- HOW DOES BIBLICAL EDUCATION LEAD TO BIBLICAL APPLICATION? WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
- "A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't" -Charles Spurgeon
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." -Joshua 1:8
For the Christian success is found in how well one keeps the word. Biblical success starts in the Bible. Joshua's Bible was the Pentateuch, that is the writings of Moses - the first 5 books of the Bible. For us it is the entirety of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. But how exactly are we going to see biblical prosperity and success? God tells us here, just as He told Joshua before he entered into the promised land. There are three godly habits we must practice in order to achieve biblical success. Number one: we must make it a habit of reading and hearing God's word, this is what is meant by "This Book shall not depart from your mouth". The discipline of hearing the word being spoken and taught-sitting under solid teaching, and reading it out loud for ourselves will increase our faith and help us grow. The Bible says that 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17) The idea is that we keep God's word close to our lips and ears - that we are faithful to study and know it for ourselves. Number two: If we are "to do according to all that is written in it" we must first think and meditate on all that is written in it. God's word isn't limited to the ears and lips but it should penetrate into our hearts and minds, there we must store it and constantly ponder it. David a man after God's own heart put it like this "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You." It is like having a bank account you can't take anything out unless you put something in. You see the more we meditate in God's word the more saturated we'll be and thus the more rooted we will become. "Day and night" it says but the idea is that of something done throughout the day, in our rising and in our going. If we have been faithful in hearing and the studying it we can ponder it throughout our day and allow it to germinate in our hearts and minds. Number three: Once we achieve a healthy diet of the pure milk of the word we can then begin to eat meat by observing all that is in it - by being doers and not hearers only. When we follow through on God's precepts we will go from hearing and thinking, to doing, and from doing God's word to seeing God's word actualized in our life. Joshua was successful and won many battles because he observed, interpreted, and applied the word. Where do you find success?
"Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory" -Josh 1:3-4
Moses has died at the age of 120 on Mt. Nebo. God is now calling a new servant to lead the Israelites into the promised land. This new leader is Joshua whom Moses had been raising up. Deut 34:9 says "Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses." Joshua was to now lead about three million people into the land God had promised them. Moses being a type of the law could not get the people over into the promised land. Joshua (Hebrew for Jesus) being a type of the savior was able to "cross" the people over into the promised land, something the law could never do. Similarly Christ is who crosses us over into the promises of heaven and all the blessings under grace here on earth. God spoke to Joshua and gave him a very encouraging word, a word that would help cross over with confidence into all that God had for him. Whatever soil Joshua stepped on would be his and the nation of Israel's. His every step would be a realization of God's word to him. However if we compare all of the land that God promised them to the land they ended up possessing we can see that Israel settled for less than all God had in store for them, about ten percent less would be the common calculation. Israel ended up taking about 30,000 sq. miles of the 300,000 promised to them. If they had all of the land promised to them today Israel would possess all of the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, parts of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and part of Saudi Arabia. Surely there is a time coming when another Joshua (Jesus) will step down on earth once again and lead His people into all of God's promises.
This same Jesus is our victor and our conqueror who leads us and will continue to lead us in all of His promises. However if we are to experience much of what God has for us here and now we must be faithful in taking steps of faith and obedience as we follow closely behind Him. Every time we choose to linger in our walk, call it quits on our faith, or stray from the path, we are settling for less than what God has set before us. God has more for you than you can imagine, His plans for us are greater than we can see and perceive, He sees not who we think we are but we can be and will be if we tread on faithfully in His footsteps.
"Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God," -2 Cor 3:1-3, 5
Not long after I became the senior pastor of the church I pastor I experienced one of my first trials as a pastor. However this trial did not come from inside the church but it came from outside of it. I had already been ordained by the previous pastor, and the elders, and the rest of the present body had laid hands on me in recognition of this calling. But apparently there was another "approval" that I needed to receive if I was to be legit (at least that's what I thought). I was to meet a regional pastor of another church get his approval or hand of recommendation then have my application with reference letters sent to the lead regional pastor for his approval. For the longest I had my application sent back to me to be revised and was encouraged to go to Bible college. I really felt like there was something else going on. When I checked on the regional website for my church the title I held was "Interim Pastor" I felt very discouraged as if I wasn't a real pastor or really called to be a pastor. I felt like David probably felt in the cave while running from Saul, David had been anointed but Saul wouldn't recognize that calling, yet David wasn't to force his way into the new role but trust in God to place him in it. It was a tough time for me mentally because I was trying to find my approval in a piece of paper and in another's hand of approval when I already had God's hand of approval in the church I pastored. The Lord just told me to leave it alone and find my sufficiency in Him and His calling on my life. I was to focus on what He called me to do as a pastor; to feed His sheep the people He had placed under me, and not worry about matters of external approval. Years later I happened to check the regional website just for fun and I noticed that my name was there now instead of Interim Pastor, but it didn't really do anything for me anymore because I was now sure of my calling.
Paul was being asked to provide letters of commendation by the church he had planted in Corinth, this no doubt came from instigation of the Judaizers and possibly other false teachers. But Paul responded by saying that they themselves, by the evidence of their changed lives were his letter of approval-his commendation, the thing that made him legit. They were open letters testifying of Christ through the work and investment Paul had devoted to them. A tree shall be known by its fruit and Paul had borne much fruit through them. Paul knew that in himself there was nothing special or in any letter of commendation but in God who made him sufficient for all things. God is the one who enables us to touch the lives of other people. It is in our fruit unto God that we find the evidence of our calling. We must find our calling in life, walk in it, and trust God through it. Find your sufficiency in God by impacting the lives of others through your own unique calling and let their lives be your letter of commendation.
Rom 7:6 "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not [in] the oldness of the letter."
Imagine being married to Mr. or Mrs. Perfect. They are always right and never wrong. You wake up next to them every morning to the smell of their minty fresh breath, they get up and bring you breakfast in bed, help with the dishes, then head out to work. At work Mr/Mrs. right always punch in and out on time, not a minute too soon or a minute too late just right. Again you married Mr/Mrs. Perfect. Yet you come to find marriage isn't quite so perfect because when your perfect spouse comes home they begin to notice your imperfections; they let you know there is dust on the ceiling fan, that your food wasn't warm enough. The marriage would be great if it wasn't for your imperfections. In Romans chapter 7 Paul also gives us an illustration of our old relationship to the law of God. Before Christ we were under the law, we were married to the law. The law is perfect but we are not so it always pointed out our imperfections like a mirror constantly before us showing us our flaws. But in Christ we have now been delivered from the law, we have died to the law, and risen again with Christ- He is our groom and we are His bride. Death brought about our deliverance from the law. The law is perfect it is not wrong it does what it was meant to do--show us our sins and thus point us to Christ. Paul told the Galatians "the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Gal 3:24 KJV) The law is perfect we are not, but Christ has fulfilled the law and we have died to the law and are alive again unto Christ being born-again of the Spirit. God desires a loving relationship with you not a legal contract, it isn't that we are forced to serve and nothing else, it's that we get to serve nothing else. We serve in the newness of the spirit not in the oldness of the letter as Paul says. Much of the law was foreshadowing of who was to come ie. Jesus Christ! In Him we fulfill the law as we love Him and as we love one another, Christ is our fulfillment. And all He desires is a true personal relationship with us. If now being in Christ we attempt to somehow justify ourselves by keeping the law we miss the point and are accountable to keep the whole law. No the law is a good friend in Christ but a terrible spouse, the law must be now kept in the friend zone. While we don't kill, lie or steal it is not to keep the law but a response to the righteousness instilled in us through Christ. So drop the tablet and carry the cross.
"The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' 18 "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly." -John 4:16-18
In John chapter 4 Jesus has a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman. Jesus was alone sitting besides an ancient well and His disciples had left to find some food, when this woman came out to fetch some water. Jesus engaged her in conversation and asked her for regular water, and before you know it He is offering her "living water" that is eternal life in Him and a Spirit filled life. (7:37-39) This prompted the woman to inquire and thirst for this living water. But there was something else that needed to be addressed before she could freely partake of this water, and that was her sin. Our loving Jesus subtly but effectively pointed out her sins. (sexual immorality) This woman like all of us needed to acknowledge her sins and be willing to repent before truly coming to Christ. One must come openly if they are to receive freely from Christ. When we profess the good news we must not shy away from telling people what Jesus exactly came to save us from...sin, and un-confessed sin (or willfully hidden) will prevent us from truly coming to Christ. This truth is also practically seen among the saints (believers). John later went on to write "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (1 Jn 1:9-10) It is in the pattern of the born-again believer to agree with God continually by admitting their sins and always seeking full fellowship with Him through confession and repentance. The more open we are the freely we can receive on a practical level. But if we deny our sin, or attempt to justify ourselves before others, or before the living God then we shouldn't expect this. Remember salvation might be free but sin was costly, sin is the most expensive thing in the world, just look to the cross it cost Him His life. Two things; don't shy away from preaching the bad news alongside the good news, and remember to keep short accounts with God knowing that sin separates us from His love and the fullness of His dynamic Spirit in our life.
Phil 3:12-13 "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,"
Archers take into account the wind and use the laws of aerodynamics to their advantage. When trying to reach far away targets archers have to aim forward and higher to reach a greater distance. We are like archers in the sense that we also have a target to reach and a goal to obtain in Christ. We must take into account our spiritual condition and use all the spiritual tools given to us for our advantage if we are to meet that goal. Paul understood this and encourages us to do the same by forgetting those things that are behind us and reaching forward toward all that lies ahead of us in Christ. Past failures and sins can discourage us from moving forward if we don't stop reminding ourselves of them. Present sin as well can hinder us from reaching our full potential in Christ. I find it interesting that archers say they "sinned" when they miss their target, or bull's eye. Strong's concordance defines the word also as "to miss the mark". Sin will cause us to miss our target in Christ; the changes He wants to make in our life, the blessings that come from obedience, and the impact we have in this world for Him! What target are you aiming at? What goals do you have? Are they merely financial and educational goals? Or do you also set goals for yourself in the lord? Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith and He will help us to walk in all He has waiting for us, ultimately we will have all of Him and He all of us. So aim high and develop a forward motion!
"Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit." -Eph 5:17-18
Part of the Lord's will for our life is to redeem our time on earth, that is to make the most out of every opportunity. (5:16) And the way we go about this is, is by purposely avoiding our fleshly inclinations. One being alcoholism, and any use of things that are meant to intoxicate us and lower our decision making abilities. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I did things I now regret because of alcoholism. Fleshly habits can be hard to break. But God's will isn't just for us to break those habits alone but to replace them with godly habits lest we fall into them again and again. The godly habit presented here is the continuous filling of the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is something done by faith, the filling is God's grace on our life, and we cannot earn grace or work for it, grace is a gift. We are saved by grace through faith not by works, (2:18) similarly we are filled also by God's grace through faith. The Greek on the 2nd half of verse 18 (concerning the filling) is in the present active imperative form, which means two things; to be filled is a command not a suggestion, secondly it is continual and not a one time thing. We must continuously seek to be filled through faith, and God is faithful to do that in His grace through the Holy Spirit who already indwells us. Alcohol is a downer but the empowerment of the Spirit is a "pick me upper" if that makes any sense. God wants us to put away the things that will distract us from doing His will in our life here on earth and pick up the things (more of Him) that will enable us to soberly serve Him to the best of our abilities. So build up and cultivate a sober dependency on the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to make the best of your time here on earth!
"..two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." -Ecc 4:11-12
We've seen how having and being a friend is good; friends are there to help each other out, and success is a team effort. Life can be cold but friends should never be. A true companion will help you rough out hard weather, they'll be there with you through the hard times even if they aren't always there for the easy ones. When there is persecution or attack a friend will stand behind you. An untrue friend will stab you in the back but a true friend will have your back. These are concepts that even the world understands; 2 is greater than one simple enough right? But Solomon in his wisdom doesn't stop there, he goes on to say that "Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." This is interesting in that he further elongates the principle of strength in numbers. Yes two is greater than one but three is even better because three is greater than two. Rope consists of triple braided cords, and like a rope friends, families, and brother & sisters in Christ can get a lot done for Christ when they stand in unity, oneness of mind, togetherness, and strength. But when there is division within friendships, in the home, or in the church we become unstranded and thus vulnerable in that area. Like a chain we are only as strong as our weakest link.
Ecc 4:10 "For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up." NLT
I once read a story about 2 men who were shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island. They both agreed to pray to God for their survival. They divided the island in half by drawing a line across it; one half for one guy and the other half for the other. They did this as an attempt to see whose prayers would be more successful. The first man prayed for food and the next day he noticed a fruitful tree on his side of the island, meanwhile the 2nd guy had no fruit. After a week the 1st guy was lonely and so he prayed for a wife, the next morning a ship wrecked and a woman washed ashore on his side of the island, but the 2nd man had no one. The first man prayed for a house, clothes, and more food, and sure enough he got those things too, all the while the 2nd man still had nothing. Some time later the 1st man prayed for a boat to rescue them, the next day a boat washed ashore. The first man climbed on with his wife, and belongings, but didn't bother to tell his old friend about it. He thought that because God didn't answer any of his prayers that maybe it was fitting for him to stay in his current condition. As he was about to sail away a voice from heaven suddenly said "Why are you leaving your friend on the island?" The man justified himself by saying that his prayers were answered but his friend's weren't. The voice from heaven rebuked him by saying "You are mistaken, if it weren't for his prayer you'd still be stuck on the island and empty handed." "What did he pray" asked the first man..the voice then said "he prayed that all your prayers would be answered!"
It is our responsibility as brothers and sisters in Christ to help each other out, and to keep each other's spiritual and physical well being in always in prayer. (3 Jn 1:2) Just like these two landed on a deserted island and one helped the other, so too the scriptures speak about how two friends who get in a bind together can help each other out of it. The danger however lies when one isolates and attempts to do everything him or herself even though there's someone right next to them willing to help. Husbands and wives you are to be each other's best friend, you are to be there for one another, serving one another, fulfilling each other's needs and love languages, and always keeping each other in prayer. This way no matter what the night may bring you will have one another to strengthen each other. In this way both get through any obstacle together. Paul says in Galatians 6:2 to "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." It is our dutiful obligation as followers of Christ to help a brother out!
Ecc 4:9 "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed." NLT
The Christian life is not a solo thing. There's no such thing as a "Rambo" Christian--one who does his/her own thing and only reports to base every now and then. The Greek name for church refers to a gathering of "called out" people. We were called out of the world and into the fellowship, not the other way around. We find our strength in numbers and in unity. However not just because we "attend" church together means that we are in unity together. Unity is found when more than one make it there aim to help eachother succeed! This is true in every area of life; businesses, sports, government, families etc. We are the body of Christ on earth, we are His hands and feet, and we are to work together with our unique strengths, gifts, and abilities to further the kingdom of God here and now! When we go out witnessing we go out two by two just as Jesus sent them out two by two, there is strength in that, two people willing to work together for the same outcome can achieve greater results. The pattern we see in our very beginning is also the same; God saw His creation and said it was good but it wasn't till "number two" came along, the helper (Eve) that God said "it is very good". Adam needed help to be successful in fulfilling God's commands on earth, and so do we. Remember 2 is greater than 1 and success is a team effort. Don't try to do it all on your own, receive help and be a help.