Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9
Today, we continue exploring the secrets to trusting God which we can discover in Philippians chapter 4. We are still looking at verse 9, which encourages us to listen to sound advice and to learn from godly teachers as a way to sense God’s peace in us, which will in turn transform our doubt into trust. The thing is that we need a sizeable dose of discernment in order to weed out the false teachers from the teachers who speak the truth.
Scripture is our plumb line. The Word of God is what separates falsehood and lies from the truth.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4: 12
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can wield the sword that is the Word and pierce the heart of deceit.
And the best thing is that we don’t have to be Bible scholars in order to test things against the Word of God. In this age of instant information at our fingertip, all we have to do is type something like: “what does the Bible say about…” and there we have it! (Back in the days of my youth checking facts about the Bible required looking in a book called the Concordance or in Bible Dictionaries which nobody really had readily available…which means it also required a trip to a building we used to call a library).
Talking about sources of deceit…the Internet probably ranks among the top, but if we are savvy, the Internet can also be a tremendous source for good. For example, once again, if we are savvy, the Internet is a great tool to check things against the Bible. I know, you probably already do this and have found even better ways to proceed, or you might have never heard of it, and might feel a bit suspicious…regardless, you can actually make Google work for God! Here’s a few ways I do it when I’m trying to test issues against Scripture:
1. If you want to see what the Bible says about any particular issue, but you haven’t the slightest idea where to start looking in the Book, you can only type on your browser exactly that: “what does the Bible say about [insert issue/concept]” or “Bible verses about [insert issue/concept]” and you will get a bunch of websites that will link you to lists of Bible references and passages addressing the issue you are wondering about. What I usually do is I copy the Bible references of the passages I want to further research and paste them on one of my favorite sites for Bible References online:
I actually prefer BibleHub.com because it gives me the same passage in all the English translations that there are…or Spanish or any language you’d want! There are other apps that you can use. But this is the one I’m most familiar with, so that’s why I write about this one.
Once I find the translation I want to read, I expand it so I can read the context. I might read the entire chapter where that passage is located or as much of the book as I need to in order to get a good idea of the elements around the passage. Then, BibleHub.com also gives me other places in the Bible where that same concept/issue/idea appears…so I go there as well to get an even broader context. Then I think back about the way I heard the issue dealt with and pray to the Holy Spirit to give me discernment as to whether that issue was dealt Biblically or not [actually, I pray the whole way through because, let’s face it, without the Holy Spirit it is pretty impossible to find our way through anywhere].
Of course, you can use your physical Bible. Since I am not as experienced with the location of books in the Bible as I’d like to be, I find it very helpful to use BibleHub.com since it finds it for me and it also gives me the other places where that issue is addressed in the Bible right there, on the right margin. This way I have immediate access to what I need in order to dig deeper. But again, that’s just me…because I’m not Bible proficient… anyway…on to number 2.
2. Sometimes you may know part of a verse, but don’t know it in its entirety nor where to find it in the Bible…again, you can simply type what you do know on your browser and chances are you will get the Bible reference(Book of the Bible with chapter and verse #) where you can locate that passage. Then you can cut it and paste it onto BibleHub.com (or go to your actual Bible) and read the whole thing.
3. Yet, some other times, you may be wondering if this or that saying is actually from the Bible. Go ahead and type it onto your browser and if it is…you guessed it…you’ll get the Bible reference for it so you can go and double check it. If it is not a Biblical concept, you will not get a Bible reference for it. Like for instance, the saying: “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” is not Biblical. If you type it on your browser you won’t get a Bible reference for it, because it is not in the Bible. It is more of a Far Eastern religions type of teaching.
4. Last but not least, always remember to start this process in prayer. Bathe your search in prayers for guidance from the get go and throughout. Pray that the Holy Spirit guides you through your understanding of whatever message God is trying to send to you. Pray for discernment. Pray for wisdom. You will get it! Remember King Solomon!? (See this Bible Reference? Go check it out! 1 Kings 3)
At any rate, what I’m trying to say, very inarticulately, is that God does place people in our lives who are bearers of the truth, and we should listen to them. He will, however, also alert us as to when we are being deceived, and we should listen to that as well. We know what I’m talking about…we have felt it. We call it different ways, a red flag, a gentle nudge, an uncomfortable feeling, a bad vibe, a strong urge to barf (although this can just be the flu-so you should also check with your doctor on this one) or any other sensation that indicates, ever so subtly, that something is not totally right…that is the Hand of the Holy Spirit warning us, and urging us to be discerning…to go to Scripture and test it.
That is why Paul also tells us somewhere else:
Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5: 20-21
Our ability to trust God is enhanced, therefore, by the gift of His Word, which He has provided to us so we can discern the truth as we listen to the teachers that He has placed on our path…and as we feel God’s peace descend into our hearts.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalm 19: 14
Linking with: Essentialthingdevotions.com