June 25, 2015

Interpreting Correctly

Lately, I have noticed a lot of error when preachers preach the Word of God. It bothers me when this happens, almost as much as when someone runs their fingers down a chalkboard. I am not a Bible scholar, by any means, and I often make mistakes when I interpret Scripture, yet still there is a part of me that recoils when I hear someone misuse the Word.

I have always been this way, ever since I was a child, and I believe it is one of the spiritual gifts God has given to me to use to help the Church defend itself against apostasy. I think about this often, and I wonder why the Lord would give this gift to me of all people. I mean, I am terrible when it comes to memorizing Scripture. I do my best, but often what I remember are impressions of verses rather than the word-for-word retelling. I know some people who can rifle off Bible verses, quoting chapter and verse, and they know it, I mean, they know what the words mean. I envy those people (in a good way) because I wish I could do that too. Instead, I am one of those people who says "the Word says this in John" because that is all that I can recall. I can remember the story, though, and that is what I share. I would like to be able to be as accurate as possible with the Word, but I fall short so often, so very often.

When my son was little, we did AWANA. I loved AWANA's emphasis on memorizing Scripture. My son had a very good memory so he always did well in his books. I remember 2 Timothy 2:15, which is the key verse for the program:

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

I love this verse in the NLT. It says it this way in the Message (verses 14-18), which adds emphasis to draw out Paul's meaning,

Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul. Hymenaeus and Philetus are examples, throwing believers off stride and missing the truth by a mile by saying the resurrection is over and done with.

I love what the Peterson's translation is saying in this passage. When it says, "words are not mere words," I hear my heart cheering. The translation goes on to say "if they [words] are not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul." Oh, my goodness! How many people, preachers and bible teachers, appear as poisonous because they speak one thing, but do something diffierent!

My heart cries out with the Psalmist, when he says,

Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk and live in Your truth; direct and unite my heart [solely, reverently] to fear and honor Your name. I will confess and praise You, O Lord my God, with my whole (united) heart; and I will glorify Your name forevermore (Psalm 86:11-12 AMP)

I pray to the Lord, and I ask Him daily to not let me lead people astray. May I never use my words to lead people away from the Lord Jesus Christ. May I never include extra-biblical instruction as anything other than suggested advice that can encourage Godly living. May I only seek to lead people to the foot of the cross, and into the loving and forgiving arms of the Savior. May it never be anything about me, Lord. May it always be everything about you, Lord! Selah!

Today, I think about these things. I think about the truth of the Word, and I wonder about the apostasy that is here and that is coming in the future. Apostasy is defined as "the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief." In the Bible, it is described as a "falling away" by believers, a turning away from the truth of the Word of God in order to follow after the ways of the world. We read Paul's exhortation in 2 Thessalonians, verses 1-4, where he states,

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,  who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

This great apostasy is coming soon. We already see it as people are choosing to change their status from Christian to spiritual, to move from an evangelical position to a normalized position. More and more people who once professed Christ are choosing to live a life more normalized to the center of postmodern thought, to accept normalized views that run contrary to the Word of God, but are acceptable by the majority of people in the world. We must not lose our focus. We must not lose our direction. The Lord is coming back soon, and we must stand firm until the day of His return! Selah!

As I consider my life, and I see my own situation, my heart at times becomes overwhelmed with sorrow, with panic, and with grief for those who are lost. I see them, and I hear them, and I want them so much to find the sweet peace of forgiveness. I want them to come to the Lord, and to be restored to Him. There is great blessing in being restored, in being in a right relationship with the Lord. I want so much for them to experience the Lord, to truly experience the blessing of peace that comes from knowing Him. Selah!

Today is a good day, a very good day. I am blessed, and I am strongly encouraged to "keep on, keeping on," and I know that while I may not understand everything that is going on in this world, I do know enough to see the times and the signs of the times. I see the end, and I see that it is coming soon. Selah!

Ephesians 6:10-12 KJV says it this way,

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

We must remember that we are at war. We are in a spiritual battle, and we fight against that which we cannot see. Yet, we suffer as a result, and therefore, we must remain strong, and keep our faith in the Lord. We must dress for battle, putting on the full armor of God, and being prepared for the attack. 

I am most guilty of forgetting this step. I rely on the Lord, I seek the Lord, I run to the Lord, but I forget to dress for battle. The enemy takes his shots, and I suffer. I am wounded, and down I go. I feel the onslaught, and I become terrified. Yet the Lord has not left me without protection. I have his full armor to protect me, and it is up to me, to put it on every single day.

Today is a good day to be protected by the armor of the Lord. I choose to stand ready for battle, armed and prepared, because I know my enemy and his tactics. He knows my weaknesses too, and he hits me where it hurts most, my need for provision and for protection. The enemy knows that what I long for most is financial security, to have enough every day, and that when I do not have enough or feel that I do not have enough, I panic. Once I get into panic mode, he strikes, and he hits me where it hurts most. I know his route, and I must defend against it. If my flank is weak, then I must protect my flank. I must place barriers there to keep that side strong. My need for provision is not something I can easily overcome, unless I choose to walk outside the Lord's will for my life. I believe that I am where He wants me, so I must trust and rest in His provision for me. That means that to protect my weakness, where I am most prone to fall, I need to shore up my arsenal with Biblical words that counteract the claims of the devil. Therefore, when he accuses me,

Has God really said He would provide for you? Look at what you lack? Sure He has forgotten His promise to you...

I need to respond with words that say the opposite, such as...

“He prayed, “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like You in all of heaven and earth. You keep Your promises and show unfailing love to all who obey You and are eager to do Your will” (2 Chronicles 6:14 KJV).

When the devil says that God is being slow in answering my prayer or in keeping His word to me, I must respond with...

"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent" (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

You see, it is the Word of God that defeats the enemy. For those of us that know the Word, we must remember that it is our best defense. The Word comforts us, encourages us, teaches us, corrects us...but it also is a mighty weapon. Ephesians 6:13-17 tells us that our armor includes the following:

Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

This says to me that as a Child of God, we have everything we need to withstand the evil day, to face the enemy, and to quench the flaming missiles that he launches at us. We have the truth; integrity, moral rectitude, and right standing before God; the Gospel of Peace; saving faith; salvation; and the Word of God.

Therefore, we can be victorious over every assault. We will win, if we use the tools that God has given to us. We lose the battle when we forget or we do not choose to arm ourselves well. I know this is my case entirely. I have lost so many battles because I have forgotten to put on my armor. Then I have forgotten to use the equipment in battle. The Word of God is alive, it is active, and it is sharper than any living thing. We must remember that God has not left us to defend the enemy on our own. We must look to Him, to our Victor and our Champion, and we must fight the good fight, and run the race of faith, staying strong until the end. Selah!

No comments: