Thursday, January 06, 2005

BIBLE/SCRIPTURE/WORD - He said it; He meant it!

DID SOMEONE SAY, “DINNER”? [Romans 10:8, 17]

Newborn babies come with hands and mouths; they also come with voracious appetites. Turn a crawler loose and those little hands will put whatever they find into that little mouth in a New York minute. It seems they instinctively know their hands are for grasping and their mouth is where they put what they hope will satisfy the gnawing in their stomach.

Reborns … true ones … have eyes, ears, and minds; they also have ravenous spiritual appetites. It seems they too know instinctively that their eyes are to see, their ears are to hear, and the mind is to absorb God’s word. They seem to know, without being told, that His word is the only thing that will gratify the yearning of their soul.

So, why do we have this hunger for His word? Because, as the Bible tells us, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (Greek: rhematos) of Christ.”

Man is born with an innate hunger for God [Romans 1]. That’s why the Bible tells us it is “impossible to please God” without faith [Hebrews 11:6], because we’re saved for all eternity “by grace through faith” [Ephesians 2:8]. So faith and the rhema of God are inseparably woven together.

Paul says, “But what does it say? ‘THE WORD (Greek: rhema) IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART’ – that is, the word (Greek: rhema) of faith which we are proclaiming.”

DUSTY: THEREFORE RUSTY [2 Kings 22:1-23:3; other topics - Devotion; Discipleship; Sanctification]

There’s an old gospel song, made famous by Kitty Wells, which has a stanza that says, “Dust on the Bible, Dust on the Holy Word, The words of all the prophets, And the sayings of our Lord.” [1]

How is it possible we allow dust to collect on God’s Word? Its amazing how little Bible reading goes on among God’s people; it’s equally amazing at how often pastors are asked questions which are fundamental in nature. And yet in 2 Kings 22, 23, is an example of when the same thing had taken place in a prior time.

Bibles per capita in the world are estimated at less than half of a Bible per person. Yet in the USA, where an average household is about 2.2 people, we average more than five bibles per household; that’s over two Bibles per person in this great nation. Still and all, more Bibles are used as coffee table decorations or bookshelf fillers than are used in Bible study.

God didn’t just ordain the written word so we could have a record of what He has said … and it is certainly not just a book of do’s and don’ts, nor is it just a reference work. The Bible is God’s way of revealing who He is, who we are, and that His word is sure and true!

The old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind!” applies to the Word of God. Not having the Word didn’t cause Israel’s rebellion, nor the cause their unrighteousness [Romans 1:17-19]; their hardened hearts and stiff necks were the cause of their apostasy.

When the word of God was rediscovered by His people, they were reminded of Him; when they were reminded of Him, they were reminded of their great apostasy; when they were reminded of their condition, they were brought under conviction. Now just because someone is brought under conviction doesn’t mean they’ll change, change comes about after a person has broken and pleaded for forgiveness [Psalm 51:1-7].

A dusty Bible reveals it has not been read. A dusty Bible says, “I don’t care what God says.” A dusty Bible says, “I know everything it says, it can offer me nothing new.” A dusty Bible says, “This book is old fashioned, it doesn’t apply to today, it’s not relevant.”

We need to heed: “When all else fails, follow instructions.” When we survey the panorama of contemporary American life we must conclude we’ve failed; we need to read God’s instructions and determine where we’ve gone wrong.

[1] “Dust On The Bible,” Kitty Wells, © MCA 1992

PURE MILK! [1 Peter 2:2; Other topics - Mission, Purpose, Renewal, Traditionalism]

During the ‘60s and ‘70s, the term “featherbedding” was commonly heard. Featherbedding, I am told, is the practice of unions requiring that an employer hire more workers than needed or of limiting production to meet the letter of union rules, regardless of the ability to produce more.

Featherbedding is an excellent example of what happens when an organization loses sight of its mission. A twisted sense of fair play, mixed with extreme selfishness, messes up the works.

The railroad unions of that day were an insightful example of the practice. Originally, firemen were used on wood or coal burning trains to stoke their engine’s boiler. With the advent of diesel locomotion, a fireman was no longer needed; yet, by contract, one was assigned to each train. Similarly, conductors were required to escort non-passenger trains at all times.

Churches and churchgoers are susceptible to this trap. Following years of WHADIT (We Have Always Done It That way!), justifications become blurred, alternatives are forgotten, habits harden, voices are silenced, and creative thinking is shunned. Fear sets in (the wrong kind of fear) while mission and purpose fade from view.

How can a church or churchgoer avoid this pitfall? One certain method is provided by God … the “pure milk” [1 Peter 2:2] of the faith! Constant reading of and meditation upon the Living Word of God renews and inspires the mind, reminding the believer of God’s purpose and our mission.

STILL LIFE [Acts 10:43; other topics - Prophecy]

In my 1962 college speech class, I recall a hippie art student giving his final speech. Nice guy, but as a surfer/beach bum, I didn’t get to close. His speech was centered on a series of roughs, sketches, and watercolors, each one built up the idea he had in his head. He showed us one part at a time until, at the end, he revealed his final oil.

I didn’t care much for his art but I got the idea. His final painting was only completed after all the concept had been worked out, piece by piece; then the real art work began.

The Old Testament writers (historians, narrators, poets, psalmists, and prophets), like an artist’s masterpiece, put together a picture of the Messiah, our Savior, piece by piece, over time, each contributing his part ... extending in ever-increasing fullness and clearness all the way to the close of the canon.

Moses paints his piece ... the first great promise (Gen 3:15). Isaiah paints his pieces ... the Lord is to be born of a virgin (7:14); a child is to be born out of David and the whole world is to rest on His shoulders (9:6-7); a rod provided (11:1, 2); and God’s Suffering Servant (53:1ff).

Even the psalmist, in Psalm 68:18, roughs out that He will ascend on high, leading the captives captive. Micah paints his pieces ... the Lord’s birthplace is to be Bethlehem (5:2) and He will come and raise up His fallen ones (7:8).

And others sketch out that a forerunner will come, a voice crying in the wilderness, to announce the Lamb of God.


The “Red Headed Stranger” was one of my favorite goldfish. He had a fabulous fantail, big bug eyes, and cool calico coloring. Red was about five years old, he and his tank-mates were a lot of pleasure for me on my long, lonely bachelor nights.

Goldfish will habitually pick up a rock from the floor of the tank, and then spit it out. I never learned why. One night I notice a big rock was stuck in Red’s craw, unless it was removed, he’d starve to death. I phoned a friend for advice and learned such an obstruction is extracted by inserting a toothpick through the gills. It wasn’t until I hung-up that I realized this implied more than one might think: to both Red and me.

Man’s sin nature is like that rock in Red’s throat and the Bible is like that toothpick. The patient may not like it when God gets a firm grip on him, lifts him from his environment, and begins prodding with the Living Word; yet a man will surely die a horrible death if this obstruction to eternal life is not removed.

THE SON OF SONS [John 1:1-3; 14; other topics - Creation; Inspiration; Sanctification; Son (of God)]

John F. Kennedy Jr., the highly respected son of the late American President John F. Kennedy, was posthumously praised by the editorial staff of George Magazine, a monthly political magazine the young Kennedy co-founded four years ago.

The magazine’s editors wrote, “John had a hand in every aspect of creating and producing George - the big picture and the daily details.”

Reading the eulogies and accolades given to this American icon a Christian would have to reflect on another Son who had a direct “hand in every aspect of creating and producing ... the big picture and the daily details.”

Upon close examination, the believer will notice God’s Son not only aided in the creation of a book but was involved the creation of the whole world. [John 1:3] Now that is a very big picture.

In fact, the book is called the Word, and the Son is the Word. And this Word is sharper than a two-edged sword ... and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart [Hebrews 4:12]. We are also told it is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [2 Timothy 3:15-16]. Now those are special daily details.

YOU KNOW AUTHOR; NOT HIS BOOK [Psalm 119; other topics - Disciple]

Two really worthwhile organizations exist to help adults learn to read: Literacy Volunteers of America and National Center for Family Literacy. The power of reading is something only a reader can relate to; reading can make you laugh, cry, feel pain, anger, compassion and joy. Reading opens vistas you never thought of; takes you to places you’ll not otherwise see; and expands your view of the world, your imagination, and your vocabulary.

Reading is often taken for granted by those of us who can, but there are millions who cannot but would, in a New York minute, if they could.

The Bible is the Book of all books; many people in the world don’t own one; they couldn’t read it if they did. If reading is so critical to human development, then reading the Bible is doubly critical to the discipling of a new Christian. What good is it to make them a disciple of the author of the Book if they cannot read about Him in his biography?

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