Implementing God’s Word

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

 I am presently working with a group of students who are frustrated with the standards (guidelines) with which they must comply. Often times it isn’t the guideline itself, but the way that it is implemented. Don’t we sometimes do the same things as believers? We take a verse, principle or even a commandment and interpret it to our liking. This is nothing new. Paul addressed the Colossians about this a few centuries ago.

Take the verse “Husbands love your wives” as an example—part B of a very volatile principle in today’s world. Love is defined in Corinthians, and we hear it at 99% of the weddings we attend. But to put it in 21st century terms: Love is patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, or selfish, or demanding its own way, not easily angered, doesn’t keep score (I like that one), always protects, never gives up, is always hopeful and is trusting. God’s definition is sooo much better than Hollywood’s version.

Time to look at part A of this verse, “Wives submit to your husbands.” I addressed this before so I’ll just make a few comments that go along with this title. Like my education example, through the years and across many cultures and religions, this has been interpreted in ways that are in opposition to the intent. This verse does not suggest spiritual inferiority; in fact, the one submitting is actually in control of choosing the course of action. Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in order to willingly yield to another, in order to lift that person up, with only one motive—love.

As the above verse states, scripture did not come from man, but it is the inspired word from the Holy Spirit. Although the most trusted theologians can give us insight, they are still men. God speaks directly to all believers, not just teaching by human wisdom, but teaching by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

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He Wants to be Found

He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Over the years I have visited a number of churches either through moves, visits, or while on vacation. I have found that whether I listen to a poorly delivered message or an eloquent one; one with sound teaching or one with questionable content, God still speaks to me. In fact, I often learn more from the poor ones because they send me to my bible to find out why they didn’t “sit right.”

At times though, when something seems disagreeable, it’s because God is convicting me of an area of my life that needs to change.

And then there are the times when I sit through three-fourths of a message thinking, “Whatshername should hear this one,” when BOOM, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that I am Whatshername.

We all know that we don’t have to be sitting in a church pew to hear God speak. He meets us at the beach, on the radio, in the car (some of our best two-ways are here), in the shower, and of course, through His word.

I think the key is expectation—the expectation of our faith. Look for Him. Anticipate His response. His word promises over and over again—

And if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him (Deut 4:29).

 If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me (Jeremiah 29:13).

 And my favorite brings associations of a loving parent– If you seek Him, He will let you find Him (1 Chronicles 28:9 NAS).

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus, every part of our life is affected. Oswald Chambers states, “The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house—He invades all of it.”

This is good news! Even if we spend three hours a day on our knees or reading scripture (I’d like to say that this is me, but I’m nowhere close), even if we did, that would only be a very small percent of the day. So many, many other things are happening. But if the Holy Spirit is present like He says He is, they are all “Spirit-ual” activities.

The challenge for me is to let Him lead…then for me to follow. And it does require time for prayer and scripture reading to hear His voice. If there is a dry spell where we are not given explicit direction, we can still chose to live righteously in our typical daily routine because He’s in that room, too.

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2: 13).

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corin 1:9). 

Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-presence. You’re here at times when I beg for direction and intervention; and You’re here when I arrogantly think that I can handle things. I am grateful for Your faithfulness especially during those times when I’m not.

 

 

Passion

I will praise You with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto You (Ps138:1).

Recently I was speaking with a woman whose country is 20% Christian and 80% Muslim. She said that in her country if you choose to follow Christ, you must be totally committed; everyone there is passionate about his/her faith or religion. No one is just lukewarm.

In our country it is relatively comfortable to be a Christ-following believer. We can openly worship, we have access to scripture at the tap of our thumb, and we certainly can pray. I’d like to think that I am totally committed, but I’ve never had to act on it by putting my children in a dangerous situation, nor like Rachel Scott, the young girl at Columbine who chose to be fatally shot rather than denouncing her faith.

But just because, thankfully here in the US, we’re not required to choose between torture or denying our faith, we can still heighten our passion and commitment.

How can we become even more committed? The answer is the same as how do we fall in love. The passion and commitment follow as we know more and more about that person. Although on this side of heaven, we can no way fully grasp the magnificence of the character if God, His mercies, His justice, His love…, we can learn more and more about Him through scriptures, conversing with Him, and the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. And allowing ourselves to trust His word and His will as He reveals Himself to us.

Psalm 138 continues, On the day I called, You answered me and You made me bold and confident with renewed strength in my soul.

Sing to the Lord

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).

Music is such a powerful medium that I would think that there is not one person in the world who does not like some genre of music. The reason that it is so powerful is because it affects us in multiple areas. The combination of the music and the lyrics touches us both emotionally and intellectually. Studies have shown that the brain is even physically affected by music. BUT, when the lyrics are from scripture, music reaches another dimension.

In Isaiah, God tells us that His word that goes forth from His mouth will not return empty, but will accomplish His purpose. By singing scripture, especially in worship, our whole being—mind, body, emotions, and spirit are united with the Holy Spirit.

Many songs are influenced by scripture and can encourage and inspire, but God’s actual word is powerful. It is the belt of truth, the strong and mighty sword of the Spirit, speaking to us, teaching us, dwelling within us, and equipping us. And God assures us that it will achieve His purpose.

The Sniff Test

I have never had a guest writer before, but my friend Lynne Gintzig, a sister on this journey of faith, is sharp and witty, amazing and humble. She doesn’t mince words, but after she steps on my toes, I somehow always leave with a smile. Lindy has the ability to combine profound spiritual wisdom with things she pulls out of the junk drawer of our everyday lives. Enjoy…

                    Porkchops, The “Sniff Test” and a Metaphor for Life.

I have added this to my daily prayer…and I really pray it with SINCERITY. But do I really listen?? “Most Holy Spirit of God, inspire my thinking, pervade my imagination, suggest my decisions and order my doings.”

So WHAT would possess me to fry up some thin cut pork chops when I almost gagged upon opening the package?? (Well, the date was good, I just purchased them and stored them properly was my rationale). Even during the brief flash in the pan they smelled “off”…. So, WHAT possessed me to eat one? I ignored the “red flags”. And believe you me, I suffered consequences all night.

So, why – in our daily lives- when something doesn’t pass the “sniff test” do we ignore the warning signs and our conscience and proceed full steam ahead? Our egos? Our love of something else besides wisdom ($?), comfort (I don’t want to have to go back to store), our lust (I REALLY like a pan fried porkchop), or just plain lazy stupidity (duh).

I say, if you want God to bless your life, then LISTEN to Him… And then obey Him. If something about that relationship with that cute guy (the porkchops LOOKED just fine) smells off, pay attention, GIRLS (and guys). If you jump in the frying pan with those questionable chops, trust me… there WILL be consequences.

Moral of this bedtime story….If your “porkchop” isn’t passing the sniff test, there are other porkchops out there! I’m not giving up porkchops because of a bit of misery, however…it just may take me a few weeks before I can look at one and not gag.

 

He Talks to Me Too

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears (John 16:13a).

God speaks to every believer. Period. Sometimes His message hits us like a two-by-four. Other times it is still and quiet and we need to be still and quiet listening for it.

God speaks to us through His word. We may read the same passage over and over again through the years, and then one day, it jumps off the page and is totally relevant to our current situation.

God speaks to us through prayer. We may be praying for a miracle and He may answer by giving us instructions. Really, why couldn’t God give us a thoughtful inspiration? After all, He created our minds. God will never give us a thought that is contradictory to His word or character, but His way is always the best way.

God can speak to us through other believers. Often this can confirm our prayers and should always align with His word.

God wants to talk to us. His ways are the best. His plans for us are the best, and He is more than willing to reveal Himself to us.