Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Exploring the magnificent treasures of God’s Word

Exploring the magnificent treasures of God’s Word

Today I was reading Psalm 138 and came across a fascinating statement, “You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”

A prayer in the Bible commonly known as the Lord's Prayer contains the phrase, "Hallowed be Your name," this Prayer is simple and Spectacular.

The first three petitions are about God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will.
The last three are   about our daily needs, our forgiveness, and our holiness.

Why does the Lord's Prayer contain the phrase, "Hallowed be Your name"? Our names are precious to us....they reveal who we are. They are a personal connection, a unique part of us. Names in Biblical times were very important, as they revealed a person's character. In Jewish thought, a name is not merely an arbitrary designation, a random combination of sounds. The name conveys the nature and essence of the thing named. It represents the history and reputation of the being named.

Jewish people had about 16 different names for God in the Hebrew Old Testament. Each name reflected a different aspect of God's character, so God's names were considered by the Jews to be just as holy as God Himself. In fact, God's names were and are so holy to the Jews, that they never write or pronounce His name lightly for fear of bringing disrespect to it and to God. So To hallow a thing is to make it holy or to set it apart to be exalted as being worthy of absolute devotion. To hallow the name of God is to regard Him with complete devotion and loving admiration.

God's name is of the utmost importance (Neh 9:3) therefore we ought to reserve it a position of grave significance in our minds and hearts. We should never take His name lightly ( Exd 20:7; Lev 22:32), but always rejoice in it and think deeply upon its true meaning. God’s name speaks of His great power and majesty, His perfect character and absolute holiness. God's name, the I Am, reveals the fullness of His nature. All of God's nature and attributes are embodied in His name. "O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth,..."(Psalm 8:1) His is the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9).Yet God positioned His word as the most prominent, predominant and preeminent . How can anything – including God’s word – be magnified above His name?

Bible says “I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your loving kindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:1-2)

This is an incredible truth. God has done something marvelous, way far beyond all human power and ability — He has magnified His word.     God has made His word great; He has made it powerful; He has promoted it down through the ages; and with His word He does great things.

In many places throughout the Bible, the word magnify is the same word translated glorify. Glory is the beauty of God unveiled! Glory is the magnificent radiance of His power and His personality. Glory is all of God that makes God, God, and shows Him to be worthy of our praise and our boasting and our trust and our hope and our confidence and our joy! Glory is the external elegance of the internal Excellencies of God. Glory is what you see and experience and feel when God goes public with His beauty! Glory is also the one word answer to the most frequently asked question found on Christian lips. To every question that begins, "Why did God . . . ?" there is only one answer: "For His glory!" Cf. Eph. 1:6,12,14; 2:7; 3:8,10,16. God's own glory is what He aims for in all He does. That is why God's glory must be what we aim for in all we do.

Therefore, magnify and glorify can be used interchangeably. And magnify means “to make bigger.” That word “magnify” has the idea of making something large.  It also means to boast, or to increase.  The ultimate goal of every Christian should be to make our God and His word as large as possible in our lives. Normally, we magnify things that are small and irrelevant. Most of us have become masters at enlarging the problem and minimizing God and His Word. So, when we “magnify the Lord" we become the lens to help others to see Gods character and goodness, His grace and mercy, and Divine attributes of our Lord. We become the tool and the magnifying glass for another to see Him more clearly. What do you value? What’s big to you? You can magnify the Lord and make Him and His Word bigger than any problem. Psalm 69:30 says “I will magnify God with thanksgiving.”

If there was one bit of the best advice we could give to any one for the success in life, it would be the advice God gave to Joshua “MAGNIFY THE WORD OF GOD.” -The Lord said to Joshua “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:7- 8)

When Joshua begins to magnify God’s word, then the Lord said to Joshua, in Joshua 3:7:"This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel." Then God clearly says why: "…that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." God is magnified not when great servants do great things, but when faithful servants, upon whose lives the hand of God has been and through whose humble but faithful life   magnify His powerful  Word . To walk in God’s Glory is the greatest experience you will ever have. Listening to God’s Word will open new possibilities to your spirit. You will see things that you could have only imagined. Walking according to His word is like walking with God in the Garden of Eden. You will get to know Him in an intimate way.

The Book of Job has long been praised as a masterpiece of literature. It defends the absolute glory and perfection of God and paints a beautiful picture of "a godly man". The beginning of the book describes Job as blameless and upstanding, a man who feared God and avoided evil. Job was a man of moral integrity. He kept his life clean and even the appearance of evil was unpleasant to him. This man said a powerful statement about his life “I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food.(Job 23:12)

 The Jewish people so reverenced God that they would not even speak His name because they exalted Him so highly. Yet, He has magnified His Word, Jesus Christ the Living Word, even above His name because of His loving kindness towards us. Our text says that God elevates His Word above His Name. The Lord Jesus Christ and the Word they are inseparable, they are magnified above Himself. Philippians 2:9-11, says “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is an incredible truth. Yet, He has magnified His Word; that the Word of God is elevated ABOVE the wonderful name of Jesus.

This verse suggests that the way to truly honor God is to take His Word as the supreme authority in our life, which is even higher than calling on His name. Once God has said something that settles it forever, that means it is established. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)” My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.”(Psalm 89:34)

God’s name represents His authority, yet He has exalted His Word as the highest authority, above all other authorities, and even higher than the authority of His own name! It suggests that we will only understand His name (His authority, nature and attributes) WHEN we respect His Word above all else as the highest authority. The Bible says that God's Word is more important than the name of God, for God's character is represented by His faithfulness to honor His Word. I wonder if David knew the magnitude of those words when he spoke them long ago. God exalts His Word above His authority, and lives by His own rules. This is just what we would expect from our Just and Loving God, who lives by His own rules and keeps His promises. That is why we can trust God, but cannot trust man. We could not ask for a better God, or a better example. God’s Word is His communication, His promise, the revelation of Himself to His people. It is to be a lamp to our feet in a dark and fallen world, without it we would have no way to know God or how to do God’s will.

Going through Romans, we know God has made Himself known through His creation, but most clearly through His Word. We have His Word living in us, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6)

Many people are ignorant, unlearned and unstable; they have never grown up in the Lord. They are still little children in their spiritual maturity. “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” (1st Corinthians 3:1) “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”  “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” (2nd Corinthians 2:11)

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Ephesians 4:14)

God is our ultimate authority, His will is therefore absolute. God has spoken, and the Bible, as the written Word of God, carries this authority. God has drawn up absolute standards, which are always binding, irrespective of the situation. His Word transcends culture. What God has spoken applies universally to all cultures Moral norms do not change. All morality is grounded in the character, the acts, the purposes, and the instruction of God in the Bible. It is upon what God revealed in the Bible, and professed in the church, that the believer attempts to build his ethic and moral practice. God cannot contradict Himself nor can He lie. The question is then can God's truth be determined with absolute certainty? Hanging in the balance is the very souls of men and their eternal destiny. Where then is the problem? God says in 1 Corinthians 14:33, He, "God, is not the author of confusion."So the problem is not with God, but with finite men. Clearly, men have taken great latitude in the interpreting what the Bible says. God did not give us His written word to be a source of confusion or contention. God gave us His word in written form, whereby it would be available so that everyone could know His truth. Further, He wrote it in such a way as to be clear and not be complicated or misleading. He said in 2 Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." That simply means that no one person, or group has a lock up on the God's word. The Scriptures can be understood by all. This answers the important question, "What church is right?" The answer is the ones that rightly interpret, understand practice and live by God's word. "A man is only as good as his word"? We’ll, it's the same with the Lord.

No wonder Jesus is called THE WORD OF GOD in Revelation 19:13.  Jesus is the Living Word, and the Bible is the Written Word. God has a greater regard unto the words of his mouth, than to the works of his hand: heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or tittle of what he hath spoken shall never fall to the ground.

No wonder God has honored His Word, for He teaches that through this Word is the only way people can be saved. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (I Pet. 1:23). “Beyond all question there are higher and clearer manifestations of himself, of his being, of his perfection, of his purposes in the volume of revelation, than any which his works have disclosed or can disclose. There are very many points in relation to God, of the highest interest to mankind, on which the disclosures of science shed no light; there are many things which it is desirable for man to know, which cannot be learned in the schools of philosophy; there are consolations which man needs in a world of trouble which cannot be found in nature; there is especially a knowledge of the method by which sin may be pardoned, and the soul saved, which, can never be disclosed by the blowpipe, the telescope, or the microscope. These things, if learned at all, must be learned from revelation, and these are of more importance to man as a traveler to another world than all the learning which can be acquired in the schools of philosophy -- valuable as that learning is.”--Albert Barnes.

No wonder God says, ‘I have magnified My Word above all My name,’ because this is the instrument God uses to get people saved.

God has magnified it because this is the instrument of cleansing for the born-again child of God. John 15:3 says, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

I read in the Psalms where the psalmist said, “How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
" (Ps. 119:9).

No marvel that God has honored His Word above everything else, not only because it converts and cleanses but because it comforts. This will give you a clean heart and a clean mind quicker than anything else. When you go to the Bible, God does something that none of us realize He is doing. What comfort it brings! Knowing, trusting and obeying God's Word is our shield to falsehood and the temptations of the world. Christ quoted the Bible as his ultimate authority and witness and it is to be our ultimate authority and guide to living. "God is most magnified in you when you are most content in Him" 

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

God’s message to the people of Isaiah’s day was "woe" to the person that did not properly distinguish evil from good. The fact that the Lord would pronounce such a "woe" indicates that it was possible for the humankind to know the difference between good and evil. Beyond that, it is equally obvious that He expected us to know the difference. Yes, we needed to know right from wrong. Just as the physical tongue has a deficiency when it is unable to distinguish the difference between bitter and sweet tastes, and just as the physical eye is not functioning properly when it is not capable of telling the difference between darkness and light, so the spiritual taste and spiritual sight of a person are "off" or malfunctioning when a person in the moral realm identifies evil as "good" or vice versa. As we often say, "Something just isn’t right" when a person confuses good for evil or evil for good.

We live in a world of tremendous uncertainty, chaos and anxiety. We also live in a time when many people label good things as "evil," and evil matters as "good?" First, we need to recognize why some people call evil good, and good evil. It is surely the case that a great number of people mistakenly call good "evil" or evil "good" simply because they are ignorant of what the Lord has to say about it. In the physical realm, what do we call a person that is unable to tell the difference between light and darkness? We say that such a person is blind. The same is true in the spiritual realm: one that cannot or does not properly distinguish good from evil, is blind. It has always been the case that God has wanted all people “seeks good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. “(Amos 5:14-15). That, of course, requires that a person clearly understand what God labels as "evil" and what He labels as "good." The Bible says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination [exceedingly disgusting and hateful] to the Lord." (Proverbs 17:15).

When it comes to recognizing what is good and evil, we must come to the right source. Human thinking is not the right source. A particular path might appear to be a great one, but it just might lead to destruction (Proverbs 16:25). God charged the children of Israel to do that which was right and good in His sight, not their own (Deuteronomy 6:18). When God tells us, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9), He expects us to accept His judgment about what is good and evil. The word of God is the only source to which we can turn to identify properly matters that are good or evil. Jesus said “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,” (John 5:39). Every practice and teaching needs to be put to the test, the scriptural test, by comparing it to what God’s word has to say “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. “(1 John 4:1). One that does not come to the Bible to learn God’s standard of good and evil will never be able to properly tell the difference between good and evil.

Bible warned that in the last days there would be times of "perplexity" on the earth. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” We are truly living in an age where the pages of bible prophecy are literally being fulfilled before our very eyes....and in the news! It all brings us to a concrete fact and reality— the helplessness and hopelessness of the mankind.
We are also told in Hebrews 1:2; "God has spoken to us by his Son" "The last days" began with Jesus Christ! When Paul told Timothy about the last days, he was not so much predicting the future as describing his own day. He was telling Timothy what kind of world he lived in. We are also living in the “Information Age,” where news pops up on cell phones and school and college can be attended online. While there is a lot of knowledge (information) floating around, there isn’t much understanding, discernment and wisdom. Bible says “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her. (Prov. 8:11). We all need God’s perspective and His principle to live the Godly life-that’s why acquiring wisdom is not a suggestion but a command (Proverbs. 4:4, 5). “Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!” The wisest man of the Bible, King Solomon, wrote that the “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10).
This world of ours also is a world of opposites. There is light and darkness, there is heat and cold, there is good and evil, there is God and the Devil. How can we define what is good and what is evil? Are there universal indicators behind, within, or consequent upon an action by which one can determine whether it was a good or an evil act? How can one tell whether a person is good or evil? The greatest threat to modern world is corrupted ideology and devise of man’s own egoism. Our culture is disintegrating all around us. People are living in despair. All we have to do is read a newspaper or listen to a news broadcast any day of the week to realize that daily life in the world we live in is full of uncertainty and instability. War, hunger, poverty, ignorance, ethnic cleansing, age-old hatreds and prejudices, suicide bombings, terrorism, AIDS and other afflictions, economic instability with wide fluctuations in the stock market – all of these show clearly that our world is a frightening and unreliable place. Because the kingdom of this world is temporary and will one day pass away, it has nothing of enduring quality in which we can trust with any confidence.

Is there any good news in the midst of all of this? Yes, indeed there is. For those who live and walk according to God’s word and communion with Him, every day can be a good day, regardless of circumstances in the world. No matter how much unrest and turmoil swirls around us in the physical world, the spiritual world is stable. It cannot be moved. Unlike the kingdom of this world, God’s Kingdom is founded on eternal principles that will never fade or pass away.

Christ did not come to Earth to start a religion or a religious group. Jesus’ primary mission on earth was to reintroduce the original life style of heaven on Earth to mankind. Therefore learning the wisdom of the Bible helps us to discern good from evil and good knowledge from evil knowledge. Even when evil teachings are disguised as good, and argued shrewdly, we will not be easily fooled. There is no better application for the wisdom of the Bible than to be able to distinguish Good from evil, and to practice good in our own lives.
Bible says “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you, To deliver you from the way of evil, from the man who speaks perverse things; From those who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;” (NAS, Proverbs 2:6-13)

Albert Einstein said “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” 

The power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all.  Bible declares that “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.  They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.”Romans 2:14-16(NLT)

Anthony Burgess says “Goodness is something chosen, When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.” The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil. Wisdom is the knowledge of good and evil, not the strength to choose between the two.  Bible says “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (NIV, Luke 6:45)

Jesus gives us the answer in the parable of the good and bad fruits. He tells us to judge a teacher or minister by his or her deeds, not by his or her claims. Just as a fig tree produces only figs, a good teacher will advocate only good deeds and will live a life of good deeds. Just as a tree that produces poison fruit, a false teacher will advocate evil deeds and practice evil deeds, even while claiming to give godly advice.

Godly wisdom is the capacity to see things from the Lord’s viewpoint and respond according to scriptural principles. You can’t instantly download that ability, but you can acquire it gradually over time.

Knowledge is information, which comes from learning biblical principles; Understanding is the capacity to comprehend that knowledge and wisdom has to do with applying them. The Lord cautions us to keep His Word in our heart and in our heads so that we will heed His instructions (Ps. 119:11; Prov. 8:33).

Bible says about the first man “Adam.”  “Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it. He told him, You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is Evil. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." (Gen 2:15-17) But Adam and Eve disobeyed God, as a consequence they were at once stricken with guilt and they hid themselves with shame. Guilt and fear replaced the peace and happiness they knew. Here was the beginning of a troubled world- and a troubled mind.

 The schemes of the Enemy have not changed. He still whispers lies and twists truth to convince us. Here are some key essentials to understand eternal principles by which we become reconciled to the living God. The most obvious source of godly wisdom is manifested in creation and fully revealed in His Holy word. You cannot think of a question or life circumstance about which God’s Word is silent. His principles for right character, conduct, and conversation apply to every situation and decision confronting human beings.

The more we know the biblical truth; more powerful we are to change our world. There is no excuse for not being the best possible. Now is the time to change our life, regain the power we have given away because we are waiting for someone else to fix things for us, and get what we know we deserve. So what are we waiting for? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10.

Abraham, our father in faith, proved that he feared God by obeying his command to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22:12).  Moses told the children of Israel to " “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." (Deuteronomy 6:4-6).  Centuries later, the Prophet Samuel counseled the Israelites to "fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart" (I Samuel 12:24).  Isaiah 50:10 makes another clear association between the fear of God with obedience and trust in Him, as do Psalm 86:11; 112:1; 128:1 and Ecclesiastes 12:13. Jesus says, "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15).  King Solomon said “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments,    for this are the duty of all mankind.”(Ecclesiastes 12:13)

 Life is meaningless unless we live according God’s word. Therefore the greatest discovery in life is destiny. Destiny is source of purpose. Each of us can fulfill the purpose for which God created us, but first we must diligently seek Him. According to Jesus (Matthew 6:33) the real goal and priority of life is to seek God's kingdom (His kingdom means, His morals. His standards, His principles, His culture and His law) and be right before Him. But corrupt nature produces incorrect ideology that leads man to misconception, confusion and wrong conclusion. Thus men seek after wrong things. Study King Solomon, he experienced the pinnacle of enjoyment in every aspect of life; wealth, pleasure, and fame. Did it satisfy? No, It was all "vanity and vexation of spirit". (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11) Then he learned the real purpose of life: "Fear God and keep His commands" (12:13). Every one of us needs our burden of sin & guilt removed, but there is no way to accomplish that except through Jesus (Acts 4:12). And the Bible is the only book that can tell us how to receive God's forgiveness. Surely this book deserves our attention. 

God Bless.  

 The author is the Bishop of Believers Church, Patna Diocese