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February 18, 2016

Text: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding…So you will walk in way of the good and  keep to the paths of righteous.” Proverbs 2:1-2, 20

Some people have come to me and said, “I can’t find any practical applications in the Bible for my life.” DUH! Were they not reading the same Holy Bible that I read? Had all the practical guidelines in the Bible been ripped out of their copy? This goes to prove that either they read carelessly or they pick and choose what suits them! (There a lots of such people.) This leads me to paraphrase an old adage: If ’tis folly to be wise, you must be ecstatic!

Let’s consider books of the Bible that have practicality as a hallmark of their makeup. Read carefully the Bible books in this list for proper governance of the way you live: Proverbs, James, I & II Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews. Read and heed these. There are also many Old Testament books to be listed: the Minor Prophets are great and the Major Prophets too. Both the Old and New Testaments have content that bears on the good behavior of  God’s people also. Remember that Paul wrote of the usefulness of the Old Testament for godly living. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement  of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans  15:4

Let’s take a little reminder of the practicality of Paul’s epistles. In writing his epistles the apostle usually followed a fixed routine: he wrote the first half of the letter about doctrinal matters and the second half about practical (ethical) matters. For instance, in the letter to the Romans Paul wrote the first 11 chapters about doctrinal matters, then in chapters 12-15 he followed up with exhortations about practical living. Chapter 16 is greetings and personal  things. He often transitions between with little or no warning. Take care to read with understanding and observe where the doctrinal ends and the practical begins. Recognize that the practical has to do with what men and women see as moral principles that rule one’s living. What one believes determines how he acts.

Here are some guidelines that we need to observe and practice.

1.  Whenever the Bible says “thou shalt…” that means you must obey and conform your life to that. Eg. “You shall     therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” Deuteronomy 11:1

2.  Whenever the Bible says “thou shalt not…” that means you must not engage in that behavior. E.g. “You shall not murder.” Deuteronomy 5:17

3.  Whenever the Bible says to abhor evil behaviors and embrace righteous behaviors you must put your energies into forsaking sinful acts and building new practical godly behaviors. Eg. “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry…Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved  compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and  patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…” Colossians 3:7, 12

4.  It is helpful to emulate the actions and ethics of  Bible characters. There are many outstanding figures in the Bible from which we can draw inspiration. Consider the life of Joseph, Elijah, Dorcas, Paul etc. All have feet of clay except Jesus. He is the greatest example of purity and godliness. Eg.  “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I Corinthians  11:1

Some believe that doctrine and ethics have nothing to do with one another, so they decide that one can be saved by affirming the doctrines of the Bible and ignoring the ethics it upholds; others hold that you can live an ethically oriented life and forget the doctrinal teachings and be saved that way. But the truth is that they are inseparable! As the lyrics of an old song say, “you can’t have one without the other”. We must live by both doctrine and ethics found in the word of God!

“…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31b




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