1 Thessalonians 1-2, Psalm 15
In a recent message, Pastor Lloyd discussed the reality that the Bible is actually God's literal words. There are those who say that they believe that the Bible is inspired and that it contains God's Word. But the Bible doesn't contain God's Word; the Bible is God's Word. Those who imply that the Bible is part God's Word allow themselves to become the ultimate judge as to what they believe belong to God and should be taken seriously, and which parts are from man or allegory or myth and can be disregarded or taken less seriously. Who wouldn't love to see the actual tablets that the 10 commandments were written on with God's own finger. Yet we fail to realize that this amazing book that we hold in our hands is just that, His actual words. Consider the arrogance and foolishness on our part when we proclaim what portions of Scripture we like or agree with, as though we actually think we have the right to be in a conversation with God and tell Him, no thank You, I'm not really interested in prophecy, or I don't really think your words in the Old Testament are relevant any longer, or stop troubling me with all that "end times" stuff, because it scares me. Our growth and our ability to convey God's truth to others will depend greatly on whether we emphasize God or ourselves in deciding which portions are relevant.
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." Paul only spent 3 weeks establishing the Thessalonian church, their acceptance of the validity of God's Word enabled this quick transformation, as Paul writes concerning them in 1:9, "For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,". Accepting that it is truly God's Word changes lives. Our ability to convey the truth of Scripture, uncensored, enables us to influence others. Paul wrote in 2:3-4, "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness-God is witness." The same is true today. If we are afraid of our audience and only speak those portions of truth that are easy to hear, we will be tripped up and confounded by others. But if we clearly and unashamedly present God's Word as His actual Word we will be strengthened. The fear of God trumps the fear of man. We see this in Paul. When young Jeremiah was beginning, God instructed him to boldly convey the truth in Jeremiah 1:7-8, "But the Lord said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth', For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the Lord."
We are God's witnesses. In a trial the witness on the stand is asked, "Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God." How much more important is this oath in the real world. We can only tell what we know. So in a world full of Biblical illiteracy, the world does not know the truth and therefore can not convey it. For those who know God's Word but are ashamed of its bold statements we are rendered ineffective. Whenever we focus less on God and more on our ability to stay positive and uplifting, focusing more on our thoughts, our opinions, our interpretation we run the danger of trying to marginalize the strength of God's Word. We are all called to share and disciple others. Armed with God's Word we have nothing to fear, even if others choose to disregard what we are saying, we can be unwavering.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: