May 13, 2020 – God is in the Bible
God is in the Bible – kind of obvious, eh? If we were all asked to draw a picture of things we associate with our Christian faith, I am sure many of us would figure out a way to illustrate that holy book. Many of us would probably draw a cross too; or perhaps an empty tomb or a baby in a manger. But where are we told about the cross and the empty tomb and the miraculous virgin birth? You guessed it – the Bible.
We would all pretty easily confess the importance of the Bible in the life of a Christian, but how well do we really know our Bibles? How much time do we spend there? What is the quality of the time we spend there? Do we believe that we find God therein or do we just methodically traverse the pages to prepare for our next small group or Bible study? These are convicting questions!
I think it’s pretty obvious that we currently find ourselves in some unique times. There are (at least) two things I’ve noticed about how people have generally responded to the events around us. One is that many find themselves in particular need of encouragement and the other is that many have recognized an opportunity in their lives to slow down a little bit and give attention to some things that they weren’t giving attention to before. Interestingly, both bring us back to the Bible.
For those of us who find the need to be encouraged (and let’s be honest, we all need some encouragement from time to time), where is that encouragement found? Well, helpful encouragement is rooted in truth. As we consider what’s happening around us we should recognize that the Bible tells us (generally speaking) how we are to think about this pandemic. The Bible gives us the truth from which we can derive encouragement.
The Bible tells us that God is in the heavens and does all that He pleases (Psalm 115:3). The Bible tells us that God is working out all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). The Bible tells us that no purpose of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2). The Bible tells us that God is good and He does good (Psalm 119:68).
As we’re tempted to be discouraged about events around us, we can find lasting encouragement in the pages of the Bible where God reveals to us who He is and where He calls us to seek Him. It is even more encouraging that He tells us that those who seek Him, do indeed find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalm 9:10; Matthew 7:7).
Notice the disposition some of the biblical authors take concerning God’s Word:
Your words were found, and I ate them,
and your words became to me a joy
and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life. (Psalm 119:93 ESV)
Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day. (Psalm 119:97 ESV)
For it is no empty word for you, but your very life… (Deuteronomy 32:47 ESV)
Do we view God’s Word the same way? Our view of God’s Word is ultimately reflected in how we treat it. Even in considering encouraging others and ourselves – do we know enough about God and His truth to be helpful? The psalmist delighted in the testimonies of God and called them his “counselors” (Psalm 119:24). We have to know God’s Word in order for it to be an encouragement, in order to be counseled by it, and in order to offer that encouragement and counsel to others. We have to hide His truth in our hearts (Psalm 119:11).
Many also find themselves slowing down a little bit in the midst of this pandemic. Everything is closed, many are stuck inside, and thus many of our lives have lost a little bit of the normal hustle and bustle. This is a great opportunity to get serious about consistently being in God’s Word! To close I’ll share three practical considerations in making this commitment:
- Set realistic goals. If you’re like me, when you recognize a dry spell in your life in a particular area, you get passionate and determined really quickly and try to make up for all the lost time. This is akin to skipping out on the gym for the last month (or perhaps several months at the end of this quarantine) and throwing 250 pounds of weight on the bar. Most of us aren’t even getting that off the bench! Be realistic. This is different for everyone. Don’t dive in and try to read the whole New Testament day one. Setting unrealistic goals leads to discouragement and you’re much more likely to give up. Read a chapter. Read a verse. Perhaps for you it might not even be something you do every day at first. Whatever it is, set realistic goals.
- Be consistent (even if you don’t feel like it). As Christians we are constantly in the tension of what we feel like doing and what we know God would have us do. We have to make sure that we are being ruled by God’s Word and not by our feelings. This means that even when we don’t feel like reading our Bibles, tuning into the live stream on Sunday, or praying, we do it anyway. That doesn’t make us hypocrites. It makes us human. We still need to open our Bibles and do what needs to be done and we do it penitently, trusting that as we do it, God will change our hearts. If we do right, we will feel right (Genesis 4:6-7).
- Live in light of who God is and who you are in relationship to Him. We are human. We fail. We fall. We sin. We are imperfect beings. But, we are also new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who have our salvation bought and paid for (Galatians 3:13). This means that when we fail and fall short, we don’t have to wallow around feeling guilty. Rather, it means that we can go to our heavenly Father where we find promised forgiveness and we can rejoice that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So, when you miss your goal for the day, don’t be discouraged. Don’t even try to “make up for it.” Go to God and find forgiveness. Go to God and find help to keep going.
I’m not writing to you here as someone who has “arrived” in this area. I’m working to make the same commitment to God’s Word as I’ve called you to above. As Christ’s church, we’re in this together. God equates eternal life with knowing Him (John 17:3). We know Him through His Word; Jesus Christ is the living Word (John 1:14). May we be the people who strive to know Him more and more and like the Apostle Paul, may we count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 3:8). Remember, we always make time for what we deem important. God is in the Bible. Let’s be sure we make time for Him.