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Archive for the tag “The Bible”

Road Maps

Remember road maps? Before GPS systems, there were those ancient paper maps that once you open them, it was hard to fold them back in the right manner. I loved to read maps. When I moved into a new city, I always got a map of the city. I studied it for months to find the best routes to all the places I wanted to go. I would take it everywhere I went, just in case I found myself in an unfamiliar place.

Not too long ago, I was making my way home on a few of the back streets to avoid rush hour traffic. My sister was following me closely because she didn’t know the way I was going. She made the remark that I knew these roads well. My comment back was that I had lived in my city for 17 years so I should know it pretty well. However, it wasn’t because of my longevity here. It was because I studied the city map for months when I first arrived and became familiar with the roads I needed to take to get me from point A to B.

I have heard that the Bible is our road map. It helps us navigate this life’s path. Yes, it is very helpful to our way of life as a follower of Jesus. However, it’s so much more than that. The Bible is not about us; it’s about God. It’s His story. It’s the story of redemption and glory – our redemption for His glory. The Bible is not just one book. It is 66 books and letters; written by approximately 40 authors over 1600 years that tells one story. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the story flows through the different books and letters to give us a revelation of Jesus and God’s ultimate plan for humanity. It’s there for us in black and white and a few red letters too (if you have Jesus’ words in red). It is all there – from beginning to end. We know how the story ends.

I have heard also that you can’t trust the Bible. There are contradictions or errors or it was written for a different time. But God’s word will never go out of style. It will stand forever. These ancient documents have stood the test of time. There are approximately 32,000 known ancient transcripts of this book; more than any other book in history. What we have today is verified as accurate through all these transcripts. That’s pretty amazing.

But God’s word isn’t very popular. Oh, it’s the most sold book in the world. However, it is not the most read book in the world. It’s difficult to understand. For the longest time, I didn’t read it. I had multiple copies of it but they all sat in my nightstand or on the book shelf. But one day, I began to read. I ask God to give me a hunger and thirst for His word. He answered that prayer and I haven’t laid it aside since. The difficulty of reading it turned to a love of it through the Holy Spirit’s teaching. The Bible makes no sense to those who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. But as the Spirit leads, we are taught from its pages.

The Bible is a relationship. It is God’s Word to us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to be God’s Word in the flesh. Prayer is our voice in communication with God, but His Word is the communication back. To be in relationship means, we need to have more than just our voice in the communication pattern. We have to listen to God’s voice too. For those who call themselves Christians and do not read God’s Word, I just don’t see how there is much of a relationship. Someone is probably arguing with me right now. Maybe there is a way to know God without reading, maybe there is the experience portion of knowing Him. But experience must also be undergirded with reading. How are you to know if you are experiencing God unless you know His Word?

Someone may argue that they get all the teaching they need through Sunday morning church service. But if one is married; if you only communicated once a week, how long will the marriage last? The message in the Bible is hard. I get it. There are things I don’t like to read. But that doesn’t mean I discount God’s Word. It just means I truly don’t understand God’s ways or His thoughts. Francis Chan said in a message “When we disagree with the Bible, we assume the Bible is wrong; something is wrong with us not the Bible.” We have stinking thinking going on. The only way to correct our thinking is to get into God’s Word. God’s Word is the road map to God.

It’s time to invest some time into the relationship with God. There is no other answer for the craziness we are experiencing in this world today. We have to know the Truth. Get out God’s road map and start studying it so that you may know the right way to go, and you will not be lead astray by someone else’s stinking thinking!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

The Message of Hope

On Sunday, we had a guest speaker deliver a message about hope. He is a person on a life-long mission to deliver hope to the world. He has visited many countries around the world and has many stories to tell of the adventure of delivering hope to the hopeless. He wrote a book which was sold on Sunday. But the book wasn’t to provide for his financial gain. Matter of fact, he was going to give the book away, but my pastor said the money would be donated to provide Bibles to a people in a closed nation. The opportunity has arisen to send one million Bibles to this closed nation, so we were tasked with filling one freight container filled with boxes of Bibles.

I am reminded every now and then how privilege we are in this country. I have grown up with a Bible in my hand. I was given my first copy as a baby at dedication Sunday. Throughout the years, I have owned many different translations. For much of my life, my Bible sat on my shelf unread. At first, it wasn’t very easy to understand. There were too many “thees” and “thous” and such. Secondly, it made no sense to me.

There were many things that just seemed wrong – all the people who were wiped out so that Israel could have their Promised Land. The teachings too seemed wrong for this day and time. A woman’s role is taught to be submissive – I grew up with “woman power” and burning bras – being empowered to do anything we set our mind to. It just seemed wrong. However, what was wrong was my reasoning. I viewed the Word through my “worldly” perspective and not through God’s eyes. God actually elevated women from a man’s property to being man’s helper. God used women throughout history just as He did with men. And we’re all equal in God’s eyes.

The things that I questioned in the past were by my own standards – what I thought was right by my own reasoning. But that’s not the right interpretation. God’s Word is God’s word. It is right in all circumstances; for the past, the present and the future. It never changes, and it stands forever. Sure, it was writing in a time when things were vastly different from today. But its life-giving message stands forever.

Written over a period of 1600 years by many different writers but it is the same message throughout. It is the story of God’s pursuit of man and His extent to redeem mankind from the eternal destiny apart from Him. We all stand condemn until a Savior has risen to redeem us to eternal glory with God in heaven. In God’s eyes, we are the same – lost until we find redemption through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. It is the message of hope. God wants no one to die apart from Him. But many do – either because they have never heard this word of hope or they have rejected it because of their wrong reasoning.

Since my time in the Word has grown deeper, there are many passages that stand out to me. One of those is the passage where Philip takes a trip down a desert road to find a eunuch from Ethiopia studying God’s Word (found in Acts 8). The Holy Spirit led Philip to a man who needed help to understand what he read. As Philip explained to the eunuch a message of hope through Jesus Christ, Philip essentially opened up God’s Word to a nation. Because all it takes is one person to change their perspective, and they will share the message with others. That’s the power of hope. It’s meant to be shared.

After Sunday, I realized what a difference we can make by giving God’s Word to someone who needs hope. It is a treasure. And it should be seen as such. I hope I will never take it for granted anymore. There are many pastors throughout the world who do not even have a full copy of the Word. There are stories of people passing around bits and pieces to share and memorize before passing it along to others. It amazes me the lengths to which many will go to obtain a copy. I have read story after story about people who were desperate for a copy of a Bible to receive it in unusual ways – all by the hand of God. God’s Word is a treasure we need to remember and appreciate, but most of all, we need to read it and share it. It is the message of hope for a hopeless world.

And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:23-25 (NLT)

The Warrior

As a child, I loved to pretend. When I was growing up in the 70’s I followed all the action heroes of the day. I was introduced to martial arts through a television show. I loved it. I grew up in a small town in the south that didn’t offer martial arts. The probability of my Mom allowing such a thing for me was relatively low since it wasn’t proper for young girls at that time. So I pretended that I could do all the things that I saw in that television show. I was a fan of Wonder Woman too. I envisioned becoming a mighty warrior. I loved to see women who were more than the damsel in distress. They could stand up for themselves and for their loved ones against their own bigger, stronger adversaries. They could defeat the enemy without the aid of a man to fight their battles for them.

As an adult, I learned a form of martial arts when I was in my thirties. By the time I took the class, I had underlying health issues that eventually caused a lack of muscle strength that took me out when trying to perform a hard kick. My dream of becoming a “warrior” chick ended. I don’t think becoming a warrior was God’s plan for my life. Or was it? Maybe my vision was a bit different from God’s. In Ephesians 6, Paul wrote about the armor of God that we are to put on. We are to take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. There is confirmation there that we are supposed to be warriors for Jesus! I don’t have to pretend, God makes it possible for me to be that warrior chick after all!

Paul wrote to the Ephesians to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (6:17). The sword is used to go against our enemy. It is an offensive weapon. When we have the sword of the Spirit, we have the most dangerous weapon in our hands for moving us forward against the enemy (Louie Giglio’s teaching in his sermon series Breath on a Page). The enemy is always trying to get us to turn back. When we have the sword, we have the weapon that can cause the enemy to flee from us. Jesus gave us the example when He was led into the desert after He was baptized. After forty days of solitude and fasting, the enemy came to tempt Him. But Jesus spoke the truth to Satan, and Satan could not stand against Him.

The Bible is not just another book as Pastor Louie Giglio reminded us in his second or third message of his series. When we respect it as God’s breath on a page, we understand that we hold something very extraordinary in our hands. There’s nothing else like it. It is an everlasting document that cannot be destroyed. The power that it contains cannot be matched by any other book. The purpose of the Bible is not to gather dust on a shelf or night table, but to be devoured; to give us life everlasting. It cuts deep to the matters of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 states that the Word is alive and active; sharper than a double-edged sword; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

As I take in this life-giving word, I can feel the warrior spirit rise up in me. I can hear the “swoosh” of the sword coming down to divide anything that is not relevant for the abundant life that Jesus has given me. I feel the power of the Word welling up in my soul. And I can have the confidence I need to move out with God’s breath lifting me higher. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the work that God is doing in and around me. I get to participate in His plan. I become what He desires for me because of His work through His word. We are all a work in progress. The progress can only be made as we feed on His word. When we are full of His nourishment, we will be strengthened to complete the tasks before us. Breathe in o’ mighty warrior and let His Spirit fill your lungs and your heart full of His grace and love. Be the one He has chosen for such a time as this!

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. 2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NLT)

In Those Days

These are the opening words to Luke 2 – the Christmas story. In those days, there was political unrest. God’s people were under oppression and felt hopelessness. They had been praying for a new king. There had been prophecies about a king from the line of David who would one day come again. For centuries, the people of God had been under the oppression of other governments, other kings. They were looking for the promised one. In the middle of one of the most powerful kingdoms ever established on the face of the earth, a little baby was born. In the silence of that night, a baby’s life would change everything. A star was born that would guide travelers to the place where they could worship the newborn King. There had been silence for the last four hundred years. God had not spoken. God seemed to be absence from the scene, yet God was working in the powerful kingdom to build roads, to build the infrastructure that would support the message traveling beyond the borders of Israel.

Most of God’s people were looking in the wrong place for salvation. Most of God’s people didn’t have a real clue about God’s plan of redemption. Oh sure, they had prophecies; they had the holy word of the God from their Holy Scripture. But most didn’t understand it. I dare say that the high priest didn’t have a clue much less the average person on the dusty streets of Jerusalem. God had a plan. And they failed to see what God was doing in their midst. We, on the other side of the story, can only shake our heads and wonder why didn’t they understand? Yet, the generations that will come after our generation may actually say the same thing of us. Why didn’t we interpret the signs of God that He is obviously demonstrating to us? He is at work but do we actually see?

The next thing in God’s redemption plan is for Jesus to return. I don’t know God’s timetable – His ways and time is not our own. God has been doing some amazing work to set the stage for the next act. The major thing that has really occurred in the last two thousand years (in my opinion) was the translation of the Bible into a common language. It seems since the day of the translation, men and women have understood and acted upon the Word in greater ways than in the previous thousand or so years since the church was established. Many died for the translation to occur. The religious rulers didn’t want the common man to understand it. They were afraid that their power would diminish and give the power to those who would be faithful with it.

When the Bible was translated, everything changed. People finally read the Word for themselves and were changed by it. They had a new heart and a new spirit. Innovations have further moved the Gospel to mankind. The stage is being set in our own time. Are we paying attention to all that is occurring? We turn a blind eye to the injustices. If you are reading this blog posting then you probably have more than one Bible in your house. We read it but do we take it to heart? Does it change us? The Day of Jesus will come sooner than we think. The Bible teaches that we are supposed to pay attention to the signs and wonders that are occurring. God’s Plan is going to be fulfilled. In these days, we have a responsibility to tell the story of the Glory that came to earth in the form of a baby to redeem those who are far from God. It’s the part we are to play in the Plan. How will they hear if we don’t tell them? How will lives change and hope restored if they don’t know there is One who came to heal them? We have a great treasure in the Word. It’s our responsibility to know what is in it and share what we know. It is also our privilege and joy.

I hope in the future when we look back “in those days” we will see such an overwhelming response to the Gospel it can only be explained because the Glory was revealed in those days!

God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. Romans 1:2-5 (NLT)

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