Why read the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16 MSG

Whether we think it’s outdated, unhelpful, boring or simply something we can’t fit in to our busy schedules, it can be easy for our Bible to be left on the side, gathering dust. But Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another – showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’ (vv.13-17 MSG). So there are some important reasons why we should be reading our Bibles. Firstly, the Bible helps to keep us on the right path. It shows us how God wants us to live. Plus, God will never say something to us through another person, or our own thoughts, that doesn’t line up with what He’s clearly revealed in His Word. When we know the Scriptures, we can discern whether it’s God speaking to us or not. Secondly, it helps us know we’re truly saved. John writes: ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know…you have eternal life, and…continue to believe in the name of the Son of God’ (1 John 5:13 NKJV). And thirdly, reading the Bible helps us to identify our calling and be equipped to carry it out. Paul says, ‘Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us’ (2 Timothy 3:17 MSG). The Bible is our guidebook for living the Christian life, so reading it should be a vital part of our day.

Amos 5:18-9:15; Mark 13:24-37; Ps 117; Prov 14:9-12

The resurrection

Acts 1:3 NLT

People have argued about the truth of the resurrection for centuries. And it can seem like an unbelievable story. If it happened in our lifetime, would we really believe that someone who had been executed would rise from the dead, fully alive, a few days later? It sounds impossible. It’s not really surprising that Thomas the disciple refused to believe Jesus had risen until he’d seen Jesus and touched the nail holes for himself (take a look at John 20:24-29), or that the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t recognise Jesus (you’ll find this in Luke 24:13-35). But all kinds of people have gone over the evidence of the resurrection, and time after time, they come to the same answer – it really happened. Author Lew Wallace, had set out to write a book disproving the resurrection. But he actually ended up defending it, and the result was Ben-Hur, now a world-famous classic. A similar thing happened to the British lawyer and engineer Dr Frank Morison. He set about writing a book that rejected the truth of the resurrection. But after he’d carefully examined the evidence, his scepticism became faith, and he was convinced that the resurrection definitely happened. He became a believer, and his book Who Moved the Stone? gives details of all the evidence he found, and why it’s so overwhelmingly true. When we’re having doubts and feeling unsure of God, let’s hold on to the fact that the resurrection refuses to be disproved. When we have moments of uncertainty, let’s ask God to step into those doubts and make us completely aware of His truth. And let’s be comforted knowing that Jesus really did conquer death and made certain of our salvation.

Gal 1-3; Mark 12:1-12; Ps 128; Prov 13:17-19

Separating the sheep from the goats

Matthew 25:32 NLT

Jesus describes the judgment day in these words: “All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me'” (vv. 32-36 NLT). How will Jesus separate the sheep from the goats? And how will you know which one you are? Jesus says those on the right – the sheep – will be those who fed Him when He was hungry, brought Him water when He was thirsty, gave Him lodging when He was lonely, clothing when He was naked, and comfort when He was sick or imprisoned. The sign of the saved is their concern for those in need. Compassion doesn’t save them – or us. Salvation is the work of Christ. But compassion is the consequence of salvation. The sheep will react with a sincere question: When? When did we feed, visit, clothe, or comfort you? Then Jesus will answer, “Every time you showed compassion – you did it to me!” Try to keep that in mind as you go through this day.

Soul food: Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11; Eph 4:7-10

Lead your children to Christ

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 CEV

It’s not easy being a Christian parent in a world where peer pressure feels as if it’s crushing down on you at a million pounds per square inch; where values are at an all-time low and immorality at an all-time high. But with God’s help you can do it! To lead your children to Christ, do these five things: (1) Begin when they’re young, and read Bible stories to them each night. Let them hear you pray for them to know Jesus personally, constantly thanking Him for dying for their sins. (2) As you take them to church, explain what the various rituals and seasons (Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Easter, and Christmas) represent, and why they’re observed and celebrated. (3) Be sensitive to every spiritual question they ask, and take the time to answer their questions in a way they can understand. (4) Buy them Christian DVDs and cartoons that will present Bible truths on their level. (5) Trust the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom at the right time to present the gospel to them, and pray for their salvation continuously. On one occasion D. L. Moody reported “two and one-half conversions” at a service he conducted. Someone said, “I suppose you mean two adults and one child.” “No,” Mr. Moody replied. “I mean two children and one adult. The children can give their whole lives to God, but an adult has only half a life left to give.” And remember, the things we learn best are the things we hear most. So: “Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over.”

Soul food: Jer 14-17; Matt 28:11-15; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29

Leading others to Christ

Deuteronomy 6:6 NLT

It’s not always easy being a Christian. We can often look at how other people are living their lives, with values and morals that conflict with what the Bible teaches, and wonder how we can possibly make a difference. But with God’s help, we can make a positive impact. Here are a few ideas: 1) Keep your own heart and mind focused on God. Make time every day to read and study the Bible. Pray regularly, and thank Him for the things He’s provided you with. 2) Find a church (if you’re not at one already) and get involved with missions and outreach they’re doing. Let others see that you are really living out what you believe in. 3) If people ask you about God or about your faith, be sensitive to their questions. Take time to answer their questions in ways they will understand and relate to. And be honest in your answers. We don’t have all the answers, and it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ if you really don’t know the answer to something – people will respect you more for being honest with them. You could even try saying ‘I don’t know the answer, but I believe this because…’ 4) Trust the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom at the right time to present the gospel to others, and pray for their salvation continuously. 5) Keep in mind that it might not always be your job to get people to make that decision to follow Christ. God might be using you to sow that first seed, and it will actually be someone else who gets to see the end result, maybe years later. Don’t be discouraged if you think you have not succeeded.

Jer 14-17; Matt 28:11-15; Ps 69:1-18; Prov 8:27-29