“Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.”
God’s word, the Bible (Genesis to Revelation) is not just a history book. It is not just a record of people’s lives and the things that they did and said. It is also not just a book of rules (laws, commands). It is the living and breathing word of God to our hearts and lives. It is one of the ways God speaks to us.
He also speaks to us who are his through his Holy Spirit who lives within us, and who teaches us all things about Jesus, and who reminds us of the things he said and did. The Holy Spirit speaks through the written word of God to us, to give us insight and understanding into God’s truths, and to guide us in how we are to live those truths out in our daily lives.
But the Holy Spirit also speaks to our minds and hearts, in our inner being, as we are going about our daily lives. We don’t hear him audibly with our ears, but we hear his gentle whispers within our being. And he will warn, caution, direct, counsel, encourage, comfort, and teach us, and he will empower us to obey our Lord in living godly and holy lives, pleasing to God.
But there are other voices which speak to our minds and hearts, too, so we must pray for spiritual discernment so that we don’t end up listening to voices we think are from God, but which are not from God. And this is why the Scriptures teach us to test every spirit to see if it is from God. Many people give credit to the Holy Spirit for things not of the Spirit at all.
So, the beautiful thing about God’s Word is that it is him speaking to us. Now, not everything in the Bible is intended for us specifically, for some of it is rules and regulations under the Old Covenant, or it is words spoken to specific people at a specific time in history giving them specific instructions not meant for all. So, we need to study the Scriptures in context.
We can still learn from all Scripture, though, for it is all God-breathed and is profitable for instruction and for training in righteousness. And much of what is taught in the Old Testament regarding God’s divine will and purpose for humankind, and regarding his moral laws, has not changed, but it is repeated for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant.
“I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.
I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.”
As human beings we are going to be afflicted from time to time. For the past three days I have been under the weather, low on energy, feeling very tired and weak, but I have days like that sometimes. It is not unusual. But when they come, they do hamper my ability to write much, but God is my strength.
We as humans will have trials and tribulations, sicknesses, difficult situations in our lives, deaths in families, loss of jobs, and various other troublesome circumstances we will face in this life. And if we are following Jesus with our lives, added to that will be persecution against and opposition to our faith, which can be challenging and wearisome, too.
So, we will need the Lord to give us his strength, and to quicken our minds, and to encourage us and comfort us, and to teach us his ways, and to remind us of his promises. And we must rely upon him and his strength to see us through those times, so we don’t lose heart, and we don’t lose faith.
We need to learn to praise the Lord during those times and not let them get us down. We must turn to the Lord in our troubles and in our afflictions, relying on his strength, and ask him to teach us what he wants us to learn through our times of testing, for these times are for our good.
And then we need to learn the lessons he wants us to learn and apply them to our lives, and then walk in the truth which he has shown us. For his goal is to keep growing and maturing us in our walks of faith, making us holy, and conforming us to his likeness, that we might live holy lives pleasing to him.
“The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.”
One of the biggest snares the wicked have laid for us right now is this cheap grace gospel which promises us salvation from sin and eternal life with God, but which denies Jesus as Lord, refuses to repent of sin, and which refuses to obey his commands. They believe that faith has nothing to do with submitting to Christ as Lord, or with obeying him, or with repenting of sin.
To them, faith is more like an intellectual exercise or an emotional decision made at an altar. They say they believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection and the reason for which he died on the cross. But since he died to free us from our slavery to sin so that we might walk in his righteousness, then it isn’t faith if we remain in slavery to sin and we never walk in righteousness.
So, even though the wicked have laid this snare for us, and even though many have been caught in their snare, we must resist Satan and flee the temptation to be caught in that snare, and we must hold fast to the truths of God and his word.
For the Scriptures are clear that coming to faith in Jesus Christ involves us dying with Christ to sin and living to Christ and to his righteousness. We must forsake our old lives of living in sin and for self, we must be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God to new life in Christ, and we must now walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26).
And we must walk in obedience to our Lord. For, if we say we know God, but we don’t do what he commands, then we don’t know him. We don’t live in him and he doesn’t live in us, and we don’t have eternal life with God (Jn 8:51; Jn 14:23-24; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:2; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
But we shouldn’t obey the Lord just because God demands it, but we should delight in obeying our Lord. It should be a joy to walk in obedience to his commands. For we were created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Jesus died to free us from our slavery to sin so we could now become slaves of his righteousness. And that should bring us joy!
Jesus, Be Near to Me
Words and music by Tommy Walker
Jesus, be near to me
Let me know You are here
How I need You, how I need You
To reveal Yourself to me
Through Your unchanging truth
Through the breath of Your Spirit
In my questions and pain
Whisper words of Your love
Always the same
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