Rightly Dividing Or Wrongly Distorting

In II Timothy, Paul was writing to TImothy who was a young preacher. He is finishing up his second letter to Timothy with a chapter of exhortation, a chapter encouraging Timothy to continue in the faith, to continue serving God.

Paul starts the chapter with telling Timothy to be strong and to endure hardness as a good soldier. He is encouraging Timothy that times will come when it will be hard, but keep on going.

At the end of the chapter, we see Paul telling Timothy to be mature in his walk and in his service. Timothy is told to flee youthful lusts, avoid foolish questions and be willing to be taught.

In the middle though is a verse that is good for every preacher, it is good for every Christian. It is a verse that acquires work to be successful in what it says. It is a verse that also shows that if you don’t follow it, you will be ashamed.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

II Timothy 2:15

Study – state of contemplation, an application of the mental facilities to the acquisition of knowledge.

Approved – to have or express favorable opinion.

Ashamed – feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace; feeling inferior or unworthy.

We see Paul refer to Timothy as workman. We then see the workman’s tool at the end of the verse, the Word of Truth, the Word of God.

We see the exhortation of study! Contemplate, apply you mind to acquire knowledge from the Word of God.

We see the goal of studying, approved unto God. Paul didn’t tell Timothy to study to be approved by man but by God. When we focus on what man thinks, we won’t study and learn the Word like we should.

We see the warning of the lack of studying, ashamed. Why would he be ashamed? Because he would be lacking in knowledge of what God wanted him to learn and to share with others.

What does the phrase ‘rightly dividing’ mean? I looked up the definition of divide and it means to separate into two or more parts, areas, or groups. So why would Paul say to separate the Bible? When studying, you can find exact meanings of words and phrases when you break them down to the most basic level. You can gain a better understanding of words and phrases when you know what every part means and how it applies to the Christian life.

One of the biggest things that a preacher or anyone who use the Bible in anyway is making sure not to take a verse out of context, especially when trying to make the Bible fit their opinion, instead of making their opinion fit the Bible. It is easy to make the Bible fit what you have to say instead of making what you say fit the Bible.

Everything in the Bible is in there on purpose. Nothing is missing, nothing needs to be added. Every word has a purpose. That is why we as Christians should study and study, to make sure our life matches up with the Word of God.

The lack of study mentioned in II Peter 3:16-17 “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.”

There is so much in these two verses! Peter was writing to the beloved, to those who were saved, to the Christians. In these verses, he mentions that there are some things that are hard to understand in the Bible, yet there are those that wrest those hard things and also the other scriptures. Wrest means distort the meaning or interpretation of (something) to suit one’s own interests or views. People wrest or distort the Scriptures, whether the easy things or the hard things, to fit their own views.

As I was reading these verses, I could see why and how someone could distort the hard things of the Scriptures, especially those who didn’t study the Word and those that were unstable in the Christian life already. But then he mentions they wrest the other scriptures also, the easy things to understand. When they do this, they do it to their own destruction. You can only distort the Bible so much into your way and view before it catches up to you.

The next thing in these verses is Peter telling the Christians to be careful of these people that distort the Scriptures. These people will try to make you agree with them and see their way and views of the Bible. The Bible calls these people wicked as they lead people away from the truth of God. He ends the verse with the warning that you can fall from your steadfastness of holding the Scriptures. Many great Christians, with strong standards and beliefs have fallen because of the distorted view of someone they let influence them.

In churches today, we have many people taking the Bible and fitting it to their lifestyles instead of fitting their lifestyle to the Bible. Our opinions, our thoughts, our preferences should match the Word of God. If the Bible says it is wrong, it is wrong. If the Bible says it is right, it is right. There is no gray area with God.

You have to choose that whenever you use the Bible in anyway, whether through preaching, talking to someone else, writing a blog like this, or using it anywhere; you have to decide whether you want to rightly divide or wrongly distort what it says. The difference between the two is one is what God says and the other is what man thinks.

If I ever say or post anything that uses Scripture, I do my dead level best to make sure I rightly divide the Word of Truth and keep my opinion out of it. I do not want to wrongly distort, use the Scripture wrong and led someone to destruction.

I try to make it a habit that whenever I use Scripture in any posts and even in conversation with friends, to quote what it says verbatim from the Bible so that I do not put my own words in.

I can get into the subject of how every single word in the Bible is there for a purpose and just by using a different word can change the whole meaning of the verse or the chapter. Taking out a word or adding a word can distort the meaning of what God actually wanted us to know. Be careful that when using any Scripture, you are quoting and using it the way God intended it to be used, when you don’t you are wrongly distorting and could cause others to fall.

My standards, my beliefs, my convictions are all based off my own personal study of the Word of God. I decided long ago what I believe and I am still growing and learning and studying as I want my life to be pleasing unto God. When it comes to certain areas of life, I have no opinion on the matter, I have the Word of God.

Decide today that you will study the Word and rightly divide the truth to live a life approved unto God.

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Caleb’s Guide To Success

It is the beginning of the year, and most everyone has made some type of New Year’s goal or New Year’s resolution. How are you doing with those goals and resolutions? Are you still on track? Are you still holding to them?

New t-shirt design! The Purpose Filled Life!

Last night we heard a message from Numbers 13. This is the story of the 12 spies who went into Canaan. There they saw all the good things, the land flowing with milk and honey. They saw the grapes of Eschol. They saw some amazing things. And God had promised it all to them.

The problem though was that there were 10 spies who were more worried about the bad things that they saw. They were worried about the giants and the walled cities. They were using the fear of these things to stop them from going over Jordan into the Promised Land.

When the people heard these 10 spies they became afraid also and they decided that they weren’t going to cross over Jordan and claim the Promise Land. They were going to let their fears stop them from claiming God’s promises.

We know how the story goes. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness until the men who had decided not to go into Canaan had died, except for Joshua and Caleb There was a new generation that rose up who believed God’s promises and eventually were led by Joshua into the Promised Land.

Back to Numbers 13, we see Caleb stand up and tell the people this, “Let us go up at once, and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Caleb desired and wanted the Promised Land. He was ready to whatever it took to conquer and possess the Promised Land.

So what is Caleb’s guide to success. You probably opened this post up wondering what I was going to say about being successful. But I am talking about this great man of the Bible, Caleb.

Be Different – The first thing I see about Caleb and the success he eventually had was that he was different. He stood out from the crowd with his desire to conquer the land of Canaan. He could have just sat there and said nothing and went along with the 10 spies and the rest of the children of Israel. But Caleb stood up before them and tried to motivate and encourage Israel to go get what God had promised.He wasn’t afraid of being different.

Many times we fail because of the fear of being different. We fail in the secular world

because we fear standing out from everyone else. We fail in the spiritual life because we are scared of being different from the world and we worry about what people may say about us. Caleb’s first step to his success was that he was different. He knew what he wanted and he knew what he was supposed to do, even if it meant being different.

Be Determined – Caleb was determined throughout his life. From this moment when he was ready to conquer Canaan to when he got his mountain at 80 years old. If he had lacked determination, he would have gone nowhere and accomplished nothing in his life. The 10 bad spies lacked the determination it took to go conquer Canaan. I like what Caleb said, “Let us go up at once…” He was ready to go! He was ready to fight! He wanted to pack up and get moving that day!

Don’t be a failure because you lack determination. Determine no matter how many times you fall and you fail that you will get back up and try again! Caleb wandered with those children for 40 years in the wilderness, yet he still was determined to get back into Canaan and conquer it.

Be Diligent – We see Caleb’s diligence throughout his life. He was persistent in his effort in getting to conquer Canaan. He could have given up and quit at any point during those 40 years, but he stayed diligent. His success didn’t come from taking it easy and just letting life happen, he work and put in effort to make things happen.

If we want to have success in any area of our life, we need to figure out what work needs to be done to be successful and than be diligent in your work and effort towards that goal. It will get tiring, it will wear you out, you may get discouraged but that is when you need to be diligent the most in your work!

Caleb had success throughout his life because he was different, his goals were different from everyone else’s goals. He was determined to accomplish those goals no matter the obstacles placed in his way. Caleb was also diligent throughout his life in making sure he put in the work and effort necessary to accomplish those goals.

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Keep Cleaning The Crib

Last night at church, we had about 15 or so different men preach. Honestly, they were all great messages with great truths that we could use in our lives. One of my favorite messages of the night was preached by Andrew Grob. The messages was short and simple but packed a powerful truth about our labour for Christ. I asked him for his sermon notes so that I could share them with you.

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.”

Proverbs 14:4

The ox was a great possession in Bible times. It was used to plow fields and tread corn. To a farmer, an ox was a must have.

God laid out clear instructions for taking care of an ox. In Exodus God said that they also were to have a day of rest.

Along with owning an ox came the responsibility of caring for that ox. You must provide food, water, and shelter. You have to clean his crib.

Owning an ox was a luxury, but it also meant you were going to be working very hard.

As I thought about this verse I began to think about other areas in our life this applies to.

Owning a car, it’s a luxury but it means lots of money in gas, insurance, maintenance plus the purchase price of the car.

I also thought about three major areas of the church this applies to…

Sunday School                                                                                                                             Christian School                                                                                                                                 Bus Ministry

Picture a farmer in Bible times complaining to his neighbor about how much work it is to take care of his oxen and how much easier it would be if he didn’t have any to take care of. So he gives his oxen away and walks over to the stalls and cleans them one last time.

When it comes time to feed the ox he is able to go inside and take a break, kick up his feet and relax, but when it comes time to plough the field and tread out the corn, he is not able to do it. His work load is even lighter because he doesn’t have the ability to tread corn or plough the field. Is he happy? Whether he is or not I just described to you a lazy farmer about to starve to death. The neglect of husbandry isthe way to poverty.

Certainly if you are involved in Bethel Baptist School or Tri-State Baptist College, or teach a Sunday School class or help on a bus route, you know there is great labor involved in keeping up these ministries.

Keeping the buses running involves a great deal of time and money and labor and you are always running into families needing help but not willing to change. You see and deal with difficulties and troubled kids. You fall in love with the kids and then spend extra time trying to help them and their families.

Yes it would be much easier to get rid of the bus ministry and free up our time and we could work on other things, but when harvest time comes our hands would be Empty.

We as a church could be like that farmer, but we would be a starving church.

Don’t get weary in your labor for the Lord. Keep pressing on. Harvest time is coming. Continue knocking doors, continue visiting families, continue preparing those lessons, continue changing the diapers, cleaning the buildings and fixing the buses.

Don’t get tired of cleaning the crib but keep on keeping on. When Christ comes back I want to have a full harvest instead of an empty field.

I’ve never done this before but I’m going to end this message with the title,

KEEP CLEANING THE CRIB.