peter, and Paul at their worst, and at their best. The good news is that no matter how far we fall … Jesus is always willing to forgive us and lift us up. But we are still subject to the consequences of our actions.

The question for each of us here is: “how can we walk in the world; but not be of the world?”

First we must love God more than life itself. When we love God as He loves us, we will be seeking to know Him better, and this comes through prayer and meditating on His word, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray that he will reveal to us our personal weaknesses where the evil one is most likely to attack. When we humble ourselves to God he will provide victory in the areas where the enemy has established strongholds in our life, and He provides for us ways of escape.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Cor.10:13

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:3-5

When we know the Eternal Truth, and we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind; we are then able to put off our old ways, and put on God’s new ways through the transforming and renewing of our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how we remove Human Viewpoint Thinking and replace it with Divine Viewpoint Thinking. This is our spiritual service of worship. This is how we worship Jesus rather than ourselves. Rom. 12:1-2

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Pet. 1:2-4

God Bless you my friends, Bob