Sunday, November 13, 2016
(ABOVE: DROUGHT-STRICKEN MIDDLE TENNESSEE TURNS TO DUST AS WE PRAY FOR THE RAIN WE NOW SO DESPERATELY NEED)
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE---WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE ALL LIVE IN SPIRITUAL DROUGHT
IF WE REPEATEDLY READ THE BIBLE WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, it tends to reinforce our own prejudices and rock-hard doctrinal positions. We end up merely finding ammunition for what we already believe. We become so spiritually proud, so convinced of our own positions, that the Spirit is hindered in helping us grow in the things of God.
Go back to the 1850s in America when that horrible institution of slavery was being challenged and abolitionists raised their voices against slaveholders. In the South, there were Bible-thumping preachers who twisted God's Holy Word to defend the wickedness of slavery. Some actually held the enslavement of African-Americans was part of God's purpose for the earth! With closed minds and bitter hearts, they used the Word of God for unholy purposes. And their congregations shouted 'Amen!' Those bigots weren't ungodly atheists; they were ministers and congregants with open Bibles before them. Talk about spiritual deception!
The same thing had happened to the religious leaders of Jesus' day. They (the Pharisees) held a prejudiced view of what the Messiah would be like and what he would do when he came.....Jesus didn't fit into their theology because their hard hearts were darkened-----even as they taught from the (Old Testament) Scripture.....They referenced God's Word without any spirit of revelation, brokeness or submission to God. Without the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the meaning of what we read, we're susceptible to reading our own biases into God's Holy Word. No wonder our reading can become dry and boring. When we see only what we want to see in the Bible, it loses all power to transform us....
When we pick up the Bible and don't ask for the Spirit's help, it's like saying, 'God, do a new thing in me, but I'm not going to change anything I believe.' That's an odd prayer, isn't it? No wonder we grow so little in our faith and see so few converted to Christ. William Law, an eighteenth century English devotional writer, said, 'Thousands stand ready to split doctrinal hairs and instruct others in the fine meaning of Scripture words----but there are so few through whom the Holy Spirit can work to bring people to new birth in the kingdom of God.'
Often we get our definitions for important things not by what the Spirit shows us in Scripture, but rather by what we saw growing in church....It is difficult for all of us to come to the Word of God and say, 'Holy Spirit, teach me, even if it goes against what I've been conditioned to believe.' And yet we must! We will never understand God's purpose for the church and us individually unless we humble ourselves and pray, 'Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me!'
---Jim Cymbala, Senior Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle, Spirit Rising
Posted by Webutante at 5:33:00 AM