Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Happens to a Nation That Has No Fear of God?

Scripture is filled with warnings and examples of severe judgments which God brings upon a nation that does not fear Him. Here are several examples. I. It will be the victim of its own wickedness. Because there is no fear of God the people decide what is right and what is wrong. Every man does that which is right in his own eyes and the wickedness of immorality abounds. God’s moral standards, however, do not change and He will not be mocked. “For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8). With the onslaught of a host of venereal diseases and the current economic disaster, the warning of Jeremiah 2:19 is coming to pass in America “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee; Know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, says the Lord God of hosts.” II. It legal system will become unjust. When men’s hearts are set on doing evil, they will reinterpret existing laws and create new laws to justify greed and wickedness. “But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart, neither say they in their heart, let us now fear the Lord, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge” (Jeremiah 5:23-24, 28). III. Its wealth will be controlled by other nations. When our nation trusted in God, read His Word in our public schools, and taught His moral standards in our classrooms, we were the richest nation in the world. We are now the greatest debtor nation in the world. Scripture is clear that the borrower is servant to the lender. We are not only debtors, but citizens of other nations now own and control significant portions of our land, resources, and companies. “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shall come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44). IV. What is God’s cure for a nation that does not fear Him? God’s only remedy for a nation that turns from Him is the active presence of righteous and God fearing people. God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah had there been only ten righteous people in them. Never before has it been so vital for God’s people to be totally dedicated to Him and living testimonies of the principles of His Word. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him: (Isaiah 59:19). We will have a strong nation when we have strong churches. We will have strong churches when we have strong families. We will have strong families when we have fathers who know how to be strong spiritual leaders. One of the primary functions of the local church is to teach Christians, the community, and the nation the fear of the Lord. If Satan can hinder the church in carrying out this vital role, He has accomplished a major victory. For this reason pastors are under special attack. Last year in one denomination alone 1,800 pastors left the ministry, most of them because of discouragement. No wonder Scripture exhorts us to pray for our spiritual authorities and to encourage them in every way we can.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Can We Learn to Fear of the Lord Part Two?

Believers and unbelievers alike, need to learn to fear the Lord. To the degree we fear the Lord we will obtain His blessings, and to the degree that we do not fear the Lord we will experience His judgments. Scripture states that there are certain things we can do to cause us to learn the fear of the Lord. We need to learn the meaning of the word astonishment. Astonishment relates to the inability to speak in the face of an awesome and overwhelming situation. The Greek word for astonish is (thahm-BEH-oh), meaning to “stupefy.” Our English word comes from the French estoner. This word is derived from the Latin ex meaning “out” and tonare meaning “to thunder.” It literally means, “to be thunderstruck, to be struck dumb.” One who is truly astonished is stunned with sudden fear, wonder, and amazement. When Paul was on the road to Damascus, he was astonished at the appearance of Christ and His message to him. “And he said, who are thou, Lord? And the Lord said I am Jesus who you persecute: it is hard for you to kick against the goads. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:5-6). Let’s learn how astonishment relates to fearing God. In the presence of the omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) God, we should hold our tongues in astonishment. God advises us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). We are further warned in Ecclesiastes to hold our tongues when we go into the presence of God, and to be more ready to hear than to speak. “Be not rash with your mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few: (Ecclesiastes 5:2). The next word we need to learn is tremble. Trembling is the physical result of overpowering fear. The English word comes from the Latin tremor, meaning “to shake involuntarily, to quiver, to quake.” A graphic illustration of trembling occurred in the life of Belshazzar. “In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another and his lords were astonished” (Daniel 5:5-9). Another example of trembling and trepidation is given in the account of the guarding of the tomb of Christ. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men” (Matthew 28:3-4). The last word we must learn the meaning of is dread. The word dread expresses more than fear but less than terror and fright. It refers to an intense uneasiness or alarm excited by expected pain, loss or other harm. Also unlike the word terror, dread is less sudden and more sustained. Daniel ascribed the quality of dread to God in his prayer. “And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). Isaiah had a dread of his sinful condition in the presence of a Holy God. “Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of as people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6”5). Let’s examine how dread relates to the fear of the Lord. We should have such awe at the power and authority of God that sinning against Him produces a fearful dread of sure judgment. On the other hand, the dread of God should not make us afraid if we are justified by Christ. Job stated of God, “Shall not his Excellency make you afraid? And his dread fall upon you?” (Job 13:11). As for him, he acknowledged his sin: “How many are mine iniquities and sins” make me to know my transgression and my sin” (Job 13:23). However, he also said, “I know that I shall be justified” (Job 13:18). Therefore he prayed, “let not thy dread make me afraid” (Job 13:21). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Can We Learn To Fear the Lord Part One?

Both Christians and unbelievers must learn to fear the Lord. To the degree that we fear the Lord we will have His blessings, and to the degree that we do not fear the Lord we will experience His judgments. Scripture states that there are certain things we can do to help us learn the fear of the Lord. We must learn the words which God uses to describe the fear which we should have for Him. The first word we must learn is terror. This describes the most extreme degree of fear. It is totally disabling to the one who experiences it, leaving that person with neither physical strength nor mental ability. The root word for terror in the Hebrew language is (ghay-TAHTH). It means “to prostrate by confusion and fear.” The Greek root is (FAW-boss) which means “to terrify with exceeding alarm.” This terror is precisely the experience which the Apostle John had when he looked upon the reality of God. "And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me…And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not” (Revelation 1:12-17). We need to learn how terror relates to the fear of the Lord. The judgments of God are called “terrors” in Scripture. David declared: “Thy fierce wrath goes over me; your terrors have cut me off” (Psalm 88:16). There is no doubt that God’s judgments upon sin do bring terror to those who experience them. These judgments should be spoken of and described especially among God’s people so that even the thought of sin would strike terror in every heart. This concept lies behind the warnings the Apostle Paul gave to the church at Corinth, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11). The next word we must know the meaning of is fright. The Greek word for fright is (ekthahm-BEH-oh) which literally means “to shrink or shiver with fear.” It is a sudden violent fear caused by the appearance of danger and is distinguished from fear and dread by its sudden invasion and temporary existence. When Jesus stilled the storm, His disciples experienced fright. “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). Fright often comes when we encounter a power which is far bigger than we are and which we do not understand. This is consistently demonstrated in Scripture as people witnessed Christ’s supernatural power. When Jesus cured the demoniac, the people feared. “Then the whole multitude of the country of the Gadarenes round about besought him to depart from them; for they were taken with great fear” (luke 8:37). When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection, they experienced fright. “And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:36-37). The next word we must learn is dismay. Whereas terror and fright immediately affect the physical strength, dismay removes the mental ability of a person. The Hebrew word which is translated dismay describes a condition of being drained of confidence and courage to the point where a person literally faints. Our English word dismay probably came from the Teutonic des, which is a negative, and magen which means” to be strong” or “able.” Thus, to dismay is “to remove the strength or firmness of mind which constitutes courage.” Faced with the presence of God’s power, majesty, and splendor, a person would be dismayed. When God appeared to Daniel in a vision, Daniel testified that there remained no strength in him and he was prostrate before the Lord. There is a great tendency among God’s people to be dismayed at the strength of the wicked. Thus, Scripture gives the command repeatedly, “be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed” (Joshua 1:9). When we see the judgments of God on the children of disobedience, we should be dismayed and have no strength like Daniel. However, when we hear the voice of God giving us reassurance and direction, we should be revived. “Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me” (Daniel 10:18-19). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How is A Healthy Fear of The Lord Different from the Destructive Fear of Satan?

Most Christians have little or no understanding of the "fear of the Lord." Whenever the phrase comes up in Scripture (which is quite often), it is quickly interpreted as simply a reverential trust in the Lord. This anemic definition fails to open up the power and significance of this concept or to explain the many results and rewards which are described in Scripture for those who have the fear of the Lord. Particularly significant is the following verse which relates the fear of the Lord to the achievement of moral purity "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil" (Proverbs 16:6). It is significant that the same Hebrew and Greek words are used for both wholesome fear and destructive fear. Therefore, the difference between the two fears is not to be found in the words. The Fear of man or of Satan brings a snare, but the fear of God brings a blessing. The Hebrew root for fear is (yah-RAH). It primarily means, “To frighten, to affright, be (made) afraid, to dread.” It is used in each of the following verses: David said, “My flesh trembled for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments” (Psalm 119:120). We are commanded to “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11). “And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies: (II Kings 17:38-39). The Greek word for fear is (FAW-boss). Originally this word had the meaning of “flight” or “that which causes a person to flee in dread and terror.” When Jesus taught His disciples about what to fear and what not to fear, He used the same Greek word for both. “And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5). To fear the Lord goes far beyond the idea of reverential trust. It includes a controlling awe of His power and righteous retribution and a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. Even though the same word is used for the various applications of fear, there are important distinctions: Destructive fear is fearing the thunder instead of the One who made the thunder. The Lord is a God of cause and effect. This is why He can demand obedience to His Law. He knows the outcome if we violate it. It is also for this reason that He continually commands us not to focus our fear on the results of His working but instead on Him and His Law. When the storm overtook the disciples on the sea, they feared the wind and the waves. Jesus instructed them not to fear these things; then He showed His power over the elements by calming the storm. Destructive fear is overcome by dynamic faith. For the Christian, lack of faith produces destructive fear. This is emphasized in Jesus’ statement to the disciples after He calmed the sea: “Master. Careth thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them. Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:38-40). When God tells us to fear Him, He is requiring us to acknowledge an aspect of His character such as His justice, His holiness, or His power. For each one of these attributes, God has a balancing attribute. For His justice, He shows mercy. For His holiness, He gives grace. For His power, He displays loving-kindness. The more we understand, acknowledge, and fear the first set of attributes, the more faith, hope, and confidence we have in the balancing set of qualities. This balance of fear and faith is illustrated throughout Scripture. Paul related his walk of faith and witness to his fear of God’s justice and righteousness in the following Scripture: “For we walk by faith, not by sight…For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God” (II Corinthians 5:7, 10-11). A person with little faith but a great awareness of God’s power, justice, and holiness will be out of balance in his fear of the Lord. In order to have a proper fear of the Lord, a person must increase his faith in the attributes which balance the ones that he fears. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Fear of the Lord

“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life” (Proverbs 22:4). A good way to define the fear of the Lord is to be continually aware that I am in the presence of a holy, just, and almighty God and that my every thought, word, action, and deed is open before Him. In other words, the assurance that God is watching. If we knew that all of our secret thoughts, words, and actions would be displayed publicly so that everyone could watch them and evaluate them, it would make a profound difference in the way we live. We have an instinctive concern about what others think of us and how they will judge the things we do. This concern constitutes a fear of man. If we have this much concern over what man thinks, how much more we should be concerned about God’s evaluation of our thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, and motives. The fact is that everything we think, say, and do will one day be displayed for the entire world to see and judge. “Thou God seeth me” (Genesis 16:13). “You know my down sitting and mine uprising, thou understands my thoughts afar off” (Psalm 139:4). “Yea, the darkness hides not from thee; but the night shines as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee: (Psalm 139:12). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10). “He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalm 94:9). “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondered all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21). “For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17). “The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men” (Psalm 11:4). The promise that secrets will be exposed. “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad” (Luke 8:17). “Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:3). How would the fear of God Change your life? If you live in the daily reality that God is watching and evaluating everything you do, and that He is going to publicly expose and judge every secret sin--what thoughts would change? What words would not be spoken? What actions would cease? What attitudes would be corrected? What motives would be purified? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-How to Encourage Your Pastor

Discouragement is a pastor killer. The Lord's Sheep have a wonderful opportunity to be of great encouragement to God’s under shepherds. Your pastor would be encouraged if he knew you were praying for him consistently. Even the Apostle Paul pleaded for the prayers of those to whom he ministered. He also told them how to pray. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19). Your pastor would appreciate help with routine tasks so that he could maintain his God given priorities.” When a pastor is expected to do everything, he has little time for the primary ministry to which God has called him. It was for this reason that Godly assistants were chosen in the early church. Then the apostles could give themselves…continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). Your Pastor is encouraged when people come to church expecting to receive a message from the Lord. Rather than evaluating or critiquing the points of the sermon, a Christian who is hungering and thirsting after God’s Word will be alert for insights and direction through songs, prayers, messages, the reading of the Word, or Scripture which God brings to their mind during the service. Nothing encourages a pastor more than reports of those who were hearers and doers of the messages which God used him to bring. (See II Corinthians 3:1-6). Your Pastor is strengthened by members who work for harmony within the church. Harmony begins by each member being in a right relationship with the Lord. It is strengthened by a friendly smile and a word of encouragement whenever Christians meet together. It is guarded and protected when members refuse to spread gossip. And if broken, it is restored when Christians ask forgiveness when they have been wrong. “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). Your Pastor is grateful when members offer special assistance prior to a major church event. Often a person whom the pastor was counting on finds that he is unable to carry out a responsibility due to sickness, conflicting responsibilities, or the need for further assistance. One pastor stated, “Whenever a person calls before a major event, I can always thing of several things that he could do that would help me out.” Your pastor is thankful for members who honor the Lord in their finances and give in obedience to His direction. True giving occurs when members dedicate the ownership of all they have to the Lord and live in harmony with His principles. One of these principles involves laying in store as God prospered you during the past week. (See II Corinthians 9:7). A wise pastor knows that those who sow generously will reap generously and those who sow sparingly will reap sparingly. (See II Corinthians 9:6). He is also aware that whatever is given to the ministry of the Lord constitutes eternal treasures which are laid up for the giver in heaven. (See Matthew 6:19-21). Your pastor is challenged by members who have an effective witness in the community and who are leading others to Christ. A healthy church is not only growing by those who receive Christ during the services but by those who are witnessed to during the week. Pastors are overjoyed when they see members bring to the church those to whom they have witnessed during the week. This is what took place in the early church. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Based on these ideas, can you say that you are participating in the action described in Ephesians 4:16? “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Which one of these could you do right now to encourage your pastor today? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-Wandering Sheep Can Munch Their Way into Danger

Someone wisely said “even the Lone Ranger had Tonto." We need each other in the body of Christ. Every believer should become an active part of a Bible believing Church family. Sheep that become independent soon stray away from the safety of the shepherd and the flock. They are actually drawn away by their by their own appetites as they go from one clump of grass to another. Thus, they expose themselves to a multitude of dangers. The sheep’s thick coat of wool can easily be caught in the underbrush of thickets, causing the sheep to be held captive until it dies. A lone sheep is also an open invitation to one of its many predators. Without the protection of the shepherd, a wolf, a lion, or a bear would quickly kill and devour the sheep. Further dangers for sheep involve falling into crevices, picking up parasites, eating poisonous plants, or casting. A wise shepherd is aware of all of these dangers. Therefore, if he sees that one of his sheep is persistent in going its own way, he will resort to administering the pain of discipline. He will lovingly break one of its legs and then nurse the sheep back to health. This close association between shepherd and sheep establishes a special bond which continues after the leg is healed. It was this picture that David had in mind when he wrote the words; “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (Psalm 51:8). It is during times of such discipline that meditation becomes especially cherished and valuable to the Christian. Meditation is a communing with God in the language of His own written Word. "My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes" (Psalm 119:48). Meditation is "talking to the King in the King's own words." “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments” (Psalm 119:176). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-Balance between Eating and Exercise

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. On the other hand all play and no work makes Jack a lazy boy. Our God is the God of balance. Satan is the "god" of imbalance. The enemy will climb into the car of life and either tell you to put the pedal to the medal or stomp the brake to the floor. Either choice can wipe you out on the freeway of life. We will see God's desired balance between eating and exercise illustrated in the lives of sheep. If sheep spend too much time eating and ruminating, they will build up layers of fat. Obesity is a dangerous condition, since it is then easy for the sheep to roll over during a time of rumination. Rolling over is called casting. When a sheep is in this condition its center of gravity shifts so that it cannot right itself. Stomach gasses begin to swell the sheep’s stomach. The bloated stomach cuts off circulation to the feet, and the sheep is no longer able to stand upon them. The ultimate consequence of casting is death. God has placed significant warnings in Scripture for us to maintain a balance between the study of the Word and its application. The imbalance caused by study without application is strongly condemned in James 1: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror: For he beholds himself and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25). Many pastors of local church have affirmed that the two groups of members who cause the most trouble are those who get too little spiritual food and those who get too much spiritual food (knowledge without application). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-How Memorization Differs From Meditation

Meditation is that sweet fellowship that comes from worshiping God in Spirit and in truth. "My meditation of him shall be sweet" (Psalm 104:34). Once the steps of memorization have taken place, meditation can begin. In memorization we confirm the interpretation of a passage; in meditation we discover its applications to our lives. There is only one interpretation of Scripture (see II Peter 1:20). However, there are an infinite number of applications. The Holy Spirit guides us to the right interpretation of Scripture as we study the context, the original languages, the historical setting, and the sentence structure of the passage. We are led to correct applications as the Holy Spirit takes the Word and directs it to specific needs and situations. Each application must be in full harmony with the interpretation and must not be contrary to any other Scripture. Paul based sound teaching on Christ’s own words and on that which leads to Christ like living (see I Timothy 6:3). Paul’s teaching is also consistent with the emphasis of Joshua 1:8, “that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein.” Jesus confirmed the need to study the whole Bible when He taught, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Two other factors must be considered if we are to glean accurate application from meditation: the cleansing of guilt and the removal of bitterness. These two poisons of the soul and spirit will corrupt the Word and cause us to misapply it in daily situations. Great damage is done when Scripture is inaccurately applied. For this reason, we must know the Scriptures, memorizing as much as possible so that when we meditate on them day and night, we can compare spiritual concepts with spiritual realities and enjoy the rewards of spiritual discernment. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baptist leader speaks out against Obama's pro-death moves

Associated Press - A Southern Baptist leader who serves on President Barack Obama's Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships opposes Obama's move to fund embryonic stem-cell research. Rev. Frank Page, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says he told the White House that he is alarmed at Obama's "consistent pattern of removing any pro-life protections." Page says he wonders sometimes if the president is really listening to his advice and says he is conscious of being a Baptist and evangelical voice on the president's advisory council. "I know that I am representing a huge number of people who are deeply concerned, and as long as I am at the table I have a voice at the table, and I am trying to maintain that and be true to what I feel is a biblically consistent voice," he notes. But after Page objected last week to the removal of conscience protections for medical providers, he says he got a letter from the White House. "Promising me in writing that President Obama would never be a part of forcing anyone to perform an abortion against his or her conscience," he points out. Page says he disagrees with President Obama's move to federally fund embryonic stem-cell research. "I'm just seeing this consistent pattern of removing any pro-life protection, so I am deeply concerned," he admits. "And I have stated that concern and will continue to state it."

Shepherd and Sheep Series-Distinguishing Memorization from Review

How are you doing in the area of Scripture memorization? Perhaps your answer is "not really all that well!" The fact is, in this area, you are not the Lone Ranger. However, the good news is God has an answer to your problem. Many who have memorized Scripture have become discouraged because they soon forget what they have memorized. This concern is needless and shows lack of understanding of the true nature of meditation. The purpose of memorization is not to see how many chapters we can quote, but rather to prepare us for the daily process of meditation. This process is of paramount importance to God. The principles of this process are clearly pictured in God’s provision of manna: It had to be gathered each day. Yesterday’s manna became stale, a fact which forced the people to depend upon the Lord daily and to live in proper reverence of Him. There is need to review Scriptures so we can have material upon which to meditate and with which to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth; “for the Father seeks such to worship him” (John 4:23). Simply reviewing chapters may appeal to the sense of accomplishment of our soul and can lead to pride. Actually, there is no loss in forgetting what we have memorized, since there is great value in rememorizing it and getting new insight from it. There is benefit, however, in memorizing as much as possible. The conscious mind may forget a passage; however, the Spirit will bring it to our attention whenever it is needed. Memorized Scripture is like the snow bank described in Isaiah 55:10-11. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Just as snow comes into a cold atmosphere, we may memorize God’s Word with a cold heart and even forget what we have memorized; however, the snow does not go away and when God warms up our hearts, the Word ‘melts” into our consciousness and accomplishes its purposes. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Shepherd and Sheep Series-Sheep Refine Their Food during the First Chewing

As we study the eating patterns of sheep we learn many principles that apply of our own "grazing" in the Word. Often while grazing, sheep will swallow sticks and stones along with the grass and plants. These larger objects go into the first compartment of the stomach, the rumen. These indigestible items are not allowed to pass through the digestive system but are brought up again during rumination so that they can be expelled. The digestive system of many animals is activated as soon as they swallow food. This is not true of sheep. Sheep will eat and swallow a sufficient portion of food. Most of this food collects in the first of its four stomach compartments called the rumen or paunch, which is designed to hold larger pieces of food. This compartment does not contain any digestive juices. In our studies of Scripture it is easy to add human presuppositions and inaccurate connotations to what God’s Word is really saying. The truth is there are issues of which we have faulty understanding. Wrong teaching or incomplete teaching, can lead to wrong thinking. Therefore, the vital first step in meditation is to bring each thought that we have under the scrutiny of the principles of Scripture and to throw out those ideas which are not consistent with it. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5). Once the indigestible food is removed from the rumen, the remaining food is passed into the second stomach compartment, called the reticulum. Here, the food is turned into soft clumps which are called cuds. Just as sheep take in large amounts of food before they digest it, so Christians should read and memorize large sections of Scripture. By doing this, we will establish an inward resource upon which to meditate, and as we meditate, we will see each verse from its larger perspective. This practice will decrease the danger of misinterpreting a single verse or a Scriptural idea. It will also allow the Holy Spirit to reveal basic principles and their practical applications so that we can rightly divide the Word of truth (see II Timothy 2:15). The application is obvious; after we take in large portions of Scripture, our minds and hearts must be cleansed of evil or wrong presuppositions that defile us. Then we are ready to begin meditating on God’s Word. The Holy Spirit will bring to our conscious minds those things that offend God, and defile our hearts and minds; as we ask Him to do so. After a time of cleansing we will be able to properly “chew on the Scriptures.” Meditation is building your day and night around Scripture. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.