Friday, April 25, 2008

The Bible as the Only Standard

What would it look like to live with the Bible as our one and only standard with which we govern our lives? What would our homes, families, businesses, churches, communities be like? How would we parent? How would we live in this world if the only pattern to follow was what was laid out before us in the word of God? Doug Philips said this past weekend, “If we were on an island with no one else to watch and no one watching us to see what we did and all that we had was the Bible, how much different we would be living!”

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to ALL that is written in it; for THEN you will make your way prosperous and THEN you will have success.” (added emphasis mine).

When the Bible is our standard—Men lead passionately and with the vision God has given them without the hindrance of a wife questioning all of his actions, questioning his authority to make the decisions that he feels led to make. God created the man to lead, but in the standard of the culture that we live within today, that mandate is seen as overbearing, old-fashioned and sexist. Even within the church. Men are robbed of their manhood! How this must grieve God.

When the Bible is our standard—Women embrace their role as an indispensable help-meet (Genesis 2:18) in seeing those visions come to fruition—to watch for warnings and direction from the Spirit. All the components that make up a woman are part of the Trinity that was not put into man. "And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27 Women are blessed and fulfilled when they stay under the hierarchy that God Himself has ordained. They see their role by his side as of the utmost importance for the furtherance of the kingdom of God, the salvation of their families and the passing on of righteous living to future generations.

When the Bible is our standard—Children honor and obey their parents, having been taught that “it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2, 3 Children look to their parents for guidance and instruction to be wise in the things of the Lord. Sons are taught to become leaders and forsake all cultural teachings that would rob them of their masculinity and challenge their calling to “take dominion of the earth,” Genesis 1:26-28. They would be strong men in training seeking to fulfill the commissions given them by both their heavenly and earthly Fathers. Daughters would grow up in homes learning from the very beginning the path she should take to find rich fulfillment in her life. She would be taught how to be a godly woman from her parents and not seek outside influences to fulfill her search to “find herself”. She would learn that “losing” herself to God is the ONLY way to complete happiness and wholeness from within.

I could go on and on...and in my mind, I am doing that right now. What about how we use our finances. It is GOD who has given us ALL that we have. Is He pleased when we use that money on frivolous “stuff” and godless entertainment? (1 Tim. 6:6-11). What about how we dress? Do we adorn our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit or is our clothing choices made on the basis of the current fashion trend and our wishes to appear outwardly attractive to others? Outside of the work that God has called us to do, how is our time spent? Do we spend more time entertaining ourselves than feeding on the word and the things of God? Do our crafts and hobbies feed the lusts of the flesh and take money and time away from family activity and ministry? What kinds of things are we setting before our eyes, ears, hands, feet, minds and hearts? Do all of these “things” line up with the standards...the precepts...the absolute authority of the Bible? Trust me, I am asking myself all of these same questions as I lay them out before you now. The truth is, if Christ walked through the door would He say “wow...I am so glad I got here in time to share in this activity with you!” or “I am proud of the decision that you made in this situation!”

In Hosea, the scripture teaches us that Israel regularly practiced unfaithfulness (harlotry) unto God. They had forgotten who had taken them out of Egypt. They had forgotten who had led them, taught them, gave them victory in their lives, fed them...they turned their hearts from the Giver of all that they had been given. They would not return to Him. Instead of looking upward they looked around. They looked to other nations, other kings for allied support. They looked to other gods, idols and altars of worship. They made requests but they did not repent and turn away...turning towards God, so their requests fell unanswered.

God disciplines every child that He loves (Hebrews 12:5b, 6). God is not going to put His expectations for our living up to our discretion. There is one way to live Godly, righteous lives and that is looking to the scriptures of the Bible for direction! (Psalm 1:2) His word is clear, as it was in Hosea, as to what happens to those who turn from following Him. He will not allow His chosen people to continue to walk as harlots, living lives of unfaithfulness. He loves us! He has chosen us! As His chosen people He cannot and will not go against His character by letting us walk in sin and in the ways of the world around us. We are to be in this world, yes, but not of the world. (John 17:14-17) That includes being caught up in what others are saying are “okay” standards by which to go by. If they are not standards laid out before us in the word of God, they are not of God! Oh that we would be a people that looked to Him and to His word as our source of wisdom! May He, through the Sword and the Holy Spirit, be our Guide! May His mercy and grace be ever plentifully poured out upon us as we seek to please Him and Him alone in our lives!

Oh dear friend...may I strongly exhort you to take everything that you do, every basis that you live by, every dollar that you spend, every teaching that you walk in, every standard that you set in your life and in your home to the Bible? Ask God to help you align your life with the standards of His Holy Word! If we are faithful to seek Him and ask Him, He will be faithful to answer and give us the desires of our hearts (Heb. 11:6b). Which would be to walk faithfully and humbly with our God. Trusting and obeying Him in all areas of our life, not just in those that are easy, personally satisfying and comfortable. True peace and happiness here on earth can only be fully realized in living a life sacrificing our own desires for God’s.

Oh God...may you not let our spirits rest within us until we do! Amen!

END NOTE**May I simply add here that I have read over this writing several times and paused on the “delete” button more than once! :) I have absolutely NO intention of sounding harsh or being judgmental! Gradually through the years, during the process of being sanctified, we can all attest to periods of growth and lifestyle changes that God has brought us to by personal conviction through the word. That is all that I am encouraging us to do now. One by one, take those things that we are involved in, those things that we believe and live by and see if they line up with the scripture. There is no pride in my heart about this whatsoever! I simply was moved in my heart this morning during my study in Hosea. When I came to the computer to try to “type out” what I was feeling, all of the above just flowed freely. I just typed! There are several things that I am convicted in already. My prayer is that you will believe the sincerity of my heart in this writing and that I did not sit at the computer to write a message of judgment and righteous vindiction. That is NEVER my purpose, nor will it EVER be...that is not my heart! My prayer is that the above writing will be taken to heart, taken to prayer and taken to the word of God. My only “agenda” EVER is to encourage and exhort each one of us—me included!—to seek God in all things and in every area of our lives. You are my sister, my sojourner and I love you! Soli Deo Gloria!