Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Being Fed

"Paul was devoted to a Person, not a cause." -- Oswald Chambers

Last time, we looked at some of the reasons why we can trust the veracity of God's Word.  That was important because it's God's first line of communication to His creation.  And the place where we get to find out what Oswald Chambers meant by that quote we started this post with.  Which makes it important to understand how best to read and study it.

There are really three ways to handle the Bible.  We can read it, in bits and pieces, as devotional literature.  A way to worship God.  Or we can enhance our library with study tools and do some of our own systematic study of the meaning.  Or we can go to school to study even more deeply.  The ultimate way to worship God is to get to know Him through His Word.  And all three methods have their place, but not by themselves.


John 1:1-2 tells us that the Word was from the beginning of eternity, was with God and was God.  So, it’s definitely important.  And we read in Psalm 119:148, "Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word."  We need to take verses about Who God is and what He's done and think about them.  Take ourselves into worship through His Word.  The devotional nature of this kind of Scripture reading helps us connect.  But, by itself, that connection can be strictly emotional, without the reality of God bringing that relationship to its fullest.  Think of it as a spiritual cannoli.  It tastes good, but there's little real nutrition and not much substance to the center.

If you look at Psalm 119, it constantly hammers home the need to get into the Word for study.  And that takes us into personal study.  Which, of course starts with a Bible.  And there are tools like concordances and dictionaries, etc.  These allow you to follow word occurrences throughout the Bible, develop an understanding of God's thinking on a subject.  Much like babes, we're to seek the milk of the Word (1Peter 2:2).  But then look at Hebrews 5:13.  It says, "For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe."  There are limits to our own study that make it incomplete.  We have limited vision and limited capacity to handle what we take in.  So, we need more.

The "more" that we need is described in the next verse in Hebrews.  Chapter 5, verse 14, tells us, "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."  Note those phrases: "senses exercised" and "discern".  Throughout His ministry, Jesus made it clear that having good teachers is important.  Even as a child, He taught in the temple.  In order to fully grow, we need the accumulated wisdom gained by those who've studied before us.  We need to use that to fill out and guide our own study.  Our hearts and minds are exercised by all this.  But there's more.


Our founding Pastor used a term that I really like -- "Spirit taught".  The Bible tells us that the knowledge of good and evil is bad.  But, in Hebrews, we're told that we want to discern good and evil.  The difference is that we're not judging, just recognizing what is good and what is evil.  Knowledge, by itself, doesn't help us.  We get to know about God, possibly incorrectly.  But we don't necessarily get to know God.  Since we started out describing a "spiritual cannoli", let's take that analogy to its natural conclusion.

Let's consider the Holy Spirit as our spiritual restaurateur.  He puts everything together for the most pleasant and nutritious meal.  By being taught by good teachers, we get the main course of the meal.  Our own study, being limited, by itself will give us milk, the beverage -- not as much substance, but nonetheless nutritious.  And our devotional readings give us the emotional context, the cannoli -- very tasty, not necessarily very nutritious, but ties the whole meal together.  The Holy Spirit will feed us that in the appropriate sequence and in the proper proportions to give us the best opportunity for spiritual growth and to nurture a desire to return for more. 

The whole man has to be fed by the Word in order for us to develop a real relationship with God.  A balance of knowledge, understanding, wisdom and emotion so that we're not just getting to know about God, but getting to know Him in a very real and personal way.  There's still a little more we need to talk about developing our relationship with God, next time.  But, for now, how do you use the Word to grow closer to God?

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