Lost in Space was an American science fiction television series in the 1960’s. It followed the adventures of the Robinsons, a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive in the depths of space.
When danger was near to the Robinson family, Robbie, their protective robot, would cry out, “Danger”. Similarly, we teach our children to be aware of danger. They call out a warning, “stranger danger” when they feel threatened.
Warnings play a huge role in sheltering us from potential harm or danger. Because of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, we carefully heed the medical warnings provided to us by both our local and our state health officials. With the growth of cyber-crimes in our nation, we quickly respond to security warnings by purchasing systems to protect our personal assets. Police warnings of increases in crime incent us to invest in elaborate surveillance and security equipment.
However, do we, with the same diligence, heed spiritual warnings as we move through these fretful times? Are we concerned about the health and well-being of our souls? What about our family’s spiritual well-being? During the next few weeks, we will be using the book of Hebrews to discuss “spiritual danger warnings” in the 21st century.
Opportunities in warnings
The writer of Hebrews gave five (5) warnings to his readers. Although the historical context for this epistle is different than in 2020, the warnings included in Hebrews are still relevant for today.
Warren Wiersbe, noted teacher and biblical scholar had this to share concerning the practical applications that can be found in the book of Hebrews:
Many people have avoided the epistle to the Hebrews and, consequently, have robbed themselves of practical spiritual help. Some have avoided this book because they are afraid of it. The warnings in Hebrews have made them uneasy. Others have avoided this book because they think it is too difficult for the average Bible student. To be sure there are some profound truth in Hebrews, and no preacher or teacher will dare to claim that they know them all! But the general message of the book it’s clear and there is no reason why you and I should not understand and profit from it.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “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” (Rom. 15:4). Let’s get ready to dig in!
In this new age of consumerism, people are always looking for the best deal. It’s understandable. If we’re going to spend our money, we want to insure we’re getting the greatest value for our buck.
Services such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and Business.com, offer us a way to hedge our bets before spending our money.
The modern consumer thrives on information. Before making a buying decision, customers have long sought out the opinions and experiences of others to inform themselves as to whether a company is creditable or not. Today, this process is quick, easy, and accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection.
Consumerism and politics
We are rapidly approaching general elections in November. Unfortunately there is no service we can pull up on our computer to help with selection of the best candidates. During this “season” of health pandemics, social crisis, and family challenges, we are in search of individuals who can reverse the problems we’ve experienced in 2020. All the candidates, locally and nationally, claim to have the best “offer”. Who would you recommend?
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is presented as an active, compassionate, and obedient Servant who ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of others. Consequently, this gospel moves quickly to His public ministry where He performs many miracles (there are eighteen). Jesus used these miracles to demonstrate not only His power but also His compassion. As I look around at the needs of our city and our nation, service to and compassion for people are characteristics of one who will quickly attend to the problems and trials we face. Such was the case in our study text which is only recorded in Mark’s gospel.
In Mark 7:31-37, Jesus is found in the region of Decapolis by the Sea of Galilee. A man who is both deaf and speech impaired is brought to him. They recommended Jesus as the One best qualified for the task at hand. It isn’t clear whether those seeking Jesus’ help expected healing but they did ask that Jesus “put His hands” on the infirmed man. (v. 32) Sometimes we come to Jesus in our prayers not knowing what to ask. But Jesus, who is omniscient knows exactly what we need (Rom. 8:26-27).
Better than expected
I’m sure the man, unable to hear or speak, was curious as to what was about to happen to him. It is noted in one commentary, that Jesus in preparing the man for his healing used His own form of sign language: And He (Jesus) took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue (v. 33). Then Jesus looked to heaven, and sighed, and said to him, “Be opened.” (v. 34) With one command, both impediments were cured. The crowd was astonished.
Although Jesus charged the crowds to say nothing about the miracle, they could not help themselves and in their zeal shared the miracle with this observation: “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak” (v. 37). To do things well means to do things “excellently”. (1 Cor. 14:17; Gal. 5:7)
Consumerism, the soul, and Jesus
Unfortunately, consumers, as a rule, aren’t very intentional when it comes to matters of the soul. I don’t know where they go to seek out the opinions and experiences of others to inform themselves. Where do they go to insure their spiritual needs are addressed excellently? Where do they go with their fears and anxieties? Who would you recommend?
As believers, we know one thing is sure. We have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who is more than equipped to handle the challenges we face today and tomorrow (Jude 1:25). He is best qualified to meet our every need—provisionally and spiritually, because “He does all things excellently”.
It is natural for us to expect Jesus “to save us” by doing miracles in our life, like the deaf and dumb man. And HE DOES. But Jesus also wants us to know that He can be trusted with the daily events of our life. Jesus’ grace will provide all we need to manage both our spiritual and temporal needs (Ps. 23:1-3). Why? Because He (Jesus) does all things well! (v. 37)
As we prepare for this day and the days ahead, look to the only One we can recommend to see us through these tumultuous and challenging times. Trust the only One who died for us (John 11:25); who never fails (Is. 55:10-11); who cannot lie (Num. 23:19). Jesus has the power and authority to do “all things” (Matt. 28:18). Jesus does all things well.
Is it time to do a new thing? Can we maintain status quo in the wake of the coronavirus, a shrinking economy, and social unrest? These realities have changed each of our lives. This new normal appears to be here for the long haul dictating our daily routine and our future plans. Is it time to change?
It is human nature to resist change. Change is hard especially if it is the result of something we had no say in. As we attempt to move to some sense of normalcy in this nation, we are being asked to do something new.
“Hell no! We won’t go!”
Local and state mandates have been issued in order to guard public health. These instructions are not only being challenged but most often totally disregarded. This is especially true among our young people. I wonder who they learned that from. Even when we’re told lives can be saved and the economy restored, we refuse to change. Is it time to do a new thing?
From the head of this nation to the head of church congregations, resistance is seen as a rallying cry and badge of honor. But is it? Or is it really evidence of our inability to acceptchange? Is resistance to exercising safe distance, wearing masks, and avoiding large crowds symptomatic of our unwillingness to do a new thing?
God’s “new thing”
In the Old Testament, the use of “new thing” is cited in only three (3) texts: Isaiah 43:19, Numbers 16:30, and Jeremiah 31:22. Here they describe situations where God’s greatness and sovereignty is on display. God invites man to join Him in accomplishing His divine purpose.
I will not conclude that the challenges we face are part of God’s divine purpose. I do believe, however, that God throughout man’s history continually exercises His sovereignty and His authority. This time in history, 2020, was viewed long before today. God saw it from eternity (Is. 46:9-10). Pandemics, politics, and problems in this world never catch God by surprise.
In the New Testament this concept of a “new thing” was manifested in the fulfillment of the Messiah who came to save us and to restore man to God’s original purpose. God was unable to fulfill His purpose through families, tribes or kings; through prophets, mediators or priests. God brought salvation to earth through Jesus Christ—“God’s new thing”.
God’s new thing resulted in:
The Kingdom of God coming to earth. (Matt. 4:17)
Mercy, grace, and truth. (Ps. 85:10)
Man becoming a “new creation”. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Freedom from the penalty and power of sin. (Rom. 8:1)
God’s new things always result in our good and His glory. As we seek stability during these tumultuous times, know that God is more than able to sustain and keep us (Ps. 46:1-3; 7-10).
Things are changing
As we move through the challenges we face as a nation, know that God is still doing new things. The world we knew a year ago has changed. The life we cherished 6 months ago will never return. Our reality this week may be different than it was last week. Things are changing. How can we prepare for change—the new thing?
Trust God—believe in His ability and willingness to guide us to a new thing.
Position yourself to hear God—pray and read His Word.
Look for areas needing change in your life—be honest.
Identify and confess sin in your life—what’s interfering with God’s new thing?
God is the key to change. Most importantly, God can do a “new thing” even in the midst of change. This includes COVID-19, financial downturns, and social injustices. He invites us to join Him as we do a “new thing.” When we trust God with our life, we can look forward with purpose and not fear (Jer. 29:11).
I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, And will not be ashamed.
Psalm 119:46, (NKJ)
Are you a truth teller? This might seem like a strange question to ask but it provides a great starting point for personal reflection as we close this series. We began by asking the question, “Can you handle the truth?” We defined truth as the meaning and reality of life defined by God versus truth shaped by postmodern thinking. The believer’s source of truth is presented by God Himself in His Word and through the direction of the “Spirit of Truth”, the Holy Spirit. Truth defined by God becomes the compass by which believers are able to discern truth from error (1 John 4:6) therefore allowing them to live out their God-ordained purpose (Ep. 2:10).
How well am I doing with being truthful? Following God’s truth may result in rejection and personal persecution. Inside the safety of the church walls it’s easy to agree with the ethics and morality inherent in God’s truth. However, once outside the “physical boundaries” of the church, it is the “heart” which must reflect God’s truth. It is the heart that directs the mind, will, and emotions (the soul) to sieve the noise of the world through the filter of God’s truth. Truth and obedience are closely connected as believers must choose between God’s instructions or man’s acceptance (Matt. 10:28).
Does the world want to know the truth? Or is truth simply a remnant of the 20th century—no longer relevant in today’s fast-paced, high tech world? Unfortunately, truth is often defined by what’s trending on social media. To further complicate the search for truth, corporate/community leaders and aspiring politicians create “untruthful” responses to difficult social issues that simply satisfy people who don’t really want to know the truth; so the community and nation are given a lie (instead of truth) to make them feel better. Unfortunately people would rather believe a lie than the truth—think about that for a minute! Are people really being deceived or are they simply choosing to believe a lie? It’s easier (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Am I ready to be a truth teller? We must ask ourselves why we sometimes choose to believe a lie rather than the truth. The truth may be related to our life style, our family, or even about us personally. Perhaps we are judgmental, critical, or unforgiving. That’s why it is so important to regularly pray that the Holy Spirit expose those areas that interfere with receiving the truth of God.
To be a truth teller requires boldness to stand for holy “rightness” (Heb. 13:6) and to proclaim what is God’s truth versus what is politically or socially correct (Luke 12:4-5; Ps. 119:46). When Jesus taught the Beatitudes to His disciples, He established a new standard of truth that was to be actualized in the life of the believer—a standard that would result in holy and sanctified (set apart) living. Paul declared himself to be a truth teller. While it resulted in his persecution and polarization from the mainstream, he boldly proclaimed: “None of these things [persecution and prison] move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I can finish my race with joy.” (Acts 20:24) Dare to be a truth teller.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:16-17 (NLT)
John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the USA, shared the following observation about truth.
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
Likewise regarding truth, the Apostle Paul warned the young minister Timothy of the dangers that await him as new converts would “turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:4). Truth, unfortunately, is being packaged in many forms; many are more speculation and creative editorializing, than substantive truth. Because of this trend, it is important that believers have a “real-time” reliable and trustworthy compass by which to navigate in this world. While our primary guide is the Word of God, as we discussed last week, God has also provided another source—the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
Earlier we defined truth as that which agrees with reality. For the believer, our reality has been defined by what God has placed in His written Word. For the disciples in our text today, however, there was no written Word as they faced a hostile world without the presence of their Beloved Jesus (John 15:18-20). It was Jesus’ presence that gave them the courage to challenge the spiritual tyranny of the religious leaders. It was Jesus’ loving response to the diseased and disenfranchised that modeled what true love looked like. They would need God’s truth as they turned their focus to witnessing (Acts 1:8), baptizing and teaching (Matt. 28:19-20).
In John 14 Jesus promises to send the Spirit of Truth that would abide with them forever. It was the Holy Spirit Who would now come to live within them. We generally think of the Holy Spirit in terms of gifting or empowering believers to accomplish the purposes and ministries of Christ. However, the attribute Jesus chose to share with His disciples in John’s text focused on “truth”. It would be the Spirit of Truth that would assist the disciples as they were persecuted for their belief in Jesus Christ. They would be tempted to denounce and deny Him Whom “the world could not receive, because it neither saw Him nor knew Him” (v. 17). They would need the Spirit of Truth to call “to remembrance” the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—especially His work of salvation for sinners (John 14:26). The Spirit of Truth would assist the disciples in accomplishing the “greater works” promised by Jesus (John 14:12). Jesus was indeed “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. After Jesus’ departure, the ministry of truth would continue because the Spirit of Truth.
Like the disciples of the first century, believers in the 21st century have the assistance of the Spirit of Truth to assist them especially in exposing the spirit of error. The spirit of error is seen in the morays and life styles of the world. For unbelievers, it leads them to be deceived and disobedient to the purposes of God in their life (Ep. 2:2). For the believer, the spirit of error tempts them to doubt God truth and draw them away from the leading of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:15). The Spirit of Truth stands ready to silence the lies, myths and fables of the 21st century. Our confidence lies in the promise, power, and presence of the Spirit of Truth. He is our True Compass as we search for truth.
“…and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
John 8: 31-32 (NRSV)
Can we handle the truth? Especially when that truth is measured against the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ? To walk in biblical truth while living in a postmodern world will be a major challenge for believers as we enter into this second decade of the 21st century.
With all the political rhetoric and social bantering, it is clear that this world is in need of truth. But can we handle it? Behind the news bytes and sound bits, there is an intention movement currently underway to redefine what truth is and what it isn’t. This is nothing new. This inclination to “repackage” the truth comes directly from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44). Be careful how you define truth or you too may fall prey to the subtly of deception. “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, NLT)
In decades past, people could depend on the media to communicate the “truth” with regard to specific issues of the day. Newspapers, magazine publications and newscasters were committed to operate at the highest ethical standards. In addition, people could depend on their local leaders—civic or religious—to offer truth, as they knew best. But over time that has changed. Unfortunately both media and individuals can only offer their own opinions based on personal agendas or corporate bias, leaving individuals still “in search for truth”. Truth is now shaped by social media and image consultants—by the number of “likes”, “retweets” and “followers” one can amass.
What is truth? Truth is defined as that which agrees with reality. The believer’s reality and meaning is grounded in God. That reality began in the Garden of Eden. Created in God’s image, our purpose and destiny is tied to our identity in Him through Christ (Col. 3:3). This reality was sidetracked by sin and replaced with Satan’s counterfeit that placed self on the throne where only Christ was to be seated and exalted. Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, our sins were forgiven and we are now reconciled back to God (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). When we affirm our faith, we acknowledge that we have died to our old sin nature (Gal. 5:24) and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). We no longer follow the worldview—its influence was negated by the Blood. Our meaning and reality is now realigned with God (2 Cor. 5:15). “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).
More than ever before, believers must connect with the only True Source of Truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (John 14:6). God’s Word and the Spirit of Truth stand ready to silence the lies, myths and fables we might hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4). God is the only source of truth for our lives. Can you handle the truth?
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27 (NKJ)
Our intent in creating this series has been to offer a new perspective on the whole counsel of God that will hopefully increase believers’ confidence in its validity and its value in navigating in the 21st century. If you’re struggling with obedience and how to be obedient to God, continue reading.
We introduced our series by first discussing the wisdom of God. The “unsearchable” knowledge of God (Rom. 11:33) establishes the foundation for acceptance of the whole counsel of God and for victorious living under “Kingdom Rule”.
We expanded the definition of the whole counsel of God to include not only that which is revealed through His Word and the Holy Spirit, but also extends to His realized purpose and His will in the world and in the believer’s life.
The reliability of God’s counsel is a consequence of who He is and His relationship with believers. God is, by nature, exceedingly good and great! Because of that, God’s counsel can be trusted.
So why do people reject God’s counsel?
When I teach God’s Word, I am surprised at the number of pushbacks and arguments I get from people as I share the whole counsel of God. I see in their eyes and hear in their voices, the inner conflict that God’s Word creates in their life as they attempt to convince me (and justify to themselves) their “difference with the counsel” that is being “revealed”. It is out of this place of discomfort that the Bible and the Holy Spirit is regularly accused of being “intolerant”, “outdated”, and “inaccurate”.
The reason for their “disconnect” is the standard they use to assess the “value or correctness” of God’s counsel. Their “source of counsel” is, in most cases, the world, their flesh, and/or the influence of Satan. Once this is understood, it becomes clear the basis of their discomfort is not the sufficiency of Scripture but the struggle for authority in their life—God’s authority or the current worldview? God’s authority or what makes them happy? God’s authority or Satan’s authority? It is a matter of authority and obedience.
Obedience and thewhole counsel of God
I was saved when I was nine years old. I bought the “fire insurance” and wasn’t going to hell. But it was 30 years later that I learned about “lordship” and God’s authority and rule in my life. That required me to change the source of my counsel—no longer the world, my flesh, or Satan—but the whole counsel of God.
My personal journey has led me to believe that people’s disobedience and rejection of God’s counsel usually stems from one or all of the following:
Blinding by Satan. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NRS)
Paul explains to the Corinthians the reason why people reject the gospel. The translated meaning of veiled is “to hide or hinder the knowledge of a thing.” And who is the culprit responsible for the veiling? It is Satan. Satan’s agenda is to keep people away from their Creator and His purpose for their lives. And what doesn’t Satan want people to know? “The gospel of the glory of God” realized through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus has provided freedom from the bondage of sin, a path back to God (reconciled), and access to spiritual blessings prepared for them (Eph. 1:3-5).
Bentness of the Flesh. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world — the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches — comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever. 1 John 2:15-17
As Christians we not only have become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) but we also have been delivered from the penalty and the power of sin. However, until Christ’s return or we transition to be with Him in heaven, we must still deal with the presence of sin, in our unredeemed flesh and by virtue of living in this fallen world.
These two facts require BELIEVERS to continually be aware of those factors that tend to “bend us” toward the “world’s view of life” versus God’s expectations of Christian behavior and purpose. If you have not accepted Christ’s offer of salvation, there is still “room at the Cross” with an opportunity to “change the bentness” of your flesh and the influence of this “falling” world in our lives.
Battle for Truth. “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:21-22
The battle for truth in the 21st century is raging. We feel the effects of postmodernism both inside and outside the Church. To exacerbate this dilemma, social media and technology has introduced the ability for individuals and groups to flood the channels with their agendas that spread propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation.
Propaganda is defined as the systematic transmission of information or ideas in order to encourage or instill a particular idea, attitude, or response. Misinformation is erroneous or incorrect information. Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it always refers to something which is not true. Its intent is usually neutral. Disinformation refers to disseminating deliberately false information, with the intention of influencing policies of those who receive it.
John Hopkins Sheridan Libraries
So where is one to go for good counsel? To the only source that has a record of being all wise, reliable, and totally committed to our well-being. That Source is God.
God’s Counsel = LIFE
The whole counsel of God includes some things that are difficult to hear—the fact that we are dead in sin and deserving of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1–3) and the fact that we cannot save ourselves through works (Eph. 2:8–9). The gospel is a call to faithfulness and holy living (Eph. 1: 4). Believers will face persecution (John 16:33) and likely be considered foolish. But none of these things should dissuade us.
When we accepted God’s lordship and are obedient to His will and His purpose, our life will become richer and fuller—God planned it that way through Jesus Christ who is the living WORD (John 10:10). Accept the full counsel of God as your source of wisdom and direction. God’s counsel is the true path of life (Ps. 16:11).
Ravi Zacharias – God’s Plan for your life and how to be obedient
You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from following the truth? (Gal. 5:7, NLT)
Truth is a very significant concept. Our view of truth shapes our societies and our personal lives. It also influences our relationship with God and our view of Scripture. Our definition of truth is impacted by the magazines we read, our choice of news broadcasters and even the opinions of our friends. And if you follow social media, your “truth” is being adjusted with every post and tweet you receive—every 60 seconds, 175,000 tweets are sent.
Let’s face reality! We live in an age where we are being bombarded by varying opinions as to what is or isn’t truth. Because of these deceptive trends, it is important that believers have a reliable and trustworthy compass by which to navigate in this world. We need guidance from God. We need divine perspective.
In the Old Testament, truth (’emeth) is rendered as “true” or “faithful”. In either case, the Hebrew concept communicated in its use is reliability and trustworthiness. This trustworthiness is frequently used to describe God’s divine faithfulness (Ps. 31:5; Jer. 42:5).
Those who walk in God’s truth accept as trustworthy God’s view of moral realities and act in harmony with His divine revelations: “For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.” (Ps. 26:3) Dependence on God’s truth is not based on emotional sentimentalities but firmly grounded in the nature of God (Deut. 7:9).
Truth (al’ētheia) in the New Testament emphasizes reality as God has revealed it in creation (Rom. 1:18) and in the gospel (Eph. 1:13; Col. 1:5; 1 Tim. 2:4).
Adherence to the truth was critical during the formation of the early Church. Paul reminds believers in Ephesus of the role truth played in their salvation: “In Him (Christ) you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 1:13, RSV) The Apostle John instructs believers to hold fast to the gospel truth: “I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely how you walk in the truth.” (3 John 1:3.)
Through God’s revelation we have access to reliable knowledge—divine truth—about God, about ourselves, and about how we are to live in relationship with our fellow man. This is especially important since there is often a tendency by believer’s to separate their “faith walk” from their “life style”. God’s truth is to be put into daily practice. Knowing the reliability of God and accepting the reality of God, believers can begin to operate from God’s perspective. God’s divine truth becomes the vehicle by which we are able to successfully navigate in this postmodern society.
People often use the phrase, “good as his word” to assert one’s personal dependability and trustworthiness. Words reflect a person’s true character and show what he or she is about (Matt 12:34; Mark 7:15). This is especially true of God. However, where human words are frail and finite, God’s words are creative, perfect, and powerful. God’s Word reveals much about His nature. God is His Word!
The Word of God refers to Scripture itself. It was Moses who first received the written Word from God. Although written on pillars of stone, The Ten Commandments outlined God’s expectation of man. By obeying them, the Israelite people would be better prepared to live in “right relationship” with God and his fellowman.
In preparing the nation of Israel to enter the Promised Land, God instructed Moses to strongly emphasize adherence to His commands, decrees, and laws (Deut. 6:1-19). These would serve as an abiding written record of God’s person, presence, and ways. The men, specifically, were to “teach and talk” about them in their homes. God’s Word was to not only influence but also shape everything they did—from when they “lied down to sleep at night to when they rose in the morning.”
Different yet all key in revealing God’s nature
In Psalm 19, we see different names that are used for God’s Word such as the law, the statues and the judgments. In each verse, a different set of nouns are used to describe God’s nature revealed in His Word. In using this literary device, the psalmist, highlights the transforming power of God. Through His Word, God converts and makes wise: He rejoices and enlightens the eyes (Eph. 1:18-19). God true character is reflected in the Word He speaks.
The final couplet speaks to the righteous durability of God’s Word—“it endures forever and is true and right.” The Prophet Isaiah rejoiced in the fact that, “The grass withers, the flower fades but the word of God stands forever (Is. 40:8).” God’s Word can even penetrate and judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13). Just as “there is nothing hidden from the sun’s heat” (Ps. 19:6), there is “nothing in all creation hidden from God’s sight”. God is Eternal Creator, Transformer, Everywhere present, and All-knowing.
Pursuit of God’s Word is to be desired
God’s Word is to be desired more than monetary riches or physical luxuries. Through His Word, God offers “incorruptible” rewards—spiritual discernment and godly wisdom that will provide the knowledge and sensitivities needed to navigate this world.
Ps. 19:11 offers a final declaration as to the essential benefit of God’s Word—“by them [the Word of God] we are warned and in keeping them there is great reward.” God’s Word is the “fail safe” for man’s conscience. It offers truth that is desperately needed in a postmodern world that denies the need for absolute truth and moral standards.
Our 21st century culture is “imploding” as a result of misinformation and propaganda through intentional abuse of social media thereby making it difficult to differentiate between truth and lies. The acceptance of untruth is so pervasive that a new word was added to the dictionary in 2016 to describe it—post truth. But as believers we are dependent on God, who through His Word, offers the “the way, the truth, and the light.” God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Consequently His Word can be trusted (Heb. 6:18). God is His Word!
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3, 4 (NKJ)
As I prepared to write this week’s WordBytes, I searched the web for topics that were trending in the news—items that would give me a hint of the “heartbeat of the country”. What I discovered was amazing yet not surprising; the trends included “life, conspiracy, hip hop culture, marijuana, motherhood,” and yes, I even found Jesus Christ in the trend. This wasn’t the total list but what my spirit was drawn to was an earlier WordBytes I had written that seemed to offer a response for the current trending topics. Interestingly, this particular WordBytes ranks as the most read in the history of WordBytes. With that, I present the most viable and fail proof option for whatever your concern today—trust in God.
As Election Day 2016 draws near, I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time reaffirming the true source of our confidence—God. Campaign advertisements continually bombard us via social media, telephone, and television; each candidate promising to serve faithfully and with integrity. How ironic that our discussion on trust should follow our recent series, “In Search of Truth” as we listen to “half-truths” and “outright lies” presented by all political parties on the ballot. Who is one to trust? Our text for today summarizes the best place to put our trust—in God.
The background for today’s Psalm can be found in 1 Samuel 21:8-15, where we are told of David’s escape to Gath, the stronghold of the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel. The Philistines were well acquainted with David for he had killed their champion, Goliath, when he was only a young shepherd boy (1 Sam. 17). Now because of King Saul’s jealousy, this young man runs for fear of his life to a place of even greater peril and sure death. He now stands captured by his worst enemy, the king of the Philistines.
Psalm 56 is identified as a song for the distressed. We would agree that David was in distress. We sometimes describe it as being “between a rock and a hard place.” Like David, we sometimes find ourselves wedged between many rocks and brutal hard places. Sometimes this happens as a result of others, like Saul, and other times it is the result of our own disobedience and waywardness. In those times of distress and fear, we are to call out like David—“In God, I have put my trust.”
Trust (batach) in Hebrew means “bold and confident”. The description means to literally “throw oneself down, extended on the ground, upon his face.” Can you imagine that picture? David, literally throwing himself on the mercy of God, fully confident and bold; defiantly proclaiming, “What can flesh do to me?” Did he recall the many times God intervened on his behalf as King Saul sought to capture and kill him? His eye was not on the source of his fear but on the Deliverer of his soul. David’s spirit was humbled, cast down in full confidence and trust in Almighty God for his life—not the Philistine king.
As you face the many challenges of life that tend to shake the very foundation of your faith:
Put your trust in the One who is able to deliver us from all harm. (Ps. 46:1)
Remember those times that God stepped in to deliver you and brought you to a point of safety. (Ps. 91:1,2)
Exchange your fear for bold confidence. (Ps. 20:7)
Stretch out on “mature” faith, like David, and expect miracles, signs, and wonders. Although we flippantly have inscribed on our coins, “In God we trust”, it’s now time to write upon our hearts the Psalmist’s words, “I have put my trust in God.”
SELAH:Is there something I your life that is causing you great distress? Perhaps your stress is being generated by things you have no control over—the state of the economy, unending political wrangling or social injustices that are currently in news headlines. Maybe it’s your health or the changing needs of your immediate family. Perhaps your anxiety is as a result of your own poor decisions or relational conflicts you must deal with. Regardless of the source, go to God. He cares for you. Declare the following prayer and know in God you can always trust.
God of creation and God of salvation, I put my trust in You. Though the earth may tremble and the mountain be carried into the sea, I put my trust in You. Though life may be hard and the challenges daunting, I put my trust in You. I trust in You and You alone because You are MY GOD and MY FATHER. I am Your child. These things I ask in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.