Falling in Love with God’s Word
By Wayne Karl
“ I do not worship a book! “
I have heard these words often. I have spoken these words myself. And they seem very true. I have not ever discovered that I am to worship any book, even the Bible.
But why make this statement? What is the value? More importantly, what may be the motivation behind our making this claim?
The Lord prompted me to share the only thing I have to share - my testimony and witness. The Spirit of the Lord encourages us to take an action and it is our choice to do or not do. This is the gift from God which he has given us that is ours to do with as we will. I have chosen to follow His prompting in writing this today.
Once words are on paper they are hard to take back. We might grow and we may discover a truth which goes contrary to a former belief. Then the words we took risk and shared may come to be our judge. Many people will nod their heads in agreement that we all continue to grow and change, yet hold someone to their past. Perhaps this is also why some find it so difficult that our God can love us so much to sacrifice a son so we are able to be forgiven and inherit God’s salvation.
So why take the risk to share what feels true and seems we are being spiritually asked to? Why not shelter ourselves from hurt and harm?
A quote some time ago came to me as an encouragement of the importance to take the risk. I was pondering the importance of life and why we all want to leave some form of legacy behind beside a tombstone or bones. Even these are not permanent. Then this quote formed within me. I wrote it down and I have it on my wall behind me as I write this. It says:
“There is no greater legacy in this current stage of life than words God has blessed and souls God has saved!”
Part of building up treasures in heaven is forming the legacy which time, rust and moth, thief and weather, can never take away. There are many ways to respond to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in forming our legacy and storing up our treasure in heaven. The early church leaders did many actions, but they also wrote down words.
2 Peter 1 : 21 (NIV), “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible can be taken as a simple collection of words by some. There are many books which have been written, and are being written, to encourage and guide us to bear the good fruit. What sets the Bible apart from these other great writers?
Luke 21:33 (NIV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Why is the Bible an endless and continual source of inspiration to us when we embrace its pages?
I like to share in a Gideon message about a Russian Major and his testimony. When Russia became open to the sharing of cultures and literature, the Bible was also being shared openly. Some Gideons were passing out the little books of scripture which contain the New Testament, Proverbs and Psalms.
A Russian Major came to a distribution and took one.
“If little old ladies can read this book and understand it, so can I !,” he exclaimed.
He read it once.
He read it again.
He was reading this little book of words for the fifth time, and suddenly the truth became clear, he discovered Jesus in his heart, and got down on his knees and prayed. Just the Bible and the Spirit of God and him found truth and, most importantly, his salvation. As the story goes, he allowed God to use him to develop a Gideon camp in the barracks.
The Bible. A true statement perhaps we do not worship it. But do we give this statement because we are afraid of its power? Or is it just we do not fully understand it and we feel we can not use this power to bring others to Jesus? Do we feel it is far too confusing?
Isaiah 55: 11 (NIV) “so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Do we feel people have used the Bible and twisted it to meet their own desires that we can not trust the ability to use the Bible as God’s instrument of knowledge anymore? Do we then seek out great people who seem to have all the answers and make their writings and teachings our Bible?
People make mistakes, sinful or not. Interpretations of the Bible could lead people down a path of understanding which is not correct. The fascinating thing is God’s truth, God’s word remains. With the gift of the Holy Spirit we are given the ability to find the truth if we continue to ask - seek - knock. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we obtain the truth and have this truth written on our hearts and minds. Whatever we see or hear, we should:
1 John 4:6 (NIV) “We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”
Many people become troubled over words in the Bible. One of these is predestination. If one uses their worldly temporal mind, one could easily come to the conclusion nothing matters as far as what one does, since the end result is already known. Do you know what your end result is? Just because God does not live within the same time constraints as we do, and God knows the ending, does this mean God took away your choice that He gave you? Personally, I look upon it as how great God really is. God knows the outcome in a multitude of multitude of what we would think of as endless possibilities. God throughout the ages made His will known by prophecy to people who always have had the gift of choice. God’s prophecies, as wrote in the scriptures, have come true according to His Word. These prophesies have come true in our past, and they are coming true today.
People, lied to by the Father of all lies, led by their own wants and desires, seek not the truth but only the truth which satisfies their world model.
2 Timothy 4: 3 (NIV), “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
What is scripture but words God’s blessing is upon? I am sure this is what motivated the early church leaders to keep, copy and collect the early writings the Holy Spirit had blessed. They felt the power of God’s word and knew the truth which saves.
I firmly believe miracles happen today. But we discount them. Even if a miracle such as the one Elijah performed on Mount Carmel were to be done today, few unbelievers would be swayed by such a performance. Many in Elijah’s time got over rather quickly the feeling of God’s presence right there in their lives. Do you honestly believe the scribes and Pharisees would have believed in Jesus if He had come down off the cross when they taunted Him to do so?
I believe it is God’s purpose we need the struggle and to overcome to be awarded the gift He has for us. To overcome is what Jacob had to do when he had his struggles. He overcame his struggles, the ones with man and the ones he had with God. God named him Israel then to mark the “graduation” moment. We overcome when we accept Jesus in as our Lord and Savior. Our struggle is to always make sure Jesus sits on our throne in our hearts.
How has the Bible become important to me? What is my witness and testimony that the Spirit has asked me to share?
I was brought up in a Christian family. We went to church service year-round. Sunday school followed the public school time and was in session from September through May.
One morning in church, as a child I believe between the ages of 7 to 10, and I am thinking the age of 8 perhaps, I felt such a “lifting up” as I sat in the back of the church with my dad listening to the sermon.
I do not recall what the sermon was about.
I do recall the feeling though. I have always recalled where we were (by the WPLB station on M-91 near Greenville, heading toward Belding), when I shared with my dad what had happened and asked him what it had meant. His reply was “Sometimes God has a way of doing that to you.”
My dad always seems to have the short answer. Often times that is all anyone needs to hear. It is only recently I am feeling it may have been the experience of receiving the power of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
One time as a young adult bothered with a new wife not understanding the tithing concept any longer, prompted me to share with him, “Sometimes I have a problem with wanting to tithe.” My dad’s response went something like this … “What is the problem? There is no problem with that. It is what we are instructed to do.” My dad summed it up with, “it is just that simple, you either do or you choose not to do.” That was my dad’s “matter of fact” discussion.
I will admit a pastor once said, “Tithing is the easiest thing one can do in their faith.” My first thought in response disagreed with his statement since it seemed quite the sacrifice. In growth I have learned it is the simplest act of faith to do and the tithe is not like putting in all I have. It is only a part of everything God has given me, in returning some back to His use.
I always had an acquaintance with the Bible. My Bible relationship started out as most of us probably start, by having access to a Bible. In church, or a school (some nations of the world allow the Bible to be used for classroom instruction), or at home. One needs access. The family Bible brought out only when the preacher is coming to visit is still access, even if used only for ornamental reasons.
In my teenage years I began making efforts to at least read through the Bible once before I graduated. I knew several areas somewhat well. I taught Sunday School during one or two of these years. So by the time I graduated I would have considered myself having a pretty good relationship with the Bible. I had no idea I was just in the beginning stages.
The church my wife and I settled in after being married had problems. I will not go in to details here about this except to say we agreed we would take time off away from church once they were past their current problems. And we did.
After a year and a half we discovered without church we were having some real issues with our faith and each other. We began an earnest search and finally found a church which has become our church home. I was still reading the Bible as needed for classes and as the Spirit might tug me from time to time. I did not read it every day.
Then one night a couple of decades ago something happened. I could not breathe. I actually thought I might be dying. I felt the Spirit. I do not know how it came in to my thoughts, but I promised God I would make a sound effort to read the Bible each and every day. The terror and the feelings subsided. The agreement stuck and I refer to this incident as “God using the 2 X 4 on me“. I may not have been perfect in my agreement over the many years, but there has seldom been any day of the year I do not read scripture, even while on trips.
The daily Bible reading did not produce a sudden and miraculous change in my lifestyle or choices. But little by little I continued to grow in my relationship with God.
The “vision“. Nothing real spectacular. At least I did not think so when it happened about nine years ago. Just a livid life experience I can only relate to as a vision perhaps with one word for me … “Prepare” . From this I felt I needed to search out from my pastor what it might mean. His first question was if it was a call to ministry. I told him I was not sure what it meant. He did not find time for us to talk about it though. I did go to his study class and something good came out of this but that is a long story best left for another time.
I went to the pastor the wife and youngest child was going to (not any problems between us, it was something else and it would be another long story. The two older children and I had sought out a different church). I explained to her pastor about the simple vision and what I was searching for. He did not ever seek me out to talk.
I went to another church in my search for my guide to this vision. We got along very well. Sunday school and church felt super. Then he and his youth pastor came to visit. I finally shared with them why I was attending their church in the hope at some time I would discover what God’s plan was with the vision. They made some quick excuses, got up and left. That Sunday things felt very very cold in Sunday School and the worship service. That was the end of my search there.
I decided to bring it up to the pastor my dad, kids and I played church softball with for about eight years. We usually attended church at least once there during each year and supported them. I had a good history with the church and pastor. But before softball began my son was told the pastor needed to talk to me. I called him up and he was saying they felt bad us playing for them and we should play for the home church. One problem was the home church had a team only for the one year. He had forgotten they had not fielded a team in several years. I simply asked if he had too many players and I would understand that. He then admitted that was the problem. I laughed and said, “Well, that figures.” I related to him what I had intended to share and how it must be God’s will he was not the one I must be searching for. All he asked is if I was going to church. I said that I was (which is the truth as I would not give up regular church going for very long due to the lesson already learned previously in life). He told me, “Well, as long as you are going to church, you are okay.” I wonder how many pastors honestly feel we are okay as long as we go to church? It seems I hear encouragement about following some Great Commission or something from the pulpit. I am almost sure I have heard some pastors say that only going to church is not enough. I found his answer sad and amusing.
Anyway, there I was. The wife’s church found another pastor. I was still going to church with the two older kids. Sometimes all of us would attend one church or the other as a family. In fact, that is probably what happened many times since Mary (my wonderful gift from God for a partner), liked attending the early 8 a.m. service on Sunday held at our church.
I met her new pastor on occasion. So one day we set a time and took a walk. I began with “I am going to share something with you, but I want to tell you right up front you are not to be the one to help me on this.” I should know better but I was speaking from my knowledge and my will. I should know this is what God uses to show His supreme will and purpose. Pastor Bruce agreed and I shared. And that was it.
Over time we spoke about various things. Sometimes our visits were before church services. Out of the blue he tells me he thinks I have a prophetic gift, that I am called to be a prophet. That to me is crazier then one simple little vision. I check this out with another pastor friend of mine. Both of them have explained that a prophetic gift is forth telling as much as it can be foretelling as many of us would think of prophets to be. He agrees with the pastor about the gift. I think they are both touched more in the head than the spirit. I try and take it out of my mind and avoid thinking about what they are saying.
Then it happens as I read the scripture that I began to feel I am living in the time of the writer. I begin to feel as if I am there with him or her in their experiences. It is a strong sensation. I sense there is a working knowledge of scripture which can grow in to a loving knowledge of scripture. Each reading becomes more and more real to me. Understanding and knowledge grow inside me as if they were a snowball coming down a powdery slope, faster and gaining breadth with each passing rotation as its momentum carries it along.
I feel God’s Spiritual presence and caring as I read the scriptures. The Bible opens up to me as if I had not ever read it before. How could I have been so veiled to its true power? Why have I not clearly seen before the wonder and amazement of the messages God has perfectly shared within its covers? Why has so many truths been kept from my heart and mind? I have come to realize Pastor Bruce was the mentor and spiritual adviser I was seeking to help me with the vision. He has become a true friend to me.
Knowledge are the facts, the individual pieces of the puzzle. Understanding is why the facts are important. Why each piece is needed and how it develops the picture. Wisdom is how one takes knowledge and understanding and applies it to use. Hopefully for good use. Wisdom is practiced by taking the risk to share knowledge and understanding with others toward an abundant harvest.
Proverbs 27: 17 (NIV) “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
I have not found the ultimate teacher, one who has all of the answers. The one who can always speak with authority. Aside from Jesus I am thinking that person will not exist. Even Paul and Peter had to work by prayer and the Spirit to reach the truth when they disagreed.
What I have recently discovered is that Christians need to come together to take the risk to share their thoughts and views. To work together in God’s Word, perhaps other words God may have blessed, and our words and thoughts, to test these words and thoughts by the Spirit and prayer, toward the edification of God’s church, the bride of Christ. Only by discovering God’s truth and improving our spiritual/faithful life may we help bring in an abundant harvest which includes our very selves and our neighbors.
One of the wisdom parts of my learning is my current struggle. And I fail miserably at times with this struggle. The following scripture relates to my struggle:
2 Timothy 24-25 (NIV) “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,”
When someone makes a statement and I disagree, I should ask a question, not make an opposing view. Each of us need to lead our brothers and sisters, and ourselves, to the truth. And there was my fault during a Bible study with new people. It hurts to learn life’s lessons sometimes. Even the little ones. But the hope and prayer must be we do this with the purpose to develop our relationship with God, ourselves and our neighbors for God’s glory and praise.
As Peter concludes his second letter, in referring to the words in the letters Paul has wrote, Peter says, (2 Peter 3 : 16b-18 NIV), “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
We are continually encouraged to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Ask - Seek - Knock for the glory and praise of our Lord will not bring in hate and discontent. Love does not allow it. So in all words we share, as iron seeks to sharpen iron, as we seek to share in each other’s burdens and each others growth, may we always keep it in mind we do so for God’s greater glory and praise, which does not allow us to become lords over any of our brothers or sisters in Christ by what we think we know. We must test our convictions and what we hear and learn by the Spirit, by prayer, and by God’s Word.
Apollos came to Ephesus knowing Jesus and the baptism of John and taught about Jesus and the fulfillment of the scriptures . Priscilla and Aquila shared with Apollos the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Apollos then went to Achaia and was a great help to those who by grace had come to believe. One can not prove faith perhaps, but we can prove that the Bible’s prophecies are true and accurate, as Apollos was able to do. Perhaps it is a lack of understanding and/or knowledge which prevents us from wanting to use the Bible?
What is the Bible to us? Could it be the ultimate letter of love from God to us for our benefit?
2 Timothy 3: 16-17 (NIV) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
May it be our prayer of hope today that God, uniting us with His Holy Spirit, gives us the wisdom to discern the truth and fall in love with His Word. It seems to me the perfect source of God’s Word is the Bible becoming a part of our daily routine as we use it as the tool of grace it was meant to be used as.
May God bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ
(NIV) taken from the New International Version of the Bible
Thanks for reading this far. The other links I plan to visit and see if I need to update, revise or delete any guilty stuff (LOL). If you got this far it means you are ready for bed or you may actually have something to add to your life. Either way ... a win win for both of us. God's blessings upon you friend and keep seeking the truth. Truth is an absolute. God is an absolute. And in this life I like to consider this statement I have made an absolute --- "The only constant is change." Well, at least it is one to adopt so you do not get frustrated with all the changes that happen in life and those who keep promising us change.
Links to other sites on the Web
Jesus - real or not
A Poem for Mom
My Summer 2003 Road Trip