Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Key Of Truth Of The Word

In my book on Psalm 119, Our Most Valuable Treasure, I discuss the Key Of Truth Of The Word in chapter 11.  One of the verses I cover is verse 89 where the psalmists makes the claim, “Forever O Lord Your Word is settled in heaven.”  The following is a brief excerpt from the chapter discussing verse 89.

However, we can trust God’s Word.  It has been settled and will continue for all eternity.  There is great comfort from the fact that you can always count on the Word’s unchangeableness.   It is solid, consistent, and settled.

The main point to remember is since His Word is settled and unchanging, all things we encounter can be compared to the Word to see if it measures up to the truth as defined by Scripture.  His Word is the standard against which everything else is measured.

Book PictureThis is the first and most important concept because it determines authority.  If there was debate about the exact length of an inch or a foot, there would be no way to determine between individuals the length of anything.  Distance would be subjective, capacities would be irrelevant, and confusion would reign.  There would be no voice of authority for measurements.  It is the same when discussing truth.

Perhaps the reason the modern evangelical church experiences confusion on a variety of issues, is due to the lack of agreement on the standard used to determine truth.  Truth cannot be defined by a variety of ever changing markers.

Feelings, experiences, and cultural acceptances are too often used as the markers for morality.  Believing God’s Word is true, using The Key of Truth Of The Word, gives us a solid standard as His Word becomes the source of authority for us.

Here is another excerpt from the same chapter….

The psalmist is making his case in no uncertain terms, “Your word is settled” and there is no other option.   His Word is defined, unchanged, and remains authoritative.   It is the measuring stick we use to line everything else up against.  God’s Word is where we must turn for truth.  God’s Word is the foundation or back bone upon which everything else rests.  God’s Word must be the standard to which everything else is measured.

We have a tendency in our modern church culture to look for extra-Biblical sources to validate the truth of the Bible.  Whether it’s other ancient texts or artifacts from a long gone society, we use those sources as the means to determine if the Bible is true.  Somehow believing an archeological discovery proves His Word.  It’s like using a size 12 man’s shoe to decide if the ruler is correct!  The ruler is the determining factor of the size of the shoe, not the shoe determining if the ruler is accurate.

Because His Word is the Standard, we can measure everything else against it.  It is the final authority.

I believe God’s Word is our most valuable treasure.  Clearly the author of Psalm 119 thought the same as his passion, respect and submission to the Word is quite evident in those 176 verses.   Our Most Valuable Treasure covers what I see are 11 concepts or “keys” to help us understand the rest of the Bible.

To get your copy of my book, please send me an email at jeff@shortbaldguy.com.  Normally, I’m asking $12 for the book plus $4 for postage, but for a limited time, I am making the book available for $10 with FREE SHIPPING!  Just mention the word “Treasure” in your email.

Wisdom – From Proverbs 2

NOTE:  Each day this past January, I posted a devotional from Proverbs.  With very minor changes, this post is from the original article which I published on January 2, 2016.

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5

 I’m not a doctor or lawyer.  In fact, you won’t find any letters behind my name.  The truth is, I just didn’t do what it took to be a successful student.  I had a very poor attitude about schooling and blamed my lack of scholarly success on most anything and everyone.  I had a terrible attitude which was reflected in my lack of effort to anything related to “study.”

Most of us understand that to gain a degree of success in any given field, one must apply a substantial amount of effort to the task, resulting from a commitment to learn.  Yet, when it comes to the Bible, we tend to acquire a lazy attitude which is often displayed with the comment, “I just can’t understand the Bible.”  To sound more spiritual, we might say, “I believe in Jesus, but all those sacrifices and stuff I can’t relate too” and therefore allow ourselves to remain Biblically illiterate. We end up being content to sitting in our favorite pew on Sunday morning and let the pastor spoon feed us the Word – just as long as he’s finished by kick-off time.

Here in Proverbs 2, the first 5 verses seem to indicate that in order to gain some knowledge of Scripture and His wisdom, we need to follow a simple 4 step plan:  Decide, Listen, Ask and Search.

  1. Decide – Verse 1 says we are to “receive” and “treasure” His words.  That sounds like something I didn’t do well in school.  Decide to make the commitment.  Go into the Word with an attitude that you will treasure His Word.  It’s important to you because you’ve decided it is.
  1. Listen – I think listening is a lost art.  In verse 2, we are to “make our ears attentive” We might hear things, but we don’t listen.  At least my wife claims I’m guilty of this on too many occasions.  Next time you are sitting in church (or listening to Christian radio or television) play attention!  Keep your ear attentive and your heart open to His Word.
  1. Ask – One of the great pleasures I have from any teaching I’ve done is to have people ask me a question.  Look at verse 3, “call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding.”  Whether after a gathering or as part of small Bible study group, ask questions.  Even if you don’t get any answers at that time, ask questions.
  1. Search – To me, this is one of the most rewarding things about Bible study.  Verse 4 tells us to “seek” and to “search” for it – meaning wisdom and understand of His word.  But this takes some effort.  You might need to look up a passage in multiple versions.  Or plow through references in a concordance.  Sometimes, just reading a passage many times and then quietly thinking about it is a great way to better understand a perplexing verse.

Notice however, when we take this kind of effort, the payoff is verse 5.  “Then you will understand the fear of the LORD”  This is a promise!  God wants us to know His Word!  He wants us to be successful at knowing Him and gaining Biblical wisdom.  All of us, not just pastors, can have a working knowledge of the Scriptures.

Invest time in His Word.  He wants you to know it.

Blessings my friend! – jm

What Do You Think About?

I remember a funny line from an old sports movie where a lineman of a football team is trying to teach a new player about their teams playing philosophy.  He said something like, “Football is 25% physical and 95% mental.”  His math didn’t add up, but everyone understood what he meant.  Successful football teams often have more to do with planning and determination than talent.  I often think living the victorious Christian walk is much the same way.

Paul gives us some instructions about how we are to think in Philippians.  He tells us in chapter 4 how we are to “Be anxious for nothing.”  He’s is telling us, “Don’t worry about anything.”  Then he follows up with the admonition to pray about everything and he tells us to be thankful.  It’s a three ingredient recipe consisting of:  1) not worrying, 2) praying and 3) being thankful.

But then he finishes up this section of Philippians with one of my favorite verses.  He tells us we are to think about or “meditate on these things.”  Those things can be described by at least one of the eight traits he listed.  Whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of a good report, virtuous, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

He says, we are to think about, or meditate on things which fit this description.

However, isn’t it easy is it to look at and think about negative things?  The things that bother me most often aren’t in one of these categories.  When someone irritates me or frustrates me, I want to concentrate on some character trait of theirs that isn’t on this list.  When a situation doesn’t go the way I wish it or expect it to go, I concentrate and think about the negative elements.  I can become discouraged and if the situation is allowed to persist, I may be tempted to turn away from God.

The negative side of things can be easy to see and we can become mired in a sea of discouragement or as I’ve read, we can become a “petri dish of discontent.”  We may constantly see only the negative side of things, always expecting to be hurt, offended, and disappointed.   We may never walk in victory because we’ve concentrated or “mediated” on things other than what Paul describes here in Philippians 4:8.Paul, who by all rights has an excuse to think about the disappointments of life since he is sitting in a prison cell, is telling the Philippian church (and us) to think about things which are true, noble, just, etc.

The successful Christian life isn’t one of perfection and having an expectation where everything works out to your satisfaction.  It is however, a life where we are looking for and thinking about, God honoring elements.

So, what are you going to spend your day thinking about?  Those disappointments and hurts?  Or can we make a mental switch and begin thinking about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy?

Get in His Word.  It is our Most Valuable Treasure.  Blessings my friend…

-jm

What Do You Do When You Find Yourself Where You Don’t Want To Be?

Jerusalem is in ruins.  The temple is destroyed, the city is burnt, many people have been killed in the battle and subsequent defeat at the hands of the Babylonians.

One aspect of their victory was to forcibly remove some of the survivors of  Judah and take them to Babylon.  These would often be the strong, intelligent and younger leaders of Jerusalem. Daniel would be an example of the best of ancient Judah.  He, like the others, was led away captive, 900 miles, to live away from everything they had previously known.  The remaining Jews in Jerusalem were left destitute among the rubble of their city. Jeremiah, now an old man, stays with those remaining in Jerusalem and serves them as best he can.

However, he still has some words to those carried away as captives.  He writes a letter to them where he encourages them to face their current situation.  The captives (or sometimes the Bible refers to them as “exiles”) were in a place they didn’t want to be.  Many may have been asking, “What do we do now?”  Jeremiah addresses their situation.

While you might not have been forcibly marched 900 miles from your home, many of us at times in our life find ourselves like those in exile.  Wondering, “What do I do now?”  What do you do when you find yourself where you don’t want to be?  Jeremiah has instructions for the Old Testament exiles and some wisdom for us when we are where we don’t want to be.

  1. Don’t Wallow In Self-Pity – verses 4-6

Jeremiah tells the captives, to build houses, plant gardens, plan on harvesting from those gardens.  He tells them to plan on getting married, having offspring and expect grandchildren.  In other words, live your life right where you are.  Make the best of your situation.  Just as they couldn’t sit around and complain about their circumstances, you too must live your life and you cannot wallow in a spirit of self-pity, bemoaning how bad everything is in your life.

  1. Actively Seek To Be A Godly Influence – verse 7

“Seek the peace of the city” Jeremiah says.  While it can be quite difficult, when we find ourselves in a situation or a place we don’t want to be, we must find ways to be a Godly influence right where we are.  “For in its peace, you will have peace.”

  1. Don’t Fall For Quick Fix Gimmicks – verses 8-10

Jeremiah is direct with them, “Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you.”  Those “prophets” were false prophets by proclaiming how this was to be a short-lived exile and they would soon return to Jerusalem.  He told the captives, this was going to take some time and there was no short cut.  Too often, we face the temptation to think God is somehow a genie in a bottle and if we rub the lamp just right, He’ll pop out and make everything better.  Typing “Amen” in your Facebook status is not how God blesses you.  Do not fall for quick fix gimmicks.

  1. You Are Not Forgotten – verses 11-14

God promises the captives and He promises you, He has good thoughts or “thoughts of peace” towards you.  He didn’t forget the exiles and He hasn’t forgotten you.  God is working on many things in your life and you may not be aware of any of them.  You may have a temptation to think, “God has forgotten me and left me in this condition. He doesn’t care.”  That is incorrect thinking.  Like those captives of ancient Jerusalem you are not forgotten.

When you find yourself where you don’t want to be, read this letter of Jeremiah chapter 29.  Glean from his words and apply the lessons he is telling them.  Don’t spend time wallowing in self-pity, find a way to be a Godly influence, don’t fall for some short cut and always remember, God has not forgotten you.

Remember His Word.  It is our most valuable treasure.  Blessings my friend!

-jm