On The Journey–Beth

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.

With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.

I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.

I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:9-16 NKJV

The question that was asked so long ago, should still be asked and answered in the same manner. How can people cleanse themselves (free themselves from sin)? By living according to The Word! The Psalmist is pleading with God–Don’t let me go astray–help me to stay on the right path.

And then there are the declarations–He has hidden the Word in His heart so he won’t sin against God. Have we hidden the word in our hearts? Have we read it enough that we remember? Have we studied enough to understand it? Do we allow God’s Word to be our guide in everything we do?

Do we love to hear the testimonies of those who have experienced God in their lives? I mean real testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention, like the woman with the issue of blood, being saved from a horrendous situation, or just being kept–in our right minds. Do we love to hear those testimonies? Better yet–do we have a testimony? Coming into the knowledge of Jesus Christ should be a testimony for everyone who is claims to be saved and has chosen Him to be the light of their lives.

Do we declare–with our own lips–God’s goodness or are we content to share the testimony of others because we are ashamed of who we are? Do we proclaim God’s Word in its entirety–the blessings and the curses–or do we simply sugarcoat The Word in order not to offend others when we need to correct them?

When was the last time we told God, “I am so happy to know Your Word and to know that it is Your Word that will keep me safe from harm?” Are blessed by knowing God’s Word or do some feel inhibited or intimidated by God’s Word?

Have we reached a place yet–on our journey in life–that we can say, “I will meditate upon Your Ways O God, I will always consider what You have said before I do anything or say anything to anyone else.  I will be happy and favored to study Your Word and I will share each revelation You give with others so we might have peace in the land?”

For knowing God’s Word and living His Word (by everyone) will surely bring peace upon the earth since knowing Him, loving Him, means loving all. And how can we cause harm to those we say we love?

With all of the chaos and violence and killing everywhere we turn, we know that people have not yet learned Love–they have not hidden His Word in their hearts and they are certainly not living it. Perhaps, it is because we have not taken the time to meditate upon His Word and allow His Word to become deeply embedded in our souls and spirit.

If we allow Holy Spirit to guide us in all we do–after having meditated and studied The Word–He will keep us on the path of life that God has designed for us. If we don’t study and meditate upon The Word in order to receive revelation knowledge–Holy Spirit won’t be able to get through to us for we have not anchored The Word in our hearts.

Think about these things, calmly and meditate upon God’s Word without distraction or interruption and see what He is able to show you.

 

Taking Time To Meditate!

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who mediates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

One of the most common responses from a Christian when asked how they’re doing is, “I’m blessed!” But are they really blessed as implied by The Word? From the Hebrew and the Greek, the word, blessed–means to be happy or happiness. So if we exchange the word blessed in this Psalm, the beginning would say, “Happy is the one…” If people are so blessed–happy–why is the church–the Body of Christ–in such a sad state?

Are we truly happy? Are we meditating on God’s Word, day and night or we just playing at memorizing The Word and think we have accomplished something?

From the dictionary, blessed also means to be divinely favored or selected or fortunate–from a purely biblical perspective–it is an adjective (words that describe).

To meditate on something (from the Hebrew and Greek) means to study, or declare. Do we truly meditate on The Word? Do we study it in order to declare it?

From the dictionary, to meditate (action word–verb) means to contemplate, engage, reflect and introspect–all which require deliberate actions.

One of the reasons the Psalmist can say that a person is happy when they are obedient to God’s Word is because the Psalmist has a relationship with God and hears Him, when He speaks–providing instruction and insight as to how He wants us to live.

Can we truly say we spend time with God, studying His Word, hearing Him provide us with insight as to the meaning or context of what He’s saying? Or are we more content to rely upon others to tell us what they think about God’s Word?

These questions keep cropping up in my spirit because of what I observe in others–those supposedly teaching The Word. Based upon my understanding of what I have studied, I see many who are merely teaching God’s Word out of traditional leanings, with no true understanding. The focus is more on a moan or a groan-coming from them–which is unintelligible for others to understand. So, if what we say is unintelligible (not understood), how do we claim that it is teaching? For in order to teach anyone, anything, what we say and do must be understood.

If I’m stepping on toes today, good! We all need someone to remind us that we have not arrived at perfection and when it comes to teaching God’s Word, we should always meditate–study it so we can give clear understanding, before we attempt to teach it to anyone.

I am setting aside time for deliberate meditation upon Psalm 119 in the coming weeks. This is not just to memorize it–since I tend to be extremely forgetful–but to understand it–in its entirety and to be able to line it up with the rest of God’s Word. For all of God’s Word should line up–it’s context should never change even one scripture.

The World is changing and from what I can see–we are in dire need of understanding–all of God’s Word as Paul tells Timothy, ” Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” (I Timothy 4:15 NKJV)

And that is precisely what I plan to do–give myself entirely to concentrating on The Word, one verse at a time. So, if you are inclined to read my understanding every day, great! If not, oh well. If you know Psalm 119 well enough to teach me, don’t hesitate to comment on what I say. I am very teachable and sometimes–I may not hear God completely, but it’s not because I’m not listening–traditional perceptions sometimes get in the way.

Here’s to getting the traditional perceptions out of the way so I can clearly understand what the Psalmist is saying to us–from then to now–in the 21st century and how it applies to our lives in this changing world.

 

 

 

Speak Holy Spirit!

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26 NIV).

When I read this (probably for the 100th time) today, I was reminded of people who say they were called into ministry, but never saw the need to study before getting up before people to preach. Their philosophy was that Holy Spirit would tell them what to say. Part of what they believed was based upon this verse of scripture. They misunderstood it–but then–for those who do not read, but rely upon others to “tell them” anything, this is what happens. And this is how mis-teachings about what God has said are promoted.

The role of Holy Spirit is to “remind us” of what we’ve been told, speaking on behalf of the Father, not Himself. So, if we’ve never known or studied anything, how can we be reminded of it?

Now, Holy Spirit can “reveal” and teach us whatever He has been told to say. I love it when Holy Spirit reveals The Word–with clarification to me.  I’m not the only person He reveals things to and I would never be so presumptuous in thinking that I am. Anyone–absolutely anyone–in relationship with God can and will hear Holy Spirit speak to them, bringing understanding and insight into His Word and He will never say anything God has not already said.

This is why I feel it is such a tragedy when those–who have garnered trust and respect–about their knowledge, twist God’s Word to appease those who are only interested in appeasing their flesh. The common justification used for the promotion of homosexuality is that Jesus said nothing about “it” and those who promote the twisting and outright lie, use the segment of scripture when the woman “caught in adultery” was brought to Jesus. And before people get their bloomers tied in knots–and want to start labeling me–anything, I have said this before.  Jesus did not say anything about “specific” sins, He encompassed them all when He told the woman to “go and sin no more.” Sin is sin and there is not one greater than another.

I am not homophobic–as I have been called at other times–I have no fear of being anything I know I am not. Nor do I have any hatred towards anyone–hating takes too much time and I will  not spend my time hating anyone, for any reason. My time is far too valuable for that. But I will teach The Word and for all who are interested in learning and establishing a relationship with God–I will say what Holy Spirit puts upon my heart to say.

But getting back to the verse at-hand. We are given a clear understanding of Holy Spirit’s role in our lives. When in doubt–ask Him–hear Him when He speaks and trust that He is speaking what God is giving Him to say. In order to know that Holy Spirit is speaking, one must know what God has already said in His Word and know that God is not changing His mind nor will He oppose Himself. After all, when a king makes a proclamation and it is put in writing–even He cannot change it!

SPEAK, Holy Spirit–our hearts and minds are open to hearing what You have to say to us, this day!

Thorough Confusion!

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (I Corinthians 14:33).

Where there is confusion, God is not there!

Where there is unrest, God is not there.

Where there is chaos, God is not there.

Where there is no peace, God is not there.

Where there is fear, God is not there.

Where there is division, God is not there.

Where there is hatred, God is not there.

Where God is–peace abides.

Where God is–love reigns.

Where God is–His Word lives within.

Where God is–there is hope.

Where God is–there is unity of the Spirit of Christ with our spirits.

When God is not given control over a situation–whether in the home, the community or a nation, confusion is bound to rise and with it–unrest, hatred, and fear. We have no need to fear anything or anyone, if the Spirit of the Lord, abides within us.

If our faith is in man, we do God an injustice, for He has warned us to not place our trust in man, but in Him alone. Our misplaced faith is the cause of confusion, terror, and disobedience to God.

No man (or woman) should ever have a priority in our lives when it comes to seeking truth about God’s Word. He and He alone is worthy of our praise and He and He alone has the answer to all of our questions. When a person thinks they have all the answers, they are deluded because they do not know all the questions. Ignoring God–and a thorough study of His Word--leads to thorough confusion since everyone who has not sought God, will have their own interpretation of what He has said.

God does not tell us to just “read His Word,” but to study–to show ourselves approved by Him–a workman that need not be ashamed when they are accurately teaching The Word!

What does it mean to study The Word? One must understand that every event in history is not recorded in the Bible because if it was, no one would be able to have access to it, but one must understand the events in history in order to know the Bible’s representation of certain events are true.  Then, one must understand who every writer of the Bible was addressing, what was happening when they spoke or wrote, and to whom they were addressing their instructions and warnings. Every scripture can be confirmed when one knows how to align them with one another. One must also understand how language plays an important part from the Old to the New Testament. One must have an ability to understand inference, and when figurative language is used versus literal implication. There is no verse of scripture that stands alone, but all intertwine for our good, so we can know God’s truth, not man’s thoughts.

If there is thorough confusion in your home, your neighborhood, or nation–God is not there, but we know who initiates the confusion. God is the author and finisher of our faith–not mankind. 

Reminding!

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:14,15 NIV).

What things should we remind people to do?

We should act in accordance to all God has said and model our behavior after Him who came to show us the way. We must endure–stand firm on The Word–and never back down–when the enemy strikes envy and hatred into the hearts of those who either doubt or don’t know God and how He wants us to live. We must be faithful–to Him–not necessarily man/woman–in all things. Just He is faithful to us, we must be faithful to Him, knowing it is He who holds our eternal awards.

The only way we can present ourselves to God and get His approval for what we do, is to do all things according to His Word. If we do not know His Word, we cannot live according to His Word. We must study The Word–not just read it–in order to understand what God is saying and so we’ll be able to share it with others–with clear understanding and never be ashamed for our lack of understanding.

There are those who think that because they quote scripture–chapter and verse–that are superior to everyone else. It would be absolutely wonderful if they also understood what the scriptures meant–the context in which things were said, when it was said, to whom it was said, who said it, and the purpose for which it was said.

When we understand The Word, then and only then can we correctly share our understanding with others.

When we understand The Word, we know that we should never get into arguments with others about our understanding. God reveals understanding of His Word to those who will receive it and not just to those who think their educational experience gives them an edge. If we have not the Spirit of God living within us, no amount of “formal education” will reveal to us the truth of God’s Word for our lives and we certainly won’t be able to share it accurately with others.

So, it is not just having a remarkable memory of The Word that means much–it is our understanding of The Word, our living The Word, and our ability in sharing The Word with others and bringing them into right relationship with God that matters.

Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to open ourselves to hear You and receive understanding from You so we will not mislead people, teaching inaccurate understanding of Your Word. Remind us daily, by Holy Spirit, how we are to live that honors You!

What’s In Your Heart?

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11 NIV).

When I first acknowledged God’s calling on my life for ministry over 25 years ago, I said to Him, “You have to teach me Your Word before I can teach it to anyone else.” How naive is that? God knew what I knew and He knew that I would not attempt to tell anyone something that I did not understand. After all, He created me and knows everything about me.

At any rate, I studied–not just read–the bible. I read various translations and spent hours in the library getting an understanding of history–the culture, dress codes, military protocol, everything pertaining to the era of the Old Testament and The New. I spent tons of money on books, comparing and aligning what was said to the bible. And while I was studying, I was praying--“Lord, what does this mean? How can I make sense of this in one place, when you seem to say something different in another? I need insight and confirmation to make sure I’m on the right track.” I said a lot more than this, but I don’t have time or room for all the conversations we had.

But because He is God and because He is good, He always responded to me. He led me to a school of study. He constantly provided me with revelation into His Word and even now, He is yet revealing Himself as I continue to study. By year three into my studies, I began to understand how “hiding the word in my heart” would keep me from sinning against God. When the Word is so deeply embedded into our hearts, every time we think about doing something that is not of God, the Word rises and convicts. If we think we have forgotten, but are willing to hear from Holy Spirit, He will remind of us everything we have been taught.

Now, if we haven’t been taught anything, if we haven’t studied to understand, if we haven’t sought God to make sure we’re on the right track, Holy Spirit cannot bring anything to our remembrance. Nothing in–nothing out. We have to make sure that there is a constant “deposit” of the Word in our hearts, so when we need to make a “withdrawal” we don’t come up having “NSF” (insufficient information) to ward off the attacks of the devil.

When I see some of the things that people say in their conversations online, I know they have not sought God for understanding; they are simply mimicking what someone else has said. When I hear preachers mangle the Word in a message, I know they have not sought God and they certainly have not studied The Word. When people say or type comments about the bible being contradictory, I know they do not understand who God was speaking to and why–for that particular time in history. The bible is not contradictory.  God is not a man that He should lie or contradict Himself. When we understand mankind’s history, we get a better understanding of who God is and just how much He loves us.

Want to do yourself a favor and others and fight off every attack from the enemy? Get into the Word and get understanding so when you’re tempted by the lust of your flesh, you’ll have something to fight with in the spirit and win!  When the Word is hidden in our hearts, you will immediately recognize the counterfeiters who change God’s Word and lie to accommodate themselves.

Nevertheless, Lord pour out understanding upon all who are willing to receive and place desire in their hearts to want to know Your Word and You better.

New Traditions!

“And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions” (Mark 7:9 NIV)!

When Jesus was having this conversation with the Pharisees (temple leadership/church leaders) in response to their criticism of Him, He reminded them how they had changed The Word of God in order for them to control what the people did.  He made sure they understood that what they had given value or importance, overriding what God had said, was not important at all, especially when it was done for profit.

More specifically, He tried to get them to understand that it is not the externals or external things we do that defile us, but those things that reside deep within that defile the body.  Let’s look at it this way.  If mere observance of ceremonial traditions had been enough to get us back into a right relationship with God, there would have been no need for God to come down, in the likeness of flesh, to redeem us.  It is not what we do to gain the praise of men that keeps us in right relationship, but what we do that honors God by following His commands–Love Him, Love Each Other.

Let’s start some new traditions–ones that will honor God–study The Word, Share The Word, Take care of family, Provide for the poor and needy, and Love unconditionally all with whom you meet.

 

The Importance of Study

Everyone has an opinion about the various issues that arise on a daily basis.  Some people even have a foundation for their opinion, but then there are those who just like to talk to hear themselves talking.  They always have something to say–always voicing an opinion–with no basis for saying what they say.  If asked why they think what they think, they can’t explain it.

When it comes to the bible–many people have the same attitude–an opinion with no basis for it.  Paul tells us  through his letter to Timothy to “study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”  Let me simplify it.  Don’t just open your mouth, spewing thoughts that you cannot support, trying to impress someone with your intelligence when usually, the only impression they get is of a person who is very ignorant of the facts.  Study–put some time into what you want to discuss.  Define words you don’t know.  Learn to use them in an appropriate context.  Get some background information–know the history of the issue.   Study the Word within the context of a study of history, culture and societal norms within a given era.  Study–to have something worthwhile to say.  Honor God with the words that escape from your mouth, showing Him that you understand what He said and that you can break it down to the simplest form so that even a child could understand it.  Study before speaking.

Help us O God to set aside time to study what You have said so when we speak, we do not dishonor You!