And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
Father’s Day began in America around 1910. Most credit “Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, whose father, a Civil War veteran, raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth” for beginning its observance (“Father’s Day,” History.com). Father’s Day was a religious holiday before being commercialized by greeting cards and gifts. It became a national holiday in 1966, and in 1972 the third Sunday of June was officially designated Father’s Day.
The Bible teaches the value of fathers. Far more than mere progenitors, fathers shape future generations and thus, nations and the world (not to mention churches). Their value cannot be overstated. We thank God for the gift of godly fathers and ask Him to continue to bless us with faithful fathers.
O Lord, give us fathers who will listen. We need fathers who listen first to God and hear from His Scriptures the words of wisdom needed to direct their households in the path of righteousness. We pray for fathers who listen to their children to hear their hopes and dreams and to encourage their aspirations – and for fathers who hear their children’s cries for help in times of doubt and despair. We pray for fathers who listen to their wives, the mothers of their children, and glean from them wise counsel as a trusted companion (Prov 31:10-12).
O Lord, give us fathers who will learn. How we desperately need fathers who will learn the word of God, live it before their children and also teach it to the next generation (Psa 78:1-8)! We need fathers who are humble and willing to learn; who rely on God’s truth to guide them as they nurture their children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Fathers are needed who will pray with Manoah, “O my Lord, teach us what we shall do for the child” (Judges 13:8).
O Lord, give us fathers who will lead. We need fathers who willingly accept their role as leaders of their families, accepting the responsibility and the sacrifice that comes with it. These fathers are a blessing to their families (Eph 5:23; 6:4; 1 Tim 3:4).
O Lord, give us fathers who will love. We plead for fathers who fully love the Lord and who teach their children to love God (cf. Deut 6:4-9). We need fathers who love their children by correcting them in love (Heb 12:5-7). Fathers are needed who love their children’s mother and by that love show their children how to love their future spouses.
Faithful fathers deserve our honor every day: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mothers…that it may be well with you…” (Eph 6:1-2)
Cows, Frogs, Madonna or the Word?
Several years ago while preaching in Eastern Europe, a nice young woman came up to me and asked if she could tell me something. When I told her that I would be happy to speak with her, she launched into a truly bizarre story. She told me that God spoke to her out of a spaceship. She further claimed that after the space ship, God spoke to her through a horse, a cow, a light fixture, a frog and an image of the Madonna.
Though she seemed sincere, I did not decide to abandon Bible study to begin searching the night sky for a divine spaceship or pursuing an intelligent looking frog. I seriously doubt any of those reading this article would suggest that method of determining God’s will either. Why? Because we recognize that God does not deliver His truth through a holy cow, but through the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:14-17).
Why do people not use the same simple logic when trying to determine if the teaching they hear in the religious world is the truth of the Bible? Does God intend for various groups to reach opposing views from His word or is the Bible intended to bring us to unity by eliminating errors and promoting a way of truth? How does God tell us what He approves? The fact is that God commands and expects us to understand His will: “Wherefore, be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). So, how can we do what God commands and expects us to do?
Paul’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:15 will help us to answer these questions.
The word translated “rightly dividing” referred to teaching accurately or expounding soundly. Thus, God teaches us something through the Bible and we are to accurately determine what that message is. Unlike the teaching done by many in the denominational world, the Bible says that we can understand the will of God (2 Timothy 2:7; John 7:17; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 1:9; Ephesians 5:17).
This end of understanding God’s truth can only be reached as one is “diligent” in using God’s word. The King James Version uses the word “study” to translate the word rendered “be diligent” in most other English versions of the Bible. The original word carried the sense of “making every effort” to do a thing. One is not diligent in the use of the Bible when he casually looks at it for a few moments two or three times a week or less. Diligence demands a systematic and thorough examination of God’s word every day of one’s life. That kind of diligent effort was under consideration by the psalmist of old who described the blessed man in these terms:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
Psalm 119 as a whole depicts the one who loves the law of God as continually considering God’s word and meditating upon it so as to properly know and apply it. This suggests that there is a high degree of diligence needed if one is to rightly discern and practice God’s will as God expects. However, that kind of dedication to pursue a full understanding of divine truth is sadly lacking in the majority of people around us.
If most people studied a subject in school as they study Bible subjects, confusion and contradiction would predominate in those areas, too. Suppose you took a course in Shakespearean literature and spent only 30 minutes reading one part of one play before throwing the book down and saying that Shakespeare cannot be understood. Would such a brief attempt to understand the literature justify the conclusion? Would you expect to get a passing grade in the course after such a brief attempt at understanding? How many hours of diligent study would be necessary to comprehend it?
We know the above to be true of seeking knowledge in any area of study, but many expect knowledge of God’s truth to be handed to them with little or no effort on their part. A recent study showed that over 80% of American spend less than 30 minutes each YEAR reading their Bibles! How can one expect to understand the Bible with that little effort?
We must do as Paul commanded Timothy. “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).
We must be as the Bereans of old. The Word of God says of them, “Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Just as it takes work to study and properly understand a subject in school, it takes work to study and properly understand Bible subjects as well. There is no shortcut that negates the need for diligence. If we are to unite in the proper understanding of God’s word, it will require a diligent effort in discerning His truth from the revealed word. It does not just suddenly come to us from a spaceship or a frog.
We must “be diligent to present ourselves approved to God, as workers who do not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Let us never abuse God’s word by improper handling. Instead, we must deeply respect, thoroughly study and properly use it. If we do, we can understand His will and put it into practice as a people united under the guidance of His precepts.
Reason for Hope
Integrity and High Office
Each United States Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives serves about 700,000 constituents; clearly, a high office. When one abuses his power there are investigations, censures and reprimands, resignation and even criminal prosecution.
The latest exhibit of a character flaw in a public official is Congressman Anthony Weiner, who not only engaged in immoral conduct via the internet and texting, but also lied about it (blaming others in his lies). At first he lied aggressively, but finally admitted his dishonesty and lewd conduct with a publicly apology. As of this writing, however, he has not resigned his Congressional seat.
This sordid affair is a vivid reminder that “He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known. He who winks with the eye causes trouble, but a prating fool will fall” (Prov 10:9-10). Lies invariably generate more lies to cover up the previous lies; your sin will find you out. The perverted way of falsehood “will become known” and when it does, the sinner “will fall”. God hates a proud look and a lying tongue (Prov 6:16-17).
The ruler who abuses his power and public trust will answer to God. The mighty king Nebuchadnezzar came to learn that “those who walk in pride He is able to put down”, including those who govern over others (Dan 4:37). David’s prayer for God’s judgment against the wicked is clear: “Let his days be few, and let another take his office” (Psa 109:8). Peter applied this to Judas, and it still applies to those in high office (Acts 1:20).
“It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for the throne is established by righteousness. Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and they love him who speaks what is right” (Prov 16:12-13). A ruler with integrity blesses his people, but a sinful king causes despair. God will remove rulers who do not walk in justice and integrity.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/16/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA