Sunday, August 31

A TTM MILITARY CALL TO PRAYER

They need God and us... like never before!



 "The spirit of lawlessness and outright hate for all things godly is subtly, methodically, and torturously eroding away everything our brave military has fought for and died to preserve!" Keith and Brenda

Christians are called by God to stand in the gap on the behalf of our armed forces men, women, and their families. Do not exclude yourself in this calling, thinking the task of helping this precious community of people is too large for any one person to tackle; The opposite is true. No matter how bad things seem, God Made us this promise, "If my people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Find this message, and more, in "TTM Magazine" available on the TTM WEBSITE.
The dramatic rise in military suicides is being reported by the Associated Press, The New York Times magazine, and many others. In 2013, there were reportedly 479 suicides by active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel, and there is an average of 18 military veteran suicides per day. This is especially heartbreaking because these military men and women defend, or have defended our freedom on a daily basis, dealing with trauma at a level that most of us will never know. As easy as it is to listen to statistics like these, and simply view each person as a "number", it would be a terrible mistake. You see, each one of these individuals have families (both immediate and extended), friends, comrades in arms, and, in the case of Guard and Reserve members, they have coworkers back home.
Given all of this, it is surprising the responses we frequently receive whenever I mention the needs of our armed forces personnel and their families. It is my opinion that many in our churches tend to view them as second-class Americans, or as they are “out of sight, out of mind.”
If our troops and their families have ever needed us to better understand them and their many needs, it is now. The spiritual and psychological well-being of our military families is not something we can ignore any longer.
Folks, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not only induced by experiences on a battle field. Funding to our military is continually being cut back, taking place from the top down, even as our precious men and women in uniform are being marched into the jaws of crippling depression and worse. The spirit of lawlessness and outright hate for all things godly, is subtly, methodically, and torturously eroding away everything that our brave military has always fought for and died to preserve. And it all began with those brave fighters who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to stave off the tyranny that rose up to abort God’s plan for this great Nation.
You see, our troops are being forcibly subjected to social experimentation. They are proving grounds for the rest of America - guinea pigs, if you will! The poison of secular humanism is being forced down their throats, and our young men and women are expected to relinquish their God-given rights in order to accommodate the minority of the morally bankrupt among us.
Our troops and their families are being held hostage by the “do as we say, not as we do” lawmakers in Washington, DC. They are requiring our military personnel to live their lives and perform their tasks at a level of excellence, without incident, that those lawmakers would not lift a finger to uphold in their own lives.
“And he [Jesus] said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchers. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” (Luke 11: 46-52)
Sadly, in record numbers our lawmakers and judges are using the law that our forefathers had designed to protect us, for their own evil gain. In short, they are using the law to obstruct justice!
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs 29:2)
Christians are called by God to stand in the gap on the behalf of our armed forces men, women and their families. Do not exclude yourself by thinking the task of helping these precious men, women and children is too large for any one person to tackle, because the opposite is true. No matter how bad things seem, God made us this promise:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Please pray for our military service members and their precious families; because they need God’s divine intervention now, more than ever before!

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Thursday, August 28

No Matter WHAT... THANK GOD!


No Matter WHAT... THANK GOD!
Rather than being "under-goers", we must be O
vercomers!


 "The trials in our life are meant to reveal the contents of our heart. So, God is not as interested in what we did DURING the trials, as He is in what we do about what was revealed about us THROUGH those trials." - Keith


No matter what happens, we must come to grips with the guilty party: ourselves. Having our hearts continually filled with praise and thankfulness to God means that we will be able to give thanks in ALL things when the trials do come.  "And He {Jesus} said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

Find this complete message, and more, in our book, "XII Smooth Stones" available on the
TTM WEBSITE.  Also LISTEN to our Podcast, "Three ways to Get the Most Out of Your Time of Suffering Through Adversity 

The offering of praise and giving of thanks to God in all situations and circumstances is one area where many Christians fail to experience the victory of the Abundant Life. It is easy, of course, to give thanks when things are going well, but what about those disconcerting times when we find ourselves consumed in the flames of a painful trial? How do we conduct ourselves then? Do we pitch childish little fits in our hearts when things get tough or do we do the mature thing and consider the fact that God loves us and has something much better in mind, if we will trust in Him and wait on Him to perform it?

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 10:23)
       What makes it so difficult for us to offer up thanksgiving to God when things are not going the way we want them to? Exactly what is that powerful unseen force that inhibits our ability to freely praise our Heavenly Father in difficult situations?
The answer may surprise you! It is actually our flesh nature, and not only does it hinder praise and thanksgiving, it also is the cause of most of our pain. So if you have ever wondered about the problems in the American Church, you need look no further than the stinking decay of human nature!
As much as we would not like to believe it, only a very small percentage of people who commit their lives to Jesus Christ really apply the effort needed to kill the old man, or sinful human nature, in their lives. When times are easy, or at least easier, most of us give in to the temptation to slack off; so when a trial comes along, we are not prepared and are easily overwhelmed. Rather than being Overcomers, we are under-goers. Instead of acknowledging our responsibility for not seeking God, we look for a scapegoat; we want someone or something to blame other than looking in the mirror and declaring, “Thou art the man!”
Now, as crucial as it is to face the reality of the sin that lurks in our hearts, it is equally as important to realize that God does not want us to wallow in guilt for mistakes and misdeeds. Jesus died on the Cross so that we could receive forgiveness, both eternal and temporal, and cleansing from our sins in this life and in the life to come. The trials in our life are meant to reveal the contents of our heart, so God is not as interested in what we did during the trials, as He is in what we do about what was revealed about us through those trials. This includes the words that come out of our mouths, because our words reveal what is in our hearts. For “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
Having our hearts continually filled with praise and thankfulness to God means that we will be able to give thanks in all things when the trials do come. A full sponge when squeezed gives up whatever it has been saturated with. A dry sponge when squeezed gives up little to nothing. Furthermore, a sponge does not soak up anything while it is being squeezed. Likewise, when you saturate your soul with the Word of God during the easier times, then that is what will come out when you are placed under the pressure of a trial, during the hard times. Hence, the time to put on the mindset of thankfulness is BEFORE the trials begin.
So, before we can come to the place where we can offer up praise and thanksgiving to God, no matter what happens, we must come to grips with the guilty party: ourselves. God has a simple prescription to solve the problem: our old man (or “flesh” nature) must die! “And He {Jesus} said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) This is not just a wonderful passage of scripture, it is a prerequisite to a life of victory in Christ Jesus!

For the rest of this message, and many others, get your copy of our book "XII Smooth Stones" and also see "TTM Teaching Index" on our website, TowardTheMark.com.
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Wednesday, August 20

Are_Christians_Today_Too_Quick_To_Compromise

Are Christians, Today, Too Quick to Compromise?
"Well, Jesus drank wine!"

 "WHAT IS SIN?? When most people hear the word ‘sin’ they think ‘substance abuse, illicit sex, murder, stealing, and the like.’  The Truth goes much deeper than that! The word 'sin' is used to identify anything that separates us from God." - Keith

No matter how long we have been a Christian, we can always count on spirits of temptation doing anything and everything they can to try to lure us away from God and into the jaws of compromising situations, situations whose “reward” is always death or separation from God. This is, after all, the true definition of death itself! “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14)

Find this, and more, in our book, "Letters From The Front" on the TTM WEBSITE.
  Anyone who is in pursuit of an intimate relationship with God will be presented at times with opportunities to compromise that relationship. Much like Esau sold his entire birthright to his brother Jacob for a piece of bread, a bowl of beans, and something to drink, we have all had times in our lives when we have been enticed away from both God and our own inheritance in Him to pursue idols or little “g” gods. You know who and what they are: relationships with the wrong people; the selfish pursuit of prominence in the eyes of those around us; escapisms like drugs, shopping, pornography, TV, alcohol, etc. No matter how long we have been a Christian, we can always count on spirits of temptation doing anything and everything they can to try to lure us away from God and into the jaws of compromising situations, situations whose “reward” is always death or separation from God. This is, after all, the true definition of death itself! “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14)
     As Christians, it is of the utmost importance that we understand what sin really is. When most people hear the word sin mentioned, their first thought or impression is usually substance abuse, illicit sex, murder, stealing, and the like. It really goes so much deeper than that! Although these offenses are referred to as sins, they are only referred to as such because of their individual or collective abilities to, if committed, drive a wedge between us and God. I like to call “sin” what it really is, anything that separates us from our Heavenly Father! It really is that simple! If we truly cherish God and want to grow in our relationship with Him, we must learn that temptation is satan’s primary weapon in the war to lure us away from God. Did you know that one of the very first things that a new recruit in the Armed Forces is taught is how to recognize both his enemy and their tactics? The reason they do this is so that our troops in the field will have an advantage over their adversaries. This information not only gives our soldiers an edge in defending themselves, but it also gives them a strategic advantage when preparing to launch an offensive. Without this crucial information, our soldiers in harm’s way will most likely be defeated before they even hit the battlefield. It works the same way with those of us who are in God’s army. If we are going to be victorious in defeating satan’s attempts at separating us from God, then we must first equip ourselves with a “heart knowledge” of God’s Word, and then we must familiarize ourselves with what satan has in his divisive arsenal. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Please don’t take that statement out of context! The truth is, if we spend more time chasing demons around than we spend pursuing and spending time with God, we will eventually find ourselves in a “world of hurt!” On the other hand, if we passionately pursue God, learn His word, and obey His Word, everything else will take care of itself! If we do not, we will be easy prey when tempting spirits come a knockin’! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Here is how Webster’s Dictionary defines “tempt”, “1) to entice or induce, as to something immoral, 2) to be inviting to; attract, 3) to provoke or risk provoking, 4) to incline strongly.” Tempting spirits work to manipulate each one of us into compromising situations. Just like certain species of snakes travel in pairs, wherever temptation is present, the opportunity to compromise our relationship with God will always be somewhere close by. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12) Simply put, temptation is what satan uses to present us with opportunities for compromise.
Now that we have laid some groundwork, let’s take a look at the main topic in the title of our message, the word “compromise.” Webster’s defines “compromise” as “1) a settlement in which each side makes concessions, 2) something midway, 3) to adjust by compromise, 4) to lay open to suspicion, disrepute, etc.”
The word “disrepute” is defined as “bad reputation; disgrace.” Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary edition defines “compromise” as “To put to hazard.” However, my personal definition of compromise is, “the act of trading or exchanging one’s relationship with God and His promises for a person or anything else that they feel is more valuable to them than He is.”
There are many potentially dangerous distractions in the world today. With lawlessness increasing in the earth at a staggering rate, we are seeing, as a result, compromise becoming a regular way of life for many who claim to be Christians; and frankly, the present condition of the Church confirms it. Things that were unheard of in the Church just two decades ago are now being practiced without remorse.
While Timothy was overseeing the Church in Ephesus, Paul wrote warning him that this would happen. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
When we compromise our relationship with God in any way, what we are doing is turning our backs on Him. We are actually saying that something or someone else is more important to us than He is. Not only does this hurt His heart deeply, but it also says to those who have heard you profess to be a Christian that God must not really be who you or His Word says He is.
“Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” (2 Samuel 12:14) I would like to share with you one such situation that I experienced, and will follow it up with a brief teaching on a related subject that for years has been a major stronghold in the lives of thousands of people in the Church.
One evening I was invited to dinner by the pastor of a local church who had heard a few of my songs at some point, and said that he would like to get to know me. I had met this person on several occasions in passing, and had heard through some friends that he was doing a good work in the community. Based on that information, I accepted his offer. Once we had arrived at the restaurant, we were seated for what I thought was going to be a very nice evening. We were about half way through the meal when he flagged our waiter back to the table. Much to my astonishment, he then leaned back in his chair, acquired a rather sheepish looking grin and proceeded to order a pitcher of beer. Knowing what I had heard about this person, I have to say that I was stunned. I found myself headlong in the presence of yet another professing Christian who was “too quick to compromise!”
I fought to maintain my composure as best I could and continued eating my meal. Within seconds righteous indignation began welling up in me to the point that my self control was being tested. As my Momma would have said, “I felt like I was gonna pop if I didn’t say something.”
I did the best I could to remain cool while all the time listening for the Lord’s approval to confront him. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)
It was not until two days later that I felt a release in my spirit to talk with him about it. I then called him and asked if he would join me for lunch.
As soon as the Holy Spirit gave me the nod, I gently asked him this question. “As a Christian, and especially as a self-professed minister of the Gospel, why do feel that it is all right for you to drink alcohol?” As soon as those words left my mouth, I found myself on the receiving end of a bitter attack. Much like praying water on a wasps’ nest I very quickly realized that I had touched an area of compromise in this fellow’s life that he was not really interested in turning loose of any time soon.
Almost without stopping to breathe, he began hurling scriptures at me attempting to justify his actions. I sat there quietly and let him state his case.
When he had finished, with all of the love I could muster, I simply asked if he would be open to hearing my point of view concerning Christians and alcohol use. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
Taking the defensive posture of crossing his arms, tightening his brow, and setting his jaw, he slid back in his seat obviously hunkering down for what he thought was going to be a major offensive. I then referenced several scriptures and asked him to share with me how he felt they could in any way be used to justify his or any other Christian’s consumption of alcohol.
After a brief period of time, it became increasingly clear that he could not Biblically justify his or any other Christian’s drinking of alcoholic beverages. Apparently frustrated, he then pulled out what I believe he thought would settle the matter — he said, “well Jesus drank wine.”
I knew at that very moment that I had been divinely presented with a wonderful opportunity to help him understand what has become a major point of deception, confusion and compromise for thousands of people who claim to be born-again Christians. What I shared with him is what I would like to share with you.
During the time when Jesus physically walked the earth, they had no way of purifying their drinking water. Because of this, they relied heavily on fruit juice as their primary means of safe and nourishing hydration. They also had no way of refrigerating or preserving juices that had been derived from their fruit harvest.
When they would extract the fresh juice from the fruit, they would store it in small leather sacks called wine skins. This “fresh” juice was referred to as “wine.” This is where many people in the Church today have been and are being terribly deceived.
In Christ’s day, the best wine was always the freshest fruit juice. For example, the first miracle that Jesus performed was actually turning water into wine or fresh fruit juice. Here is how John recorded the event:
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. (This statement is a whole other story.) His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. (A firkin was about nine gallons.) Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (All told there was about 162 gallons.) And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. (They poured him a drink and gave it to him.) When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and  knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:1-10)
In other words, the governor of the feast was totally amazed at the fact that the juice was so fresh! It was as if it had just been picked and squeezed all within that same hour – when in a matter of speaking – it HAD been!
The society back then was for the most part very moral and would never even think of bringing strong drink or “the old stuff ” to such a sacred event. That would have been a devastating insult to all in attendance! Believe it or not, anyone who drank “old wine” or fermented drink was viewed by society much like we view someone who eats out of a dumpster.
On the other hand, today, in our present culture, things have become so turned around that wine is the name given to fruit juice that has gone bad through the process of fermentation. It is this fermentation process that produces the alcohol in it. It is of the utmost importance that we realize that there were varying stages of fermentation. In other words, each week that the wine sat in the bottles it would ferment more and more.
Due to the lack of refrigeration, the fermentation process literally began taking place during the first week that the juice was stored in the wine skins. The time that it took to ferment was in great part determined by the temperature at which it was stored.
Because the fruit harvest was done in the warmer part of the season, the wine skins would have naturally been stored in warm conditions. The longer the juice sat in warm climates, the stronger, or more fermented, it became. That is why the word wine was a blanket term used to describe the juice at each of its various stages of fermentation. For instance, wine that was three weeks old, would have developed a little bite to it; wine that was seven weeks old would have a bigger bite; and so on. Once it had come to full age, however, it was not to be consumed. When it reached that point, it was no longer referred to as wine, but was referred to as strong or fermented drink, and was to be thrown out! “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last (meaning when it has fermented) it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” (Proverbs 23:31-32) That scripture was a warning to stay away from the juice once it had sat around too long and had fermented or “gone bad.”
Unless you are on your deathbed, the Bible does not, never has, and never will condone the consumption of strong or fermented drink for the purpose of becoming, even in the slightest bit, mentally impaired! As a matter of fact, the only place in the scriptures where the consumption of strong or fermented drink was justifiably permitted at all was in Proverbs 31:6 where King Lemuel had recited a prophecy that his mother taught him. He said, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.” The heavy hearted were never permitted to drink strong or fermented drink; only the dying were! And that was simply for the purpose of relieving them of any pain they might suffer in the final days before they expired. Strong or fermented drink was NEVER intended to be used for any other reason!
Can you see how satan has been able to take advantage of the Church’s lack of knowledge concerning the consumption of alcoholic beverages. By keeping this a “gray” issue as he has, he has been able to corral untold millions of church-goers into a lukewarm life of compromise, hence destroying any ability they might have to conduct a pure and close personal relationship with God. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6)
It is time to wake up and realize that this is simply another ploy of our enemy to separate God’s people from God and all of the wonderful things that He has for them. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)
 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:15-21)
Compromise in any form will always serve to ultimately cost us in our relationship with God! Whether it is alcohol, the abuse of street or prescription drugs, food, television, or anything else, satan is constantly working to get his foot in the door of our lives to ultimately impair our ability to hear the voice of our loving Heavenly Father. We must come to the place in our hearts where we know without a shadow of a doubt that, “there is nobody or nothing worth our relationship with Jesus!”




For more on this message, and many others, get your copy of our book "Letters From TheFront" and also see "TTM Teaching Index" on our website at TowardTheMark.com.   



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Tuesday, August 12

Satan's War On Words…


Satan's War On Words…
What We DON'T Know CAN Hurt Us AND Every Generation to Come!

"Abiding in Jesus - that is, living the Abundant Life - means His Words are living in us; we think them day and night. God has provided the means whereby this can be accomplished, and He is not obliged to change His methods to match our expectations or our modern way of life." - Keith


God's Word is not simply difficult for us to comprehend: It is impossible for our human minds to understand God's Word! We simply do not think the way God thinks. Consider this, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)



Find this, and more, on our TTM Teaching page of our TTM WEBSITE.

Should William Shakespeare's plays be discarded because they are not written in today's common English? 
Of course, rather than simply throwing the works on history's trash heap, they could be rewritten in modern English, so that it will be easier for people today to read them and to understand them. But Shakespeare is widely regarded as the premiere playwright of the English-speaking world, so who living today is actually qualified to modernize the plays while being able to retain the unique qualities of Shakespeare's genius? The answer is no one. William Shakespeare stands alone; his writings reflect a combination of his own genius and the time in which he lived. His plays cannot be duplicated in today's English.
There are two main problems that stand in the way of our reading and comprehending any of Shakespeare's original works, for example "Romeo and Juliet." Firstly, our modern culture bears little resemblance to Elizabethan England, so the many cultural references and nuances are lost on us. Secondly, the English language we speak and read has undergone significant changes from what was used in Shakespeare's time. We don't even know many of the words Shakespeare used, and many of those we do recognize had different definitions when Shakespeare wrote his works. Thus, to truly appreciate Shakespeare's writings, we must become educated in the customs of the Elizabethan period and learn the Early Modern English of that period. Moreover, we need to be able to think the way they thought.
The same is true for understanding God's Word. The Scriptures include many cultural references that are meaningless to us, because we do not have the same cultural conditions today. Moreover, since God's Word was not written in English, it must be translated from the original writings, and the two primary languages of the Scriptures, Hebrew and Greek, often do not translate neatly and clearly into English. Thus, using an English translation is not enough. To gain understanding of the truths contained in the Bible, we must familiarize ourselves with the cultural settings within which the Scriptures were written and we need to apply ourselves in studying the original Hebrew and Greek. Furthermore, as with reading Shakespeare, to really comprehend the Scriptures, we need to change the way we think.
Those who have re-translated the Bible into modern English have done so with the stated purpose of making the Bible "more understandable." What they are actually doing is altering the text to match the way people think today. This fits in with the way many people choose a version of the Bible to read and to study. "I read such-n-such version, because I can understand it." However, this ignores one crucial fact. God has deliberately hidden the meaning of His Word!
"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." Matthew 11:25-26
As an example, consider the great misconception concerning the reason that Jesus taught the people using parables. Many believe that the parables were employed so that He could help them to better understand Truth. This is exactly the opposite of the real reason: Jesus used parables to mask the truth. The Apostles were puzzled by this and so they asked Jesus, "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" He told them, "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." God was allowing the Apostles to understand His mysteries, but the teachings of Christ were hidden from the rest of the people.
"And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." Matthew 13:10-15
God's Word is not simply difficult for us to comprehend: It is impossible for our human minds to understand God's Word! We simply do not think the way God thinks. Consider the following Scriptures:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
"The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Romans 8:7
Our minds rebel against the Truth contained in the Word of God. We fight against the Words of Truth and twist those words until they become more compatible with our way of thinking. This is what Jesus called making the Word of God powerless using human definitions. In the following passage, the Apostle Peter describes people who wrestle with the Word of God to their own destruction.
"Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction." 2 Peter 3:15,16
Those who approach the Scriptures only using human understanding will not be able to understand the Truth contained in the Bible. Human understanding has caused many false doctrines to be taught all the while citing "Chapter and Verse" justification. They wrestle with the Word of God using their own definitions to their own destruction. This is why so many declare that the Bible is not the Word of God and also why some see contradictions where none exist.
God's Word is not open to private interpretations. Rather the Word of God is "settled in the heavens" having fixed meanings that He has assigned. If we approach reading the Bible using different meanings for words than He intends for those words to have, then we will not be able to properly understand the Scriptures. Thus, His Word is prevented from benefiting us.
Using our definitions to interpret God's Word is logocide!
"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matthew 15:8-9
Studying the Bible using man's definitions and understanding is an empty exercise. The Scriptures teach quite emphatically that we cannot understand God's Word using our minds. In order to understand God's Word, we must be taught the meaning(s) He has assigned to each word and we must learn to think God's thoughts the way He thinks them. In order to do this, God requires great sacrifice on our part.
Why do people choose a Bible version expecting to be able to read it as plainly and easily as a modern-day romance novel or action-packed thriller? In our Fast Food, Fast Lane Society, so many have become conditioned to the expectation that most of life's problems can be resolved in a thirty minute sitcom format or an hour long drama. Really difficult situations may require a two-parter. So, reading and understanding the Bible should be just as easily accomplished. An hour each week in a Sunday School class is all it takes to be a Christian, or so it would seem based upon the investment of many in the Church.
But really, how long should the pursuit of godliness take? How long should people study and prepare before they are licensed to be pastors? Why do we expect doctors and lawyers to study for many years before they are allowed to practice, but nearly any adult in the Church is qualified to teach in Sunday School? Even Jesus took about thirty years to prepare to preach for about three years. And even though He spent much of those three years intensively teaching and preparing the Apostles for the next phase of the Church, the night before He was crucified Jesus told them that He still had so much to tell them. Jesus also told them that He and God the Father were sending the Holy Spirit in order for the Apostles to continue receiving their education in the pursuit of the Truth and godliness. The instructions Jesus gave to the Apostles are in perfect harmony with the instructions given to Joshua many centuries before:
"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." John 15:7
"This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." Joshua 1:8
Abiding in Jesus, that is, living the Abundant Life, means His Words are living in us; we think them day and night. God has provided the means whereby this can be accomplished and He is not obliged to change His methods to match our expectations or modern way of life. We must work to understand the Bible. If we want God's results, we must use His methods. If we use man's methods, we should not be surprised when we don't get God's results. God never changes. It is we who must change, if we are to become like Him. And how is this to be accomplished?
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)
The pursuit of godliness is not merely another item on a busy "To Do" list. The pursuit of godliness IS the "To Do" list! Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. This will take the rest of your life, and even that's not enough. Spend the rest of your life studying God's Word and you will not have even scratched the surface of what is contained in it. God's Word is inexhaustible. It is the infinite book written by The Infinite God.


For more on this topic, and many others, see "TTM Teaching Messages" on our website at TowardTheMark.com.



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