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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
"For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13,14).
As a chaplain I visited a large printing company which deals with thousands of photos daily. The purveyors of smut seek to get in their own vile images as well and the company takes serious steps to protect their employees from this. They actually use a type of software called "Pornsweeper" that is designed to filter the smut based on flesh tones and other graphical criteria (this is distinct from other filter types that use key words).
The problem is that legitimate images are also filtered, such as a tan colored car. The computer technician told me they have to "teach" the software which types of images to accept or reject. By teaching and "practice" (constant use) the software actually improves! Although this word is not used they are essentially "teaching" the software discernment.
This is a great lesson we all need to be learning as we mature in our walk with Christ. God's will is that we "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable" (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4).
Growing leads to maturing as we progress from the milk stage to the solid food stage, using the analogy of Hebrews 5. There are three aspects in the latter part of the daily Scripture portion that provides a solid foundation for the maturing Christian's pursuit of righteousness.
"Because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."
1) "Because of practice" – This describes the steady day by day, week by week type of maturing that takes place as we partake of God's Word both individually in our personal study and corporately in church and other group settings. The specific word used means, "the condition has been produced by past exercise and is then the habitual or normal condition".
2) "Have their senses trained" – This translates the Greek "gumnazo" from which we get the words gymnasium or gymnastics and refers to exercising our senses. The apostle Paul called Timothy to "train yourself to be godly" (1Timothy 4:7). This indicates our personal responsibility. God continues to reward those who earnestly seek Him, His Kingdom and His righteousness (see Hebrews 11:6 and Matthew 6:33).
3) "To discern good from evil" – This is the sense of discernment. It means to thoroughly separate and distinguish. Just as the software is taught to distinguish between good and evil so are we as we mature. We are in this world and we must interface with it. We are confronted daily with good and evil. But we are learning to discern and it's an ongoing process and battle.
This day I challenge you all to continue to pursue the Lord and His will that you live a holy life, pleasing to Him.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Lord Jesus, Scripture indicates that those who are mature in their walk with You are believers who've made hard choices time after time. They've come up against the tempter repeatedly and by Your grace have said "No" to ungodliness and temporary worldly pleasures that leave unending regret. You continue to train our senses to know that which is good and that which is evil as we solidly anchor our sense of discernment in Your standards of righteousness. Guard our hearts so that we never let a person or philosophy, seeking to cater to our own fleshly desires, ever replace the foundational instruction from Your Holy Word.
Here's a simple song of consecration that deals with this topic that the Lord placed on my heart this morning as I prepared this devotional. It's called "Holiness" and expresses an aspiration to please the Lord. This audio clip is from a live worship service at the Covenant Community Church in Lake Mary, Florida.
Yesterday's photo: The last photo on yesterday's message was that of a camel taken here in Lancaster County. It is used in the Christmas season in a nativity display. I thought the photo was neat because the background seems so uncharacteristic of where we normally see camels. Here's a photo a reader sent me of a sign he saw during a trip to Israel.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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