During my days as a teacher and coach at a Christian high school, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with teenagers, trying to guide them to a purposeful, Christlike life—characterized by love for God and love for others. My goal was to prepare them to live for God throughout life. That would happen only as they made their faith a vital part of life through the help of the Holy Spirit. Those who didn’t follow Christ floundered after they left the influence of Christian teachers and parents.
This is demonstrated in the story of King Joash of Judah and his uncle Jehoiada. Jehoiada, a wise counselor, influenced Joash to live a God-honoring life (2 Chron. 24:11,14).
The problem was that Joash did not embrace an honorable life as his own. After Jehoiada died, King Joash “left the house of the LORD” (v.18) and began to worship in a pagan way. He turned and became so evil that he had Jehoiada’s son murdered (vv.20–22).
Having someone in our lives to guide us toward faith and Christlikeness can be good and helpful. Even better is getting to know the Lord ourselves and learning to rely on the Holy Spirit to be our guide (Gal. 5:16). That is making our faith personal.
Lord, thank You for the people in my life who influence me toward following You. Help me not to depend on them primarily—but to depend on Your Holy Spirit to guide me.
The faith of others encourages; a faith of our own transforms.
Joash was the youngest king to reign in Jerusalem. Because he was 7 years old when his reign began, he was in special need of guidance. In the New Testament, Paul highlights the importance of mentors when he says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
Hiking in the mountains of Utah, Coty Creighton spotted a goat that didn’t look like the rest of the herd. A closer look revealed that the unusual animal was actually a man dressed as a goat. When authorities contacted the man, he described his costume as a painter’s suit covered in fleece, and he said he was testing his disguise for a hunting trip.
The hunter’s deception reminds me of Jesus’ words: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). False teachers do not bear the fruit of God’s Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Rather, they “walk according to the flesh . . . and despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10). They are bold, egotistical, and given to greed (vv.10,14). Ruled by their own desires, they exploit people by using “deceptive words” (v.3). The Bible says these wayward spiritual leaders are headed for destruction and will take many unsuspecting and undiscerning people with them (vv.1-2).
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, rather than pursuing personal gain, laid down His life for His sheep. God does not want anyone to be misled by false teaching. He wants us to be aware of those who deceive, and follow Him instead—the true Shepherd of our souls.
At the name of Jesus Every knee shall bow, Every tongue confess Him, King of glory now. —Noel
Many people love to play games that test their knowledge. Recently, a colleague and I were testing a Bible-knowledge game. Since we were seated in an open area of our office, those nearby could hear our conversation. Soon questions ranging from Noah’s ark to the woman at the well were being answered by those within earshot of us. It was a delight to hear various staff members volunteering responses to Bible questions.
A knowledge of the Bible is important, but God desires us to be saturated with His Word and to internalize it so we can grow in our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to make us more like Christ (Eph. 4:20-24). Consider these benefits of internalizing the Bible: joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15:16); spiritual success (Josh. 1:8); a tool in spiritual warfare (Matt. 4:1-11); correction (2 Tim. 3:15-16); light for our path (Ps. 119:105); wisdom with problem solving (Prov. 1:1-2); and stimulating faith (Rom. 10:17).
Learning about the Bible just to increase our knowledge can lead to spiritual pride (1 Cor. 8:1). But allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the Word helps us navigate through life’s twists and turns and respond in love to God and to each other.
My hunger for the truth He satisfies; Upon the Word, the Living Bread, I feed: No parching thirst I know, because His grace, A pool of endless depth, supplies my need. —Sanders
Many books can inform, but only the Bible can transform.
There is no record in the Bible of God speaking to anyone in any form—including dreams, oracles, or visions—from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses. When the people of Israel were led out into the wilderness, it is likely that they had little knowledge of the God who had delivered them and was leading them to a new home. The commands given through Moses were meant to reintroduce God to them and to help them to be people who would be a light to others (cf. Isa. 49:3). By keeping God’s words always in front of them (Deut. 6:6-9), they could live by those words and be transformed into people who showed God to the world.