Monday, June 1, 2015

And God Said....

One of the most challenging things about being a Christian is getting my mind and heart in line with what the Bible says. I once heard a lady say, "I didn't like that word so I just blacked it out. Is that okay?"

One way to avoid that problem is to avoid my Bible. If I don't see it in black and white, I can pretend it says what I want it to say.

Oooh, but if I go to church regularly (one that reads and teaches directly from the Bible), I see it. I read things I don't like or agree with. There are things in the Bible that conflict with my experience, perspective, opinions or political view. What then? I can try to explain it away, "God didn't mean it that way," or "Doesn't it say something different somewhere else?" Or I can rationalize the fact that I'm better than most people I know (or at least some of them).

Worst of all, I can imagine my life is what the Bible says. I think I'm kind, good, and yeah, Jesus's got my back.

This week I've been reading "Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges and, ooh, ouch--I'm more and more aware that when I make a transparency of my life and lay it over the pages of Scripture, they don't match. I've been studying Isaiah and have been reminded that God's Word says, first and foremost, what it said to its original hearers/readers. I must be careful not to make it say what God never intended. And I've been reading material from the background of someone who preaches the Bible (and other spiritual books) but left out the most important of all--Jesus.

That said, I will never live up to God's standard. Ever. I will never completely understand who God is and how He works. But I can know Jesus. I can surrender to God through the penalty Jesus paid in my place. I can stand before God in Jesus' righteousness. I can pray directly to the Father because of Jesus. I can learn about Him, ask Him to help me understand His Word and live in a way that pleases Him. But without Jesus, there's no gospel. No good news. And the Bible is meaningless. Oh, yeah. I read Ecclesiastes this week, too--and guess what? It's a joke. It's meaningless. Life really is hopeless without Jesus.

With the assurance of God's love and forgiveness in Christ, I can lay my life over the Word of God and experience peace, joy, satisfaction and motivation to change. I have a reason to get out of bed in the morning, to make friends, to help others, to go to church, to love my husband and children.... All because God said...and sent the Word: Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:1-18 NASB)

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