Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Not Just Another Book

To the writing of books there shall be no end, but there shall never be written a book like the Book we refer to as the Bible. It is a stand-out for so many reasons. From its variety of writers to its historical timeliness, from its simple a-child-can-believe-it truths to the depths which no man can fully fathom, the Bible is like no other book writer, nor can it be, for it Author and Subject, dare I say object too, is God.

As I related to those gathered for our worship service last Sunday, I am embarking upon a journey that I hope and pray will give us all a better understanding of what is truly contained within the holy pages of Holy Writ. My plan and goal is to over the next months to walk through the Scriptures book by book, giving an overview of each book and also mining out some of the wonderful, life-changing truths in each book. A daunting task I think, but one that is desperately needed for the church in our culture here in America.

I hope you will join me on this exciting journey for we all need traveling companions on this adventure.

This week I am continuing with the overview of the uniqueness of the Book, and my chosen text looks to be Psalm 1.

As I start this journey I have been thinking about all the reasons why God's Word is so special to me, and also why it is like no other book. I would love to hear how this book has touched your lives as well. Why is it special to you? How are you grabbed by its uniqueness? As always, your stories encourage and challenge me, as I know they do others.

Hoping you'll be my companion on the adventure.

Blessings and Peace!


Anonymous said...

One of the things I appreciate most about you as a pastor is your "staying in the Word" on Sunday mornings. So many of the counties' Evangelical churches have shepherds who are heavy into "Christian psychology" and catchy, entertaining techniques that snatch a few verses here and there but are, by in large,designed to capture the audience's desire to be "entertained" for an hour. Sad to say, the throngs are enticed by these methods but do they come out knowing the Word? Doubtful.

I am thrilled that you are taking on this daunting assignment from the Holy Spirit. If we as God's children don't KNOW His precepts...how can we walk in them and make a difference in our society?

You asked what the Bible has meant in my life. My earliest recollections and joys was my mother reading to me nightly from a book of Bible stories. They were full of excitement and she read well so she made them come alive by the inflections of her voice. I became "friends" early on with the "characters" of the Bible and developed at a very early age a real hatred for sin...and a very earnest desire to love God and Jesus with all of my heart and DO what is right in their Holy eyes.

As I grew, I began memorizing portions of Scripture both at Sunday School and VBS. In the church I was raised in the Scripture was certainly read and revered but our pastors seemed to do more "topical" sermons...certainly BASED on Scripture.... rather than expository preaching.It wasn't until we broke with the denomination of our "rearing" and began attending a little Baptist church in San Jose that we began to hear powerful and consistant expository preaching and it was like fresh air to our souls.I learned more about the Bible in 2 yrs. there than I had known in the previous 27 yrs.!

Bible studies have ALWAYS been a part of my personal desire and Christian walk. I have attended a variety of types of studies but the ones that really made me "dig" were the years I spent in Bible Study Fellowship.There are SOME Bible studies (so called) that turn into social clubs....but BSF keeps your feet to the fire!

I love the fact that the Word of God has withstood all the scrutiny down through the ages, all of the book burnings, all the hatred of the Madelyn Murrays of the world...and it will survive the US Federal judges who say it can't be read on school campuses etc. God has promised that His Word will NOT pass away....no matter what!

I am currently in a Thurs. AM study in the Psalms....having just completed a study on the life of David...it thrills me to see how David constantly reconfirms in his own heart and back to God over and over his complete reliance on God's Word as he knew it then....God's commands...His precepts for pleasing Him in our daily walk. Even when David is "in the pits"...depressed, fearful, anxious...he KNEW where to turn...who his strength was...who his provider was....who his refuge was...who the source of his deliverance was....who the source of his salvation and forgiveness was....and in spite of sometimes "doing his own thing" and then getting into trouble for it...David never forgot what he KNEW in his heart about the essence of who God is. He learned that from Scripture HE read and meditated on...and then later was the channel through which the Holy Spirit inspired him to write the scripture that blesses OUR hearts and encourages us in our weakness.

The thing that has ALWAYS impressed me about God's word is how it never grows "stale"...as with the re-reading of other books....you get bored reading the same novel over and over...or even historical books...after awhile you KNOW all there is to know......but with the Bible there are new nuggets of truth that pop up with every reading. It is truly a unique book.....this ispired WORD of GOD.

I look forward to this new series and will pray for you as you "divide the word of truth"...for the devil isn't going to be pleased!

PS I'm doing my homework assignment!

Anonymous said...

me again...

As I re-read my posting I realized I failed to mention one of the most important facets of the Bible...to me. That is its MULTIPLE facets..everything from drama, murderous plots, lustful passion, tender love stories, creation, miraculous events, the highest of highs and lowest of lows, pain and regret,songs of praise, comfort, joy and hope....commands, conviction , restoration and forgiveness.... deceit and destruction, obedience and victory....warnings and wrath....promises and precepts....the greatest story ever told...the answers to every question in life...the KNOWLEDGE of the Godhead...each with His own personality and function.

It is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path...one step at a time.

I have learned that God is GOOD (ALL of the time!) He is a God of love, mercy and patience. He is also a God of wrath and justice. He is neverchanging....HIS rules don't change to "fit in" with today's cultural changes...what was sin THEN is sin NOW and will be sin tomorrow.

He is eternal and so is His word...what a blessing to be able to have this priceless gift in as many "versions" as we want(which is a whole OTHER topic for discussion!)but at least it is understandable to even a young child.

The Bible "tells it like it is"...the faults and warts are not hidden...we see the struggles of God's children down through history...we share the downfalls as well as the victories...and HOPEFULLY learn from some of THEIR mistakes. Ruthie

Anonymous said...

I will be eternally grateful for the Sunday School I attended as a child. One thing I remember was memorizing a certain number of verses and reciting them in order to earn my way to an all expenses paid Christian Summer Camp. I’m pretty sure I had to memorize 100 verses which seemed impossible, but I was determined. Of course I memorized and recited the verses over the course of a ¾ of a year or something as I recall.

If I could only use two words to describe that little Sunday School, the words would be “positive reinforcement” Nobody guilt provoked, scolded me or shamed me at Sunday School or tried to frighten me into following God out of fear (like some of the Roman Catholics and other denominations claim), but instead they made it clear that Jesus loved me and wanted to be my friend.

Sunday School was a safe place emotionally and spiritually for me because no one expected me to be more knowledgeable or spiritual than a child at my age could be. The worst thing (really the best thing) they ever did to me was reward me. I memorized those verses not because I had any love for the word of God in my heart at the time, but because I wanted to go to camp.

Yet once those seeds were planted deep in my heart, I honestly believe they just sprouted and grew over the years so that deep inside I knew the truth that would one day set me free. There was no religion I could ever study where my heart would ever feel at home except Christianity.

The NAS version says the word of God is “living” and “active” and the King James Version refers to the word of God as quick, and powerful and I believe that is true.

I talk to people everyday who were fed meat instead of milk as a child or people who were exposed to a judgmental, condemning atmosphere in church instead of the grace of God and it is almost as if they had been tortured instead of instructed. From what I have heard, some churches really are guilty of spiritual child abuse, but not the Sunday School I attended. The one I attended had me memorizing verses about God’s loving plan for my salvation.

So it is not just the fact that I memorized verses, but the fact that the word of God was in fact rightly divided because I memorized age appropriate verses and the doctrine was balanced so that I knew full well that while there was in fact a hell to be shunned, there was nothing to fear because I had a savior who had given his very life to save me if only I would put my trust in him instead of myself.


Anonymous said...

It's great to hear the positive comments on BSF. I think in the past few years, my personal study of God's Word via BSF, has been the most enriching. What I find interesting and confirming is when Sunday's sermon dovetails with what has been studied that week. Even when the passage studied is completly different. Yet another proof that God's Word does not contradict itself. How often God's Word comes to mind, not as condeming, but as warning, quietly wispered to my heart. Thanks Randy, for the past two weeks sermons - -powerful, straight from the heart! Julie

Gary said...

Hi Randy, and commenters,

Here are some statistics I found in an 1884 Bible Dictionary. The book was passed on to me when a relative departd this life. If you've ever wondered how some people can read the Bible frequently, yet not seem to have a clue about some of its contents, perhaps these statistics will provide some insight as to what may be preoccupying their minds while reading. I assume this refers to the KJ Version of the Bible:

Number of verses, OT 23,214. NT, 7,959.

Number of words, OT 592,439. NT, 181,253.

Number of letters, OT 2,738,100. NT, 838,380.

A footnote indicates, "These facts were ascertained by a gentleman in 1718; also by an English gentleman, at Amsterdam, in 1772; and the investigation is said to have taken each gentleman three years."