2Co 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
I was meditating on the above verse and I got an insight into its meaning that I have not heard before. (Though it doesn’t mean that no one else ever thought of it.) When you consider the act of walking it is a shifting the total weight of the body off of one leg and onto the other leg and then back again and again. That is how we move around in the physical world
There is a similar analogy in the spiritual sense. Instead of physical legs, we have two dependable supports to carry us forward in our endeavors. We have the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We are able to move forward by utilizing both the Word of God with the Spirit of God. Our faith in the Lord encompasses our trust in His word coupled with our trust in His Spirit. In the Word of God we discover spiritual insights and in the Spirit of God we experience that truth in action. Using them together we are enabled to move on to new truth and experiences and then to repeat that process over and over, hence the term, walking by faith.
Just knowing God’s truth will not bring the excitement of experiencing that truth. The excitement of seeing God at work is incomplete without some understanding of what God is doing. We need both the knowledge of His Word and the experience of seeing its fulfillment to bring us to the place of growing into His likeness and image.
Lets go for a walk. It is good for your health.
In preparing for my Wednesday evening class on Christian Disciplines I wrote a few lines on Diligence and its importance in the life of the believer. I want to share them with you today.
The first point is obvious as it amplifies the word itself. Don’t quit. There will be obstacles that rise up and try to prevent you from completing your task. These are really opportunities in disguise. I don’t mean that they won’t be difficult or that they will always bring you a blessing. Sometimes they will bring you to a compete stop, but that doesn’t mean that you can now drop the effort. My Dad had a saying that you have to learn how to plow around a stump. When clearing land to grow a crop the land was cleared but the stumps were left until the next year in order to get a crop this year so the plowing was done between the stumps that would be removed later. By allowing the stumps to remain for a while you gain the time to complete the whole job. Also, valuable lessons are learned by addressing the issues and not letting them stop you.
The second point is, Don’t Give Up! It is not enough to overcome a problem. It seems that the problems come in number and rarely come alone. Remember that you are not the one that provides the power over the circumstance. You need to bring your resources together to deal with these “problems”. So much of the time we work as though we live by the moto, If it is to be, it is up to me. In truth it is not up to “me”. I am but a part of the solution. I am to bring the sum of my resources to the task. That includes gifts, talents, resources, people, etc together in this effort. It especially includes the power of God. He is just waiting for us to discover “I can’t”, only then to discover the He can and He will. It ain’t over, till it is over. When God calls us to a task, it is with the objective that it is brought under the power of God.
And the final point is; Don’t Burn Yourself Out! There is not glory in being used up. What that really means is that you have been using your power instead of His. His promise to us is that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He isn’t asking us to do His work, He is asking to work through us. He does the work while we do the things that opens the way for Him to use us. He wins the souls, does miracles, changes hearts, etc. We bring the body into subjection to Him, discipline the mind, organize the resources, exercise our gifts, etc.
It is a team effort to bring this world into the kingdom of God. Our Lord doesn’t want us to take on His job but He wants us to do our job. The outcome is His.
I have a number of helps in my library that I have come to trust and have been a great source of insight. They are know as Greek word studies. You don’t have to know the original language to study the bible. You can know its original meaning by using these word studies. They will give you the original word and its meanings and the other places in scripture that the same word is used. In addition, it will give you the variant meanings of its use.
There are a number of these and I won’t give you a complete list but there are a few that I use the most. There is W E Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words where each word is keyed to Strong’s reference numbers as well as many other keys to its use. It includes the old as well as the New Testament words in a one volume book.
W E Vines also has an Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words which is his older work on only the New Testament
There is Kenneth Wuest’s, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament. It is a three of four volume set covering most of the New Testament, verse by verse. He also has a complete New Testament translation from the Greek. He also, gives you the original Greek work and its literal translation.
There is A T Robinson’s New Testament Word Pictures. He doesn’t cover all of the New Testament but he does cover most of it and has some good insights as to word usage. This comes in a 6 volume set with extensive insights into the Greek understanding and thought processes.
There are a number of other such references, some of which are not as reliable as the others, but for the average Christian today it is a giant step toward reading the bible in its original language and getting a more accurate understanding of God’s word.
When I first became a Christian, I had a simple King James version of the bible and it had almost no helps in it. As I was around other Christians and saw their bibles, I noticed that they had a center column down the center of each page with a lot of small notes. I asked them what that was and was told that they were cross references. So what are they for, I asked? They are to refer you to other places in the bible that are related to that verse. Being quite ignorant of this new tool I asked, so how do you use them?
They showed me that when you are reading a verse, sometimes you will see a small number or letter, raised a little higher than the type which is to signal you that there is additional information available. If you find the corresponding number or letter in the center column, it will refer you to where to look. So I tried it and immediately I was confronted with another problem. Every book of the bible was abbreviated so I was shown that the abbreviation was simply the first two or three letters of that book. For example, Matthew is Matt or Mt, and John is Jn. I pretty well figured that out and then I found another problem. What was the numbering system? I was then shown that each cross reference was listed the same way: book, chapter: verse. I also learned that the book abbreviation may or may not be followed by a period. Then the chapter will always be followed by a colon (:) which is then followed by the verse(s). Okay, I think I have it . . . but then what is the dash? In the example: Jn 3:16-18 the dash means the same thing as it does on a grave stone, everything in between, or verses 16,17,18 all inclusive.
The next thing I found was that in the cross reference there were numbers or letters repeated but with different references. That turned out to be quite simple. It meant that there was more than one reference to that particular place in the bible.
Sometimes I would look up a cross reference and it didn’t make any sense at the time but as I continued to learn more and more about the bible I found that there was indeed an insight that I didn’t know about. I also found that sometimes I already knew about the relationship and didn’t need to go there as I recognized it immediately. Cross references have added a whole new dimension to my bible study methods.
I have an article in my list of articles on this website entitled Six Blind men from Isdostan. I am not the author but I felt that it was so good that I wanted to share it. It is about the experience of six blind men who “saw” an elephant for the first time. Each one had a piece of information that was true but incomplete. We call that a perspective. We are correct insofar as our view takes us but it does not take into account the whole.
There are times in my own experience I have found myself standing in a position much like the six blind men, defending my perspective, but not understanding the whole view. This is why it is important to step back sometimes to gain a fuller perspective which will aid in our understanding. It is important to remember that perspective is accurate but it is limited and can be a distortion of the truth. For example, we have all seen shadows that appear as objects other than someone’s hands. They are a distortion of the truth.
Another example is 4 people at a table looking at a cup in the center of the table. The first sees the cup with a handle on the right; the second sees a cup with the handle in the middle; the third sees a cup with the handle on the left and the fourth sees a cup but no handle. They are all right but their perspective limits their view and their report is quite different than the others.
When we are listening to another, we should remember to take into account their perspective. It can prevent an argument and a host of other problems. When we are studying the Bible it is important to consider the truth in light of the context. Also, it can be helpful the compare scripture with scripture which is the best commentary on the scripture. The cross references will help you do this. Good study methods are essential in studying the Bible.
Listening for the voice of God is also a great practice. I must make a couple points of caution here. First, an idea that just popped into your head is not necessarily the voice of God. There are other spiritual voices such as Satan and his cohorts. Every idea must be compared with scripture for God will never contradict Himself. You become proficient in knowing the voice as you grow in your relationship with the Lord. He said, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)
It is important to remember that hearing the voice of God is a growing experience. The more you know Him the more you will trust Him. Jesus invitation in Mt 11:29 (Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.) is to make it easy and possible for us to get to know Him. He will give all things the right perspective.
Yesterday I had the privilege of having lunch with 16 of the men from my Sunday School class. As we talked after lunch the subject came up about creation and I shared a tidbit from my studies that there are three words in Genesis that we often use about the creation event. The three words are: creation, form and make. I noted that they are different words and do not refer to the same event.
The word that is translated create is from the word bara’ and means to bring into existence from nothing.
The word that is translated make is from the word ‘asah and has the meaning to take that which is already created and to fashion it into a tool or object of purpose.
The word that is translated form is the word yatsar and has the meaning to mold or extrude or squeeze into shape.
I pointed out that because these are different words with distinct meanings that they are not referring to the same act. When God created man is when He brought him into existence, which was before the creation of the world. When God made man is when He placed man into the created world. When God formed man is when He made him a body to live in this world.
So why is this important? Careful bible study will aid us in realizing that man was not made a complete and perfect man when he lived in the garden of Eden. The completion of man will not be fully realized until man has first been born physically, and then born from again (John 3) and then finally receives his resurrected body (Ro 8:23)
Bible Study is not just reading but it also includes working with the language, the times, the setting, etc. It is a lot like mining in that you have to work your way through a lot of hard rock to get to the precious gold – but it is more than worth it. 2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
This verse begins with the supposition that “If thou canst believe” then all things are possible. Since this is the KJV it may not make sense to you so it can be easily translated to “If you can believe”. The first question that comes to mind is, Why couldn’t I believe? What are the qualifiers that limit my believing?
First of all, believing is a spiritual response rather than an emotional or mental response. It is not based upon anything that lies within us alone but it is based upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus. No amount of straining or effort will aid us in our believing. Our predicament does not necessitate the working of the Lord nor does our desires. What God will respond to is our faith in Him. It is our dependence upon His wisdom and ability that produces great results.
In order for us to believe, we must first believe that He is limitless in His power and love. This comes by our knowing Him. Experience by experience we grow in our faith in Him. Time and Time again He has proved his ability to overcome life’s barriers and give what is best for us. This relationship is built one trust at a time.
The question then becomes, Have you walked with the Lord until you are at rest with Him in charge, against whatever you face? The possibilities are only limited by your faith in Him. Do you believe that He has your best interest in His heart?
This past week has been difficult for me as I have had cataract surgery on my right eye on Tuesday. I have had a cold that settled in my chest all week and then on Wednesday I had a return trip to the eye doctor and then a class on Wednesday and I got run down so I took a rest day on Thursday and then back to preparation for the Sunday class. In all of that, I failed to make my blog entry on a couple of those days. I’ll do better this week as I am feeling better and don’t have the extra doctor visits.
the good news was that when they checked my eyesight on Wednesday, I was 20/20 in my right eye only one day after surgery. I have since noticed that things are not fuzzy like they were before and I no longer have double vision. God is so good to allow me to live is such a time as this that they can do so much to help us see.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God
I was thinking about how amazing it is to be able to see. I have also tried to comprehend what it would be if you were blind. It seems that there are several facets to seeing. There is the physical aspect and there is the aspect of understanding and then there is the aspect of seeing spiritually.
Looking at the physical aspect it is fairly easy to grasp the difference in seeing and blindness by simply closing your eyes. What happens is that you quickly loose the imagery of sight and your reality takes on a new dimension. I used to work in the mines in Colorado and have been in total darkness for a little while. You try to see but you cannot make out any details of any kind. Your reality lacks definition and you begin to grope about to find anything that you can detect with your other senses that you know and can understand. It can be very confusing. There are stories of people who have been in total darkness for extended periods and have gone mad without light. Physical blindness is a definite handicap on life but it is not the worst kind of blindness.
I like puzzles and have a number of them in my study. I find great pleasure in figuring out how the puzzle is solved. Solving problems is a big part of what makes our society work. Understanding is essential in the overall function of all machinery. It is basic to our value system and defines relationships. You have all seen the “Ah-ha” reaction expressed in a cartoon as a lighted bulb or the expression of realization with the widening of the eyes in understanding. This is seeing through the problem to a solution. The inability to see through a problem is another type of blindness that will greatly limit your quality of life.
Perhaps the worst type of blindness is the inability to perceive the spiritual. Those who have this type of blindness do not even know that they are blind. Perception for them is limited to the physical and mental dimensions of the physical world. They are unaware of the spiritual realm because they do not even have the eyes to see it with. To get them, a person must be born again. He gets his spiritual eyes upon his spiritual birth, just as a person gets his physical eyes at his physical birth. Yes, I know that he has them before his birth, but their function really begins upon their birth. Until you are born again you are spiritually blind; and that is the worst type of blindness. This is just one of the reasons that Jesus said, You must be born again!
On my last post I shared some basics on writing your personal testimony and pointed out that the key to an effective testimony is the gospel. It is a word that we Christians use a lot and with a lot of different meanings. I would like to clarify some of the confusion about what the “Gospel of Christ” really is.
There are a lot of gospel messages going around today. I even saw one that was titled the gospel of the mechanic. We need to identify what gospel we are addressing. When we address the gospel of the Bible we are talking about the good news of Jesus Christ. This is not the good news of the sports world or financial possibilities, but is specifically about what is the good news about Jesus Christ. The word Gospel means “Good News”, so it begs the question, “What is that good news?” To be the gospel about Jesus Christ it must be good, that is personally beneficial; and second it must be news, that is current. Sometimes I hear the definition of the gospel as, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However great and wonderful that story is, yet it is not the gospel, but history. Yet it is not to be dismissed either because it is the foundation of the Gospel of Christ. Without it the gospel would never have been possible. So we come back again, What is the gospel of Christ? It can be summed up in two words, New Life.
It is not a life patched up, it is not a life of doing better, or trying harder. It is altogether a new kind of existence. It is the life described in II Cor. 5:17 (the new creation of God). What was utterly impossible before is now possible when we live our lives by faith in Jesus as Lord of our lives. I could never live up to the demands of the law but I can follow Jesus by faith in His ability to deliver me spotless and blameless to the Father. God’s requirement is no longer for me to meet the demands of the law because Jesus has met all those requirements. God’s requirements for me now is to accept Jesus by faith. He is the provision for the laws requirement and He will then deliver us spotless and without blemish. (Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.)
Provision for a sinner like me has been established that I might be presented spotless to God is indeed, Good News!