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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  11  No. 1 January 2009  Page 5                    powered by FreeFind

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Words on a Piece of Paper

By Marilyn LaStrape

Marilyn LaStrapeThe Bible is without parallel in its scope and eternal message for our lives and the unalterable destiny of our souls. We have heard for years that the Bible is the number one best seller. According to one source, the Bible tops the best seller lists every year. World sales of the Bible are more than 100 million every year! From a personal perspective, this fact reveals several most frightening truths. (1) For untold millions the Bible is a book just like any other book or it has become a mere text book; something to be analyzed and scrutinized like a historical document. (2) It is in countless homes on a bookshelf gathering dust or used as a decoration on a coffee table. (3) For the vast majority, the thought that the Bible is to be read and obeyed has never invaded the privacy of their thinking capacity. For them divine Scriptures are simply words on a piece of paper!

Those of us who are faithful members of the Lord’s church know all too well that the Bible, the Word of God, is the center and core of our existence! However, there are times even in our lives when we allow doubt, fear, worry, guilt or any other number of negative emotions to creep into our thinking and weaken our faith. It is at these times that God’s Word for us can become mere words on a piece of paper!

Our faith or belief in Scripture is our passageway to God. Our faith or belief comes by hearing what God has revealed to us in the Bible. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Everything that we receive from and know about God’s love, mercy and grace, which is His divine initiative toward us, is accepted on the basis of our faith in the One who said it through revelation. Paul told Timothy, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6). Notice Paul said Timothy had carefully followed the teachings of Scripture!

The highest knowledge that we can ever possess is the knowledge of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Speaking of God’s absolute sovereignty as Creator, Owner and Sustainer of the universe, Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” Verses 8 and 9 further declare, “Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Jesus speaking of Himself said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:12-13). Paul speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Do we believe these immutable truths regarding the Godhead, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

For the Bible to be more than mere words on a piece of paper, it must become real to us personally. This will only occur through reading, seeking, searching, studying and meditating on Scripture daily! We don’t normally let a day pass without taking on physical nourishment to ensure our strength and endurance. We must have the same diligence in being spiritually filled.

There are several steps that must be considered in making God’s Word real. We must first understand and accept God’s Word as the final, absolute, standard and authority for righteous living! We must further understand and accept that our submission and obedience to God is His desire and expectation of us! Shortly before Jesus returned to heaven, He told the eleven, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Christ said He received all the authority from God; that knocks out any man’s bid, assumption or assertion for religious authority! When we reach this level of understanding, it will move us to begin to read Scripture. Isaiah 34:16a says, “Search from the book of the LORD, and read.” That command did not lose God’s desire and expectation in the life of Isaiah and the children of Israel.

Second, we will seek to learn and understand God’s Word with an open and honest mind. We will want to know what difference having this knowledge will make in our everyday lives. Jesus said; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Do we believe that, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

Third, we will search God’s Word with an open and honest mind, and we will ask as the Psalmist David: “Show me Your ways O Lord, teach me Your paths; lead me in Your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation; on you I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:4). Jesus said in Matthew 5:6; “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Do we believe that, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

Fourth, we must study, and study long and hard! As we study, we will ask many questions of those who have far more knowledge than we do in our quest to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. We have been commanded to be diligent in our pursuit of divine truth. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:1). Do we believe that, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

Fifth, and very important is meditation. The key to making God’s Word real in our lives is meditation. Reading and studying without meditation is like attempting to eat without swallowing! We must read, study and meditate upon God’s Word until the truth in it becomes owned conviction! God told Joshua he was to be constantly in the Book. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). David said, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word” (Psalm 119:148). How could we as God’s children allow such rich and vital promises become just words on a piece of paper?

To make a practical application, consider just three of the virtually countless issues with which we must deal; these are setting priorities, making decisions and controlling materialism. Life demands that we set priorities daily, make important and sometimes urgent decisions daily, and our attitude toward materialism is truly a daily challenge!

In setting priorities Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In view of the present status of this country strictly from an economic standpoint, do we believe that, or is what our Lord said just words on a piece of paper?

With regard to making decisions two passages are noted. “I thought about my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:50). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Are we believing and obeying this, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

Focusing on materialism the Bible says; “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase, this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12). Are we living our lives in light of these eternal truths, or are they just words on a piece of paper?

Are we, as it were, walking billboards of our faith in the power and control that God has in our lives? Paul and his companions were about to be shipwrecked in Acts 27:21-25. He was told there would be no loss of life among them, but only of the ship. In verse 25 Paul said; “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told to me.” Do we have that kind of faith in what God has said? To the church at Colosse Paul said; “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Colossians 1:29). Can we say that?

One good preacher made this observation in a sermon years ago. He said, “The only limitation that we have is the size of our faith in God.” That is exactly what Paul says in Ephesians 3:20-21; “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The bottom line to victorious and abundant living is our faith and obedience to our Creator. God is able to do anything, but for us personally it is all according to the power that works in us which is our faith in His power! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…who has begotten us again to a living hope…reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5). Our faith is the abiding, constant, solid shield against Scripture ever becoming nothing more than mere words on a piece of paper!

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