Monday, June 9, 2014

Thought Exercise and Book Deals!

     Many of the posts on this blog have something to do with evidence that supports belief in the God revealed to humanity in the pages of the Bible.  None of them provide conclusive proof that the God of the Bible actually exists or did all the things the Bible says He did.  For that matter, none of them prove conclusively that there is a God at all.  This leads us to a thought exercise to start off the week.  Consider this question:  If you could know beyond a shadow of a doubt whether or not a God exists, would you act on that opportunity?  Would you choose to know for certain that there is a God who made you, knows you intimately, and will hold you accountable for what you do with the life He gave you?

     It might seem like an easy decision, of course everyone would want to know, right?  I think the decision becomes more difficult the more familiar you are with the Bible.  If the God we read about in the Bible is real, there is a price to be paid in acknowledging that reality.  Are you willing to pay that price?  He tells us that we were made to live in relationship with Him, but that our disobedience and rebellion have broken that relationship.  He tells us that restoration of that relationship involved Him coming to earth as a human baby, living a perfect life, and offering that life as a sacrifice on your behalf.  Restoration of that relationship involves thinking again about the course of our life, recognizing and admitting our disobedience, and asking Him for forgiveness on the basis of His sacrifice.  It involves stepping off the throne of the universe as ultimate authority over our lives and yielding His rightful place to Him by aligning the lives He gave us with His purposes.  It is no small price to pay.  If the cost to know that there's a God seems too high for you, consider the price He paid to give you that opportunity.

     Here are some scripture references to support the above paragraph, in case you have questions:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (I John 1:8&9)

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  (I Corinthians 6:20)


     Ever since I purchased my first kindle, I have eagerly sought out good books at reasonable prices to fill that kindle.  Here are some current options:

The classic "The Existence and Attributes of God", a classic by Charnock, a book that is thicker than my Bible in printed form, was only .99 for Kindle on Amazon!

Max Lucado's short book Shaped By Grace was also available at a discount:

The Existence and Attributes of God

Shaped By Grace

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Three "Reasons" You Aren't Reading the Bible & How to Overcome them

1.  "I don't have time"

      There is no question that many of us are exceedingly busy, in most cases busier than we should be.  However, saying that we don't have time for reading the Bible reveals some things about us that we would rather not admit.

     Everyone is given the same amount of time per day.  What do your last 24 hours look like?  There was time for sleeping, eating, maybe watching a little TV, or checking up on facebook statuses and tweets.  Maybe there were sports and school and fun memories made with friends.  Whatever it was for you, the way your time is spent reflects your priorities.  If you have no time for the Bible, but you do have time for all this other stuff, what does that say about what's important to you?  Is God the first priority or is He somewhere near the bottom of the list?

     Another revelation we can gather from the "no time" excuse is that perhaps we don't manage our time very well.  Budgeting skills in the financial realm seem to have disappeared as a valued quality in our culture, and I would argue that the same is true of time management.  There are many overused expressions in this arena, but they all fit:  "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  "If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time."  "If you don't make time for it to happen, it won't happen."  Is it possible that the reason you never have time for the Bible is because you have no clue where your time is going?  Would choosing a specific time and place to read the Bible and then organizing other time-consuming activities around that priority make a difference for you?

     Finally, telling ourselves the I don't have time for that lie could reflect apathy toward the word of God.  Have you noticed that the things that get put off the most are the things you least want to do?  Invitations that you'd rather not accept - "Oh, I am sorry, we just don't have the time."  Setting that appointment for your next dental check-up - "Oh, I will get around to it when I have the time."  If time with God has fallen into this part of your calendar, something is wrong!  What's happening in life that makes God less interesting than Twitter?  Ask Him to help you sort it out and to revive your interest in Him and your passion for being the person He made you to be!

     When we deceive ourselves and others with the excuse that we don't have time to read the Bible, we are feebly attempting to mask these and other areas of disobedience to Him:

Should God and His word be the priority in our lives?  Jesus said, in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. "

Is managing our time important?  "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15&16

 Is it ok for God and His word to fall out of our thoughts and values?  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength."  Deuteronomy 6:5


 2.  "It's too boring"

     I think this excuse most often comes from people trying to read the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation, people who started off excited about reading this huge book and then arrive in Leviticus and realize it's not all action and adventure.  Long lists of names and rules can sometimes make it difficult to find application or even interest, but those occasional areas of difficulty do not justify ignoring the awesomeness to be found in the rest of the Bible.  In fact, many of those areas you struggle with the first or second time through are likely to become treasures for you as you understand more of what is happening and why those names and rules matter.  Consider the attitude some of the most famous heroes of the faith had toward the Bible:

David - Read Psalm 119 and count the number of times you come across the words "word",  "law", and "statutes".  Each of these is a reference to God's truth revealed.

Paul - "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17

JESUS - "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"  Luke 11:28

     Clearly none of these folks find God's word boring.  Even if you do, though, remember that the Bible was not put here for your entertainment.  It was put here to guide and direct you and to be one of the tools God uses to equip you to fulfill His purpose for your life - to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

3.  "I don't understand"


     There are many things in the Bible that may be difficult to understand the first time, the second time, and even the 50th time you read them.  This seems reasonable to me considering the fact that the infinite, immortal, perfect God of the Universe is using a book to reveal Himself to finite, mortal, imperfect human beings.  It does not seem reasonable to me as an excuse to stop reading.  Imagine if we did the same in other areas of education and learning experience.  "I never made it past addition in math because I didn't understand anything else".  "I stopped talking to guys/girls because I didn't understand that first one".  We simply don't give up that easily on simple, everyday life skills, so why would we give up so easily on God?

     Jesus invites His followers to come to Him and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28-30).  He also says to ask, seek, and knock (Matthew 7:7).  Don't give up just because something is difficult to understand.  The rewards of digging deeper are always more than worth it.  You know this and you have already experienced it in other areas of your life.  You will not exhaust what there is to know about God, and times will come in your life and the lives of the people around you when knowing Him will be all that matters.