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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Susquehanna River near Marietta, PA 6/16/13
Susquehanna River

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"Retaining The Knowledge Of God"

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13,14). "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done" (Romans 1:28).

Hobby Lobby is an Arts & Crafts Supply Company based in Oklahoma that takes a very public stand for the Lord. Their mission statement asserts its commitment to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."

Steve Green is the current company president and son of the founder David Green. Over the last several years he has developed a massive Biblical artifact collection, the world's largest private collection of biblical antiquities and artifacts. Soon a museum will open in Washington DC to display these items. Green, like all earnest Christians, is deeply distressed at the road our country is going down as Biblical teachings and morality is rejected. Green is making a very public effort to help our country change course "to retain the knowledge of God."

Today's text is an insightful verse from a powerful book.
Of course the entire 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 pondering this verse a lot. It describes our inherent natural tendency to sin that lives within each person's heart since the fall of Adam. The NASV has this concise description for this section heading, "Unbelief and its Consequences".

"They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God." Contrast this with 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 Proverb that cautions its readers, "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, something we must be committed to.

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

The consequence of this failure to retain the knowledge of God is that "God gave them over". This is the third of three occurrences of this phrase in Romans 1. The restraint of God that would keep people living in proper relationship with each other was removed. This phrase "God gave them over" should put the fear of the Lord into every heart and mind of every thinking person. The master deceiver may have us thinking we are in control, but the Bible tells us, "The one who sows to please the sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction."

But there is a grave consequence in failing to retain the knowledge of God. "God 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 ability to think clearly. He has lost his sound 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" (Judges 21:25).

John MacArthur writes, "Unregenerate people cannot think properly about spiritual truth because they have a 'depraved mind'. Only God can turn on the light in the human heart so that it can respond in saving faith to the gospel of the glory of Christ."

A depraved mind leads to depraved actions, "to do what ought not to be done."  In so many areas we see a rejecting 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 out to the faithful remnant to earnestly seek the Lord and be diligent in our efforts to retain the knowledge of God! May our godly knowledge be the filter through which all other information is approved or rejected.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily 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, condoning, 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.  Help us to read, retain and regard Your knowledge as our pattern for life. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

In studying for today's message:

Three instances of "God gave them over" in Romans 1:
  1. "God gave them over in the lusts of their heart" (Romans 1:24).
  2. "God gave them over to degrading passions" (Romans 1:26).
  3. "God gave them over to a depraved mind" (Romans 1:28).
Man's response to the truth of God as taught in Romans.
  1. "Suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18).
  2. "Exchanged the truth of God for a lie" (Romans 1:25).
  3. "Those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil" (Romans 2:8).

Retaining the knowledge of God home Bible study
"Retaining the knowledge of God"
A home Bible study several years ago around our dining room table.

Junn Bug and Maria 6/17/13
Yesterday we had some very special friends over for lunch. Junn Bug Santana moved back to Puerto Rico to care for his mother in November of 2007. He often visited us before his departure and we were thrilled to have him and his brand new wife, Mary, in our home yesterday. We appreciated the many visits he made to our home over the years when he helped Brooksyne with her gardening projects; doing menial jobs like weeding, raking, digging holes, transplanting. Whatever...he was willing and desirous of serving. His only reward - fellowship along with a nice homemade meal. He was cooped up in Lancaster city and loved to get out in the country and get his hands dirty with meaningful work. We met Junn Bug about ten years ago when we were chaplains at Turkey Hill Dairy and he worked in the fluids department.

We have been enjoying long bike rides along a paved Riverfront Park pathway that parallels the Susquehanna River near Marietta, PA.

Susquehanna River near Marietta, PA 6/16/13
The river is wide at this point with homes along the York County side.

Turtle along Susquehanna River bike path
The bike path has a lot of wildlife. Notably we saw a snake, fox, and blue birds. It has been awhile since I picked up a turtle. I said to Brooksyne, "You know what happens when you pick up a turtle don't you?" She did but the turtle didn't do it. * see below.

Brick home in Marietta, PA
The trail ends in Marietta, a quaint river town with lots of interesting old buildings.

Finally today, closer to home:
Mollie with ring toss 6/18/13
Mollie with ring toss 6/18/13
Mollie, our border collie, loves to play catch with just about anything and rarely tires out. For a while we tossed a frisbee way out in our front lawn which she chases and catches in the air. However after awhile she tends to run off since there's no front yard fence so now we toss a ring in the more confined backyard. I stand at the gate and toss the ring. She catches it and brings it back for another toss again and again and again. I wear out and she still wants to play. Not to be deterred by my weariness when I stop she now runs around the lawn tossing the ring up high in the air herself and then catches it!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"The Voice Of Truth"  Video  Casting Crowns

"Jesus Saves"  Video  Travis Cottrell

* For city folks: Usually when you pick up a turtle expect it to go pottie!

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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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