Become rich in your thoughts

Someone donated several old Bibles to the church yesterday.  I could see that one of them had notes tucked between the pages. I curiously flipped through the old Bible and in addition to the notes I found three $2 bills. I chuckled as I wondered which most people would value most – the money or the Words in the Book?  

The Bible shaped the world I know. The Word has had a profound effect on America since her founding days. Even Thomas Jefferson, who was a skeptic that rejected the supernatural stories of the Scripture, regularly read from the Gospels every day.

Mark Noll writes that “at least until sometime in the late nineteenth century or early in the twentieth, the Bible existed as the most coherent, the most widely respected, and the most powerful of those means by which American ordered their daily existence and made sense of the universe in which they lived.

Do you know the Scriptures?
Does the revelation of God in those pages shape your life?
Is your life enriched by the Truth of God’s revelation of Himself?

Each morning, I open the Word to read – sometimes only a verse, other times a whole story, or an entire book. These CoffeeBreak reflections generally are expressions of those meditations. My mind returns to what I read through the day and I invite the Word to inform my choices, as I draw on the lessons and principles of the Bible. Some passages yield more treasure than others!  I live with a worldview shaped by the Scripture which forms my thoughts. The Bible is a source of guidance that helps me choose my way when I am faced with two roads.

The Psalmist asks – “How can a young man keep his way pure?”
Then, he answers –
“By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:9-12, NIV)

The Bible, when properly read and studied, will transform us. When read often and with prayer for understanding from the Holy Spirit the Word will reach deep into our thought processes and speak to our daily conduct.  

Let me caution you about an approach to the Bible that is foolish, superstitious even. Some people open their Bible and find a single verse, drawn out of context, to justify an action or thought. That’s called ‘proof texting!’ It can lead to bizarre conclusions. Some study the Bible with a purely literary point of view. It is true that thoughtful study of the historical context and literary forms of the text can be interesting and enlightening. But, simply knowing the Book as one might study other great literature misses the power of the inspired Word.  

Thankfully, God gives us His Spirit to help us to understand the Bible.  If we open it prayerfully, ready to learn, He will teach us. One does not have to be an intellectual or have a degree in ancient Semitic languages to be enriched by the Word. Yes, there is a necessary place for scholarly study, for comparing our interpretation of passages with the understandings of others.  But we must never allow ourselves to be convinced that the Bible is beyond our ability to read and comprehend especially given the modern language translations that make the text more accessible.

There is a blessing that keeps many Believers from the Scripture. What is it?  There are thousands of Christian books available which cause many to read much about the Bible, without ever reading the Bible itself.  Others are content to hear a Sunday sermon from the Word (Oh, God help us to fill our pulpits with the Word!). Having help to understand what is written in the sacred Text is a blessing, but each of us needs to interact with the Word ourselves when possible.

Dr. Timothy Johnson in his book, Finding God In The Questions, relates how he was looking for Jesus Christ, even though he had been a Christian Believer for years. He went back to reading the Gospels carefully and found that the Jesus he discovered again in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John was a Man far removed from the pictures and concepts presented in many books and even sermons he had heard in church buildings. He found a new wonder over the “surprising teachings” of Jesus.

Believer, get the Scripture into your mind and heart. Make reading of the Bible text itself a daily practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a sparkling gem of new understanding on the first day. Don’t try to read too much. Don’t go for the hard passages first. Instead, pray for the Spirit to be at work, and then sit down to read.

If you’re new to Bible reading, start with Luke‘s story of Jesus’ ministry.
Break away some mornings to read a Psalm, aloud, if possible. 
Read the story of the first generation of Christians told in Acts.
Learn the majesty of our faith in Christ Jesus from Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Get a modern translation (or two) of the Scripture: one like the New International Version (NIV) or the New Living Translation (NLT) that will eliminate the road blocks inherent in English that is 4 centuries old.

When you read a passage that defies a ready understanding or application, allow for some ambiguity! After all, the Bible is not a textbook, it is a revelation of the Almighty, Eternal God!

Here’s a word from the Word.   “There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another — showing us truth, exposing our rebellion,   correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”  (2 Timothy 3:15-17, The Message)

By the way, there is a great app that is free for your smartphone or tablet. YouVersion™ will let you access many different translations of the Bible without charge. It will provide daily reading guides. If you’re not a good reader, many of the texts come with a voice option that will read the text to you aloud as you follow along.  I highly recommend it to you for Scripture intake.

_______________

Ancient Words

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
O let the ancient words impart

Words of life words of hope
Give us strength help us cope
In this world where’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home

Ancient words ever true
Changing me changing you
We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
O heed the faithful words of Christ

Martyr’s blood stains each page
They have died for this faith
Hear them cry through the years
Heed these words and hold them dear

We have come with open hearts
O let the ancient words impart
O let the ancient words impart

Lynn DeShazo © 2001 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook))

CCLI License # 810055

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