Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Twenty Seven - Necessary

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” 
Job 23:12

Food is a rather vital component to life.  Not one of us can do without it and most of us have more of it than we really need.  Sad to say, when we compare our desire and availability of food to our desire and availment of God’s Word there is a mighty chasm.

Job was serious about his need and respect for God’s Word.  It was absolutely vital to his life.  Now, you must ask yourself…what part of God’s Word did Job have?  Some say Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible.  Since the Pentateuch is the recording of the beginning of things and the establishment of Israel as a nation, then we might have assumed that these are older.  However, even in these first five books we read of people like Adam and Eve who were given instruction and Cain and Abel who also knew what was required to make the necessary sacrifices.  God’s Word, instruction, was already there.  There is also Melchesidic, who worshiped and served God even before the giving of the Exodus and the Ten Commandments.  In Genesis 26:5 God calls Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees saying:  Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”  These were all following God’s command before the Exodus and the giving of the Ten Commandments.
“Henry Morris who has authored an interesting commentary on Job agrees writing that...Although it is now lost to us, God had given early man some kind of law code, long before Moses. Whatever this was, it was eventually superseded by the Mosaic laws and the rest of the Scriptures as we now have them.”
It has always amazed me that these and many others spoke of their love for God’s Word, but they didn’t have a complete Bible.  They didn’t have the whole revelation.  What did they have?  Commandments.  Laws.  Just try reading Leviticus or Deuteronomy and see if a steady diet of this would rejoice your heart.  Imagine not having more than the first five books of the Bible.  Would you really esteem those five books more necessary than your daily food?
Something to think about….just how necessary is your Bible to you?

“And let our also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.”  Titus 3:14

While the word necessary in Job 23:12 meant a prescribed task or portion, here in Titus it means something one can not do without, indispensable and especially in connected bonds of nature or friendship, what ought according to the law of duty be done, what is required by the circumstances.

Good works are a part of Christianity.  These works include a variety of activities that are profitable to life.  They might include honest labour and employment, caring for the man of God, avoiding evil, showing generosity and kindness, or giving to the poor and needy.  Whatever goodness can be shown or kindness extended, it is our portion and calling to do so.  As required by the circumstances or as opportunity arises, we are to be going about doing good.

Why?   Matthew Henry puts it this way – “This is of good report, will credit religion and be good to mankind; they will not be unprofitable members of the body, not burdensome and chargeable to others, but enabled to be helpful to those in want. To maintain good works for necessary uses; not living like drones on the labours of others, but themselves fruitful to the common benefit.”

There seem to be two qualifiers to this command.  First, that the good work be required.  For example, it might be fun to buy ice cream cones for every child in the Sunday school, but it is not required.  And the second qualifier is that the work be truly beneficial.  Not every parent would appreciate their child coming out of Sunday school with a dripping ice cream cone.

Good works are necessary, but should also be executed with purpose and for the purpose that God might be glorified.

Are good works a part of your Christian life?  Consider that old idea of doing one good work each day – do you measure up?  They are necessary.

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things…”  Acts 15:28

After the great discussion of the Jerusalem council as letter was sent out to the believers living in the Gentile area on what would be expected of them in order to have a good understanding and an avoidance of offence with the believing Jews. Three things were cited as necessary: the avoiding of fornication, necessary to all Christians at all times, the avoidance of eating blood and of eating things previously sacrificed to idols.

The letter was sent with an expression of tenderness and fatherly concern that the new believers not be overwhelmed with the Judaic law and customs, but rather that they maintain the necessary abstentions as directed by the Holy Ghost.  These leaders knew the danger of discouragement by over burdening them with regulations. 

Matthew Henry explains, “Church-rulers should impose only necessary things, things which Christ has made our duty, which have a real tendency to the edification of the church, and, as here, to the uniting of good Christians. If they impose things only to show their own authority, and to try people's obedience, they forget that they have not authority to make new laws, but only to see that the laws of Christ be duly executed, and to enforce the observance of them.”

This got me thinking.  What things does the Bible deem as necessary?  Salvation, repentance, faithfulness, obedience?  These and more I am sure.  Let’s look at just a few.  We will drift away from the word necessary, but we will stay with words within that definition.

Luke 10:42 says, “but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”  Needful – necessary.  It is necessary that we take time at the feet of Christ to hear and to learn.

Jude 1:3  “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith…”  Needful – necessary.  It was necessary to exhort the believers to contend for the faith.

Philippians 1:24  “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you…”  The sacrifice Paul was willing to make in putting the needs of others over his own desires is an example for us all.  It is always easier to quit or to walk away.  But is it needful – necessary – for us to stay the course.

And, Psalm 27:4  “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”  I know the words needful nor necessary are in this verse, but can you see the emphasis?  Belief is absolutely necessary to endurance.

Sometimes we can get distracted and laden down with laws and regulations in the Christian life and overlook the real depth of the necessary things that should be commanding our attention. If we were spending quality time with our Lord, busying ourselves with contending for the faith, putting others needs before our own and keeping our eyes on the Lord, most everything else would fall into place.

Are tick boxes and expectations sidetracking you?  Why not come back to the necessary things that bring you face to face with your God and leave the other stuff to find it’s own place?

“Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary…”  I Corinthians 12:22

It would seem totally ridiculous for us to think that any portion of our body was dispensable.  I know they say that we can do without our appendix and a few other bits, but honestly, does it excite you to think about having them removed?  Unless it is a wart or unsightly mark, we usually prefer to have our body left intact.

The passage in I Corinthians 12 is one of the lengthiest examples of the vital components of the church.  Hands, ears, eyes, feet are all deemed necessary and equal.  There is to be no schism in the body, but a genuine and mutual care for each part.  We would no doubt say, “Amen” to that.  However, our actions, words, and thoughts might not agree.

In our world of political correctness we are taught and even legislated to make accommodation for those whose needs are different than our own.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is good for us to be gracious and accommodating wherever and whenever possible.  Yet, just because we put in wider doors, ramps and special toilet facilities does not mean that our inner thoughts are changed.  We can still be inwardly intolerant and impatient.

Sometimes we might even feel that some folks are dragging behind or in the way of progress.  Our frustration with challenges and hurdles is revealed by our words and actions that are coming from the idea that these individuals are just not necessary.  Or, that things would work more smoothly without them.

Yet God’s work says here that they are necessary.  It means that they have a purpose.  They are indispensable, something we cannot do without.  One person used the term “sandpaper people” to describe them.  Think of it this way.  To learn patience we need affliction.  God just may be using these people to hone your patience.  Or, to teach you humility.  Or, to reveal your pride and arrogance.  Or, to help you to look at life from another angle.  Sandpaper people rub us the wrong way.  They force us to see our own lack of longsuffering, compassion and kindness and bring conviction to our lives.  All the while God just may be using them to make you a bit smoother, a bit more even, to whittle away at your rough spots and create something more useful and beautiful for His glory.

Are you losing patience with the sandpaper people in our life?  Why not stop and thank God for them?  Why not yield and let God do a necessary work in your life?

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”  Acts 13:46 

It was necessary that the Jews be given the opportunity to receive the Gospel message.  With both Christ and the Apostle Paul we see their example of going first to the house of Israel or the synagogue with the message of salvation and of the truth of the Messiah.  Theirs was the opportunity, but they rejected it.  They preferred to cling to the law and not receive grace.  In so doing the Gospel was then opened to the entire world.  Boldly, Paul and Barnabas proclaimed this truth and moved forward.

Have you ever faced a similar situation?  You know, or at least you think you know, that the person to whom God is leading you to witness will most likely reject the Gospel message.  Yet, it is necessary for them to hear it once again.  Oh, Christian, be that bold.  Be that obedient.  Tell them again.

And then there is the time when one must have the boldness of a lion and the wisdom of a serpent and the harmlessness of a dove.  It is not time for being timid.  We must “in meekness instruct” in hope of repentance and acknowledging of the truth and to warn them of the consequences of their decision in hope of recovery. (II Timothy 2:25)  Yet, the decision is always theirs.  We cannot make people come to Christ.  We cannot make them repent.

Oh, that one could.  Oh, that every lost loved one could be persuaded.  But that is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Ours is to obey in what is necessary – they must hear the Word of God.  Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  Romans 10:17  So, let us be about our necessary work – the giving of God’s Word.

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