Posts Tagged Bible

Big Turn-out

Acts 13: 44

And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.

I often wonder why we, as Americans, do not seem to honor the Bible greatly. In the passage above, nearly the whole town turned out to hear the Word of God. One reason may be that Bibles are so readily available to us; we have such easy access to them. Looking up from my keyboard I can count eight Bibles of various translations, formats and languages. And that only represents the ones in this room. There are others in different places in the house. Does this sometimes make us complacent? Do we esteem lightly those things which are easily obtained?

I also hear people talk about the Bible being written by men although it is inspired by God. Their point is that they think the Bible may be flawed because God had to pen it through a person’s hand. So I wonder, have we become arrogant in our age of individualism and intellectualism? Are we so impressed with our own great intellect that we do not feel that we need take direction from another? Do we believe that the Apostle Paul cannot inform our lives? If not that, are we just lazy? Do we forsake the reading of our Bibles because we have televisions to entertain us? Or maybe fear plays a role in our indolent attitude towards the Bible. Maybe we are afraid that it will in some way require something of us. Perhaps we fear it will require something we are unwilling to give. Maybe we think we can plead ignorance when we face God so we keep ourselves intentionally ignorant of the Bible’s passages.

I do not know all the answers to these questions but I do have observations. And I have observed that a great many Christians give short shrift to the Bible. The scriptures and teaching of them does not even always hold a primary position in Christian services. Whether we believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God or not, most of us do believe it is the Word of God. It is the only word of God we have.

I want you to develop a lifelong love affair with the Word because it is the power of God. There is comfort in the Word. There is healing. I know the best thing I can give anyone is the Word of God. There is so much security and help in the Word and all I can bring you is a little dose. God talks to us through his Word. He leads us through his word. It is your sword and your shield and your very constant companion.

The Bread

Matthew 6: 11

Give us this day our daily bread.
I had the opportunity on Sunday to hear Pastor Wayne Anderson of Idaho speak on his most recent book, Change the World with Prayer. One of the messages he brought to us was Jesus’ teaching on prayer which is found in what we commonly call the Lord’s Prayer. I was very much struck by Anderson’s point about this one little, short verse having the word “day”, or a derivative, in it twice. As he discussed it I was reminded of how the manna that God provided from heaven to the Israelites would spoil after one day. that really got me thinking.
God promised to provide for the Israelites daily. The fact that this is a daily event is an important point. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction’” (Exodus 16: 4). The Israelites were specifically precluded from collecting two or three days of manna. They were supposed to take only enough for each person for one day and then trust God for the bread for the other days. That is not our way, is it? The ground was literally littered with manna but God said to gather only a day’s worth and not to keep any of it for the next day. It would be normal for us to want to collect enough for several days but God said “Let’s see if they will follow my directions.” “But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul” (Exodus 16: 20).
Overnight the manna that people saved became inedible. Years later Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread. Yesterday’s bread won’t feed you today. It was for yesterday. It was good food for yesterday but you need today’s bread for today. Thousands of years ago as God tried to get the Israelites to trust Him day to day for their provision He was also laying down a spiritual principle that Jesus picked up and attempted to instill in his followers, including us. So this is Jesus’ word to us that we need to feed daily on the bread which God provides for us. But what does this really mean? Is this spiritual mumbo jumbo or does Jesus mean this literally? What do you think Jesus is trying to get us to do about daily bread? 
Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6: 30 – 35).
I believe Jesus is teaching us that we need to partake of him daily. How do you do that, you may ask. My answer is John 1: 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is the incarnate Word of God so to partake of him we partake of the Word of God. But wait, there is more. Blindly reading the Bible is not what I am talking about. A heathen could sit all day and read the Bible but never partake of Jesus. Our consumption of the Word is a meditative, contemplative, spiritual ingesting of the person of Jesus Christ as he is found in God’s Word. There is, to my way of thinking, a big difference between “The Bible” and “The Word” but I will leave that to you to figure out.
At the end of the day I think Jesus is telling us that God has provided for us just as He did for the Israelites. Our manna is the living word. Jesus seems to be teaching us that we must feed on it daily. Yesterday’s manna is no good for today. It met yesterday’s need but today is a new day and we need fresh bread. I promise that Jesus is fresh and appropriate to today’s need.

One last comment, I only gave you today an excerpt of what Jesus said about being the bread of life. I strongly recommend that you read the entire sixth chapter of John. I think it will be a blessing and definitely food for thought.

Building the Foundation

Isaiah 40: 8

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
What is your life and your faith based upon? As I observe people and religions I find it interesting to notice what underpins people’s lives and faith systems. When we construct buildings we certainly want the under girding to be very strong indeed. Yet with our lives we do not always give the same consideration. Surely, we all want our lives to be founded on that which is strong and true. The Bible teaches us in Ephesians 6: 14 to gird ourselves with truth. John 17: 17 says “Thy word is truth.” So, putting those together would direct us to under gird ourselves with God’s word. In other words, if we build our houses, our lives, on the firm foundation of God’s word, then we are building our lives on a platform of strength and stability. This is the foundation which stands forever, the Word of God. We need something of strength and durability to stand on and that is the Word of God.

I know there are many people who criticize the Bible or question its validity but this is what I have noticed. Many who make those comments have not spent much time with it. They have read very little of it and are really just commenting on what they have heard about it from someone else. Secondly, those who actually have spent time with the Word yet who do not revere it, rarely have anything substantial to supplant its use. They seem to have nebulous philosophies to which they loosely refer. That is fine. We all have to choose our own path in life but I say build your house on the rock and you will fare well in the storm (Luke 6: 48). The Bible works. It has been working for thousands of years. Its truths are infallible and the word of our God stands forever.

Story Time

Proverb 4: 1

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 

I wish to share a little trade secret with you today. We all know we should read the Bible but we also all fail to read it as much as we should. Sometimes it is hard to get out of it what you need. Well, here is the secret. Read it like it is a personal letter from Jesus to you, especially the New Testament. Insert your name in the text. Stop and talk aloud to Jesus about it. Consider it all a letter just to you. When you make it personal instead of a homework assignment it takes on much more meaning.

When reading the Old Testament, look for the story. Imagine yourself as a Hollywood producer looking for the next great epic film series. The Old Testament really is awesome but you have to be prepared to see it for its glory. 

Also, I know we are wedded to our King James Bibles and you don’t have to throw it out but get a modern version too. Unless you are an Elizabethan scholar you will get much more out of a modern language version. I use the New American Standard Bible for its authenticity but I often give NIV Bibles as gifts because although they are not quite as accurate as the NASB they are even easier to read. And don’t minimize the paraphrase versions either. I still pull down my Living Bible I received in Junior High to read really convoluted passages so that I can get the general meaning. Then I can switch back to more literal translations in order to hone in on the exact thoughts conveyed.

I want you to read the Bible because it is good for you, it is life, health and well-being. I don’t want to make it a bore and I certainly do not want you to put yourself under condemnation when you don’t read it as much as you could. However, if I can give you only one gift and then you must travel the rest of your journey without me, I would give you the Word. I know it will keep you. if your read Proverbs 3, 4 & 5 you will understand how important God thinks His Word is to your life. Just remember, make it fun, make it personal. Jesus is talking to you specifically. I pray for each of you right now in the name of Jesus that God will give you a love of the Bible and a deep longing for it. Amen.

Operator’s Manual

John 17: 16

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Jesus is speaking here, talking about believers. Since we are not of this world, then what are we of? I mean, if we are not part of the world, as Jesus tells us here, then what are we a part of?

Acts 1: 3 speaking of Jesus reads, “To these He also presented Himself alive, . . . speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Jesus came preaching that the Kingdom of God had come. His ministry was about revealing this kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the New Covenant which is sealed in Jesus’ blood. So, the answer to the questions above is that we are not of the world because we are members of the Kingdom of God. We are sanctified, meaning set apart, from the world and unto God. We are called to live our lives in the Kingdom of God rather than in the world but we were raised in the world. We learned how to operate in the world system. Mostly we have learned the rules of society and how the world system works. Now we are thrust into this kingdom and we don’t know the laws which govern it, what principles it operates under or even the rules of engagement. When we are born again we truly are born anew. It’s a whole new ballgame. One may have lived on the earth for fifty years and have pretty much figured out the ins and outs of the culture. Then, in a moment, saving grace translates them from the world to the kingdom of God’s dear son (Colossians 1: 13). All of a sudden we are babes again. We don’t know the language, how to walk and we cannot even feed ourselves. We are brand new creatures (2 Corinthians 5: 17) but without a clue.

Fortunately, this new creature comes with an owner’s manual though many don’t realize it. It is called the Bible. Yep, that’s it. I guess that is one of the reasons the Bible has been so important to me over the years, I have understood it to be my “How To” book. Because of this realization, my self-interest is very invested in learning what information and wisdom it holds. Looking back over the last 35 years, especially, I can see how important and beneficial God’s Word has been. I am very thankful for the good teachers I had when I was young who taught me to value God’s Word. If I had one thing to change in my Christian walk it would be to read the Bible more. It is amazing to me to recognize how much my understanding of the Word and of the Kingdom of God has improved over the years. I think, “Wow, what if I had read the Bible everyday for all these years?” I know that my revelation would be much greater than it is today. Still, I see things in the Bible today that I didn’t see last year or the year before. I see the whole Bible fitting together now and I can see the broad picture. Not only are there specific principles at work but over time I am seeing the broad concepts emerge.

My encouragement to myself as well as to others is, “It’s never too late.” While I sometimes regret having not spent more time in the Word, I revel in the new day. Every day is January 1st and I get to start over. Let’s not beat ourselves up over what we have not done but rather encourage one another (and even ourselves) to have a good day today. Let’s do the things which will move us forward in the Kingdom of God’s dear son. 

You are not of this world and not meant to be. You are part of God’s kingdom. If you want succeed and prosper in this kingdom, you must learn how it works. The Bible is your “How To” manual. Let it guide you.

Got Milk?

1 Peter 2: 2

Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.

First, the Bible is a book to be revered but not worshiped. It leads us into revelation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We also know that Jesus is the incarnation of the spoken word of God. Therefore, the Bible is to be given a high place in our lives. It is not, however, the end all. Our Father is the beginning and the end. The Son is first and foremost and the Holy Spirit is our need and should be our pursuit. The triune God should be the subject of our search and our first and highest priority. It is they to whom our worship and thanksgiving should be directed. Having said that, I do not think anyone will attain the Father, Son and Spirit without a close appreciation of the Word.

I am amazed at how many Christians have little or no regard for the Bible. I have heard and read Christians elevate all sorts of institutions and ideas above the word. I have been to so many Christian services that celebrate a form of faithfulness but which in reality have so very little to do with God. I have sat in those services wondering if God was even welcome and asked myself what God, faith or Christianity have to do with the reason we were all sitting on those pews. I see on Facebook, posters and all sorts of media people who assert that they are offering a Christian message but who in truth worship their own minds and reasoning above God’s Word. Rubbish! This is foolishness and deception.

This ministry is marked by its openness to all denominations and to those who have no denomination at all. The Word of the Day is a call to all who profess Jesus as Lord. However, though I honor all denominations, I am not trying to train you to be a good Catholic or a good Baptist. I desire that you fall head over heels in love with Jesus and worship He and His Father with all your heart. Then choose whatever church helps you express you adoration for the Father and leads you into deeper revelations of Him The doctrines of man are not going to further our relationship with the Trinity. Notice that I did not say “our understanding” of the trinity or of Christianity. This isn’t a college degree program. Christianity is about falling in love. As a result we seek to know our Father, His Spirit and Jesus in a personal way. If, however, any of us thinks we can do that without a steady diet of the Word, then we deceive ourselves. 

Our minds will never lead us where we need to go. Our souls can be misled. It is the combination of connecting with God in our hearts and allowing the Bible to provide the structural framework that tears the veil and reveals the most intimate aspects and truths of God to our hearts. If you never crack open your Bible, you just are not going to have the milk you need in order to sustain your growth. If you think your intellect is going to get you into heaven, then you better buy a pair of asbestos coveralls. Jesus said, “I am the way”. He also is revealed multiple times as The Word. Get a revelation today. The Bible is the fire suit you need. The Word of God is the milk of salvation. Perhaps that gives a new revelation on the advertising slogan, “Got Milk?”

Show Me You Love Me

John 14: 23 – 24

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

Would you like a test for the maturity of your Christianity? Well, here it is, delivered by Jesus himself. He told his followers, “Hey look, if you are going to be a follower of mine then you must keep my word.” That is why generations upon generations of believers have honored the Bible. If we are true Christians, i.e. followers of Christ, then we evidence, not only a reverence for the Bible but more importantly we follow its precepts and teachings. We are not followers of law but rather we live the Word. The answer is not in feeding the poor and housing widows. That is all good but the unsaved do that also. Those works are from a human ethos and will not buy our way into heaven nor show our love and devotion to Jesus. He said if we love him, we will keep his word.

I would posit that the first step to keeping his word is reading his word. How many “believers” do you know who never pick up the Bible?  Frankly, there is a catastrophic epidemic of non-believing believers. How can we believe if we never read the book? In what do we believe?

The second step is to do what we see there. For example, the Bible teaches us to pray for those who persecute us and mistreat us. Do we do that? There are hundreds of places, literally, in the Bible which tell us not to be afraid. Do we ever battle the fear that attacks us? God said to lay hands on the sick and pray for them. Are we praying for the sick? This is not about perfection, nor about those times we fail. It is about intending to live what we learn from the Bible. Jesus is quite strong on this point. He says that if we do not keep his word then we don’t love him. It is just that simple.

Christian faith doesn’t have to be complicated. Jesus didn’t give us a laundry list of things to do. He gave us one commandment – love others as he himself loved us. Then he said, if you love me, you will keep my word. Honestly, that is pretty simple. If we love him, then we will find out what his word says and keep it in our hearts. If we do not do so then we may well have reason to question whether or not we really do love him. The prayer we prayed for salvation is not a ticket to get into heaven. It is a marriage proposal. And we engage our love through the Word. That’s it. Nothing else will do.