Tuesday, September 04, 2007

transforming america, step 3--- read the Bible

Charles Carroll - signer of the Declaration of Independence: "Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure...are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments." [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Thomas Jefferson: "The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend to all the happiness of man.”

Thomas Jefferson: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

The next step we must take in the rebirth of our nation is for us to become faithful, committed readers of the Holy Bible. The Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself and His will to all mankind, and it is vitally important that we spend time each day reading God’s Word. The central theme running through all 66 books of the Bible (covering approximately 1600 years of history) is salvation. The Old Testament is the historical account of the covenant God made with mankind about their salvation before Christ. The New Testament is the story of the new covenant of salvation through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

I once heard some sobering statistics in a sermon by Billy Graham. He stated that of all of the people who say they believe the Bible is true, only 12% actually read it every day. 34% read it once a week and 42% read it occasionally. We as Christians make a tragic mistake by not spending more time reading God’s written message to us. Even though those 66 books comprising the Bible were written so many centuries ago, the message contained therein is thoroughly modern and relevant. The Bible tells us how and why we were created, what our purpose is, and what awaits us at the end of our mortal life. It is a “users manual” straight from God showing us the safest and most rewarding way to live our lives, and it is full of stories of real life men and women who we can hold up as role models.

Let’s get specific about why it’s so important to read the Bible on a daily basis. 2 Timothy 3:14-17 says;

14 But I want you to continue to follow what you have learned. Don't give up what you are sure of. You know the people you learned it from. 15 You have known the Holy Scriptures ever since you were a little child. They are able to teach you how to be saved by believing in Christ Jesus.
16 God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. 17 By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.

First, it shows the importance of lifelong (“since you were a little child") study of the Scriptures. Those of us who are parents should pay special attention to this statement, because the passage goes on to say that knowing the holy Scriptures will “teach you how to be saved by believing in Christ Jesus.” That doesn’t mean that if we didn’t read the Bible as a kid that the game is over for us now. You can begin your journey today and accept God’s gift as an adult. It just means that the greatest gift you can give your child is to develop in him a love of the Scriptures.

Second, this passage says, “God has breathed life into all of Scripture”. We can be sure that everything contained in the Bible is authentic and applicable to our lives because it is God’s inspired Word. It’s not the product of fiction writers or biographers or televangelists or anyone else. It is straight from our perfect God whom we can have total faith in.

Third, the passage says that God’s Word “is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing”. The Bible corrects us when we’re wrong, tells us how to live, and shows us how to be an example of righteousness to others. It brings us back on course when we stray. It seems to me that 21st Century America needs teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Finally, the passage says that we are to read the Bible because, “By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.” In other words, we don’t memorize Bible verses so that we can be Bible Bowl champs. We read God’s Word so that we are equipped to do Christ’s work in this world. Mark 16:15 says “…Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Continuous prayer and daily Bible reading will help us grow in our relationship with God so that we can tell others about God’s perfect salvation through Jesus Christ. As we do that, God will go about the business of changing hearts. America desperately needs a change of heart, but that process starts with us!

I would encourage you to get started today reading the Bible so that you can find out for yourself what God has to say to you. Clearly, the Bible is a pretty hefty book, and if you start thinking about reading the whole book you’ll feel overwhelmed. I recommend the following strategy:

1. Set a regular time each day at the same time to do your reading. Make it an appointment, just like anything else on your calendar, and allow yourself 15 minutes in a quiet spot where you can concentrate.
2. Ask God to help you understand what you read. A short prayer each day before you start asking for wisdom and understanding will ensure that God’s Word will take root in your heart.
3. Start with the Gospel of John in the New Testament and read one chapter a day. John’s account focuses on the miracles and ministry of Jesus. He shows conclusively that Jesus is the Son of God and that through Jesus we can have eternal life.
4. After finishing John, read Acts and Romans in the same fashion to learn about the birth and growth of the Christian church and the beginning of Paul’s ministry. Then skip to the Book of James. It’s a very practical, clear and concise “how-to book” on Christian living. Remember, just one chapter per day.
5. If you stick to the schedule, it should take you 70 days to get to this point. I recommend that you now go to Genesis, the very beginning, and continue through the whole Old Testament. Then you can read one of the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) and the rest of the New Testament books that you haven’t read yet. Remember that this is a life-long commitment, so don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of your “reading assignment”. Think of it the same way you do about eating. Have you ever given any thought as to the total amount of food and water you will have to consume over the course of your lifetime to sustain your life? Of course you haven’t; nobody thinks about that—that’s insane. But I’ll bet you know what you’re having for dinner tonight. Just think of your daily Bible reading as a “spiritual meal” that you’ll have once a day for the rest of your life!

One of the most diabolical tricks of Satan is that he has infiltrated the Christian Church. There are more than a few "Christian" ministers, pastors and priests who teach a false Gospel because Satan has twisted their thinking and captured their hearts. It is absolutely crucial that each and every Christian become familiar with what is truly in the Bible so that we may not be deceived. If we open the Bible and read God's words to us, God will speak to our hearts and open our minds and protect us from the false teachers. That will become more and more important as the shrill rhetoric of the false teachers intensifies.



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