Thursday, May 15, 2014

There Is Something Even More Important Than Reading Your Bible

When I was teaching in school one of the more difficult classes I taught was Algebra. It wasn't that algebra itself is difficult but that there was a lot of resistance from the students. The reason they resisted was because they saw no practical use for it. History is full of interesting stories so most students don't mind learning it. English is very practical. Science is fun but Algebra seemed to them to have no purpose. It only makes sense that we would want to use our time and effort to gain skills that we can apply daily. So why do we fail to do this with the Word of God?

First, let's just repeat : It is the Word of God. It needs to be respected so when we approach it there should be a sense of awe and wonder as we open the words that reveal Father's heart to us. These are his words that he has given to us so that we could understand the history of our situation and his love for us. It is filled with inspiration, direction and instructions. It gives us many sign posts, measuring rods so that we can do self evaluations to know where we are in our relationship with Jesus and how far we are coming along in our growth. This is important stuff.

The Word is not theory but a practical guide for living. We are to hear it, read it, meditate on it, study it, memorize it but especially apply it. When Jesus was told his family was waiting for him his response was important:

My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it. (Luke 8:21, NKJV)

Not just hear it but do it. We all know what James had to say about it:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25, NKJV)

But this is not an original thought from James. The Spirit is only reminding us through James what Jesus has already told us. In fact, there is one verse that I find essential for every believer to grasp:

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:21, NIV old version))

It is impossible to argue against the words of the one who showed his love to us by going to the cross for us. We have his commands by hearing and reading, but it is the obedience that is essential for the full revelation of Jesus. In our obedience we will know that we are loved and Jesus will show himself to us.

Obviously we can't obey the commands of Yahweh in our flesh. If that had been possible Jesus would not have had to die for us. However, what is impossible for man is possible for Yahweh and is the reason why we have the Holy Spirit. Salvation has been won for us by Jesus but our maturity comes about by our cooperation and obedience to the Spirit. He is with us to empower us to grow in our obedience. I so enjoy Ephesians 4 for its explanation of the process:

His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (v. 12-13, CEB) 

We are suppose to be growing in order to reach spiritual maturity. Hearing, reading and doing the Word of God is essential to this growth. The doing is possible through the Spirit in us. This maturity is important, especially in these end days for in this same passage we read:

 As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ,  who is the head. (v. 14-16, CEB)

People are confused today because they don't know the Word so they can't obey the Spirit. People are going by their emotions and rational thinking. Because it makes sense in this world they assume it is what Yahweh wants. We don't have to guess or assume at what Yahweh wants, he has already written it down for us. We just need to obey in our relationship with Jesus and by the power of the Spirit in us.

Yes, stop reading this and go read your Bible. Then get up, go out in the Spirit and do what Jesus has commanded. In this way you will demonstrate that you are part of his family and you will receive even greater revelation of him as he reveals himself to you. More importantly, Jesus will be glorified through you.

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