Called and Equipped

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,  And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.
“And I, indeed I have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all I have commanded you:”
Exodus 31:1-6 (NKJV)
And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.
“And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.  He has filled them with skill…,”
Exodus 35:30-36a (NKJV).

God is giving some instructions to Moses about the building of the Tabernacle, the place of His presence among the children of Israel.  But this building will not suddenly just appear; God will use men to build it.  He called the earth into being by His word, but not this.  Men have the honor and privilege of working with God.  Make no mistake about that.  He doesn’t need any of us; He is pleased to use us.  More glory to Him, to use such poor instruments.

Two men are named, Bezalel and Aholiab.  One was from Judah, the head tribe of Israel, and one from Dan, perhaps the “tail” among the tribes.  It doesn’t matter where we’re from; what matters is where we are, and what we’re doing.  One thing about Bezalel.  He was mentioned hundreds of years later when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the place he had prepared for it prior to the building of the Temple by Solomon, 2 Chronicles 1:4.  His work was still valuable and useful.  Who knows how the Lord will be pleased to use our efforts for Him?  The thing is, they will last far longer than any mere thing of this world we can do, necessary though those may be.

These two men were the foremen, if you will, of the artisans doing the work, 31:6, but the other men were also gifted for their work.  1 Corinthians 12:4-7 has something for us here:  There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all.  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. 

That last phrase could be translated, “for the mutual benefit.”  The gifts of the Spirit aren’t about us.  It’s about those around us, especially in the assembly and how we may be a blessing and benefit to them.

Early in our marriage, Sharon and I attended a church who taught for a while on the ministry and gifts of the Spirit.  The emphasis was on how we could know which particular gift was ours.  For some reason, this bothered her because she couldn’t figure out “which” gift was hers.  That seemed to be focus of the series and it really bothered her that she couldn’t see her “gift”.  She couldn’t teach or sing or play the piano.  But one of the gifts of the Spirit Paul lists in I Corinthians 12 is helps, v. 28, and that was and is her “gift”.  She has always been more than willing to pitch in, to help.  This says nothing of the fact that she has put up with me for more than 48 years….

You see, it may not be the man behind the pulpit; it may be the ones who listen to him.  Do you pray for your minister?  His “job” is perhaps one of the most important there is.  He stands in front of men and women who will never cease to exist and it may be that something he says either prepares them for an eternity of glory or for an eternity under God’s wrath because the sin question has never been answered for them.  Spurgeon used to say that the sight of the crowds he preached to at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London crushed him to the ground because he recognized his responsibility toward them.
But standing behind a pulpit is not the only “ministry”.  Your job is a ministry, if you could but see it, how you do it.  Do you have little ones?  Oh, the ministry there!  Those little souls, so impressionable and willing.  They’re like sponges, and they likely learn more from what they see you do than they will from what you say.  Our culture may devalue them, but they are a treasure.

Nothing is unimportant in the life of a believer.  After all, God has numbered the hairs on your head, Matthew 10:30.  If you’re that important to Him as His child, do you think your life and doings are unimportant to Him?  Nothing is “minor” or of no concern to Him.  As little as a cup of cold water given in His name will be richly rewarded, cf. Matthew 10:42.  As Paul put it, let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith, Galatians 6:9, 10.

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Acts 14:19, 20: Left For Dead

19] Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.  20] However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city.  And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

Perhaps this is the time Paul experienced what he recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago – whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows – such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows – how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

From time to time, someone comes along who claims to have died and gone to heaven, only to return to this life and tell us all about it.  Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, “God knows,” but Paul says some things about his experience that we ought to compare these other experiences by.  First, what he heard was “inexpressible.”  Second, it’s “not lawful for a man to utter.”  Third, lest he be puffed up with pride over this experience, he was given a “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet” me, “lest I be exalted above measure,” v. 7.

If we were actually caught up to heaven in this body, I’m not sure we’d be able to describe that experience.  There is nothing in this life to compare it with.  That’s one reason the Book of Revelation is so difficult to understand.  We’ve very little, if anything, to compare it with.  “Streets of gold,” “gates of pearl.”  John describes these things that he actually saw, but maybe these visions, while describing things that are real, are also the Spirit’s way of telling us that God measures wealth by a far different standard than we do.

That’s not the interesting thing to me, though, about these verses.  Verse 19 tells us those multitudes who once wanted to worship Paul as a god, now wanted to kill him.  Ah, the fickleness of human nature.  Popularity may come and go, and usually does, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.   “I am the LORD God, I change not,” Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6.

There’s only one sure and certain thing in this world, and that is the faithfulness of God.  Even in those relationships of life which are the closest to us and the most meaningful – spouse, parent, sibling – there are likely to be disappointments.  Even on those occasions where we blame God for “disappointing” us, the fault is with us, not with Him.  We have too much of Adam in us, wanting to do things our way, but His way is the good way.

The other thing that interests me about vs. 19, 20 is Paul’s “reaction” to being killed – as the townspeople thought.  His body was dumped outside the city.  However, that’s not the end of the story.  V. 20 continues, However…  As the disciples gathered around his body, he stirred, rose up and went into the city.  And the next day, he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

“The next day”…!

A few cultures still practice stoning, but such a thing is far removed from us here in the West.  Indeed, we bend over backwards to protect the “rights” of the condemned.  Not so in this case.  Surely, Paul had severe cuts and bruises, perhaps some broken bones.  These “stones” were not little pebbles.  And I’ve read that as a final stroke a large rock was used to crush the skull and finish the job.  That may or may not have been the case with Paul, but whatever happened, his condition would not have been good.  No doubt, his injuries were treated as best they could by the disciples, but still….

The next day.

The next day, Paul was “back on the job,” so to speak.  Nothing short of actual death could prevent him from serving His God.

Isn’t this a lesson for us?

Hebrews 13:7-19, Some Things to Remember

[7]Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.  [8]Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  [9]Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.  For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods, which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
[10]We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  [11]For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  [12]Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  [13]Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  [14]For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  [15]Therefore by Him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  [16]But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
[17]Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
[18]Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably.  [19]But I especially you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. (NKJV)

As the writer begins to close up his thoughts, he reminds them of some things to keep in mind.

1. Remember the message, vs. 7-9.  While it’s true he starts off referring to those who rule over you, his emphasis here is on what they preached:  the word of God.  This “word” focus is on the Word, John 1:1, that is, Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Then he warns them against being carried about with various and strange doctrines.
Many in our day seem to think it’s right and necessary to throw out the old doctrines, the old beliefs, and substitute new ones in their place.  This may be from social convention or political maneuvering.  It may be from something else.  Regardless, the old paths, Jeremiah 6:16, of divine revelation are neglected, overgrown, and forgotten in preference to the broad way of unbelief and “reason” and “science”.
In contrast to this, the writer warns his readers that the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, is eternal and unchanging.  While it’s true that our understanding of Him has developed throughout the ages of the church, the truth about Him has not.  What was true 2000 years is still true, and will be true 2000 years from now.  There will be no new revelation, no change in the truth.  And it’s true regardless of who disagrees with it or denies it or tries to substitute something else in its place.  It’s true even if nobody believes it.
In a world of constant change and increasing chaos, this unchanging truth is the one thing we can hold on to with assurance.
Among other things, the first century church was troubled with controversies about diet.  What one could or could not eat had been an important part of Jewish culture in the Old Testament.  When first century Jews were converted to Christ, they brought a lot of this view with them.  Hence, our writer’s comment about the heart being established by grace and not by diet, which has not profited those who have been occupied with it.  Paul had to deal with this problem, as well.  Cf. Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 6:13.  Even our Lord had to deal with this problem.  Cf. Matthew 15; Mark 7:1-23.

2. Remember the Master, vs. 10-16.  Thinking of food perhaps led the writer to think about the Old Testament sacrificial system.  Without getting too deeply into it, many of the sacrificial animals weren’t completely consumed on the altar.  Part of the sacrifice was eaten by the priest and/or by the one offering it.  The most notable example of this was the Passover, Exodus 12:8-10.
This leads into a difficult saying of our Lord found in John 6, starting with v. 41.  We’ll pick up His thought in v. 53.  His audience was questioning what He was saying, quarreling among themselves about it, v. 52.  In answer, our Lord said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed.”
This Scripture has led some to believe that the Lord was referring to actual flesh and blood, so the elements of Communion, bread and wine, are really transformed into the flesh and blood of our Lord by the words of a priest.
A close reading of John 6 dispels this notion.  Earlier in the chapter, the Lord spoke of believing in Him, vs. 29, 35-40, 45, 47.  In v. 63, He told His disciples, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.”
When our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, using things from the Passover meal He and His disciples had just eaten, He said of the bread, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  Of the cup, He said, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sin,” Matthew 26:26, 27.  See also Mark 14:22, 23; Luke 22:19, 20.  Pay close attention to the fact, though, that after the Lord said this, He was careful to call the wine, “the fruit of the vine,” Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25.  It had not been changed into something radically different, not been changed into real blood.  Our Lord was saying that the bread and the cup represent His body and blood, not that they had or would become them.
The Lord Jesus died once for sin, Hebrews 9:26-28.  It isn’t necessary to offer some man-made “unbloody sacrifice” around the world millions of times a day for salvation.  His life, as represented by the bread, and His death, as represented by the cup, are the only things which bring salvation.  All else brings only death, regardless of what is said about them.
In remembering the Master, we mustn’t forget that the writer said that He suffered outside the gate, v. 13.  Jesus wasn’t “popular” in any sense, but was despised and rejected by men, Isaiah 53:3.  He suffered reproach and rejection, especially by the religious leaders of His day.  It was they who were foremost in demanding He be put to death, cf. Matthew 27:11, 20.  If we would follow the Lord Jesus, it must be outside the camp, v. 13, because that’s where He is.
In our last post, we wrote of the danger of being possessed by things.  That’s because this world isn’t our final home.  In the words of v. 14, here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
Through the Lord Jesus, we’re to continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, v.15.  That’s because we have a hope that this world isn’t all there is to life, that all the trouble and difficulty we face will one day be gone, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away, Revelation 21:4.
At the same time, the writer reminds us that we still have responsibility in this world: But do not forget to do good and to share, v. 16.  As someone has put it, we’re not to be so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good.  We’re here to please God, not just ourselves, and to sacrifice our own interests in service to others is well-pleasing to Him.  God has left us here to be salt and light in a dark and corrupt world, not just to serve ourselves.

3. Remember the ministers, v. 17.  V. 7 speaks of the message of those who preach.  V. 17 speaks of their responsibility – and ours.  The word translated “rule over” simply refers to leaders, not to kings on a throne.  There are some preachers like that.  Such men fail to realize the responsibility that they have.  Spurgeon used to say that the idea of facing thousands of people in preaching the Gospel was enough to crush him into the dust.  He understood that the Gospel, church, Scripture – these all deal with eternal things and how we treat them in this life has a lot to do with the next one.  He knew that he would give an account of his ministry one day, and it wouldn’t be about how popular he was, though he preached to thousands and his sermons circled the world (long before the internet and instant messaging), but how faithful he was to the Word and to God.
As listeners, we, too, have a responsibility to faithful ministers – not to be a burden to them, but to listen to them and give them honor due them as ministers of God.  To do otherwise is unprofitable, v. 17.

4. Remember me, vs. 18, 19.  The writer recognized his own need of prayer, even though he desired to live honorably, v. 18.  But even though he had a good conscience, he knew that his own strength wasn’t enough for this.  Further, he wanted to be restored to them, and prayer was a means to this.  We don’t know if he were in jail or what it was that was preventing him from being with them, but God knew.
Praying is an essential part of the Christian life.  By prayer, we don’t mean some rote petition said while we think about something else, or some formula given out by a priest, but the outpouring of a heart burdened with this life and/or thankful for God’s grace and blessing through it all.  When Saul of Tarsus was converted and people would have trouble believing that he was no longer their enemy, what was the evidence of his new life?  “Behold, he is praying,” Acts 9:11.  Now, as a Pharisee, no doubt, Saul had said many a prayer.  But he had never prayed.  There is a difference.  It’s one thing to “say a prayer,” as I’ve occasionally had folks ask me to do; it’s an entirely different matter simply to “pray.”

Hebrews 11:20-22, Men Come and Go. God Remains.

[20]By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
[21]By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
[22]By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
(NKJV)

1. Isaac, 11:20.

Genesis devotes about 10 chapters to Isaac; the writer to Hebrews gives him 11 words, and these are about his sons, Jacob and Esau.  Genesis 27:26-40 gives us the actual account.  The writer of Hebrews passes over the favoritism of Jacob for his son Esau and the deceit fostered by Rebekah for her favorite son Jacob (cf. Genesis 25:27, 28) because when the truth came out, Isaac probably remembered what had been said of these sons even before their birth.  Rebekah evidently had a hard pregnancy, and so she went to the LORD, who told her, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger,” Genesis 25:23, emphasis added.  Isaac had been ruled by fleshly desire and natural inclination, but God overruled everything and brought about His own desire and will.  Notice, also, that God doesn’t just refer to these two boys, but the “nations” which will come from them.  We talked about this in our post on “An Eye for an Eye,” how that there’s a whole world wrapped up in a “baby bump,” though we never think of it that way.  And this is true, whether you look back or ahead.  God says to take care of it.

2. Jacob, 11:21.

The story is found in Genesis 48.  Hebrews leaves out all the travail of his life recorded in Genesis and just gives us the last thing that Jacob did: the blessing of his grandchildren.  The blessing was that these two young teenagers would grow “into a multitude in the midst of the earth,” v. 16.

3. Joseph, 11:22.

Each of these three men were at the end of their lives.  Jacob and Joseph were dying and Isaac knew that his time was rapidly coming to a close.  Yet the record doesn’t show them focusing on this, but rather on the future.  The nation had fairly recently moved to Egypt, but Joseph thinks of their departure.  Remember, it would be 85 years until the birth of Moses and 165 years until the Exodus.  Still, Joseph wasn’t looking at the frailty of human nature, but at the faithfulness of God.  He said, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” Genesis 50:24.

Too often, we look to some mere human being.  And God made us that way.  He made us as social beings; very few of us are content to be by ourselves all the time.  But whatever relationships we form tend to come and go, especially as we get older ourselves.  Only God is “forever.”  His word is forever, and His promises.  And, in His faithfulness, those promises are as good as done, even though far in the future, as with Joseph.

Indeed, His word says that His people have already been “glorified,” Romans 8:30, though the mirror tells us otherwise.  My mind has a hard time sometimes believing that I’m as old as I am, but my body says, “You’d better believe it!”  Not glorified, yet, but it’s as certain as that the Sun rose this morning and is shining brightly on the covering of snow on the ground.

God has promised it.

Hebrews 2:1-4, …Listen Up!

[1]Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest we drift away.  [2]For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, [3]how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, [4]God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will? (NKJV)

In chapter 1, the writer began by asserting that God has spoken, first by prophets and then by His own Son.  This post begins by linking 1:1 with 2:1, “God has spoken,…listen up!”

In this country, we live in a time of unprecedented rebellion against Christianity.  The unbeliever says that Christianity is foolish, not worthy of serious pursuit, and is a waste of time or worse.  It is for losers, for the ignorant and uninformed.  Indeed, it is even being labeled as “hate,”  and as such is to be rejected.  Even our President, in connection with the recent sociological flurry, has said that people need to “adjust their religious views” to take into account, and to agree with, the tremendous changes that have taken place recently, thanks to the Supreme Court.

Though perhaps to a lesser degree, even Christians are guilty of some of this.  Leaving aside those who more or less might agree with the above paragraph,  a great many believe that Christianity is simply to belong to a certain denomination, or maybe to disregard any “denomination” at all.  It is to be baptized, either as an adult or an infant, or to take communion.  It is to speak with tongues or to have some other type of “spiritual experience.”  It is, as one lady said, “a warm feeling in my heart.”  It is a particular dogma or set of beliefs.  It is to walk an aisle and/or pray a prayer.  It is to do our best – live by the Ten Commandments, or the Sermon on the Mount, or the Golden Rule.

In answer to all these, some of which do have their place, we say that Christianity is what God says it is, not man.  It is not, and never has been, about what society thinks. Indeed, it is more likely to contradict what society says.  God say that Christianity is life, found in a Person, the Lord Jesus, and revealed in particular in the New Testament.

As we come to our text, we see two thoughts.  In this post, we’ll look at the first one.

1.  A Three-fold Warning Concerning the Word, 2:1.
2.  A Three-fold Witness to the Word, 2:2-4.

1.  A Three-fold Warning Concerning the Word, 2:1.

a.  We are to heed the Word, to give more earnest heed to it.

This means to pay attention.  Perhaps James can help us here when he says that we are to be doers of the Word, James 1:22.  The Word isn’t given to us simply as information or so that we can argue about its interpretation.  While it does tell us things we need to know, it also tells us things we need to do.  And, in Hebrews, this “attention” is to be “abundant.”  One of the words translated “more earnest” means “superabundant.”  Not casual.  Not fleeting.  Not if we have the time.  Abundant.  Lots of it.  I believe there is coming a time in this country, and soon, when the Bible will be illegal.  It already is as far as government and education are concerned, but I believe this will be a complete prohibition and Bibles will be confiscated and destroyed – and likely, those who hold to it with them.  So we need to pay attention to it while we can.

Our Lord had something to say about this.  In Matthew 13, He spoke of a man going out to sow seed in his field, and of the growth which came from it.  He then likened that to those who hear the Word.  There were four results of the sowing – and there are four results of the hearing of the Word.  We’ll not go into it a lot, but only one of the four brought forth abundant fruit.  In one case, the devil came right away and took the word away.  I think most of the time he just draws our attention to something else.  I wonder if a preacher standing in the door as the people leave and tell him what a wonderful sermon it was – I wonder if he were to ask them what it was about, how many of them could tell him.  In another case, there was an initial reception, but some form of persecution took it away.  You know, persecution doesn’t have to mean death, it can simply mean derision.  This world has never thought a lot of the Word, even less so now, but there have always been those who have been opposed to those who believe and live the Bible. Or it could simply be that the old life is too strong.  The desires of our human nature are very strong and, if we’re not careful, can become our masters.  The third case failed because the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches entangle the Word like weeds and choke its influence out.  Oh, there’s so much we could say about that one!

b.  We are to hear the Word, the things which we have heard. 

But make no mistake.  We are to hear the Word.  While the previous paragraph was against just hearing it, we do need to hear it.  We are to be students of it.  My wife worked with a gentleman who had been a church member all his life, and he was amazed that she had read the Bible through several times.  But he is not alone.

c.  We are to hold on to the Word, lest we drift away. 

There are two meanings to the word translated, “drift’:

1.  to drift.  “To go with the flow,” as it were.  One day, the pastor of the church in Florida where I was on staff, took us and his family to the beach.  I got onto an air mattress in the water and just floated there, enjoying the beautiful day.  After a few minutes, I looked up and, wow, I had drifted a long way away from where I started.  It’s a good thing the tide wasn’t going out, or I might still be out there!

The point is, if we don’t pay attention, if we just “float,” we are likely to wind up a long ways away from where we started.  We don’t mean to do it, we just do it.  The church has done that.  Things the world scorned in my youth are now accepted and promoted in the church.

2.  to leak.  This refers to a leaky vessel.  Aren’t we often like that?  How little of the Word we retain!

God has spoken…listen up!

What Good is the Bible?

“Why would you ask such a question?” you, the reader, might ask of me.

And certainly I don’t mean it in any sense like an atheist or unbeliever might ask it.  It’s not asked in derision nor do I mean any disrespect by asking it.  It’s a question based on the observation that so few professing Christians seem to read the Bible or know very much about what it really says.  They have to look in the table of contents to find Exodus.  You think I’m kidding, but more than once when I was preaching, I’d announce some text off the beaten path and see people having difficulty finding it.  Or since then, heard a preacher say that his text was on page such-and-such of the pew Bible.

So, what good is it – if you never read it?

Why do you believe what you believe – if you never read it?

How do you know you’re on your way to heaven – if you never read it?

Are you willing to trust your eternal destiny to what someone else says the Bible says?

Pastor so-and-so says it.  The TV personality says it.  My church says it.

Really?

Does the Bible say it?

There are people who will knock on your door and say they are witnesses for Jehovah.  They can quote Scripture by the hour.  It’s said that they get a large percent of their converts from “Bible-believing Christians,” because they quote so much Scripture and make it sound so good.

My wife’s grandmother was a Oneness Pentecostal.  She once sent me a tract explaining why they believe that Jesus is the only God.  I counted about 90 Scripture references in the tract.  What I found so fascinating about this tract was that many of the Scriptures they use to “prove” their view of Jesus as all the God there is, these verses are the very same ones Jehovah’s Witnesses use to “prove” that Jesus is only a created being.  You really can’t have it both ways.  BTW, neither of those “ways” is Scriptural.

I wrote her a letter explaining why I didn’t agree with the tract, but some tragedy happened in her family and she never answered.

The devil can quote Scripture.

“I don’t have time to read the Bible.”

And, truly, we live in a very hectic society.  Lots of responsibilities, lots of things to do.  Lots of stuff to check out on YouTube.

Will you eat something today?  Even if it’s only some item containing “mono- and diglycerides, cellulose gum, salt, sodium citrate, tricalcium phosphate, sodium alginate, xanthan gum, malic acid, caramel color, color added, natural flavor, BHT for freshness” (partial list of actual ingredients in an item in our food pantry – but “only 100 calories”.)

Yum.

Probably you will eat today – more than once.

The apostle John, writing to a brother named Gaius, had this prayer for him, Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers,” 3 John 2.

What level of “health” would you and I have if it corresponded to our spiritual health?

Oh, please.  I urge you.  If you don’t have a habit of daily reading the Bible, start today.

Even just a chapter.

There might be something there you need to know.

Yes, I know.  There are a lot of unpronounceable names.  There’s a lot to read.

Kindergarten children don’t start out by reading “War and Peace.”  Actually, I’ve never read it.  They start out with simple stuff and work their way up.

Work your way up.

I can testify that after five decades of reading, I wish I had started earlier and read more.  Even after reading the Bible through a number of times – I quit counting after 50 – I still see new things.  It’s a joy to read through the Bible and meet old friends, so to speak, and to meet new ones as well.  Many of the posts in this blog have come from something I’ve seen reading the Bible.  And I’m conscious that, for all that, I still haven’t been as faithful in reading as I should have been.

Even just a chapter a day.  Half an hour or so.

Not really that much.

My own reading schedule is to read the Bible through once and then go back and read the New Testament again.  I can recommend it.

I’m not trying to boast about my accomplishments or put anyone down who might not “measure up.”

People have died – many people – so that we might have the Bible.  The Savior died, that we might have it to begin with.

Shouldn’t we know as much of it as we can?