If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James 1:26, 27 NLT)
This past Sunday the kids in my class got a bit of a reward for their exemplary behavior: they each received a huge Hershey bar. One of the girls only ate a very small piece off of her’s and then decided to put it back into the package. She struggled at getting the chocolate bar back in and just wasn’t having any luck. So, our Sunday school superintendent offered to help, by “trimming” the candy bar down (i.e. eating some) for her.
Today society would have us to think we can do the same thing with God’s Word: just “trim” it down to fit our ideas and wants. The world rejects the very thought of things like moral absolutes, saying that disciples of Jesus Christ are “intolerant” because of our adherence to the teachings of Scripture. Well, you know what? They are right: all of God’s children are intolerant of sin, just as our Father is intolerant of it.
This evening I had the honor of speaking at one of our sister churches. It was an appointment that I’d prepared for all week, having a particular scripture in mind to preach on. However, the evening was chaotic leading up to time for church and by the time I was called my entire thought had left me. But the Lord gave me another entirely different one and I went with it. After I finished up the pastor remarked that it was like a continuation of the message he had preached that morning; several of the verses I used he had also and our thought line must have been parallel. One of the dear sisters then said “you know, I think that’s kind of how the Bible was written, too”. And I agree with her, though neither I nor the pastor would ever try to equate ourselves with the inspired writers of God’s Word.
If you read and really look at the Bible it is 66 books in one volume yet it is seamless cover to cover. The Word, though penned over some 3500 years and through around 40 human “quills” is all as if it written by one person in one session. The reason for that? Because the is only one actual Author, God Himself.
Scripture, from the first verse to that last, is all about God’s magnificent plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. It never contradicts itself and it always reaffirms the one and only Truth. The Bible: it truly is all about Jesus.
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
At my church we just finished week three of a multiple week series studying the Book of Revelation. I have to be honest with you- I’ve never been much of a prophesy-guy; it’s just not “my” area. Now, that isn’t to say I don’t have a desire to better understand it; I do. And that’s also not to say that God won’t light me afire for prophesy; He might. But up to this point it hasn’t been a major focus for my study time.
Regardless of if God gives me a greater interest in this area of Scripture or not, I have gleaned quite a bit in our study so far. There is one single sentence that has given me the most light so far, not just in this study but for all of Scripture and I’d like to share it: The Bible is like a jig-saw puzzle, you have to see how how the whole thing fits together to get the picture. A lot of time I think we forget this fact. From the first verse of Genesis to that last word in Revelation, Scripture all points to Jesus. If we will keep this in the front of our minds when we read and study we will get so much more out of God’s Word.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
I remember a story my mother told me from her childhood; forgive me, Mom, if I don’t get this 100% correct, it’s the point I’m after.
Once my grandfather heard that his mother-in-law, Mom’s grandmother, had called her and one of her sisters “streetwalkers”. This infuriated my grandfather to the point he confronted her as to why she would say such a thing. She told him that’s how they spent their afternoons, doing nothing useful but walking up and down the street. The way she used the word and the way he perceived it were two totally different things. Context is everything…
This is true with Scripture, too. Before we quote a verse that “backs up” our point of view, we need to make certain that we are using it in the context in which God meant for it to be used. To “pick & choose” Scripture and quote it in a way to make our point, not in the way God intended it, is wrong. When we take our opinion and brand it as “Bible” we are making a grave error. And to do so causes nothing but harm to the Body of Christ.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
When I am tired, the Bible is my bed; Or in the dark, the Bible is my light; When I am hungry, it is vital bread; Or fearful, it is armor for the fight. When I am sick, ’tis healing medicine; Or lonely, thronging friends I find therein. If I would work, the Bible is my tool; Or play, it is a harp of happy sound. If I am arrogant, it is my school. If I am sinking, it is solid ground. If I am cold, the Bible is my fire; And it is wings, if boldly I aspire. Should I be lost, the Bible is my guide; Or naked, it is raiment rich and warm. Am I imprisoned, it is ranges wide; Or tempest-tossed, a shelter from the storm. Would I adventure, ’tis a gallant sea; Or would I rest, it is a flowery lea. Does gloom oppress? The Bible is a sun, Or ugliness? It is a garden fair. Am I athirst? How cool its currents run! Or stifled? What a vivifying air! Since thus thou givest of thyself to me, How should I give myself great Book to thee!
Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
(read the entire parable here http://is.gd/dsmFJ)
Bro. Paul Luther taught on the parable of the Good Samaritan Wednesday evening in VBS. To start the parable we find a lawyer more-or-less twisting Scripture trying to justify his behavior. Jesus asks the question of what does the law say and how do you (the lawyer) read it? This is a good question for us to ask ourselves today.
God’s Word says what It says, about what It says. If it stings when we read it we should be glad; the Holy Spirit is pointing out a deficit that you need to address. Instead, today as in Jesus’ day folks will try to work around the Word, distorting it to fit their lives. What we need to do when we feel that piercing in our heart is to cry out to God in repentance. And be thankful that He loves you enough to chasten you.