Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Answer Key for Life

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105
Every week, my son's 7th grade math teacher emails me the answers along with that week's homework assignment. John is supposed to do his work as best as he can and then we check his work based on the answers the teacher mailed me.  We can quickly see what he understands and what he needs to work on.  Knowing the right answer is quick and easy.  If he gets a problem wrong, he figures out his mistake, fixes it and moves on.  Lesson learned.

I believe God intended the Bible to be the answer key to life.  It is a cheat sheet to understanding how the world works, the right way to live and why both good and bad things happen. God wants us to know the answers even before we have to do the assignment.

Psalm 119 explains how God's Word helps us know what to do.
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11  Knowing God's word keeps us from the damaging consequences of sin.
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105  It is impossible to find the right way to go if you can't see where you are going. God's Word illuminates truth for us and keeps us from stumbling.
"Great peace  have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble."  Psalm 119:165

One of Satan's most effective strategies for keeping us from abundant life is to devalue God's Word. In the Garden of Eden, "He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” After she answered Satan's question, he replied, “You will not surely die.  Satan's strategy of devaluing God's Word, hasn't changed over the years. Jesus said "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10.  We need to be on guard against Satan's suggestions that God's commands are keeping us from having the "good life."

This is ironic because Satan's distortion that God is keeping something from us, is the opposite of the purpose of God's commands.  In giving His people the Law, God gave them a cheat sheet to understanding the benefits and why they should follow the law- blessings would abound.  They didn't have to figure things out for themselves. They just had to copy the right answers in their words and deeds.  “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God" Deuteronomy 28   God also explained that if they didn't follow the law there would be consequences.

Both ancient and modern societies and even other religions have figured out the truths that have been spelled out for us in the Law.  The basic ideas like "Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal" are found in some form or another in most cultures throughout the world. God wanted to make it easy for His people to blessed lives. Sharing God's Word from Genesis to Revelation is a way to give other people the answer key to life's biggest questions.

As Christians who are not under the law but under grace we can quickly forget that God gave the law as a blessing to help His people understand the right way to live so that they would live abundant lives.  The Hebrew word for peace "Shalom" captures the idea of everything being perfect and at peace- conflict and stress come when our relationship with God or our relationships with other people are lacking peace.  Following God's law results in life in abundance.  Devaluing God's law results in destroyed relationships with God and other people.  Here's how following God's commands affects us, "Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." 1 John 2:4-6  To know God and show our love for him requires obedience.

God wants us to have an abundant life.  This requires using God's Word as the Answer Key to life. Make a goal to seek God's Word as the starting point for your tough questions. If deep down you don't want to follow God's Word, a minute to evaluate your heart and ask yourself the following questions.  

-What do I want more than God's blessings?
-Do I see obedience to God as keeping me from "fun" stuff and the "good life" or as a means to abundant life? 

Pray and ask God to change your heart so that you can exclaim with the Psalmist, "Oh how I love your Word, I meditate on it day and night." Psalm 119:97

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