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MAY 2003

 

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John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.

When the Lord ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to establish the new church and to comfort and to teach those who would trust Him. It is clear in John 16, that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit we who are dead in trespasses and sins would never be convicted of our sin or of the righteousness that we can have by trusting in Christ. In other words, we would never be saved apart from the convicting and teaching power of the Holy Spirit. However, His work is not done when we are saved since He guides into ALL truth.

How can the Holy Spirit teach us? The end of the chapter speaks of prayer and it is clear that we must be communicating with God in prayer if we are to be open to His teaching. No doubt we should be asking to Lord to teach us and to give us discernment as to what is being taught to us.

In the Bible the Spirit of God and the Word of God work together (compare Ephesians 5:18-21 with Colossians 3:16-18). Obviously, the Holy Spirit is going to teach us through the written Word. I wonder how many of us have prayerfully and devotionally read our Bibles from one end to the other as we would other books?

When I read my Bible, I do not interpret any verse in such a way that it contradicts John 3:16 or Luke 10:27 which are the great topic sentences of our Bibles. I let the simple things explain the difficult and not the other way around. I let the new testament explain the old and not the other way around. I look for principles in the four Gospels, historical examples in the Acts of the Apostles, teaching of these principles in the epistles and for illustrations in the old testament. I recognize that the old testament was written to an earthly people with earthly promises and an earthly land. In the new testament we have a spiritual people with spiritual promises and a spiritual land. Thus, I try to remember that I am a Christian and not a Jew even though the principles taught in the old testament illustrate new testament truth. I have three further principles that I try to follow:

1. Context, that is, the context of the verse within the chapter.

2. Context, that is, the context of the chapter within the book.

3. Context, that is, the context of the book within the Bible.

I believe that if we have been guided by the Holy Spirit to depend on the truth that we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:8), we can be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth. However, we might need to spend more time prayerfully reading The Book (The Bible) and less time reading books written about the Bible.

Week of May 4, 2003

1 Timothy 5

1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

The Bible is a book dealing with healthy personal relationships. Loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the primary principles of the Bible. This passage deals with our relationships with older men, younger men, older women and younger women. These instructions assume that most of us know what a normal family relationship should be like even though that is not always true.

I think of a Father as a disciplinarian and as a role model. I think of him as a provider and as a defender of the home. When I think of a mother, I see a nurturer and a care giver. Brothers are usually companions and loyal friends and they are usually protectors of their sisters. We could give obvious Scriptural examples of these principles and of the hurt that occurs when these principles are violated.

In May, we usually celebrate “Mother’s Day”. You can’t get a seat at a restaurant because we want to treat Mothers to a meal that she didn’t have to cook on that day. (And of course, we don’t want to cook and clean up for her). This will be one of the biggest days for flower shops during the year since we want to express devotion to our mothers through the beauty of nature. However, according to Paul, every day is mother’s day to every older women, particularly if she is a Christian. That means that we should treat all older woman as we would treat our own mothers. How should we treat our mothers? What would they really like on Mother’s day?

According to Proverbs 22:25, the best gift we can give our mothers is to buy the truth and sell it not and to be wise. I think wisdom here has to do with common sense which includes the willingness to submit to the God of the Bible. In the new testament, we do this by believing in or trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and then by seeking the Lord‘s will as we make life‘s decisions (Matthew 6:33). Imagine how happy some Christian mom would be if one of her children turned from sin and rebellion to the Lord Jesus Christ and trusted Him to put away his or her sins on Mother’s day. That would be a great gift for a nurturing praying Christian mother.

Week of May 11, 2003

Proverbs 23: 23 Buy the truth, and sell it not.

Apart from the Lord Jesus, likely no one has ever been wiser than Solomon, the King of Israel. When he became king, he asked God for wisdom to rule the people of Israel. Because he asked for wisdom rather than for long life or for riches or for victory over his enemies, God gave him long life and honor as well (1 Kings 3). This is the king that the Queen of Sheba came to visit and to “prove with hard questions” (1 Kings 10:1). After observing him in his kingdom, she said, “ behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard” (1 Kings 10:7). Solomon in his wisdom wrote “buy the truth and sell it not.” He knew truth was valuable and should be purchased at any cost and then should not be sold. That likely means that learning and obeying the truth is costly and that selling the truth or departing from the truth is easy.

Solomon failed with regard to his own teaching. He knew that kings were not to multiply wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). He also knew that Israelites were not to marry pagan partners because that would cause them to lose their faithfulness to Jehovah (Exodus 34:16). Solomon violated these principles. The wisest man in the earth, during that time period, married many heathen women and they “ turned away his heart after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4). He sold the truth that he had at one time found to be precious and he set in motion the events that divided the kingdom after he died.

We know that truth is absolute and not relative. We know that the Bible is true and that the Lord is the personification of truth (John 14:6). We have learned that there is only one way to please God and that is to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That means we need to trust Him for salvation and then we need to worship Him by obeying His teachings. If Solomon violated his own teaching about obeying the truth, obviously, we too could sell the truth that we once found precious. Have we tried to be so understanding and broad-minded to a world that is blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4: 4) that we are offending our Savior Who has sacrificed Himself for us? Truth is narrow and sometimes those who hold God-given convictions are considered to be bigoted and even dangerous today. It is not always popular to have Bible-based convictions, and while It is true that we do not want to be personally offensive, we cannot compromise the truth of Scripture to keep it from being offensive to the world. Solomon’s advice is still good, even if he did not follow it himself. Let us “buy the truth and sell it not”.

Week of May 18, 2003

  • 2 Kings 6:16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

  • Daniel 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

  • Psalm 34:7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

  • Matthew 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

  • Ephesians 6:12 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 (wicked spirits) in high (heavenly) places.

  • 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them (spirits that deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh): because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

In 2 Kings, Elisha’s servant saw the city surrounded by the Syrians. He thought they were in deep trouble and asked, “What are WE going to do?” Elisha’s answer was, “Nothing, we will let our God handle it”. Then he opened the servants eyes to see the army of the Lord described as horses and chariots of fire. Then he blinded the eyes of the Syrians and took them captive. When we think we are alone, we are not alone. Time after time in the Bible we see a spiritual battle going on that is not always visible to the person undergoing trial. Job didn’t know that Satan was behind his calamities. Daniel was told that heavenly forces were battling to keep his prayer from being answered. The Lord knew that he had a heavenly host at his disposal even though he chose not to use it.

When we feel that everything is against us, we need to remember that we have the Holy Spirit within us and He is greater or more powerful than Satan. We have the angel of the Lord surrounding us to protect us if we truly fear (worship or trust) the Lord. The resurrection of the Lord proves that we have the victory in this battle between the forces of evil and the forces of our Lord. When we are afraid, we need to see by faith the unseen army and the angels of the Lord that are protecting us. Since we can’t see the spiritual world or realm, we tend to forget that there is a battle going on for the souls of men and women and once that battle is lost, there is a battle going on to discourage those who are the Lord’s. We don’t need to be afraid or to feel forsaken. Elisha’s words should encourage us, “ FEAR NOT: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

Week of May 25, 2003