Who shapes your thoughts?

So why do we do the things we do, act as we do? Because of what we believe to be true!  We are taught truth and consequence.  For example, I put my seatbelt whenever I drive. I do not do this because I fear the ‘click it or ticket’ law. I know, from experience, that wearing that seatbelt is an important part of remaining safe in the event of a collision. Six years ago I walked away from a terrible wreck without injury because I was strapped into the seat and protected by airbags at the moment of impact.

Being a follower of Christ is about loving God something I talked about last time in CoffeeBreak. It is also about knowing the Truth!  
Right thinking always precedes right living.
Sincerity does not replace truth. You can be sincerely wrong and in spite of your sincerity make choices that are regrettable. 

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 foundation of Truth about who God is, how God works, and what He expects of us is revealed (a key word) in the Holy Scripture. Does the Bible shape your thoughts, your values, your actions?  That will not happen because you keep one on your nightstand unopened or because you have a pocket Testament in your possession.

Paul urged Timothy, and us, to diligent study of the Scripture. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV)  Knowing the Bible as truth, understanding how to mine the truth from the stories and texts of the ancient Word is not easy, but it is possible! It requires regular study with others as well as a prayerful and teachable heart that allows the Holy Spirit to ‘reveal’ the word of God to us.

When we read the Bible often and with prayer for understanding from the Holy Spirit the Word reaches deep into our thought processes and changes us- inside out. I’m not talking about the silliness of ‘proof-texting’ – taking a single verse out of context to justify an action they wish to take or to support some pet idea.  Nor am I referring to studying the Bible for purely literary purposes, though it is fascinating. 

Yes, the best grasp of the Scripture requires thoughtful study of the historical context and understanding of the various literary forms of the text. However, the best study involves actually reading the text and meditating on the Word. Yes, there is a necessary place for scholarly study, for comparing our interpretation of passages with the understandings of others. And yet, we must not come to believe that the Bible is beyond our ability to read and comprehend.

To be transformed by the Word effect, we come with open heart, a willingness to ‘hear what the Spirit is saying’ as we read. Each morning, I open the Word to read a passage (sometimes only a verse, other times a whole story, or entire book). CoffeeBreak flows out of those reading most days.  Often my mind go back to what I’ve read; reflecting on it, inquiring about the way that it is informing my choices, drawing on the lessons and principles.  Yes, some passages yield more diamonds than others!  

Strangely enough, the thing that keeps many Christians from actually reading the Scripture is flood of Christian books that are available to us. Many read much about the Bible, yet they never just read the Bible itself. They think that reading another’s interaction with the Word is enough. Then, too, some think that hearing a sermon from the Word (Oh, God help us to fill our pulpits with the Word!) is enough. These are grave errors. Having help to understand what is written in the sacred Text is a blessing, but everyone 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 books and sermons. He found a new wonder over the “surprising teachings” of Jesus.

Get yourself into the Scripture! (That might be better phrased, ‘get the Scripture into you.’)  Do the hard work of daily study.  Engage in the discipline of feeding your heart and mind on the Truth and you will be changed by it. 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 the Word, start with Luke’s story of Jesus’ ministry.

Break away some mornings to read a Psalm, aloud, if possible.

Get a modern translation (or two) of the Scripture: one like the New International Version or the New Living Translation, so you don’t have to try to overcome the language barriers.

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 is a word from the Word. “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, NLT)

Be transformed by the wisdom and wonder of the Scriptures! It leads to the life of a follower of Jesus that is richer and fuller.

(Video of this blog at this link)


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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