Biblical Foundations 40: The Word of God 3
This post we will continue to dig into the Word of God to see what it has to say to us about the Word of God. We will continue to ask the Holy Spirit to help us move from general beliefs in the Bible to specific beliefs in the Bible–both are important!
Romans 15:4 NIV:
4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us,
so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures
and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Oh loved ones, the encouragement and hope that we miss out on because we watch Netflix and the news and sports and social media way more than we read the Word of God; oh the endurance that we miss out on, the ability to endure through all that we face, because we do not look to be taught by what God inspired/breathed/wrote in the past through the Bible…
Psalm 119: Some of the Benefits of God’s Word
49 Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life. [the promises of God are the life-preservers of His people!]
The arrogant mock me unmercifully, [presumably for his belief and trust in the Word of God!]
but I do not turn from your law. [though when people mock us we often change our beliefs to calm them down!]
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
and I find comfort in them.
[But what if you don’t find comfort? You’ve read the Bible at times and you feel nothing, you get nothing out of it?
Keep reading, keep praying;
You don’t feel better immediately after taking medicine. You don’t see immediate results after working out.
God’s Word never returns void, it always fulfills the purpose for which God sent it.
You will find comfort from the Bible eventually. Keep taking His medicine!]
Back to Psalm 119:
92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction. [How many of us are dying each day b/c we don’t delight in theBible!]
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life. [WOW! Bible is not just holy homework but our life preserver!]
Oh loved ones, if this alone isn’t enough to get us to read the Bible regularly, I don’t know what is:
hope in suffering,
comfort in suffering,
delight in the middle of suffering,
living/surviving through suffering.
But what does this look like practically? On a Tuesday morning, what does it look like for the promises of God to be our comfort in our suffering, to be the liferaft that we cling to in the middle of the un-Pacific Ocean, when the seas of life are anything but calm and we find ourselves being encircled by sharks and we are surrounded by the culture’s saltwater that promises to quench our thirst but that can only make us more and more thirsty and dehydrated? Sin can only make us suffer more, not less…
These promises of God in specific Bible passages—doctrine!—are not magic switches where if you read them/pray them your life will magically get easy—NO! We must be aware of our tendency to turn God into a cosmic vending machine. Jesus said those who hear His words and obey them are like those who build their houses on a rock—WHEN the storm comes, the house will stand. He doesn’t say the storms WON’T come if you know & obey His Word.
Like on a bitterly cold day, trusting in the promises of God in the Bible doesn’t make the temperature 75 and sunny; father, God’s Word trusted in through the power of the Holy Spirit gives us a down coat and hat and gloves and boots to survive and thrive in the frigid cold, to go out INTO it not to stay snuggled up safe away from it. THAT is what it looks like to trust in the specific teaching of the Bible. Christians who rarely read the Word of God are like people freezing in a t-shirt and flip flops who are holding their down coats in their hands. Makes no sense.
For the remainder of our time this post, I want to share with you some of the specific Bible passages that God has used to keep me afloat over the last few years, those Bible passages that the Holy Spirit has helped me to turn to on cold dark mornings that give me the strength to rise up and meet the day with all its challenges, those Bible passages that are like iron rations for my soul that help me to put one shaking foot in front of the other to follow Jesus as a sheep among wolves. I have often, in times of distress, turned to t.v. or sports or movies to simply distract myself, to temporarily take my mind off my troubles. This often works in the short-run. But the passages that we will now look at, only those passages—God’s Word!—have had the strength to lift me off the cold floor in the early morning hours to meet the giants of the day and not run from them. Eventually we all will face situations that t.v. or mere distractions cannot solve–let’s prepare for those tomorrow by diving deeply into God’s Word today:
Joshua 1:5-9 NIV:
Now of course I have to be careful here—I am not Joshua and God is not calling me to physically lead His people into a physical country in the Middle East! But the beautiful promises of God to be with His humble servant in Joshua 1—no matter what Joshua faced!—have been a constant source of encouragement and survival to me over the past 11+ years as I have leaned my weight and the weight of what I have faced on these verses, as I have faced many giants and challenges and trials…
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
9 Have I not commanded you? [This seemingly impossible mission isn’t your idea it’s Mine. I will be with you!]
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
[Oh the impact these words must have had on Joshua, facing a seemingly impossible mission!
Why should we receive ANY LESS encouragement from them in our seemingly impossible mission and situations?
Our giants are no less giant, and no MORE giant, that what Joshua faced.
And our LORD isn’t any less willing or able to go with us as we follow Him anywhere…]
Psalm 27 NIV:
Reading through these with you is like walking you through old home movies of some of the lowest times in my life and the Bible passages the Savior used (AND STILL USES!) to lift me up and make me stand and face the giants WITH THE LORD!
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
[Not that we will never suffer ever, but that we will never suffer FORever!
We need the long-term perspective of God’s promises]
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
[God help us turn off facebook and seek Your face in Your Book!]
Your face, Lord, I will seek. [Not just to know ABOUT You but to know YOU!]
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, [if those closest to me abandon me…]
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord; [God’s way—beliefs & actions; we must be taught thru His WORD!]
lead me in a straight path [cuz I wander all over the place and it’s PAINFUL!]
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart [just what God said to Joshua!]
and wait for the Lord.
Colossians: What Jesus’ Grace Has Done For ME!
“…giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you
to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
“For He has rescued us
from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Once you were alienated from God
and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
22 But now he has reconciled you
by Christ’s physical body through death
…” to present you holy in his sight,
without blemish and free from accusation
23 if you continue in your faith,
established and firm,
and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
Ah but how He promises to keep His grip on me forever, again by His free grace!
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. .
1 Corinthians 1:7-9:
7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
“…the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
“In him [Jesus Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him [Jesus Christ] from the dead.”
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” What a Savior! What undeserved grace!
Oh loved ones, with Truth like that, with specific Bible verses like these, how can we God’s children stay down for long? How can we shrink back and hide from the giants of life, from the trials and suffering we face? No, we will face them standing on the ROCK of God’s Word, filled with the power & presence of God’s Holy Spirit, carrying our cross and following our Savior Jesus wherever He leads, as we travel each step one step closer to arriving at our True Home to be in the unveiled presence of our Heavenly Father FOREVER!!!
Two posts ago we saw that the devil attacked Adam & Eve at the point of their understanding of what God said, at the point of doctrine, of His Word.
Then last post we looked at the fact that the devil used this same strategy in attacking/tempting Jesus in the wilderness as the devil misquoted & twisted the Bible to try to get Jesus to put His Father to the test.
Please notice that the devil used this same strategy of attack on Truth, on doctrine, on God’s Word, against Jesus when he was hanging on the cross. Remember what one of the sarcastic mockers said to the bleeding Savior?
IF you are the son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe…
Oh what an attack, what a subtle temptation! In one sense, Jesus’ mission was to enable people to believe in Him, to trust in Him as the Son of God! If He came down from the cross in front of everyone, an indisputable miracle, He would fulfill His mission!
But no…if He did that, they (and WE!) wouldn’t be able to receive Him as their Savior because He would not have died as the penalty for their sins. THAT was the core of His mission—Jesus Christ was born to die. And it was the miracle of rising from the grave, not coming down from the cross, that the Holy Spirit would use to open the eyes of sinners to receive Jesus by faith.
And so again, just like in the wilderness three years earlier, the Lord Jesus relied on doctrine to repel this attack—Jesus remembered His mission, His purpose for being born on earth in the first place which were both clearly revealed in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53, among many other passages). Unlike Eve & Adam, Jesus remembered what God the Father had said in His Word!
The Lord Jesus was born to die, and so by firmly grasping that Truth/doctrine He was able to remain on the cross and not give in to the temptation to win the battle (PROVING that He was the Messiah according to the rules of the devil and others) but lose the war (if He came down from the cross He would not have died and thus not been able to offer forgiveness through His death and resurrection). Jesus’ true belief and trust in doctrine enabled Him to do what was right, another example of Biblical Truth being the foundation of Biblical actions.
My friends, don’t forget to grab a gumball or two on the way out; though you’ll only enjoy the flavor for about 10 seconds 🙂 as you chew, make the choice to chew on the Word of God today and this week and ask the Holy Spirit to help you taste and see that the LORD is good…