October 24, 2017: “Experiment”

Experiment

It is the duty of an infant human being to experiment.
They are at this duty constantly.  At first the world is a blur of colors, a din of noise, and a baptism of sensations.  Gradually, by constant experimentation with all these stimuli, the child begins to discover the order of things.  That lovely sound, a voice—mother’s voice!  That strange pain inside—hunger!  Cold and warmth and light and dark, quiet and rhythmic pounding are all put together into a world that starts to make sense.  What are those things?—Ah! Toes!  And these things?—fingers! And where do they go?—mouth!  The life of the infant is a constant process of experiment and discovery.

As the child grows, this voyage of experimentation and discovery continues as play—the duty of the child.  Coupled with the gift of imagination that is unbounded by the inconvenience of logic or material realities, the child experiments with activities and images, words and feelings, all the while learning and discovering.

The same is true for older children and teens.  Their experiments get more daring and even can be dangerous as they age, but true to the mission of a child, they continue as random scientists seeking to understand the world in which they find themselves.

Spiritual Experimentation
Of course, this is all a picture of the life of the believer.  We are challenged to experiment in the ways of the Spirit.
We must discover a method for private prayer.

  • When should we pray, morning or evening? Both?
  • How should we pray, talk to God? Pray the Scriptures? Pray in the Spirit? All of the above?
  • How many types of prayer are there?
  • What does it mean to pray without ceasing?

We experiment with the Bible to determine how we should best consume its nourishment.

  • Morning? Evening?
  • Old Testament/New Testament?
  • Gospels/Acts/Revelation? (The Jesus Story!)
  • Apostolic letters?
  • Should we memorize verses?
  • What is the difference between Bible reading and Bible study?
  •  Experience tells us not to read in sequence for we will bog down in Leviticus for sure.

There is much in daily living that requires experimentation and discovery.

  • How do we turn the other cheek? Go the second mile? Pray for our enemies?
  • How do we discover the will of God for a certain task, opportunity, or life-long vocation?
  • How can a husband love his wife as Christ loves the church?
  • How can a wife submit to her husband without losing herself?
  • How can parents raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
  • How can children honor their fathers and mothers?
  • How do we learn what pleases God?

The Lab of Life
Life’s questions are many, but the Lord has them all covered.  He has given us a laboratory called “life” and an experimentation manual called “The Bible.”  Now He wants to enjoy watching us do our work, the work we were designed for from the beginning, the work of experimentation and discovery.

Life is a treasure field with riches buries within it; some close to the surface and many hidden way down deep.  It is the glory of God to conceal wonderful things and it is our glory to find these treasures.  So, get to the lab today.  Do the work.  Find the treasure and don’t forget to keep good records.

Scriptures:
Matthew 13:44
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Proverbs 25:2
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.
Ephesians 5:8-10
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  and find out what pleases the Lord.
1 John 4:1-3 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Be joyful always; pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6 NKJV
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified.
Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are the God of mystery who has revealed Himself in the written Word (the Bible) and the Living Word (Jesus.) There are mysteries in You that call to me. Help me understand more of You as I prayerfully read Your Word. Your Spirit dwells within me to prompt me to explore, to experiment, to examine the things of life so that I might understand. Holy Spirit quicken my heart and strengthen my resolve to discover the wonders of You and Your creation. For Your Glory, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Show Me Your Ways
Words and Music: Russell Fragar

Show me Your ways That I may walk with You
Show me Your ways I put my hope in You
The cry of my heart Is to love You more
To live with the Touch of Your hand
Stronger each day Show me Your ways

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

September 30, 2017 “Investigate”

Investigate

Each of us has a bit of the snoop in us.
We like to find things out, to investigate matters, to ask questions that provide insight into a mystery. For some this is a life’s work. The professional may be a scientist, an explorer, a reporter, a policeman or government agent, a student or anyone whose work and main interest is investigation. Some who do not make a living at it, may be amateur sleuths, hobbyists, or students who investigate things for fun. At the bottom of the list of perpetual investigators would be gossips, whose natural curiosity has mutating into malice.

A Gift from God
Curiosity, as the old saying goes, may have killed a cat or two, but it is really a gift from God. We were created to be inquisitive. The desire to discover how something works is deep in the human heart. The need to understand what we see, hear, and taste is a prime mover of the human mind.

For all the ages of people on the earth, the night sky has prompted awe and wonder peppered as it is with clear points of light all moving in each its own way. Some even stream fire as they race to an appointment primitive people could only wonder about. God placed a huge bright disk in the night sky and made it appear to change shapes regularly and move lazily from horizon to horizon, sometimes hiding behind clouds and at other lines pulling on our brains with tides of wonder as the moon pulls the waters of the seas. Why would God do something like that? Surely it was to cause us to wonder, to imagine and eventually to actually go there, a journey made possible by mankind’s desire to investigate.

“The heavens are telling…”
The marvels of creation are a testament to who God is and to the precision of His handiwork. From the tiniest particles of matter, light, and energy to the vast reaches of an ever-expanding universe, God the Creator, has given us a cosmos designed for investigation. Like the whole of creation, the flower of all creation, the human being, is so minute in the mysteries of life in the cell, so complex in the workings of mind, and so spectacular in the capabilities of the body, that investigators have been compelled to explore the cell, probe the soul, and to celebrate the arts and athletics of mankind. It must delight the Lord God when we unravel a mystery He has hidden for us to explore.

As just one example, think of the ability to fly.
The desire to fly like the birds predated the discovery of powered flight by thousands of years, years of experimentation and investigation. Surely no one smiled a bigger smile than the Lord at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. The same could be said for the multigenerational searches that led to discoveries that benefitted mankind. When we investigate creation, we are doing the work God put us here to do.

Are You and Investigator?
Do not protest that you are not a scientist or inventor or explorer so there is nothing for you to investigate.

  • Remember The Book. God has given us a detailed, demanding document for our investigation. Asking questions of God is an ancient spirituality that delights Him.
  • The Psalms are full of questions, some answered and some not. The faith God wants us to enjoy is one of asking, inquiring, seeking, finding, listening, and receiving.
  • Even the silence of God on a matter tells us much if we are truly investigating.
  • The heart of God is revealed in Jesus; if you want to know who God is, investigate Jesus.

Follow your God-given desire to know and to understand. Ask in faith instead of cynicism or doubt and you will receive. Never lose the wonder of the night sky with its stunning stars and mystifying moon, for the heavens are still telling of the glory of God!

Scriptures:
Psalm 19:1-6
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 40:4-5
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, O LORD my God are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.
Psalm 89:5-8
The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O LORD, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
Genesis 1:1-2
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, It gives You great joy when I investigate Your goodness, Your creation, and Your plan for me. Help me be consistent in my consumption of Your Word. Excite my curiosity concerning Your world. Assist me to look deep into my own heart as the Holy Spirit illumines my mind. Let there be no wicked ways in me. Give me insight into the hearts of the people in my life so that I might serve them better. Show me Your ways, O Lord! Show me Your ways. For Your Kingdom, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Show Me Your Ways
Words and Music: Russell Fragar

Show me Your ways That I may walk with You
Show me Your ways I put my hope in You
The cry of my heart Is to love You more
To live with the Touch of Your hand
Stronger each day Show me Your ways

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved