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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Retaining the knowledge of God

"Retaining the knowledge of God"

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"Retaining The Knowledge Of God"

"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:28).

I took the above photo at our home Bible Study last week.  I stood up and took the photo while my fellow brothers and sisters were unaware and I am blessed by observing their attention to the Scriptures.

It's a scene that still takes place regularly all over the world.  It may be in a local church as the pastor stands behind the sacred pulpit and faithfully provides exposition of God's Word while the people listen with attentive hearts and minds.  It may be in a home or small group Bible study such as ours.  It may be within the family devotions or it may be in your own individual Bible study that you give full attention to God's Holy Word.

Next week we anticipate visiting with Bill and Lucy Mosebarger and their family in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. They were the last couple I married as the pastor in their church in December 1992. Early in their marriage they established a custom of family Bible reading and devotions. I recently asked Bill if they still maintained this spiritual discipline and was heartened when he replied, "Yes."  He and Lucy are making a diligent effort to see that their family receives and retains the knowledge of God.

Today's text is a sobering verse from a powerful book. Of course the whole Bible is powerful but Romans provides a particular depth in understanding the human condition and scope of redemption.  In seeking to understand and discern the current world situation and the immense falling away from godly standards I have been doing a lot of pondering from this verse. It explains a lot.

There are those who diligently seek and find it immensely worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. They study the Scriptures and seek to live by them.  They realize the supreme call to the simple Proverb that states "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Retaining the knowledge of God is a lifelong pursuit.

But many, really most, have chosen to walk the heavily trampled "broad path" and do not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.  The substitutes for the knowledge of God abound materially, philosophically, educationally, and in the spiritual realm as well.  These substitutes are billed as "the real thing" and any other outlook is ridiculed or viewed as "behind the times."

But there is a grave consequence in failing to retain the knowledge of God.  "He gave them over to a depraved mind."   A depraved mind affects one's ability to make right judgments, a mind so clouded by sin that it is no longer able to make reliable moral judgments. At this stage man has lost the desire and the ability to think clearly. He has lost his right mind and doesn't even know it. The result is a world that has left God out of the picture entirely. It is a society with all restraints removed; a culture devoid of all sense of right and wrong, where every man chooses what is "right in his own eyes." *

A depraved mind leads to depraved actions, "to do what ought not to be done."  In so many areas we see a shrugging off of God's laws and mankind doing what ought not to be done. Unless there is a massive return to God's ways (revival) this will only worsen.

We call on the faithful remnant to earnestly seek the Lord. Let us be diligent in our retaining of the knowledge of God!  May our godly knowledge be the filter through which all other information is approved or reproved.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer:  Father, we want to be a people whose hearts and minds are One with Yours.  Through our diligent study and application of Your Living Word our thoughts and attitudes are formed.  Keep us faithful to the Truth of Your knowledge.  We stand in firm opposition to the world's substitutes; the acceptance and celebration of what You describe as sin.  The world may dress it up, even make it appealing, and cover up the disastrous results it brings on the individual, his or her family and society at large. The world is not our authority, but Your Word is!  Help us to read, retain and regard Your knowledge as our pattern for life.  Amen.

Personal Note:  Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Nelson Ressler family. Nelson's wife, Claudine, collapsed suddenly, and went to be with Jesus yesterday.  She had major health problems and suffered immensely over the years.  We sat beside them on Sunday in what Stephen and I refer to as "The Convalescent Row" since people who are in wheelchairs or suffer from other physical ailments (like my broken ankle) sit in this makeshift row behind the pews in the church. When Stephen reached out to shake Claudine's hand during the greeting time he did so carefully as he quickly remembered how even a fragile handshake could be painful for her. She has gone to a place where her wheelchair, her brace, her medications and other frail contraptions from this life will not be admitted nor will her social calendar include doctor's visits or pain clinics.  We will miss her in our church and as a reader of our daily encouragement messages.  But in our hearts we're rejoicing in her promotion to Beulah Land!  She and her husband thorougly enjoyed southern gospel music and now she's not just singing about Beulah Land as her home in heaven, but she's now experiencing its indescribable splendor!

Further study notes: Today's topic is unusual for our typical style in praparing these short daily messages but we felt compelled to share it due to the quite observable breakdown in the social order and the apparent massive falling away by many who once held to Biblical standards.

Here's the daily verse in several other versions I often use in my study:

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."  (NASV)

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."  (KJV)

"And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome." (Amplified)

* I am quite limited from dealing with a really lengthy exposition of this pivotal passage. Here's a very helpful resource I use that gives phrase by phrase exposition: Online Bible Study

John Piper observes concerning this passage:  "Paul's teaching about why a society degenerates into unrestrained, debauched, destructive evil is unlike any analysis you would read today. One of the reasons for this is that when a society is sinking into moral decay, one of the traits of that decay is the inability to see what is happening. The social mind becomes so defective in the moral decadence that it doesn't have the categories or the framework to recognize evil for what it really is. We do live in such a day. The inability to render sound moral judgments is evident almost wherever you look. Which makes this passage of Scripture one of the most relevant and needed texts in all the Bible for our day - precisely because it seems so foreign. Today, if something doesn't seem spiritually or morally foreign, it is probably part of the blind and decadent atmosphere we breathe, and therefore of no real use to us, no matter how good it makes us feel. What we need is a word from outside our defective world and our depraved thinking. We need a word from God. And we may certainly expect such a word to be very strange, because we have become strangers to the reality of God in a very self-absorbed age."

Here are several books I have found informative that deal with this matter:

919688: Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We DefendBeyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend
By Ravi Zacharias / Thomas Nelson
An evangelist's duties are many: preparation, prayer, community and actual evangelism are but a few. Apologetics, while in the strictest definiton not evangelism itself, is nonetheless instrumental in an apologist's performance of his Great Commission. While both gauging the sinner's attitude toward the Gospel and gently leading him into the Law, Christians need to be able to defend attacks - both overt and accidental - on that Gospel. Here we find the realm of apologetics, the defense of the Faith.

Ravi Zacharias is an apologeticist's apologeticist, speaking to audiences around the world while reaching others by radio, television and with his many books. Here he offers both his own writings and the writings of others who have been or are currently involved with his ministry RZIM, and the ground covered in these pages ranges widely, from the challenge of other religions to questions posed by the irreligious. Ravi himself contributes articles addressing evil and suffering as well as how churches should engage their congregations in apologetical instruction. Going past mere lists of answers to questions from the lost, this book will inspire you to active evangelism with the use of the principles provided.  Ordering information

America's Real WarAmerica's Real War 
By Rabbi Daniel Lapin / Multnomah Publishers Inc.
A tug of war is going on in America between secularism and the Judeo-Christian tradition---a battle all believers must fight to win. Rabbi Lapin argues that the Judeo-Christian ethic is essential to our nation's moral greatness, and provides a solid plan of action for restoring it. The rest is up to us!  Ordering information

The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of DeceptionThe Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception  By John MacArthur / Thomas Nelson
Right now, Truth is under attack, and much is at stake. In a postmodern culture, Christians are caught in the crossfire of alternative Christian histories, emerging faulty texts, and a cultural push to eliminate absolute Truth altogether. As a result, many churches and Christians have been deceived. Worse still, they propagate the deception that poses itself as Truth! In The Truth War, John MacArthur reclaims the unwavering certainty of God's Truth and anchors Christians in the eternal, immovable promises found in His Word. Ordering information 

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Knowing You"  Audio

"Creation Calls"  Video

"Blessed Assurance"  Audio instrumental

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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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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