Be Teachable

Acts 8:31   (NLT)   The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

“Teachability” is a very valuable virtue. It requires humility but it’s also a path to greatness. It takes humility to admit lack of understanding, to admit need of help, to admit someone knows more than you do. Learning requires sincerity and resolve. It Acts 8.31 - Be Teachablenecessitates effort. The person in this story had a hard time understanding what he was reading, but he was reading nonetheless.

Having a know-it-all attitude is disadvantageous. Wise people understand: wisdom is a life-long pursuit; the truth is: it is an eternity-long pursuit. Our learning doesn’t stop when we meet the Lord face to face.

There is no greater source of wisdom than God’s Word. True: there are some parts hard to understand; it will take a sincere desire to learn for us to grasp truths God intends for us. We find it a big help listening to others who have also spent time and effort in studying His Word. We don’t deny personal responsibility; we have to read the word by ourselves; we have to study it; meditate on it; memorize it; live it out; share it. But we can certainly also learn from others. It doesn’t diminish our self-esteem when we do. We expand our horizon much greater by mining the gold from other people’s perspective. We recognize that we miss some important insights other people catch. We even learn from people of the world; they too have wisdom to share; they too are created in God’s image; they have undeniably good contributions. In some cases, we need discernment from the Holy Spirit to know whether what they teach is godly or worldly. It’s no problem because God is more generous with His Spirit guiding us, helping us, warning us, and leading us to the truth.

Dear heavenly Father—all loving and all wise, thank You for giving us understanding and insight—especially when it comes to vital spiritual truths. Thank You for giving us your Holy Spirit without Whom we would be spiritually blind. Thank You for making us a part of people who have the same access to Your Spirit—the Spirit of wisdom. Thank You for giving us opportunities to learn, to know more about You, Your Word, Your love, and a lot more wonderful truths we absolutely treasure. And thank You for the privilege and honor of bearing and sharing this treasure.

 

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Dealing with Disputable Matters

Titus 3:9   (KJV)   But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

This is as straightforward as straightforward could be: we have to avoid foolish or ill-informed questions or discussions, foolish and proud discussions about genealogies or spiritual pedigrees, contentions and/or quarrels and/or dissentions and/or fights, even Titus 3.9 - Dealing with Disputable Matterswhen we’re dealing with the Law or God’s Word. Why should we avoid them? Why not get involved with these seemingly helpful discussions? It’s because they are unprofitable, useless, they’re a waste of our time, energy, and effort.

Aren’t all questions and discussions about God’s Word beneficial? The answer is obvious. We’re to avoid discussions that are foolish, disputable, and controversial. We avoid discussing teachings that lead to quarrels and fights. These are argumentable teachings that may be very clear in the Bible but the most well-meaning and most well-intentioned of us interpret very differently from each other.

“In essential teachings, we have unity; in non-essentials, we have liberty; in all things, we have charity—we have love.” There are essential teachings in the Scriptures; they are clear, absolute truths we don’t compromise. We teach them, spread them, discuss them, propagate them, and defend them. Then there are the disputable ones. We study them; we unbiasedly interpret what they teach. We believe what we humbly understand about them—with full conviction and persuasion. In dealing with those who believe otherwise; we keep our beliefs between ourselves and God. Why, I’d we’d rather talk to our brothers and sisters about those cardinal, non-negotiable teachings and practices that unite us, and lead us to loving each other deeper rather than those argumentable interpretations that lead to heartaches, quarreling, and even sin.

If any of you find a better and more Scriptural approach regarding disputable teachings or interpretations, I beseech you to educate me. Our hearts are after the Lord; He is the Truth; there’s no problem for us waving a white flag, bowing our hearts, and bending our knees to the authority of the Truth. Otherwise, let’s keep loving each other, united, and teaching the essential things of the Kingdom: righteousness, love, truth…

Living in Wisdom

Genesis 41:39   (KJV)   39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Pharaoh, someone who neither knew nor worshiped Joseph’s God recognized His reality because of the wisdom he saw in Joseph. In fact, He perceived the presence of God’s Spirit in Joseph. Pharaoh figured, a kind of man like Joseph especially endowed with what’s genesis-41-39-living-in-wisdombeyond the natural, definitely has something especial in Him. Pharaoh clearly saw the value of what Joseph possessed that he gave this person who was fresh from prison the 2nd highest rank in the Egyptian kingdom.

Discreetness, intelligence, and wisdom come from God, and He gives them to us very generously. He doesn’t run out of ways in getting them to us. He can do it naturally, and if needed, He can do it supernaturally. Interpreting dreams; the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as word of knowledge, word of wisdom, discernment of spirits, prophecy, interpretation of unknown tongues—all these are directly dropped down to us from Him, with no contribution from our naturally accumulated information.

It’s not that diligence in studying isn’t important; we also grow in knowledge in wisdom through natural process of studying and learning. God’s hands aren’t tied as to what method He uses. We have considerable responsibility in growing His gifts to us. We do our best to be intelligent and wise. But there are numerous situations when God has to directly and supernaturally intervene, otherwise, we won’t have an iota of clue as to what to do. Praise God, He’s still very much involved in our affairs. And that’s totally great. We need Him completely. Whether the wisdom we employ comes from our natural learning or supernatural outpouring, it’s God’s favor that makes them count and multiplies their results.

Dangerous Disbelief

Acts 13:41  (KJV)   41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

These were Apostle Paul’s words. He preached the Good News of salvation to his audience. It was a very clear message showing that Jesus was the Messiah who was spoken of in the Scriptures. He would come, He would die, and He would rise again. Paul repeatedly showed them that Jesus was the fulfillment of very specific prophecies about the Messiah and that Jesus’ experiences fit those prophecies perfectly. And then he encouraged and cautioned them to be careful and to avoid missing out on this eternity-changing truth.

There are people in the world who just won’t believe the truth. It’s not that they haven’t heard; it’s not that they don’t know; it’s just that they won’t believe. They have positioned themselves against God. They have sufficient proofs, but no convincing evidence is enough for those who have convinced themselves that no evidence is convincing enough. They are more concerned about how to discredit anything that has to do with God, to arrogantly mock God and those who believe in God, and to rally others to share in their obstinacy. But let’s beware. The greatest shock of their lives will come. By then it will be too late. Their disbelief in the truth doesn’t make truth untrue. Just because they didn’t believe in God here on earth doesn’t mean they won’t believe in God after “earth.” Just because they don’t think God exists doesn’t mean God stops existing. Just because they don’t believe in the final judgment doesn’t mean God stops judging. There are more than sufficient proofs. That’s why there are thoroughly convinced believers. Yes, there are blind followers, and that’s not right either. But there are those who have found that critically important intersection of faith and reason. Instead of being consumed with trying to defend our position and attacking those who believe differently, let’s us openly and humbly believe, live out, teach, and keep pursuing truth.

Dear God, You are Truth. We pray that there’s where our growth will be. Help us to not be arrogantly immovable in our beliefs when there’s a possibility that we may be wrong. Help us to be always willing to surrender our erroneous doctrines. But that will require us to be willing to accept that we may be wrong. Help us to humbly admit the reality of our imperfections – even in interpretations. As we keep desiring, adjusting to, and aligning ourselves to the truth, we’ll find ourselves in the right place and in the right track. Thank You for leaving us Your Word and Your Spirit to guide us into all truth, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

“Either – or” or Both

Luke 24:25-26  (KJV)   25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

Even those closest to the Lord Jesus missed out on the facts of His death and resurrection. They saw overwhelming evidences that Jesus is indeed Who He claimed to be: the Christ, Son of the living God, Lord and Savior. But when He died; their faith “died.” Their minds were set on the glorious aspects of the Messiah. They saw the wonderful demonstrations of power; great! They expected an ever expanding trip from glory to greater glory. After all, the Scripture repeatedly and emphatically speaks of a Messiah Who will reign forever. Their expectations wouldn’t be amiss; He will indeed reign forever;  but it was lacking. There was another side they failed to see: the Messiah had to suffer first. His suffering didn’t disprove His “Messiahship;” it confirmed it. They saw an incomplete picture; that’s why even in the triumphs of the resurrection, they couldn’t rejoice – they had a hard time understanding. They missed the suffering part, now they were missing the glory part; they couldn’t rejoice when Jesus gloriously defeated death and victoriously rose from the grave.

To choose “either – or” when the Scripture speaks of “both” is to end up with many possible wrong and even dangerous interpretations, doctrines and expectations. Same is true when we choose “both” when the Scripture teaches “either – or.”  The Scripture teaches the Messiah – the Prince of Peace Who alone would bring ultimate peace to all of creation, but would also be a reason for divisions. The Scripture teaches of God’s sovereignty, but also teaches on the free will of man. The Scripture teaches that we can’t be saved by good works, but we ought to strive to do good works as saved people. The Scripture teaches a God of grace, but also a God of justice, a God of love, but also a God of holiness, a God to love and a God to fear, a God Who’s our Father, but also our Master. It teaches of woman not allowed to teach in the congregation but are allowed to prophesy. Whenever we pull towards one teaching and discard the other equally true teaching, we run into a very dangerous proposition. We don’t want to miss out on the truth. We therefore ought to open our hearts, be unbiased, and be humbly and totally submitted to it. This means all truths – whether it runs contrary to our preferences or not.

Our God of Truth, may we genuinely have a heart for You. You are the Truth. Please help us to be humble that we may wave a white flag of absolute surrender to Your teachings – no matter how different they may be from what we may formerly know. Thank you for all the beliefs we have that are faithfully aligned to Your Word. Please show us where we’re amiss, and may we do what’s right. In Jesus’ Name, amen.