Apply the Word

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it. Psalm 119:34-35 (NASB)

As we spend time reading our Bibles this coming year, let’s remember the ultimate goal. We want to draw closer to Hashem and know Him better.

According to 1 Corinthians 2:13, we, as disciples, are taught by the Ruach HaKodesh and not by men.

Many people take this to mean we don’t need to study the Bible. We can draw our meaning of the text by what the Spirit reveals to us. The history, original language and even what the author intended to say are all ignored in favor of a perceived meaning. Whatever the reader feels is right is accepted, regardless of the context.

But that’s not the meaning of the word “taught”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, teaching involves giving lessons, not just answers. So to teach a subject fully takes time.

In all the classes I’ve taken, I never had an instructor just give me the answers without expecting me to study and think. And sometimes experimentation or hands-on tasks were needed before really learning the lesson.

We see the same process with Yeshua when teaching His disciples in John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. In order to stress how ready the fields were for the harvest, He took them on a field trip to Samaria where they ended up staying for two days.

The actual experience of being hosted by the Samaritans would have made a much larger impression on the disciples that G-d accepted them just as much as the other Jews.

This is much different than just reading the Bible and accepting the first thought that comes into your head.

David understood this and asked Adonai to give him an understanding of His Word. The Holman Christian Standard Bible says:
“Teach me, Lord, the meaning of Your statutes, and I will always keep them.
Help me understand Your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.” (Psalm 119: 33-34).

Our understanding of how to walk out G-d’s Word does not come from within us. There is inherently nothing good in us so we cannot relate to the application of Scripture in our lives. While the meaning may be plain, it is the Ruach HaKodesh that enables us to live out the Word.

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, Who gives us His Spirit to teach us His ways.

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Own the Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New American Standard Bible – NASB)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Have you read the Bible from start to finish, cover to cover, beginning to end?

There’s actually a pretty good chance you have. The research company Barna Group that studies faith-based and religious practices, found that 20% of all Americans claim to have read the Bible completely through (1).

That number includes 61% of practicing Christians. That sounds pretty good; better than I would have guessed. But it also revealed something I found surprising. One in six people (18%) of a faith other than Christianity and even 9% of people who claim no faith have also read the entire Bible.

This means that many other people are also reading the Scriptures, some with a desire to better prepare themselves to argue against it.

We need to be able to answer them and defend our faith. Daily Bible reading is a good way to do this.

It’s not that just reading the Word prepares us to answer any questions, but the reading leads to studying, and studying leads to a deeper, committed faith.

King David recognized this and wrote in Psalm 63:6-8:
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Regular Bible reading is also a way to maintain our faith. This seems pretty obvious and Lifeway Research conducted a study that confirmed a link between daily Bible reading and strong belief in Biblical concepts of repentance and obedience to G-d (2).

This reaffirms Hebrews 4:12 that says that G-d’s Word is alive and able to discern the motives of our thoughts and intentions. And of course, Psalm 119:11 that says treasuring G-d’s Word in our hearts can keep us from sin.

So Bible reading reinforces G-d’s presence and work in our lives. We may not ever hear the audible voice of HaShem calling out to us as some have claimed to, but we can always see His Words printed in black and white.

And that’s important. We need to have a faith that will stand on its own and not rely on anyone else. There’s a difference between agreeing with what someone else says and having the faith to believe it on our own.

Only by making a personal commitment of time and effort to study will we take ownership of the Word in our lives.

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has given us the Word of Truth and Light.

(1) https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/614-the-books-americans-are-reading#.VJVyn0AAN8

(2) http://www.lifeway.com/Article/research-survey-bible-engagement-churchgoers

Walk by Faith

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NASB)
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul continues outlining the difference between the material and the spiritual worlds that we walk in. It can be hard to accept that this earth in its present state is not our final home. We are called to participate in a spiritual realm that we cannot sense but is just as real.

We take part in this spiritual world by walking in faith. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is believing in something we hope for but cannot see. We long and hope to see our Savior but cannot see Him at this time so we have to come to Him in faith that He exists. By continuing in faith we strengthen our belief and encourage each other.

In his sermon, The Difference between Walking by Sight and Walking by Faith, John Wesley had this to say about those who practice walking by faith:
“They think visible things to be of small value, because they pass away like a dream; but, on the contrary, they account invisible things to be of high value, because they will never pass away.”(1)

Those who walk by faith do not pay as much heed to earthly concerns as to spiritual matters. We have a promise from our Father that He will take care of those basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.

What He’s commanded us to do is to engage in the spiritual world through our faith. This is vital to our witness for Yeshua in this world.

Keeping the invisible and eternal in sight will keep us on the right path and make our walk a testimony to those around us.

Wesley also said that they base all their judgments concerning good and evil, not with reference to visible and temporary things, but to things invisible and eternal.

Jonathan Leeman, an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C., puts it this way, “If the Day of Judgment barely flashes on your mental radar, you will often make the wrong calculation.”(2)

When Peter followed Yeshua out of the boat and onto the water, he was fine until he took his eyes off the object of his faith and started looking at the world around him. That was when he began to sink.

It’s when we take our eyes off the invisible and put them on what is visible that we lose sight of eternity.

Make sure to keep your eyes on Yeshua, our Messiah and Savior so your faith will grow strong.

Blessed are you, O L-rd, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who brings the eternal into our view so we can walk towards it by faith.

(1) http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/John-Wesley-Sermons/Sermon-113-The-Difference-between-Walking-by-Sight–and-Walking-by-Faith#sthash.XEGLgO6A.dpuf

(2) http://9marks.org/article/cultural-opposition-lie-down-lean-in-lay-low-or-leave/