Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #79

#79 "The Call of the Word"
January 16, 2007
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever." (excerpts from Psalm 119)
The Pastor's Weekly Briefing cites that memorizing & studying the Bible are low priorities. George Barna Research reports, "Our most recent surveys indicate that about half of all adult Americans listen to preaching or Bible teaching in a typical week." Although 1 out of 3 read the Bible during the week, only 1 out of 10 claim to study the Bible weekly and fewer than 1 out of 25 devote themselves to memorizing at least one new Bible verse per week.
I'm not sure if this research was gathered from among general "Americans" or if it included Christians. I do know that in talking to believers, I would dare to say that the statistics are not much better. The phrases, "I can't memorize Scripture...I'm just so busy....I'm not in the Word enough", are all too common. 
I'm not suggesting that you become a "Word Nut" like me (although it sure won't hurt). I must confess that I would rather be reading the Word, studying the Word, reading about the Word and hearing messages preached and taught on the Word, than just about anything else. I'm like a sponge. Give me Word and I soak it up...every last drop of it. What I AM suggesting is that the Word of God is calling. Like the Call of the Wild...this is the Call of the Word ...for you...in 2007.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross for the forgiveness of your sins, then you're on your way to Heaven. I must submit to you, however, that you probably have a lot of livin' to do here on earth first. God didn't save you and then send Elijah's chariot to whisk you away. He left you here. And He didn't leave you alone...He left you His Holy Spirit and His Word. He left His "Creator's Instruction Manual" for you, so that you would have the directions for navigating this thing called Life. 
This manual, your Bible, isn't for the coffee table, the bookshelf, your car or your basement. It's for your heart, your soul, your mind and your very existence. It is for here and now, today and everyday. I found a quote that said, "The Bible is like a telescope. If a man looks through his telescope he sees worlds beyond; but if he looks at his telescope, he does not see anything but that. The Bible is a thing to be looked through to see that which is beyond; but most people only look at it and so they see only the dead letter." (Phillip Brooks) Is your Bible alive to you...or just a dead letter?
God's Word, Your Bible, Is A Source of Wise Counsel.  Just the normal vicissitudes of life...those daily events beyond your control...can send you reeling in uncertainty and confusion. We need someone or something to guide us wisely. Psalm 119:24 says, "Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors." When you don't know what to do, who do you turn to? Do you get on the phone and seek the advice of your friends? Your family? Dr. Phil or Oprah? Whose advice is your lamp in those dark places of life? Don't get me wrong..I'm not dissing godly counsel. The Bible even advises it in certain circumstances. But we don't need the pastor or the counseling center on our speed dial for every situation in life. We have the counsel of  El De'ot, the God of Knowledge Himself, to guide us and show us what to do in every situation of our life. I believe that there is not a thing that we face in daily living that isn't addressed in some way in the Bible.
God's Word, Your Bible, Is A Roadmap. When you're preparing for a vacation or a journey to somewhere you've never been before, don't you hit Mapquest? Each and every day is a journey for you to a place you've never been before. Life is a trip! A trip unlike every day before it and unlike any other day to come. Do you want a safe journey? One free of hazardous roadblocks and detours? Generally speaking it can be a smooth trip...if you follow the map. The Bible holds a map for your marriage. A map for how to raise your children. A map that is like a good employee handbook. A money management map. Turn the pages and find maps for friendship, service, attitudes, emotions and just about anything you can think of. The way is already marked out for you. Just like when you would go to AAA and the woman at the counter would highlight your way on the map, from start to finish...pointing out the construction and the detours for the quickest, safest arrival at your destination. God says, "In all your ways acknowledge me [Him], and I [He] will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3: 6) Elsewhere in Proverbs we are told that seeking out and accepting God's Word will give knowledge, wisdom, understanding, victory and protection. Do you want to have a safe journey and arrive well at your destination? Follow the Roadmap!
God's Word, Your Bible, Is A Weapon. This is my personal favorite. It is also the hardest to incorporate into your life. Ephesians 6: 17 says that we are to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God and do battle with it. We are in a war. Spiritual warfare is all around and in case you haven't noticed, it's warring against you! I know that I say this a lot, to anyone who will listen...but I'll say it again...you can't use it, you can't fight with it...if you don't know it! Jesus, Mighty Warrior, knew this principle well and gives us examples of how to use it against the devil in Matthew, Chapter 4. With each enemy attack, Jesus answered, "It is written.." followed by Scripture. Verse 11 says, "then the devil left Him." James 4: 7 tells us to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Well, you can't resist him by saying, "Oh, please, Mr. Devil, leave me alone." Or by saying to your friends, "I wish the devil would just leave me alone." He's laughing at you. Your words don't scare him. But God's Word scares the life out of him!  But you have to know it to use it. And you can't know it if you never take the time to learn it. Maybe you can't memorize well. But I guarantee you that if you spend daily time in the Word...day after day, year after year...you're going to remember it. It will become a part of who you are.
When the enemy attacks your life, that is not the time to run for the Bible and look up your Scriptures. I've heard someone say that you prepare for war in times of peace. When the rockets and mortars are flying you must be armed right then and there to counterattack. And from years of personal experience, I can tell you that not only does the devil flee, but you will be so built up in your faith and you won't give way to panic, depression or defeat. You are armed with the weapon God has given you in His word. The Commander in Chief has equipped you for battle. He has given you everything you need....Learn how to use your weapon and for goodness sake...Use It!
As you begin this new year, 2007, can you admit that you are tired of the same old problems? Are you tired of your responses to those problems? Are you tired of being defeated, depressed and stressed? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? I invite you to make a commitment right now, at the start of this year to read and study God's Word. Weekly service attendance and going to a Bible study for an hour each week don't count. I'm talking about personal time spent reading and meditating on the Bible. Asking the Holy Spirit to take the "Logos" word and make it a "Rhema" word of God that speaks directly to you and your situations of life. I can't even begin to describe for you what a transformation you will have. Romans 12:2 says to, "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Renew your mind with the Word. Ephesians 4:23 says, to be "made new in the attitude of your minds." Again...renew your mind with the Word.  

Noted Bible teacher E. Schuyler English told of Michael Billester, a Bible distributor who visited a small hamlet in Poland shortly before World War II. Billester gave a Bible to a villager, who was converted by reading it. The new believer then passed the Book on to others. The cycle of conversions and sharing continued until 200 people had become believers through that one Bible.

When Billeser returned in 1940, this group of Christians met together for a worship service in which he was to preach the Word. He normally asked for testimonies, but this time he suggested that several in the audience recite verses of Scripture. One man stood and said, ?Perhaps we have misunderstood. Did you mean verses or chapters??

These villagers had not memorized a few select verses of the Bible but whole chapters and books. Thirteen people knew Matthew, Luke, and half of Genesis. Another person had committed to memory the Psalms. That single copy of the Bible given by Billester had done its work. Transformed lives bore witness to the power of the Word. (Bible.org)

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." The knowledge is within your grasp. Right in your hands. Pick up your Bible. Make it a priority. Daily. Transform your mind.....Transform your life....Transform your world.  Go ahead... I dare you! The Word is calling!! Here's praying for a transforming 2007 for you and for me!

Donna Schultz                                                                             

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