Monday, March 2, 2015

Talents From God Are For God

Sometimes you will hear the phrase “naturally gifted and talented” to describe someone who excels in a particular ability. The abilities in these individuals come natural for them. They seem to flow and also appear effortless in accomplishments.

The Bible has a word for these talents. It is the Hebrew word hokmah. It is used to describe people who have special ability from God. The first place this word is used is in Exodus with the construction of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Exodus 31:1 states, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel…and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability…and all craftsmanship…’” This is the first place in the Bible that someone is filled with the Holy Spirit and it is in context of being equipped  to do a task. The ability to do that task is called hokmah.

This word is used in conjunction with the other words for wisdom because, like the other words, hokmah is from God’s word and for God’s purposes. One of the ways of God is that He gives what is needed before it is needed. And God gives hokmah from His word to equip with His ability for the task at hand. Wisdom is knowing that what you have is from God and for God. This is also called worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.

In the New Testament we call these abilities spiritual gifts. They are abilities and talents that are from God and for God. God’s word gives directions on what and where and when these spiritual abilities are to be engaged. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit and carry out and accomplish His good, pleasing, and perfect will. And it pleases the Father because the task is from Him, for Him, and done by Him through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He sees Himself in it and is pleases. He gets the glory and you get the joy! Hallelujah!!!

Today, memorize and meditate on the meaning of Psalm 119:98. It uses the word hokmah.

Tomorrow we will start with that verse and study the wisdom of spiritual warfare.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Led By the Bible and Taught By the Spirit

The old hymn, I Am Resolved, has the line “…led by the Bible, taught by the Spirit, we’ll walk the heavenly way.” Being resolved to be led by the Bible and taught by the Spirit is one of the ways of God. It is also at the heart of the meaning of one of the Hebrew words for wisdom, the word bayin.

Yesterday, you learned that bayin is from a root word meaning to cut, to separate. It developed into the word for understanding in the sense of knowing good from evil. In the context of Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 3:6 – 9 you also learn that it is necessary for leading, as in choosing the right direction, the good, pleasing, perfect will of God.

The word bayin is used 169 times in the Old Testament, over three times more than any other Hebrew word for wisdom (and there are many). Every time it is used, it is in the context of leadership.

For example, the first place this word shows up in the OT is in Genesis 41:33 describing Joseph as he led Egypt to prepare for the seven years of plenty followed by the seven years of famine. Another example is of the Levites in 2 Chronicles 34 – 35, during the days of Josiah, and how they possessed bayin to lead and teach Judah in worship with the songs and instruments of David. God gives bayin from His word to reveal His will to give direction to our lives so that we will choose the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Your will is the decision-maker of your life. It makes a decision, informed by your mind and carried out by your body. It is powerful. Have you ever heard the term “will-power?” Once set it is hard to change. It will overrule the mind and the body in leading, which is why it is so important that it be right in its leadership, in discerning good from evil.

When you submit your will to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, He will lead you from God’s word, and you begin walking in the Spirit, by the Spirit, to carry out the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Your will possesses and is possessed by bayin and you are worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.

Today, memorize Psalm 119:169 (one of the places bayin is used) and make it your prayer of trust and submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit today.

Tomorrow, we will look at what the New Testament says about “good and evil.”

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wisdom From a Listening Heart

In 1 Kings 3:9 you read of Solomon’s request for wisdom. God had spoken to him and said, “…ask me for what I will give you.” Solomon’s prayer in 3:6 – 9 is a study of prayer. Before his request, Solomon reviews with God all that God had done leading up to putting him on the throne of his father, David.

When he finally got to his request, he asked for a leb shomeah, a listening heart, for the purpose of leading God’s people with bayin, with discernment between good and evil. Discernment between good and evil is the meaning of the little word bayin. Do you remember the name of the Tree in the midst of the Garden along side of the Tree of Life? See Genesis 2:9 for help.

But Solomon did not ask for bayin, he asked for a listening heart so that he could govern with bayin, with discernment between good and evil. He asked for a listening heart tuned to receive God’s word. God’s word produces the fruit of bayin, for the purpose of seeing clearly good from evil, in order to know and do God's good, pleasing, and perfect will, in worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.

The root of the word bayin means to cut and separate. This is something that only God can do and has been doing from the very beginning. In creation God did a lot of separation. He separated light from darkness, He separated the waters above from the waters below and He separated the land from the sea, by gathering. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Pharaoh and his army, He separated, cut, the Red Sea, and Israel walked through the sea on dry land!

Only God can separate good from evil, and He does it with His word; bayin is the result. There is a declaration in Psalm 119:104, which states, “Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” The word bayin is translated “understanding.” But can you see from this verse where bayin comes from and the purpose for it?

Today, ask God for a listening heart tuned to His word. Memorize Psalm 119:104 and pray it throughout the day. Spend time in the Father's presence listening to Him from His word. Let Him know that according to His word, through faith in Christ, you will also be given bayin, understanding between good and evil, in order to choose the good, the pleasing, the perfect, and to hate the evil false ways of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Tomorrow, more on the blessings of bayin.

Friday, February 27, 2015

God's Word and Sakal Wisdom

One of the main words in the Old Testament for wisdom is sakal. The source of sakal is the heart of God expressed with the word of God. When the living and creative word of God is trusted from your life in Christ, it grows and produces fruit. Behaving wisely (sakal) is the fruit of God’s word.

But the world, the flesh, and the devil are also speaking today, loudly. In Genesis 4:7, God spoke to Cain to change the direction he was headed, and said, “…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” The sin that God was speaking about was the sin that was in Cain’s heart to kill Abel, his brother. It was in his heart ready to spring into action and come out. Since Cain rejected God’s word (as seen by his actions in 4:8), that sin was simply waiting for the right occasion, which came in 4:8.

Jesus spoke of this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7) where He taught that the source of our actions is our hearts and minds; conceived in the heart, developed in the mind, birthed and carried out with the body. Jesus taught that we needed a new heart. Through faith in Jesus Christ you receive a new heart, a new life, His life, fully pleasing to the Father.

But you still have your same old sinful mind, will, emotions, and body. And like Cain, sin is crouching at the door, ready for an occasion to come out, and its desire is for you. Romans 6 – 8 outlines how to overcome the power of sin and its relentless knocking at the door to come out.

When you receive Jesus Christ you are saved (past tense, completed action) from the penalty of your sins (plural, as in all of them). By the Holy Spirit living in you, you are now being saved (present tense, ongoing action) from the power of sin (singular, as in the lie of sin). And one day, Hallelujah, you will be saved (future tense, completed action) from the presence of sin, which is the resurrection body being guarded in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:3 – 5.

Choosing to listen to the Holy Spirit, Who lives in you, with you, through you, as you, before the Father and the watching world around you, rather than to the lie of the world, the flesh, and the devil, will create in you the right response to whatever is going on around you.

You have no choice over what happens to you, but you do have a choice as to what happens in you. When you choose to trust what God has said, He creates sakal, which is the right response to whatever is happening to you at the time. The right response is an expression of the heart of God, the life of Jesus, and brings pleasing glory to the Father.

This is what worshiping the Father in spirit and truth looks like in everyday living! And it comes from the new heart, through faith and servant thoughts, and spiritual discipline over the body. As the body catches on, and it will, a new habit is formed, just as the old ones were with sin. The old dies and the new reigns with Christ! Hallelujah!

Today, listen to what God has said, trust what God has said, your servant thoughts are eager to serve you to carry out sakal, so that you will behave wisely in every situation of the day.

Tomorrow, a different Hebrew word for wisdom, bayin!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sakal; Knowing and Doing God's Will, God's Way

The Hebrew word sakal is used in the Old Testament to describe hearing and doing God’s will from God’s word for every occasion in life. In most places it is translated “behave wisely.”

Romans 12:2 states that God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect. And so, to hear and do God’s will from God’s word will enable you to present your life as a good, pleasing, and perfect offering and fragrance to the Father; to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

But how can you know for sure what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God? That, my friend, is the question, but the greater problem is that it’s the wrong question.

You see, God desires you to know Him, to seek Him, more than anything else there is; more than something about Him, like His will. There are only two kinds of knowing; knowing about something or someone, and knowing something or someone. The two kinds knowing are very different.

When you know about something, you handle the information, you manage it for when you need to use it. But knowing someone is a relationship. You don’t manage (manipulate) a relationship. You don’t use a person in a relationship. Of course, we know that people do, but this is not the way God created us to relate with Him or others. It is certainly not the way He desires to relate with you.

In a personal relationship with the Father, through faith in the Son, the Holy Spirit imparts Himself to you so that you can know Him, love Him, desire Him, enjoy Him in life! God does this by speaking into your life, from the inside out, where He lives in you, with you, through you, as you! This is worshiping the Father in spirit and truth.

Sakal, behaving wisely, is His life, from His word, which He has spoken in you. It is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God, which is the result of knowing Him in a good, pleasing, and perfect relationship.

And sakal, the will of God and the desire and power to do it, is given, only in a personal relationship with the Father, through faith in the Son, and by the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him you can do nothing, or worse, you will try to do something in your power, under your control, to know about His will. This was what Adam and Eve were tempted to do, which they did. We are all very aware of and all to familiar with that outcome.

Sakal is desiring and having God in control and loving it that way! Hallelujah!

Today, seek the Lord with all your heart. Don’t worry about doing His will. God is the only One who can do His will. Desire to know Him, in His word, for it is only in that relationship that His desires will become yours.

Tomorrow, more on sakal.