Happy September to you from Inspiration from a Blind brought to you monthly by www.ShirleyCheng.com!
Do you live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to Yahweh God? Do you know how you can do so?
Yahweh told His people, "You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2, WEB) If you profess to be His, then your lifestyle has to mirror or reflect your relationship with your Creator.
You may have a strong desire to please your Heavenly Father, yet do not know exactly how. For example, you may not know whether certain things or activities you do conform to God's laws or principles.
So how can we determine which things are acceptable to God and which are not? We can by studying the Word of God.
Since the Bible is the book that Yahweh wrote to guide us in living a holy life that conforms to His will, then it should be the primary source we should go to for answers. If you are considering an activity or a place to visit, see whether the Bible approves or disapproves it. If the Bible clearly states that a particular activity is forbidden, then we should restrain from doing it. For example, Yahweh forbids His people to worship Him using objects that were used in false religions. Today, many Christians erect the Christmas tree, but from my research (if the information I read is accurate), I learned that Christmas trees originated from the Asherah poles, poles or trees that ancient pagans erected or planted in the worship of the false goddess Astarte. If this is so, then many Christians are displeasing God when they erect Christmas trees in the observance of the birth of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
While the Bible is clear on certain activities God forbids, we do need to dig into the Scriptures for many things in order to determine whether they are acceptable to God. For instance, the Bible does not explicitly tell us whether gambling is wrong, so we need to study the entire Word of God to gather any relevant principles to help us make the right decision.
Thus, to dig into the Scriptures, we need to know about "precepts" and "principles" and understand their differences in order to correctly determine the course of action.
A law or rule has two components: the precept and the principle. A precept is the specific statement of law. An example precept from the Bible is: "You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out the grain." (Deuteronomy 25:4)
A principle is the underlying meaning or purpose of the precept. It offers us the reason why the precept should be obeyed. For example, the principle for the above precept is: A worker deserves his pay.
God's precepts change through time based on the change of cultures. However, His principles never change. For example, the precept regarding the ox was given to the ancient Israelites based on the culture they had; many of them were farmers and owned livestock. But for the modern United States, this precept is not applicable to many because an average American does not own oxen. Despite this, God's underlying principle behind this precept is still applicable for an average American today: a worker deserves to be paid. Therefore, we should operate in accordance with this principle by paying all our employees appropriately.
This is why it is important for us to study God's Word and the laws God gave His people. By studying His laws, we can discover the principles behind His laws, so we can apply them to our lives today.
When we understand God's principles, not just know His precepts, this will help us determine how to live a life that's pleasing to Him. Let's take pornography as an example. The Bible does not specifically say, "Do not watch porn." In other words, there's no specific precept against it. However, there are relevant principles that let us know that porn is a sin. One such principle is that even lusting after someone in your heart is considered adultery in the sight of God (Matthew 5:28). Thus, we can know that watching pornography is forbidden by God.
When the Bible does not give a clear guidance on a particular activity, it does provide us general principles to help us in our decision-making process. Below are some such principles, with example scenarios to which these principles can be applied:
1) What we do should glorify God: The apostle Paul said, "Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) Our purpose for existence is to love, serve, and glorify God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). If we fail to glorify God through our words, thoughts, and deeds, we are wasting our lives entirely. If an activity does not directly glorify God, it should not profane Him in the least, either.
Scenario: Should you participate in Halloween? Well, if you have your kids dress up as demons and witches, do you think you would be glorifying God? Would it not rather glorify Satan?
2) We should do things with the right motive: Even good works done with the wrong motive is unacceptable, such as praying for the wrong reasons: "You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures." (James 4:3)
Scenario: If you donate to your church--that's great. But what is your motive? To help your church to spread the Gospel and feed the hungry, or to receive praise from fellow church goers? If you see a homeless beggar on the street with no one around, would you give him money as eagerly as you would to your church?
3) We need to focus on doing meaningful, necessary activities that benefit others and ourselves: Since our time is short, we should not waste it on doing unnecessary things that serve no purpose, even if those things do not violate any of God's laws. Paul said, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but not all things build up." (1 Corinthians 10:23)
Scenario: Watching television can be entertaining as well as educational and informative. But how much time do you spend sitting in front of a TV set? How much benefit do you receive during the time you watch TV? Could you have done something more productive for yourself and others during such time?
4) We should never compromise on God's commandments: The apostle James said, "You adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4) As God's Christians, we are to be the salt and light of the world to shine the light of Christ on others; we are in the world, but not of the world. This means that even though we live in the world, we should not act like it by living ungodly lifestyles.
Scenario: If you are invited by your friends to an all-night party to "get wild and drunk," would you go, knowing Yahweh does not approve of drunkenness? If you go and say, "It's only for one night. What's the harm?" then you would be making compromises. Such compromise with the world does not please Yahweh.
5) We should consider how our action would affect others: We should never do things that make our brothers and sisters stumble or sin against God (Romans 14:21). If our sinful lifestyle negatively influences others to commit sins, then we would be sinning against others and God and would be fully accountable for our actions. Note what Jesus said: "It is inevitable that temptations to sin will come, but how terrible it will be for the person through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:1-2, International Standard Version) So we ought to set a good example after which people can model.
Scenario: If you tell your friends that you are a Christian, and yet live a lifestyle that is filled with ungodly compromises, what kind of message would you be sending out to your friends? Would you not misrepresent the Christian faith, and worst of all, God and Jesus? Would you not be a bad example to others? Your lifestyle would convey this message: "Being a Christian doesn't make you any different than others. You can do all you want, and God will still love you for it." If your friends adopt your "Christian" lifestyle, you would cause them to sin against God and live in self-deceit, and you yourself would have to face God someday for leading others into sin.
6) We should treat others the way we want to be treated: This golden rule of Jesus Christ is phrased by God as "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18, WEB) Loving others as we love ourselves fulfills the second most important commandment. The first greatest commandment is to love God with our entire selves (Mark 12:29-30).
Scenario: If you are attracted to a married person, would you act upon your feelings to commit adultery with that person? To help you decide, ask yourself, "Would I want my spouse to sleep with someone else?" If you do not like this idea, then do not make others sin against their own spouse.
By living in accordance with such Biblical principles and any specific precepts, we will be able to live lives that please our Father in heaven. We will be the people Yahweh wants us to be: blameless, without reproach, and holy. Then and only then will our lifestyle reflect our relationship with God as His people. So pick up a copy of the Bible to begin doing the will of God, today!
~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley~*~
Question: Does the Bible teach us that our soul is a separate, conscious entity with a mind of its own, and that it would live on after our death?
Answer: To answer your question, we need to understand the meaning of the Hebrew word "nephesh," from which "soul" is translated in the Old Testament. Let's see a few verses in the creation account that contain "nephesh" to understand its meaning. I'll put "nephesh" in brackets to the right of a word to indicate that it's the original word used:
1) "God created the large sea creatures, and every living creature [nephesh] that moves, with which the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind." (Genesis 1:21, WEB)
2) "God said, 'Let the earth produce living creatures [nephesh] after their kind, livestock, creeping things, and animals of the earth after their kind'; and it was so." (Genesis 1:24)
3) "Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [nephesh]." (Genesis 2:7)
From the above, we see that "creature" and "soul" are translated from "nephesh." Sea creatures, land creatures, and humans are all called "nephesh." Hence, "nephesh" (or "soul") means "living creature." A goldfish is a soul, and so is a little boy. So we can correctly say, "The poor soul died" when our beloved pet passed away. Hence, by this definition, our soul is not a separate entity with a mind of its own. We ourselves are souls. In this sense, our souls die when we die.
However, "nephesh" also refers to "life" in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 35:18, it speaks of Rachel's nephesh (life) departing, as she was dying due to her troubled childbirth. In this sense, nephesh departs when we die. By this definition, our soul is somewhat a separate entity, but is merely our life or life essence, not something that has a mind of its own.
The Greek word, "psuche," is translated into "soul" in the New Testament. "Psuche" means living creature, one's life, life essence, and the spiritual part of our being where our emotions lay. In actuality, the Greek Septuagint (the first Greek translation of the Old Testament and one that the apostle Paul used) uses the word "psuche" to translate "nephesh." Hence, "nephesh" and "psuche" have primarily the same meanings.
The Bible does not support the common belief about souls. For instance, many of us believe that after we die, our "souls" come out of our bodies, float around the room, and can feel emotions and see our weeping loved ones. But the Bible simply does not support this. The Bible does not tell us that our nephesh has a mind of its own or is a conscious entity that can think and that lives on after we die.
In conclusion, it is correct to say that our souls die when we die, because "soul" ("nephesh") means "living creature." It is also correct to say that our "soul" ("nephesh" or "psuche") departs when we die (but not literally "live" on), depending on the context. However, "nephesh" or "psuche" is never explained by the Bible as a conscious being. Therefore, when we die, our thoughts cease, and we do not know anything. This is why the Bible sometimes calls death "sleep."
Like a deep sleep, all the dead will be resurrected (will "wake up"); the righteous unto eternal life, and the wicked unto eternal death (John 5:28-29; Daniel 12:2). Hence, death is not the end of our existence if we are righteous followers of Christ and of Yahweh--only a long sleep. We will be like a seed that lies dormant in the soil during winter and "comes to life" in spring. When Jesus returns, all the righteous will be resurrected and be given eternal life with him and Yahweh! This is the hope that the apostle Paul urged all believers to hold on to (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). So let us never lose hope of this!
If you have any question you would like answered in a future issue of my newsletter, just reply to this e-mail and ask! I'd be more than happy to feature it. :)
~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~
Would you like to know your Creator, understand your origin, and fulfill your purpose? Do you desire to obtain true, enduring wealth, happiness, and wisdom? Then embark on your path to wisdom by learning about your Creator and His will from His Word, the Bible, and apply His principles to your life, as the fear of Yahweh God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
Obtain an in-depth knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (both the Tanakh and the Greek Scriptures) to help you deepen your understanding of Yahweh God Almighty and His plans, and develop a sacred relationship with your Heavenly Father. In the In-Depth Ultra-Ability Bible Virtual Class via E-mail from www.Ultra-Ability.com Ministry, you'll be able to learn the Bible in depth from Genesis to Revelation. Sign up for the free virtual class by filling out the short form at www.ultra-ability.com.
· This in-depth study will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in order.
· The study will progress in your own pace.
· You will work one-on-one with your Bible teacher, Dr. Shirley Cheng,via e-mail only.
· Your personal Bible-related questions will be answered.
· Although the virtual class has no financial cost, it will require your dedication and diligence. There will be lessons to complete and tests to take for all Bible chapters. All assignments are in short question and answer format.
· The only textbook for this program is the Bible. If you do not have a copy of the Bible, Shirley can e-mail you the Bible text or you can read it online for free at www.BibleGateway.com.
· The class is non-denominational and is not affiliated with any church or ministry.
· You have no obligations; you may pause or stop anytime, though you are strongly encouraged to complete the study.
To sign up for the online class, please go to http://www.ultra-ability.com
May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!
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Dr. Shirley Cheng
Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Founder of Ultra-Ability Ministry
Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Bible Teacher, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"
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