Right now opinions are abounding from everyone. “Open up the country!”…”No, we should say at home yet.”…”Churches should be able to open up.”…”No, it’s too early to gather together in groups.” But what happens when you have all these contrasting opinions are silly arguments over semantics rather than what God’s Word actually says. In this Scripture, Paul is writing to the young Pastor Timothy, warning him to avoid quarrels of “words” that stem from either party’s inadequate training in and/or deficient knowledge of Biblical disciplines. So before we can express any kind of opinion, we must first know what God’s Word says about it…in order to handle correctly the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15). But to know God’s Word, we must first get into God’s Word and allow it to enlighten us.
The last time our Church Body met was in March. And while we have a weekly online service…it’s just not the same. This past week our Pastor sent out 5 questions for everyone to answer, and one of them really struck home for me. The question asked in what ways had we experienced loss during the COVID 19 pandemic? The word loss got me thinking about the stages of loss – shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and finally acceptance/hope. Now while I haven’t lost a friend or family member to the Corona Virus, or lost my job or business in the aftermath…I’ve watch in stunned sadness as millions of people have. So in a way, this profound loss can not help but effect me too. And when you couple this feeling of loss with a pervasive sense of uncertainty, I’m only left with dryness…a desert within my soul. But God’s remedy for this arid condition is simple…His Word. For just as Ezekiel spoke to the Valley of the dry bones and they lived…so my soul can be made alive through His Word.
Show of hands please…how many of you are over and done with COVID 19 and just want it to go back to normal? As the weeks drag on, my indifference has increased with each boring day…my lack of concern or interest in things leading only to more apathy. So when I read these Scriptures today, I said to myself, “This must be what it feels like to be ‘out of season’.” I don’t feel like sharing the Gospel Message with others, or reaching out with encouragement…but that’s not what I’m being told to do here. For my feelings have nothing to do with it, and I need to be ready, willing, and able to share the love of Jesus whether I feel like it or not. That’s what being prepared in season or out of season means. It all boils down to this…we are to fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12)… which means struggling daily with our thoughts and feelings in order to be a tool for God to use.
Even now it’s sometimes very difficult to discern whether a Word from the Lord we hear is accurate. At face value it may sound good…especially the warm, fuzzy ones that predict peace, prosperity, and a new Cadillac in every garage. But to separate truth from falsehood we have to weigh these words in context with all prior revelations from the Lord. Is it consistent with God’s word? And when put up against the truth already received from the Lord, does it measure up to its standard? When we filter all we hear through these notions first, we’ll be less likely to accept the words of someone who’s overstepping their boundaries and taking smug and arrogant liberties with God’s word.
Humans and religion have always gotten into trouble when they attempted to overlay the Word of God with ritual and tradition. So the message in the Scriptures above are quite simple…don’t even think of adding to or subtracting from what it says in the Bible. We are reminded of the authority and sufficiency of the word of God in II Timothy 3:16 that reads, “All of Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible contains everything we need for salvation, trust, hope, and love….its words more than adequate to meet every need and accomplish God’s divine purpose in our life.
God’s principles are solely there to instruct us in our actions and conduct. For when we obey them, we are filled with wisdom and understanding…for the Word of the Lord is right and true. (Psalm 33:4) And as we follow His commands, His Word burns brightly, illuminating our path ahead and giving us peace…and as we follow Him, we rejoice, as one rejoices in having great riches. (Psalm 119:14)
In those times of obscurity and uncertainty there is only one light to seek out…for it will illuminate and give you the spiritual perspective you are searching for. It’s God Word. Not man’s word written about it, or feel good flowery prose that tend to water it down. No, the enlightenment you are seeking can only come from God’s Word and spending time in the Bible. Psalm 18:28 promises that God will turn my darkness into light, but I have to be willing to go to the source of that light…His Word.
There are many benefits to doing what’s right in the sight of the Lord. That’s because God’s commands and promises within the Bible are for our good…both morally and practically. For if we heed them, we will be known for our integrity and good character…not otherwise. And when we follow closely after the Lord and not our fleshly desires…we find His favor. For Psalm 84:11 tells us, The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” NIV So ponder this…it will only profit us to obey God.
In this verse it tells us what the secret to having inner peace and security is. This assurance we can have can only be found within God’s Word. But it also means not just listening, but actually applying it to your life. And when we do this, there is no end to His peace for us. (Isaiah 9:7) For the Lord rewards the godly with all good things. (Psalm 103:5)
The Holy Spirit is God’s pledge, providing Believers with the assurance of eternal life. In legal terms, the Holy Spirit is like a down payment or earnest money that secures a claim to something…like when we’re buying a car or a house. For when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within…thus sealing us for eternity through the redemptive work of the Lord.