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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Do your research

I don't know what you "respect" in this life, but I have a healthy respect for various things. I don't put my hand on hot burners on the stove because I know heat burns.  I don't drive the wrong way down the road, even when the way looks clear, because I have a healthy respect for the planned flow of traffic.  I don't pick up snakes because I know many have bites which can do more damage to me than I'd like to endure.  I willingly pay my taxes to my government bodies because I really don't look good in horizontal stripes!  I respect these things because I either know the consequences of NOT respecting them through some personal experience (burning myself on a hot burner), or because I have seen what the outcome has been in someone else's life (head-on collisions).  One is me learning the hard way; the other is me benefiting from someone else's failure.  Now, if we apply this truth to God's Word we might just be surprised to see the same thing holds true there, as well.  Some of what we know to be true and trustworthy in the Word is because we have discovered it in our own time of need; other truths become apparent to us when we have seen someone else discover those truths in their own time of need or failure.  

Your teachings are wonderful, and I respect them all.  Understanding your word brings light to the minds of ordinary people.  I honestly want to know everything you teach. Think about me and be kind, just as you are to everyone who loves your name.  Keep your promise and don’t let me stumble or let sin control my life.  Protect me from abuse, so I can obey your laws.  Smile on me, your servant, and teach me your laws.  When anyone disobeys you, my eyes overflow with tears.  (Psalm 119:129-136 CEV)

There is something powerful that happens when the Word of God begins to impact our lives. It is as though things we did not "respect" before begin to take on a new light - but before this "respect" begins to dawn on us, we have to develop a healthy respect for the truths contained in this book we call the Bible!  Words on a page are simply that until we begin to respect the impact of those words - often using those words to begin to change the way we think or act.  Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."  Let that one sink in for a moment.  Human writers sit at their pages, pen posed, fingers on the keyboard, and the words begin to flow - not out of "true creative energy", but more or less out of life experience.  Their hearts and minds "bleed" - and we become recipients of their sacrifice.  God's heart "bleeds" words of hope, promise, security, and ultimately what we come to label as "love" through the words contained within the pages of our scriptures.  His words DO flow out of a true "creative energy" because he is the Creator of all things and by his WORD all things are maintained!

Therefore, his words are to be respected, not debated.  They are to be obeyed, not challenged.  They are to be delighted in, not seen as onerous.  The "respect" we show toward his words actually determines if we will allow his words to take hold in our hearts, bringing forth his "creative energies" within each of us.  David said it well, "I honestly want to know EVERYTHING you teach."  It wasn't just the delightful tidbits that made him feel good, but also the hard words which made him look inside and see the truth about himself.  When we begin to trust the Word of God as the Truth of God, the "bleeding" of his heart in sacrificial love for his children, we begin to see the Word as it should be seen.

We read all kinds of "good books" and are inspired, challenged, and even transformed by the words within.  Companies embraced the "Good to Great" principles taught in the writings by James C. Collins in an effort to change the culture of their businesses and become world class organizations.  Leaders found insight into helping others accept the inevitability of change and manage through it when they got on the whole "Who Moved my Cheese" bandwagon taught by Spencer Johnson.  Millions gained a little insight into the issues of the Great Tribulation, Rapture, and life without Christ as they read through Tim LaHaye's Left Behind Series.  Yet, even the most well-written books don't compare to the power of God's Word.  By  his Word, "ordinary man" receives light and wisdom.  By his Word, "ordinary man" gains insight into truths not easily understood and/or explained.  The power of his words are not for scholars, or those with superior intelligence.  They are for "ordinary man" - that should give us great hope!

I read good books - but I always return to the one source by which I can evaluate the teachings within those books.  When I do this, I am allowing myself to discover any principles taught within those "good books" which are maybe not "spot on" with what God's Word says.  It is always wise to check your "most reliable source" whenever you are about to use anything which you have just learned in your "discovery of truth".  That way you will never find yourself following after a half-truth, or "untruth" of any kind.  Just sayin!