By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:11 NIV

Normally, when we hear the word warning we think negatively. A severe storm warning may send us for shelter. Flashing lights along the highway tell us to slow down, be aware, and perhaps even stop. Fine print on medicine bottles informs us of possible side effects and which side effects elicit a call to the doctor.

Those things are all good of course. They help us make decisions that will be the best for us physically. They give us a black and white scenario. If this happens, then the likely result is for ‘that’ to happen.

Unfortunately, life decisions regarding relational difficulties, job plans, and raising our kids isn’t as easily spelled out. This is especially so in our society today. When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s divorce and all the issues with blended families was for the most part, non-existent. Internet porn, sexual orientation, and a vast amount of the other social issues we are dealing with didn’t exist, or were far less prominent in our thinking.

The Psalmist writes, “By them your servant is warned…’. Our English language doesn’t give us a good picture of what that really means. While the word in the original language can be translated simply as warn, the primary definitions of the word revolve around enlightenment and showing clear steps of action that will lead to desired results.

A friend of mine is a volunteer fire-fighter. We were talking about fire codes one day and he showed me a book shelf in the coffee shop we were at. “Look at that shelf,” he instructed me, “now imagine it three times the size. That’s the size of our library of fire codes at the station!”

Now I can’t tell you how large that really is, but it was overwhelming to think of all the warnings contained in those volumes. Warnings that we may never think about, but are essential to keeping ourselves safe. The only way to know those codes would be to study them often and go back to them as a reference point when needed. Those books enlighten us as to the best way to stay safe from the danger of fire.

Casual perusal of those books on an occasional basis may give us a surface understanding of fire safety and the importance of following major guidelines, but the more complicated issues would be missed and could result in serious damage, injury or death.

On the other hand, in depth study of the manuals would enlighten the reader about the best possible way to keep buildings and lives safe from the devastation of fire.

God’s word is our manual for living. Although I struggle at times, like anyone else, to know the answers to some of the issues ahead of me, I believe that following God’s way is always the best way.  

God’s word gives us principles for successful living, not simple answers to complex issues. The only way to find those principles is to study it in depth and go to it often for clarification. Surface study of God’s word won’t give you the information you need to go on.

PRAYER: Father God, help me to use your book as a guide and not just an instruction manual. May my study of your Word enlighten me as to how to handle the issues of life ahead of me. Amen

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