Hey, Where's Your Bible?
Well the last month I have been taking a look
at the Christian life starting with our need for God, the absolute
choice we are called to, the relationship aspect that Christianity
is really all about, and God's will. If you have missed any of these
please just go to this page, they are the
first available topics. I have really enjoyed having some kind of
structure or specific direction and am going to continue by this
week looking at the Bible, which I think is one of the most neglected
areas of the church today.
I discussed the Bible in the Thort about Christianity
being relationship with God. A love letter that God has given to
us. And yet so many people see it as boring, outdated and lifeless...
and too many of those people are Christians, sadly.
I was thinking about it today actually and
I really felt that it is quite necessary to take quite a strong
stand on this. It is not as if reading the Bible is directly linked
to you being a Christian or not...but at the same time I think that
if you are a Christian and are not spending any time in the Bible
then you are not in a healthy place.
"My son, keep my words and store
up my commands within you. Keep to my commands and you will live;
guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
and call understanding your kinsman; they will keep you from the
adultress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words."
"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path."
So for those of you who are getting into trouble
from the adultress or the wayward life, my question to you is, 'Are
you growing in wisdom and understanding by reading the Word of God?'
And that stretches to include anyone who is caught in ongoing sin.
One possibility that you are so easily caught in your sin may be
because you are failing to spend time growing in God and in the
knowledge of His word.
For those of you struggling to see where your
feet are going and to know the way ahead (guidance, purpose, motivation,
the future) the question is, 'Are you spending regular time in the
word of God which acts as a lamp and a light?'
There was definitely a time when the Bible
used to be more 'this thing we HAD to read and know' than much more
and I really believe that God helped overturn that perception and
give me a greater desire and love for His Word. I know that part
of that process was going on Discipleship Training School (DTS)
in Holland in 2004 and observing a friend of mine Jaap who had only
become a Christian a number of months before.
He just could not get enough of the Bible. He
was always the last or second last person to bed because he would
be sitting with a light reading the Bible or another Christian book
just so hungry to know God more and see Him more at work in his
life. From just observing his passion, I grew in passion and I learnt
from him to just be so much more hungry and seeking of God than
I used to be before.
But a lot of it was also asking God to change
my heart. "God, give me a passion for Your word." And
He did. And that is a great prayer I would encourage you to pray.
An area where I think we really lose it as
'mature adults' (have rarely, if ever, personally been accused of
being one of those) is where we look at certain stuff that is good
enough for kids and think it's not good enough for us. Partly why
Jesus told us to be like kids to fully 'get' it I think. And the
one key area of that is memory verses.
Another thing that happened on the DTS was
towards the end we went on an outreach in Amsterdam and a bunch
of the team took a few days to write a whole bunch of different
verses out (key promises and words of encouragement) and put them
on to these little cards and then we got them and had to memorise
them. The first one I got was Hebrews 12:1-3:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off everything
that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run
with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes
upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, Who, for the
joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and is
seated at the right hand side of God. Consider Him, Who endured
such opposition from evil men so that you will not grow weary and
Awesome, powerful words and a portion of Scripture
I have often whipped out in a talk or conversation from memory and
been able to share with someone or a group. I think that is what
the writer of the Proverbs meant when he talked about writing it
on the tablet of your heart. I do think it is a good thing to have
a Bible handy with you as often as possible, but the one benefit
of knowing a lot of verses is that you have the Bible with you even
when you don't! [and I must add here that if you are going to learn
verses, it is important that you understand the context of them
so you don't quote things meaning one thing when actually they were
intended to mean another]
But LEARN VERSES! It is not something just for
kids. It is a powerful tool.
Hebrews 4:12 "For the Word of God is living
and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even
to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts
and attitudes of the heart."
And of course Ephesians 6 which describes the
Bible by saying:
"Take the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God." (vs 17)
The Bible is supposed to be our sword. Yet
for how many of us does the sword lie next to our beds, covered
up and untouched, except perhaps by dust? And then we wonder why
we keep losing battles? Why the enemy seems to be making ground
in our life?
Forget the word 'Would' and rather ask yourself,
'What DID Jesus Do?' - no story better to illustrate this than the
one in Matthew 4 that talks of the temptation of Jesus where He
is lead into the desert to be tempted. Three times the devil comes
to Jesus and offers Him a proposition or throws a tempting temptation
(are there other kinds?) at Him and three times (vs 4, 7, 10) Jesus
answers with 'It is written...'
How did Jesus defeat temptation? By quoting
Scripture (that He had memorised in His heart) How should we? Is
there ever a better example to follow than Jesus?
I often say to people, 'Fall in love with this
book' but then I realised today that actually that is not the key
because I guess even the Bible can become an idol between us and
God. The key is falling in love with the person who gave us this
book (as in God, not your mum!) and because you have so much love
for God, taking the time to love what He has said to you in His
book. Taking the time to read and learn and understand and even
memorise. Sharpening your spiritual warfare skills not by screaming
at demons but by reading the Word of God and by learning the Word
of God and by using the Word of God. By living the Word of God.
Because as James points out in 1:22
"Do not merely listen to the Word,
and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."
In fact, I would recommend that as one of the
points to take into consideration when choosing what church fellowship
to belong to. Does the church have high regard for the Bible? Do
they preach the whole Word of God? Because if they don't - and if
their preaching tends to be mostly thematic instead of directly
from the Bible - then maybe it is worth considering chatting to
the leadership or looking around for a different church.
So, if you came to me in my capacity as a hardcore
street gangsta rapper dude and asked, 'How can I get to know and
love God better?' there is a chance that I would answer you just
by simply saying... 'Word!'