Monday, December 31, 2012

Gaining Spiritual Ground in 2013: Emphasize the Bible

Hebrews 4:11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.

Numbers 36:2 "and they said, “The LORD commanded my lord to give the land by lot to the sons of Israel as an inheritance, and my lord was commanded by the LORD to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brother to his daughters."

Yesterday we talked about gaining spiritual ground for the New Year.  We focused upon emphasizing prayer - establishing the truth from both Numbers 36 and Hebrews 4 that no advance for God can be made without prayer.  Today we want to consider another emphasis: namely the scriptures.  Just as no spiritual ground can be gained for God apart from prayer, the same must be said for the believer's relationship to the scriptures.

How the Old Testament saints appealed to God's Word in laying claim to God's inheritance
As we look back to Numbers 36 once again, we see these elders of the Tribe of Manesseh appealing to Moses and the Elders on behalf of the daughters of Zelophehad.  The daughters already had grounds to lay claim to their deceased father's estate, as articulated in Numbers 27.  The appeal made on behalf of these daughters in Numbers 36:2 refers back to God's instructions in Numbers 27.  Knowing what God had said was the ground they stood upon as they advanced their case to Moses. 

The New Testament Christian must have a close association with God's word if they are to gain ground for God
Hebrews 4:11 reminds the Christian: "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. "  This exhortation to gain ground for God is not an option - but a command.  In order to gain ground for God in the New Year, you and I must do it with the Word of God.  Hebrews 4:12 makes one of grandest statements about the scriptures:  "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." As we include verse 13, we can note the specific reasons as to why emphasis upon the scripture is so crucial to gaining ground for God in the upcoming New Year:

1. The Bible is a Living Book.  (Hebrews 4:12) 
Apart from scripture, no spiritual life is possible, since by it God initiates saving faith (James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23) and sustains the believer's post-conversion Christian walk. (Colossians 3:16)

2. The Bible is an Active Book. (Hebrews 4:12)
The Bible not only brings life, it enables you to be active in your Christian walk.  How can we know how to live for God, or what God's will is, apart from the scripture?  God uses the scriptures to stir us up to active faith.

3. The Bible is a discerning book. (Hebrews 4:12)
The writer here uses the language of the Old Testament sacrifices to convey his point of the discerning character of the scriptures.  Just as the Old Testament priest would ritually cut the sacrifices to make offerings to the Lord, the scripture is God's sword that prepares the Christian for spiritual service to the Lord. (Romans 12:1-2)  Only through the scriptures can my spirit (where the Holy Spirit dwells) have priority over my soul (where my fleshly desires are located).   When the scripture is doing its work, my soul comes more in line with my spirit.  When I am not exposed as often to God's Word, my soulish realm will rule my spirit.  I find that only through constant exposure to God's Word can I be a more discerning Christian. (Hebrews 5:14)

4. The Bible is a wide-opening book. (Hebrews 4:13)
Gaining ground for God means I know what He desires and that I want to act out what He says.  Hebrews 4:13 states -  "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." When you and I excercise ourselves in the scriptures - things that we found to be difficult to grasp suddenly become open to us.  All the time people are wanting to know God's will for their lives.  Scripture alone is the sufficient basis for discovering His Perfect and pleasing will. (Romans 12:1-2)

If we were to treat our Bibles like our wallets, our cell phones and our personal time, we would have an explosion of personal revival.  People all the time accidently leave their Bibles at church for instance.  Yet I have rarely if ever seen a cell phone left behind at church.  Whenever I have misplaced my wallet, I can recall turning the house upside-down looking for it.  How often do we set aside calendars and rearrange our family budgets for a few hours of personal recreational time? 

Cell phones, wallets and personal time are very important components of our twenty-first century life - yet think of how we emphasize those things in comparison to our time in the scriptures?  To make the necessary advancement in our spiritual walk with the Lord - we need to emphasize the reading, studying and interaction with the scriptures. 

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