Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 22, 2011

Thought for the Week November 27, 2011

I appreciate everyone who is reading and working at applying these offerings to help you grow. One reader pointed out a mistake I made. I referenced Psalm 91:1-4 in paragraph 5, but that should have been Psalm 19:1-4. While Psalm 91 is a great truth, it did not really fit with what I was trying to say. Thank you for helping me keep on track! I trust you all are well on the way to enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Don’t forget to take some time just to thank the Lord for His goodness towards you.

In Segment 3, I want to give you some reasons why the Bible is so important to us so that we might be more motivated to pick it up regularly even when it seems like a routine or a chore. There will be days that you don’t “feel” like reading, meditating, or memorizing the Word. Listen, it is just like any other exercise that benefits you. If you are working on physical fitness, you don’t always want to go jogging or lift weights or even go to Zumba class! But for it to work, you do it anyway and usually before the end of the workout you are glad you did it. If you are trying to lose weight, you don’t always “feel” like sticking to the diet regimen but you do it anyway (unless you are like me) and the next time you step on the scales you rejoice that you did. It is the same with the Bible. On all of those days we don’t feel like it remember that there will come a time we’ll whoop it up because we stuck with it and God brought the increase because of it.

Why is God’s Word good for me? Well, besides the fact that it is our index on what is real and true and what is not, Paul says it is “profitable” because it helps us know what to believe, it shows us when we’ve messed up, it helps us fix those mess ups, and then gives us directions so that we don’t mess up again. That is my paraphrase of II Timothy 3:16. Check to see if that is a good translation.

One of God’s main purposes for you and me as followers of Jesus is that we will be transformed into His image (see Romans 8:29). The tool God uses mostly to change us is His Word. Paul again says that we are not supposed to be conformed to the world around us but that we must be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). What does it mean to have our “mind renewed”? It means that we stop thinking like an unredeemed sinner and start thinking the same kinds of thoughts that Jesus thinks. John Ortberg says, “When we come to God, our minds and hearts are cluttered with false beliefs and attitudes, deadly feelings, misguided plans and hopes and fears.” What would it be like if we began to think like Jesus?

Ephesians 5:25-26 tells us that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it to “sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”. Ortberg also says that God’s Word is “like soap and water that move through the fibers of dirty clothing at the deepest level and lift out and remove impurities”. Imagine your mind cleansed of all the stuff that blocks your best intentions or that every time you say another person your first thought was to pray for or bless them. What if when temptation knocked, you turned automatically to the Word as Jesus did? That’s what it means to be “sanctified” and have your mind “washed”.

This will only happen when we “let the word of Christ dwell in you (us) richly…” Colossians 3:16 We reach that point by taking in God’s Word in some regular way. We don’t get there overnight but by consistent exercises of reading, meditating, memorizing, and applying God’s thoughts to our lives. The more of God’s Word we put into our minds, the less of the old thinking remains to mess up our lives.

Another benefit is mentioned by Paul in II Timothy 3:17. He tells us that after the Word does what verse 16 says (see above) that we will be “complete, fully equipped for every good work.” Just begin to speculate again for a minute. Ortberg says, “if the Bible were to completely fulfill its mission, our minds would be so transformed—so filled with thoughts and feelings of truth, love, joy, and humility—that our lives would become one uninterrupted series of acts of grace, and moral beauty. Every moment would be a miniature reflection of life in the kingdom of God” What Christian would not want to live like that?

Here’s what I hope we catch. We don’t read the Bible so we can check off our “devotions list” each day or so we can get “spiritual knowledge” or so we can know “about God”. We read and dwell on and meditate on God’s Word, God’s voice speaking directly to us, so that our innermost thoughts, desires, motives, etc., are changed to reflect God’s innermost thoughts, desires, motives, etc. And the only way to get there is through His Word.

So I hope, this Thanksgiving weekend, that this gives you a little personal motivation to get to know your Bible (God’s love letter to you) and to spend time listening to His voice in His Word. As you practice regular reading, meditating on, and memorizing His Word, little by little He will change you. You may not notice it, but it will come out. Just a thought.

Note: John Ortberg quotes are from his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted.

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