Monday, December 10, 2012

What Does Faith Look Like - Living by God's Word

I'm glad to be getting back to this series of posts!  This one has been rumbling for quite awhile, as I've wanted to continue to tackle the topic of obedience.  It's such as critical aspect in the life of a believer, but it is one of those disciplines that are hard to grasp, much less put into practice.  It's hard to know how to obey God when we aren't always sure what He is saying.  Fortunately, there is an app for that.  (As well print versions too!)

As part of our homeschool curriculum, the girls are memorizing Scripture.  Their first assignment (and consequently mine too!) is Psalm 1.  Here is what we've been working on thus far:

1 - Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers;
2 - But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 - That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

The idea struck me regarding the two progressions of faith taken in this passage: based on whether we choose to obey God or ourselves.  When we choose to obey God, we become strong, faithful, fruitful people, blessed in what we do because we put God first.  (Like any smart parent, the Lord is not above a heavenly reward system for those who follow Him!)  The pictures below are what the girls drew to demonstrate their perspective on verse 3.

However, when we keep to our own way instead of living by what God says, we move away from Him.  We start back into the life He removed us from at salvation; regressing, rather than progressing.  First, we walk towards the vast ocean of sin, just getting a closer.  Then, we get close enough to stand on the shoreline and feel the water on our toes.  Finally, we dive in, fully immersed in the deep, right in the middle of stuff that displeases God.  I find it is mostly passages like this that keep me from running head-long on the beach of disobedience. 

To give you an example of the challenge we face when we undertake to study and obey God's word from the Bible: here is a quote from Natalie,   

When we first started doing these memory verses, I didn't want to do them.  But the more we read and talk about what the Bible is really saying, the more I like it!

There have been times in my life I have not wanted to hear from God.  I have not wanted to take the time to crack my Bible and get His opinion on how I'm living my life.  It's hard - very much like asking your parents for advice as a teenager.  You think you know your own mind, and you don't want to hear what they have to say.  But when you finally hear the truth, you can't deny it.  God's word wakes you up and shakes you up.  It is clear - God talks to us in His Word.  

If you are like me, that is a re-revolutionary thought.  If you are like me, you've been studying the Bible for so long; you've forgotten that what the pages of Scripture contain are God's thoughts, commands and His very breath to His children.  It took thousands of years and hundreds of writers, but the Lord penned a very personal letter to each and every one of us.  We just have to take the time to picture it that way when we read it.

I know there are plenty of arguments about how errant or inerrant the Bible is.  There are much smarter people than me who can point to passages that produce doubt.  It can seem like the Bible contradicts itself.  But I've found that the Holy Spirit irons out those rough edges when you dig in.  He moves in and through you - using the holy words on these holy pages to make you, a mixed-up little person, into a holy one.  

We must read and obey God's Word, because it is exactly that - His.  If we let it sink in that God is speaking directly to us, doesn't that increase the impact of the words?  To me, it greatly increases the surface area of my life God wants to effect.  That's why the Bible means so much and why we need it everyday.  Just like the streams of water flowing by those strong trees in the pictures my kids drew - we will be nourished.  We will flourish when we seek to understand what the Lord has to say to us.  We will be fruitful and multiply when we follow His path.  Others will take notice and want to walk with us too.

And that is what a life of faith well lived is all about.

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