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In our study we often refer to the term, jungle. Of course we are using this in a figurative sense, because the term or concept of the jungle is an appropriate concept to apply to the difficulties we face in our everyday life. Life is in a sense a jungle with all its dangers as well as its enticements, many seen, many unseen. We have choices in life. But as we will soon see there are really only two choices which will have an impact on each of our individual personal lives and destinies.
Can we control our destiny? Yes, of course. But probably not in the way in which you are thinking. Can we control many of the difficulties we face in life? The answer to that is yes as well. But again, probably not in a way in which you are thinking. There are no magic tricks, no genies to call upon.
Most people like to think that they are individual spirits, free to do as they please. Free to pick and choose what they want out of life, and that, that is really all there is to it. Most feel that if things will just go their way (perhaps with a little luck and a few good connections), then life will be pleasant and wonderful. We can gaze into the sunset and just feel good about ourselves. That is the hope of most anyway. But not so in life.
Suddenly as we grow up, life's realities hit us. The school grades are not quite as good as we would like. The job opportunities are just not there. Perhaps the money is a little short to finance that dream. Disaster strikes. Our health may be less than perfect. The marriage of our dreams turns out to be less than we dreamed - divorce, children, monthly bills. Pressure builds, tension, loss of sleep, worry. Social problems develop. People gossip. Office politics get in your way. Life is just not going as you had planned. What to do?
Welcome to the jungle.
You were born into it and now you have to live in it for better or worse. Do we have any choice? Do we have any way out of this pressure cooker of life? And the answer to both of those questions is yes. Unfortunately most people see the choices they have in life and ignore the good ones, and pursue the jungles offerings (the bad choices). They dig themselves deeper in the choke hold of the jungle and then misery and eventually death, like a slow strangulation, comes slowly. Sometimes you notice it, especially in times of trouble. Sometimes you do not notice it - in times of good fortune. But in the jungle both of these situations are paths to doom and misery. In the jungle you are not in charge of your own life. You have no control over your destiny
The answer of course, to this lack of control over ones life, is spiritual growth through a consistent daily Bible study. Unfortunately most people do not take this seriously and they continue to wallow in their miserable lives day in and day out. Bible study is not something that takes up a lot of your time, but it is and should be a commitment to a study for life, more like commitments you already have in other daily routines - brushing your teeth, daily meals, nightly sleep periods, dressing, undressing - you know, simple things that you do day in and day out without even thinking about them. That is the kind of daily Bible study that you should get into the habit of.
Will your life change overnight? No. Will there be sudden magic in your life? No. God is not a genie, nor a magician, for your convenient use when you need Him, and then to be placed back on the shelf to collect dust until your next time of need.
Your first mind set should be, to look at life and see the truth of reality. There are two realities in life. That which exists in the jungle, the will of the jungle, and that which is Gods Will. Understand that God is far greater than you probably will ever know. Even as you get to know God, through your daily study, you will discover His greatness is far greater then even your imagination. Most people can imagine a great deal. You will also get to know that having God in your life will not be an imposition on you, nor a restriction to how you conduct your life. You will have greater choices, even more so than if you choose to reject God or to just ignore Him in your life.
Unfortunately many folks feel that having God in their life will restrict them in some way, that they can come up with 'better' choices on their own, and, that is the first step down the road of voluntary stupidity. But first the jungle, then the sphere of protection within the jungle.
From the American Heritage Dictionary the word jungle carries the following meanings and history:
'1. Land densely overgrown with tropical vegetation.
2. A dense thicket or growth.
3. A dense, confused mass; a jumble.
4. Something made up of many confused elements; a bewildering complex or maze.
5. A place or milieu characterized by intense, often ruthless competition or struggle for survival.'
Word History (quoted from American Heritage Dictionary). 'One might be surprised to learn that the word jungle is not African in origin nor does it come from a word that only meant 'land densely overgrown with tropical vegetation and trees.' Jungle goes back to the Sanskrit word jangalam, meaning 'desert, wasteland,' and also 'any kind of uncultivated area, such as heavily forested land.' The Sanskrit word jangala- passed into various Indian languages and from one or more of these languages into English. In English jungle was used for land overgrown with vegetation, for the vegetation itself, and for such land outside India. The word was also extended figuratively in various ways. We have, for example, asphalt jungles, concrete jungles, blackboard jungles, academic jungles, corporate jungles, and, the taxation jungle.'
Now I would like to enhance the above definition, of the word jungle, for the purpose of this study to include many other facets similar to those geographical areas one would find in Africa if one were to go on a safari for example. But I do not want to limit the concept to just those things you would find in Africa. There are many other jungles in the world - South America, Central America, Southeast Asia, the Australian Outback and so forth. These places easily fall under the label of extreme or harsh environments. They are ruthless and unforgiving to any who would venture into them without protection or precautions of any kind.
Imagine you are on a safari. If you could take a birds eye view of the entire area, then you would see the great mountains with its snow and ice caps, great cliffs and canyons, waterfalls, mountain streams and rivers. Down in the valley you would see the great grassy plains stretching to the horizon, rivers, lakes and ponds, trees and clusters of trees and various vegetation. Still adjacent to the jungle you would see the darker overgrown dense mass of vegetation one usually associates with a rain forest, on the one hand, and on the other hand there are deserts, hot and dry.
On its surface and from a distance it appears beautiful and appealing. That is the jungle of the world and its enticements. With the majestic snow on the one hand and the deep assortment of greens and other colors throughout the rest of the region. The jungle appeals to the eye, perhaps even in a romantic or an adventurous sense. Even the sounds of birds and other wildlife have their special appeal, all of which can easily draw a person into the clutches of the jungle.
Once inside, the jungle quickly turns frightening. From lions on the high ridges or grassy plains, to leaches in the dark, wet, and dense swampy unseen areas, to snakes neither heard nor seen, to baboon's, monkey's, birds, vast herds of animals on the grassy plains, to animals hidden under the surface of the waters. In the desert regions, lack of water and food, and high heat can quickly take their toll. Dangers lurk around every corner.
The strong survive, for a time anyway, and the weak always seem to get the short stick so to speak. In the end all living creatures in the jungle come to their end. They all die. And therein lies the truth of the jungle - misery in many sorts and eventually death. This is the first piece of reality we should all come to understand. The jungle holds out to us many powerful enticements, but misery and death are the only things you can expect from living in the jungle. Of course taxes are included in the miserable aspects!
During life, that is for those who survive birth, the possibilities are varied. Some creatures get fat and live long and well, while others live short lives succumbing to the dangers both seen (predators) and unseen (disease).
The jungle has its own set of rules. If you abide by these rules and learn them well, and if you have some bit of 'luck' along the way, then you might have some semblance of a decent life, that is while you are alive. But even if you play the game very, very well, you will always come up short. Misery will always overtake you and of course death traps us all.
So the real question of life should be, what comes after death? And even more than that, assuming we have a reasonable answer, then what can we do to reduce the miseries of this life. And gain for ourselves a winning life, even while living on this planet and, in the middle of this jungle we call our life's existence on planet earth.
Who invented the jungle? God did of course. God created everything. Who invented the rules of the jungle - the good rules? God did that as well. He gave us various rules of economics, of social interaction and so forth. God gave us concepts of math and physics and many other truths that govern this universe. As we discover them, mankind utilizes them for invention, for interacting with nature, for interacting with people, for making things and bettering our lives. Nothing wrong with that.
Where things go wrong in the jungle is when man ignores God and pursues his own invention in religion and philosophy. Alternate gods, alternate morals, alternate principles governing life, and any departure from Gods truth turns inevitably into injustice and misery for the masses.
Crime exists, ruthless people exist, immoralities of various types, bias, and prejudices abound. People, armed with their sin natures, take advantage of others and attempt to advance themselves at the expense of others, thus the harsh realities of the jungle come to life. Through them people suffer. We have seen many examples in history of slavery, of advantages taken of women in various cultures, of human sacrifice, of simple social upheaval - the evils of gossip and the like, political inequities, social inequities and so forth. People get ostracized for their looks, their skin color, their culture, their handicaps. Whatever your situation, others can come up with some excuse for disliking you.
We deal with fours basic problem sources in life. Dealing with our own thoughts is the first. What we think is what we are. Dealing with other people is the second source of problems in life's dealings. The third types of situations are the systems of life, the bureaucracies of life, whether business, government, or social organizations. The fourth type, or source of problems for us all, are the natural disasters. These could be weather related, or planet related. They can be medically related - a handicap, a bad heart, cancer or some disease, or any difficulty you might encounter in life, other than in the first three categories. The jungle does not have a shortage of problems nor a shortage of sources of trouble for your life. In the end, life is overwhelming. Man alone, cannot withstand its onslaught. We have not solved the common cold, we certainly have not solved death. All generations of peoples who have come before our current time, have died. None of them remain alive on earth. They lived their lives and are now gone from our sight. They either reside in heaven, or they reside elsewhere in torment. And that, our destiny after death, comes with two possibilities as well. Eternal life in a good place, or eternal life in a bad place.
Life gives us two choices, and death imposes on us two possibilities. We have an opportunity to make our choices while we live on this earth. But after death, choices cease with respect to our ultimate destiny. We live on this earth for just a few short years. After death eternity's time frame takes over and eternity is a very long time. So you should be able to see that what we do and decide during our life here on planet earth, is very important. It will decide your entire eternal future. Decide right and eternity will be wonderful. Decide wrong and eternity will be horrible - worse than horrible.
Most of us are concerned with this jungle, that we are stuck in for the moment. We have aches and pains, we have employment problems. We have divorce issues, or marital problems. The bills keep piling up. Our health is not as good as we would like. Our social life stinks. And on the flip side, and a more dangerous side, we might be very prosperous, therefore we might be inclined to ignore having any needs, least of all spiritual needs for the moment. This is why I say this is a more dangerous side of life. Where there is no apparent hardship, then there is the possibility that a person will ignore preparations for his life, his spiritual life. Almost everyone who runs into trouble will begin looking for a solution. But those who have no apparent troubles, generally ignore the search for solutions. Sometimes it is far better to have problems, just so you will be inclined to seek God out.
So now we should have a pretty good picture of the jungle. We are all in the same boat at least from birth. But later in life, we get opportunities to make our individual boats better than the boats of those around us. The boat of course is that vessel which carries us through life, or the concept of a vessel anyway.
We come face to face with God, and the issue of God. We wonder who He is, what He is, and how we can come to get acquainted with Him. And, of course, how God can make our life better. That is the subject of the entire Bible study process.
Once we hear the gospel of Christ, we have our first choice of life. The first of two choices. We either believe in Christ or we ignore the subject altogether. That is, we do not believe in Christ. This first decision determines our eternal destiny. Believe in Christ and choose a destiny of heaven. Reject Christ, and perhaps pursue some other form of religion or philosophy (though it will make no difference what alternate path you choose), and choose Hell as your permanent eternal residence.
Believing in Christ is a simple thought process, 'Father (God the Father), I believe in Christ.' That is all it takes to be saved. How could anyone even pass up that simple belief. It probably took you all of a half a second to read those words.
But salvation is only one decision in life. You are still living in the jungle. The subject of this study is, 'How do we relieve ourselves of some of those hardships imposed on us by this jungle?'
This leads us to the second choice we have in life, and actually that second choice is a set of daily choices we will have to make every day of our remaining life. Not hard choices, mind you, but choices nonetheless. This second set of daily choices also gives us our opportunity to set ourselves apart from the jungle.
Living in the jungle we live and are exposed to the laws of the jungle. We already know that the law of the jungle is not pretty. It is ruthless, harsh, and will give no mercy to its victim. Living in a sphere set apart from the jungle, that is living inside an environment which God has created for each one of us individually places us under the spiritual laws which God alone enforces. We call this sphere, fellowship, or being in fellowship with God, or being in the presence of God. We won't go into the concept of fellowship in too much detail as it is covered in a separate study, but suffice to say, when a person is in fellowship, then he is set apart from the normal rules of the jungle and falls under the higher laws of spirituality.
These spiritual laws, are a higher set of laws. God is in effect placed in charge of your life. You set aside your own volition, your own desires, and allow God to guide you through life by means of His wisdom. How do you learn, or know His wisdom? You engage in a daily Bible study. You pay attention. You learn. You come to understand what Gods Word means, the principles and such from Gods Word. As you understand them, then you apply them to your life and that reinforces your learning, such that you come to possess Gods Wisdom, or in other words, you come to have functional control over those things which you now know and understand.
For example. As a child you do not understand language. As you grow up you learn letters, then simple words, then sentence structure and paragraph thoughts. Then you learn concepts and eventually you are able to write without thinking about the details of those simple letters. Early in life you had trouble identifying letters. Now later in life you know the letters blindfolded. The same principle of possession of Gods Wisdom applies. As you come to learn more and more, you come to understand more and more, and the application to life becomes easier for you.
But, you say, anyone can learn Gods Word. We can all probably memorize some portions of the Bible. Even Satan has the entire Bible memorized, but it doesn't help him. And this is correct.
There are two criteria for a person to gain the spiritual value of Gods Wisdom. There is academic value for sure, and in this anyone can read the words of the Bible. But to gain the spiritual value, one has to first be saved, and second he has to be in fellowship. These are the two key ingredients of growing up spiritually. Without them a person has no hope of escape from living in the jungle and being exposed to its ruthless laws.
First, salvation. When we are born physically, we are born body and soul. We lack a third component in our being and that is a human spirit. In order to have any kind of a relationship with God we must have a human spirit. All those who lack a human spirit are typically termed as unbelievers. That is with respect to Jesus Christ - those who have not believed in Christ.
In order to gain a human spirit, we must first believe in Christ. We mentioned how easy this is, just a few paragraphs ago, 'Father, I believe in Christ.' This is a very short thought and needs only be done once in a persons life. Once saved, always saved.
Simultaneously with ones belief in Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates inside of you, a human spirit. Into that human spirit is imputed eternal life. Now you are a believer in Christ, possessing body, soul, and spirit.
The human spirit is important because it becomes the link funneling Gods Word through your human spirit and into your soul. See the diagram of the soul of the believer vs. the unbeliever.
Once saved we continue to commit sins. Lets face it, after we have been saved, we are not miraculously made perfect. We all have flaws, we all have a sin nature. Believers can be just as horrible and obnoxious as unbelievers in this world. So the next principle to understand is that of fellowship.
Fellowship briefly is that sphere wherein God has created a means for us to approach Him in sinless perfection. At the Cross, Christ paid the price for sin. All of mans sins were judged, but they were not forgiven, and that is a very important distinction which we need to understand. Yes, when we believe in Christ we are saved and we will go to heaven. But as we continue to live here on earth we are held responsible for how we conduct our lives.
God does not just let us go about doing bad things to others. And there are believers out there who are real jerks, even worse. So what is this fellowship all about. Well, through confession of sin, God has provided a means for us to cleanse ourselves, which is the process of placing us into fellowship. Briefly, when we are saved, at that moment we are in fellowship with God. When we commit our first sin following salvation, which could come minutes or hours after you were saved, then the commission of that sin, whatever it might have been, kicked you out of fellowship. In order to get back into fellowship you are commanded to confess your sins. You are commanded to confess them to God the Father (to whom all prayer is directed). By the way this confession is personal and private. It is not a public matter. It is not something that you do with a priest, wife, family member, fellow worker, or grandma. Your confession is between you and God and no one else. This brings the concept of forgiveness, which only God can do. No human being has the power or right to forgive you of your sins.
Through confession you are in effect saying that you acknowledge your sins, that you are taking responsibility for them, and that you are placing them in Gods hands for handling. This is not an emotional matter. There will be no bells, or music, no lightening bolts, no seizures, nor anything else related to the senses. Slipping into and out of fellowship is unseen and unfelt.
Once you confess your sins (list them to God as you would a grocery list), then you are back in fellowship, cleansed, washed, shoes removed and standing on holy ground, in His fortress, in His temple, and any of a number of synonymous phrases used in the Bible to signify fellowship.
Think of fellowship as being inside a bubble of protection. In some of these outer space movies, the spaceship has a shield, or a defense shield that protects the ship from enemy fire. So when you are in fellowship, your shields are in effect, up and you are protected from all outside forces. Those forces being the jungle we have been covering.
When you are out of fellowship then your shields are down and you are at great risk from enemy fire. You have no protection. Zero. If the jungle attacks you then you are injured since you lack protection.
So the safety from the jungle, that we have available to us, is that sphere or bubble of fellowship. We cannot see it. We cannot feel it, but it is there when we comply with Gods commands to be washed, to be cleaned and so forth. This is a ritual or habit which needs to be practiced daily - confession that is. 'If we judge ourselves, then we should not be judged.' The principles of fellowship are discussed in Leviticus, and the mechanics of confession and fellowship are discussed in 1 John.
Summary. We are all born into this world. We are therefore exposed to the rules that exist in this world. We can be abused by our own flawed thoughts. We can be taken advantage of by other people. We can be burned by the bureaucratic systems that exist in the world. We can be hurt by the various disasters that can occur in life. Anyone who ventures into the jungle should not go there without protection, and God gives us that protection. We are free to use it or not. That choice is of course ours to make.
The fellowship is a concept of obedience to God. It is not a license to sin and then try to escape the repercussions of our actions. If you rob a bank, then you will most likely get caught and do the time. Confessing to God will not let you off the hook.
But there are many advantages in life to having fellowship as a part of our life. Out of fellowship we are in effect steering our own course through life. As humans we cannot see into the future, so our course is followed in complete darkness. In fellowship, God is at the controls, and He steers us around problems and to solutions, even when we might not be aware that problems are nearby.
We still make our own choices in life. But as we grow up spiritually from our daily Bible study, then we will have better information and wisdom to make better choices in life. We do not give up our right to decide for ourselves, but when in the jungle, it is far better to have a guide who knows the safe paths, than to venture out on our own, without even a clue as to what is ahead.
The jungle is ruthless. Good examples of this are the atrocities of World War II. Even closer to home an example may be the gossip which may be directed against you, and even behind your back. Lessor attacks, but attacks all the same. Choosing to live in the jungle and on your own, is a bad decision. Many bad things can happen to you and you family or business, etc., such as marital problems, employment problems, family problems, social problems, medical problems, legal problems, financial problems, and so forth. If you can imagine anything bad happening to you, then it is possible.
Choosing to live inside that bubble of protection which we refer to as fellowship, then all these problems might still be there, but with God at the controls, there will be a way out of them, a solution, an easier course to follow through them. Your life will be far better and happier.
The choice to live a better life is a daily choice. You have the power to make that decision.
End Of Lesson
Study to show thyself approved (mature) unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (studying/discerning), the Word of truth.
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