Monday, November 5, 2018

Research and Development

One of the questions that believers ask is, "how can I develop and grow spiritually?" Naturally, spending time in God's Word is by far the best way. But it goes beyond simply reading the Bible. When Moses died and Joshua was commissioned to lead Israel into the Promised Land, the Lord spoke to him these words, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." (Joshua 1:8) Notice the first thing that God commanded Joshua to do, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth..." In other words, Joshua was to be prepared every moment of every day to speak God's Word. Jesus said it this way, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63) God's Word is spirit and life.

Solomon says it this way, "My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh." (Proverbs 4:20-22) The next thing that the Lord tells Joshua is, " shall meditate in it day and night..." This is the best way to get God's Word in our heart which, in turn, will flow in a natural way from our mouth. Next, the Lord tells Joshua, "...observe to do according to all that is written..." Believers will never grow in grace, faith and the knowledge of our Lord unless we act on God's Word. In open combat with the devil, Jesus reveals a very important thing that all believers should embrace and apply daily, "...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4) Now that we see the great premium that God puts on His Word and how believers should do the same, there is one more thing that I believe will undoubtedly help believers grow spiritually.

It is in the last verse of first Corinthians chapter twelve and in the thirteenth chapter of first Corinthians that we find the answer. We begin with, "But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way." (1 Corinthians 12:31)  From here we will see the love that Jesus brought to earth, which is the very love that has been pour out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, (Romans 5:5), which is also the first thing mentioned concerning the "fruit of the spirit." (Galatians 5:22-23) "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul is showing us how empty spiritual gifts, faith, human knowledge and the highest development of the natural man are absolutely worthless and meaningless in comparison to agape, love, that is, the God kind of love. Next, we see the God kind of love revealed, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) Now we can understand what Paul meant when he said, "And yet I show you a more excellent way." The other way that we develop our spirit man is by walking in love. Now we can understand this fact, that to develop our recreated spirit, it is necessary that we walk by faith and love.

If we could learn to walk in love and make it the business of our lives, we would solve many of the problems that we face in our relating to one another. Looking at the life of Jesus as our example, we find that He lived in the realm of love. His words were love filled. His acts and deeds grew out of love. Healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, never condemning was the love of God in word and deed, in Christ. If we could have our spirits developed in love like that, then we would be the most wonderful reflection of our Savior to a lost world. Jesus told His disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

The Apostle Paul tells us, "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19) You see, it is possible to build the very life of Jesus into us through God's Word, because Paul tells us that we can know the love of Christ which passes human understanding and also be filled with all the fullness of God. However, we will never be like Jesus until the Word becomes a part of us and we act on it. Paul also tells us,"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." (Galatians 5:6) Again, we see the Christian life is one of being filled with the Word which builds our faith, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17) And the God kind of love, "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, 
you shall not bear false witness, you shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 10:8-10)

So, let us develop our recreated spirits in faith and the God kind of love so the world will know that we belong to Jesus. Grace and peace be unto you...

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