Trust the Line

Last Friday, Shane Blackmer wrote about our need to “Hold the Line.” Today I want to write just about about the “line” itself.

My son, Joseph, and a friend, Noah, were working last week to put gutters on our garage. This garage is older, it wasn’t built properly, and clearly has some foundation issues; because of this the roof sags.

When Joseph and Noah snapped a chalk line across the fascia board, an optical illusion occurred. If you looked straight at the garage, the line looked like a frown, it looked much higher in the middle and lower on the ends. But the line wasn’t the problem. If you went over to the edge of the roof and looked down the fascia board you could clearly see that the line was straight as an arrow.

The line wasn’t the problem, it was the building.

I believe there is a lesson in that! We may have built our lives on the wrong foundation, or we may not have taken the care to upkeep ourselves spiritually. As a result, lives become crooked and sag, just like that garage. In fact we may become so crooked that we begin to think the line (God’s word and standard of authority) is the problem.

Trust the line. There is nothing wrong with the line. God’s word is straight; we are the ones who need correcting.

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalms 119:15, ESV).

“Fix your eyes” on the line. Use the line to help point out what needs to be corrected in your life. His commandments are true (Psalm 119:142,151), sure (Psalm 119:86) and they are right (Psalm 119:128,172).

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grace, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grace. The grace withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you (1 Peter 1:22-25).

Look at the above passage and see what God’s word says about itself. It is incorruptible. The word has power to transform someone so that because of the word a person is “born again.” God’s word “lives.” The word abides forever. Everything else on earth perishes, but God’s word endures forever. This word includes the gospel which saves men’s souls.

This is only one of many places in the Bible where such claims are made. The Psalmist wrote, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalms 119:89). Jesus Himself claimed, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The apostle Peter, as he knew his time was short on earth, promised to the brethren that they would always have access to these words which came from God. Read 2 Peter 1:12-21. Atheists, skeptics, and even some claiming to follow Jesus will claim that things have been lost over the years. They claim we cannot have any assurance that the Bible we have now is what they were given then.

A claim is not true just because someone makes it. A claim must be tested. So, test the claims of the Scripture. The truth never suffers from investigation.

The Word of the Lord Endures Forever

We just finished a meeting last week with Dr. H.E. Payne, Jr. (most know him as Buddy Payne). He is the President of Florida College. Among his other lectures on microscopic and macroscopic evidence for intelligent design, Dr. Payne also presented two lessons on “Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible?” I encourage you to listen to these two lectures. The overwhelming answer at the end of part 2 is “YES!!”

Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible? Part 1

Can We Trust Our English Versions of the Bible? Part 2

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 5

We wrap up our look into Psalm 19:7-11 this week, “God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 5.” Friday’s theme for our blog is “the church family.” Let’s consider this passage in light of that theme today.

On Monday, we saw that the word of God has many aspects to it (law, decisions, witness, etc.), and all are valuable and profitable to us. Tuesday we looked at how David loved and cherished God’s words. Wednesday’s focus was on what the word of God is (perfect, sure, right, etc.). On Thursday we considered what the word of God does (restores the soul, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, etc.).

Today we should simply consider the question: What is my response to God’s word?

GOD’S WORD: ITS VALUE AND POWER, PART 5

Fifth observation – Our response to His word.

Verse 11 says, “In keeping them there is great reward.” All of these wonderful benefits come when I commit to living out what God asked me to do. The value and reward is realized not in merely reading and reciting God’s word, but in keeping it.

Take a look at the rest of Psalm 19:

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalms 19:11-14).

David’s heart is exposed here as he fully opens his heart to the Lord and His word. He is vulnerable, transparent and accountable to God, asking God to expose his sins. David wants the Lord and His word, not his sins to rule over him. He wants to be blameless and innocent before God. His prayer is that his words and even his deepest thoughts will be acceptable in God’s sight. That is the heart of David. This is why he was called a man after God’s own heart.

Finally, to be the men today God called us to be, we must have that very same mindset toward the Word. Keep it in our homes. Follow it at work. Seek to influence and encourage our church family that they also do the same.

“In keeping them there is great reward.”

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 4

We continue our look into Psalm 19:7-11 this week, “God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 4.” Thursday’s theme for our blog is living as lights in a dark world. Let’s consider this passage in light of that theme today.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7-11).

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 4

Fourth observation – What the word of God does…

  • Converting (restoring) the soul – God’s law turns the wayward soul back to Him. The Lord is our shepherd, and “He restores” our soul (Psalm 23:3). Because the Law of the Lord is perfect, only it has that power to transform the sinner to a saint.
  • Making wise the simple (naive, gullible) – Being naive and gullible is not a good place to stay (Proverbs 1:22; 7:7; 9:4-6). God wants His people to grow up and learn to discern good from evil (Ephesians 4:14-15). He wants us to be able to sort out the true from the false. That happens when we “exercise our senses” in using God’s word (Hebrews 5:11-14).
  • Rejoicing the heart – God’s statutes (precepts) lead to true joy. There is a “passing pleasure” in sin (Hebrews 11:25), but it fades quickly into darkness, pain, slavery and consequences. Doing “right” produces real happiness, freedom and fulfillment.
  • Enlightening the eyes – The word of God turns the light on for us. Our hearts were darkened, and so was our understanding. God’s commands shine the light both in our hearts and on our pathway in life. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
  • By them Your servant is warned – If I am about to drive off a cliff, I really want someone to let me know BEFORE it happens! The same goes for the Scriptures; it helps put guardrails on the road. God loves us enough to put lots of big yellow caution signs and “Wrong Way” signs in His word. Being warned of danger is a blessing.
  • In keeping them there is great reward – Both in this life and in eternity (Luke 18:29-30), God pours out His blessings on His people when they follow His word (Proverbs 3:16-18). There are rewards in the things we avoid because we follow God’s will. We also have rewards in what comes exclusively to His people because we walk in His word (Galatians 6:7-9).

“The unfolding (entrance) of Your words brings light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 3

We continue our look into Psalm 19:7-11 this week, “God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 3.” Wednesday’s theme for our blog is training the children in our lives. Let’s consider this passage in light of that theme today.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7-11).

GOD’S WORD: ITS VALUE AND POWER, PART 3

Third observation – What the word of God is…

  • Perfect. This word also means blameless, complete, entire, and without defect. God’s law is just like that. There’s not a blemish on it…its perfect.
  • Sure. God’s testimony is established and firm. There are no uncertainties in God’s witness and promises revealed in Scripture. You can count on it. If God tells an old man with no kids that his descendants will be like the stars and sand, trust it. It happened to Abraham just like God promised.
  • Right. God is not fickle; He does not just abritarily come up with things. His statutes (precepts) are not made up on a whim. They are right.
  • Pure. There is no corruption in God’s commands. When humans make up laws, we often have politics and money behind our agendas, but not God. His commandments are pure.
  • Clean, enduring forever. Not defiled. This word clean is used repeatedly throughout the Old Testament in reference to being ceremonially clean versus being unclean. The “fear of the Lord,” which in this context is tied to the word of God, is clean. God’s words are “pure words” (Psalm 12:6). Through God’s word we can discern the difference between what is clean and what is unclean. By God’s word we are cleansed (John 17:17; 1 Peter 1:22). David says this “fear of the Lord,” endures forever. God’s word is not going anywhere (1 Peter 1:23-25).
  • True and righteous altogether. God’s judgments (verdicts, sentences, decisions) are true and righteous altogether. This is so important in our faith. Begin with the understanding when studying the word that God is right. His decisions are right. “Let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). It is freedom, not slavery, to let God sit on His divine throne. When I stop trying to run the universe in my mind and settle myself into trusting God first, then I will begin to understand His word.
  • Sweeter than honey. Honey is incredibly sweet, but God’s word is sweeter. Question: When do we value it as sweet? Only when we agree with it? Only when it makes sense? John and Ezekiel both ate the scroll God gave them. It tasted sweet, but went down bitter. Sometimes God’s word has difficult and hard things, but His word is still the sweetest thing known to man. Is God’s word sweet to us?
  • More precious than gold. The value of God’s word exceeds the value of anything we consider precious on this earth. Its value is not given by men. Gold’s value goes up and down based on the market, but God’s word never changes in value. The Bible was made by God so it is inherently valuable. No church, scholar, ruler or any human being can give or take away its value.

Fathers, as we use this understanding to teach our kids, let us first model it in our lives. God’s word is right, and sure and true. It is awesome! May our children see that the Bible is sweet and valuable to us. When we reason with them, we begin with the understanding that God is right, and we trust His decisions.

Finally, I believe it would be helpful to look at the above list on what God’s word is and connect it to Philippians 4:8. Paul tells us to meditate on things that are true, right and pure, and that is exactly what David said God’s word is. Meditate (dwell, think) on these things!

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 2

We continue our look into Psalm 19:7-11 this week, “God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 2.”

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7-11).

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 2

Second observation – David is writing a love song to the word of God. He does that more than once, the most prominent example is Psalm 119, a very long love song to God’s word! David was in love with the word of God; he cherished it and saw its value. He saw God’s word as sweeter than the sweetest things (honey) and more precious than the most valuable things (gold). In God’s word, he saw the blessings of God’s warnings. He didn’t view God’s warnings as oppressive and authoritarian, but as God loving him enough to keep him safe and on the right pathway.

What I find amazing is David had far less of God’s Word than we do today. We have 66 books, we have the complete set. David had at least the first 5 books, the books of Moses. He had some of the Psalms, but they weren’t all written yet. I believe he had Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Job, also. But even then, that’s not 10 complete books.

Just think about it. David is writing a love song to God’s law and his statutes and commands. Many of those are contained in books like Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Can you imagine writing a love song to Leviticus or Numbers? Most folks fall asleep reading them. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone say Leviticus was their favorite book. When someone commits to reading through the Bible, they often stall somewhere in Leviticus or Numbers.  What many find difficult, boring and maybe even unnecessary, David found beautiful and full of praise because it came from God.

Today is Tuesday, and our theme for Tuesdays on the MDB is honoring the women in our lives. Take a moment to consider how being deeply in love with the word of God, all of the word of God, will help you as a husband. How will that benefit our wives when our first love as husbands is God and His word?

O, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day (Psalm 119:97).

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 1

This week, we are going to meditate upon Psalm 19:7-11 and make 5 observations from it, one for each day. Today is “God’s Word: Its Value and Power, Part 1.” Read the following passage slowly and carefully.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward (Psalms 19:7-11).

God’s Word: Its Value and Power, part 1

First observation – God’s word is called by several names here: law, testimony, statutes or precepts, commandment, judgments, etc. It is very helpful to think about how each of these words gives you a different aspect of God’s word.

  • God’s testimony – The word of God contains God’s witness to man, and it is sure.
  • His commandments – The word of God contains what God expects of us, and it is pure.
  • God’s judgments – The word of God contains His decisions (verdicts, sentences), and they are true and righteous altogether.

Scripture contains various types of writing styles and forms of literature (law, history, poetry, prophecy, apocalyptic writing). All of it is breathed by God, and all of it has a purpose in God revealing His mind to man (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Every bit of it is valuable to us and beneficial to growing our relationship with Him.

There are four separate accounts of the life of Jesus, coming from different backgrounds, styles and perspectives. Each account focuses on various themes and aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. God must have seen the value in four instead of one.

Even the book of Revelation is to be read, understood and obeyed (Revelation 1:3).

It all matters…every word of God. Every book of the Bible has value and purpose. All the writing styles in Scripture are God-given and have a reason and a benefit for us. Cherish today the wisdom of God in how He wrote the Bible for us. There is no other book like it!

“The sum of your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160).

“Every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5).

And stretching out His hand toward His disciples

While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

And stretching out His hand toward His disciples

Jesus’ mother and brothers were waiting outside to speak to Jesus. It is clear that at this point the brothers of Jesus did not believe Him (John 7:5). In fact, read Mark’s parallel account to the one you just read in Matthew 12. Mark points out that some of Jesus’ family thought He was out of His mind (Mark 3:21). They were trying to do an intervention! Jesus has gone looney and they needed to rescue Him from Himself.

In the midst of this scene, someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside waiting to talk to Him. Note that Jesus stretched out His hand toward His disciples and called them His mother and brothers.

Disciples. The followers and students of Jesus are the ones who are the family of Jesus.

Here is more insight into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. As Jesus was still pointing to His “disciples” He said,

“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

So how do you know who are Jesus’ disciples today in 2016? Notice that the family of Jesus is one and the same as the disciples of Jesus. How do you know who is related to Jesus? We all have heard of or seen clips of those ridiculous train wreck talk shows where somebody gets DNA results back to determine who is the father of which kid. Well, our spiritual DNA test comes down to one simple question. Who does what God says? Men, it really isn’t any more complicated that that. If you and I are both doing what God says, then we are family and we are the disciples of the Lord.

We don’t identify God’s family and Jesus’ disciples by a sign on a building, but by the behavior of the people claiming to be followers of Jesus. Does their behavior match the claim? If so, they are family, and they are disciples.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).