Sunday, December 31, 2006

Do You Live by the Word or by the World?

“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.” (Romans 12:2.)

When consumed by the world and by the flesh, how are we supposed to be able to live by the word? Each time I am faced with a difficult decision or feeling I ask myself this question and always come up with the same answer: to be in God’s word everyday. I even try to raise my children in my Father’s word by reading to them from the bible daily.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26.)

Unbelievers talk in my ear and tell me what they feel I should do and how I should live, but would I listen to an enemy of Christ? No, and I should not listen to anyone or anything other than my Father. Oh to betray my Father breaks my heart; He who loves me more than anyone else ever could.

It is interesting to me how the mind changes and the priorities shift. What was once important by worldly standards gives way to a faith based or heavenly focused way of thinking. I suppose it makes sense on a couple different levels. I feel that when God and/or Christ calls we hear and obey our Father’s voice. Just as we shepherd our own children and do not allow them to stray too far, our Father too guides us and we recognize His voice when he speaks. In support of this statement I am drawn to John 10: 7-21 which tells about “Jesus the Good Shepherd”. (As I do not wish to write out the entire text I will give you the highlights.)

“So Jesus said again, ‘I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever comes in by me will be saved; he will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness.” (John 10:7-10.)

“‘I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me. And I am willing to die for them. There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd.’” (John 10:11-16.)

My heart rejoices in that Christ knows me and I know Him and that I will listen to His voice and become one “flock” with Him as my shepherd.

I am told only 20% of those who say they are Christians read the bible and live by it on a daily basis. Why is it so hard for us to do what God asks of us yet the pleasures of sin come so easily? I talk about my biological father on a regular basis yet I find it difficult to talk openly about my heavenly Father. Could it be because we live in a society where that is no longer socially acceptable? When I recently asked my teenager why she did not want to go to church with me anymore as a “family” thing she said, “because this is religion”. I was confused as to why a once open, family event had become something segregated and private; “To each his own” in a manner of speaking. Why must our faith be unspoken? Has the world put restrictions on God’s precious word?

“The people preach at me and say, ‘Don’t preach at us. Don’t preach about all that. God is not going to disgrace us. Do you think the people of Israel are under a curse? Has the Lord lost His patience? Would he really do such things? Doesn’t he speak kindly to those who do right? (Micah 2:6 & 7.)

“The Lord replies, ‘You attack my people like enemies. Your sins have doomed this place to destruction. (Micah 2:8 & 10.)

“‘These people want the kind of prophet who goes around full of lies and deceit…(Micah 2:11.)

“‘But I will gather you together, all you people of Israel that are left. I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold. Like a pasture full of sheep, your land will once again be filled with many people.’ (Micah 2:12.)

“‘Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, yet you hate what is good and love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones, and chop them up like meat for the pot. The time is coming when you will cry out to the Lord but He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil.’” (Micah 3:1-4.)
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