Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Manufacturer's Handbook

"One Year Bible" New Testament Passage (for Wed., Oct. 24, 2012)
II Timothy 3:1-17

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  II Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time.  Most homes have a Bible, but do we read them?  An American Bible Society/Barna Research survey in 2011 reported that 85% of American homes have a Bible, and 69% of those surveyed believed that the Bible provides answers on how to live a meaningful life.  But, here's the bad news: 36% said that they read the Bible LESS THAN ONCE A YEAR.  Only 54% could identify the first five books of the Bible.  Bible knowledge is at an all-time low!

This reveals a "split personality" many folks have about the Holy Scriptures.  We believe that the Bible is God's Word, but we don't read it!  We agree that it can lead us to better, fuller life, but we also hold it at arms length.

God sent you a letter.  It is a message from His heart to you.  Paul says that four valuable benefits come our way:

1.  INSTRUCTION.  The Bible is the "Manufacturer's Handbook".  Our Creator tells us how to live. 
2.  REPROOF.  The Scriptures show us where we have missed it.  Frankly, most of us don't like being told we are wrong.  But, God has the authority and the ability to tell us clearly where we've "blown it." 
3.  CORRECTION.  Reproof only tells you where you went wrong.  Correction tells you how to get back on track.  It's like a road map. "Reproof" tells you where you made the wrong turn.  "Correction" tells you how to get back on the right path.
4.  TRAINING in righteousness.  Scripture teaches us how to do that which we could not otherwise do.  I learn how to be a good husband and father.  I am trained in faithfulness and integrity. 

So, we should take our Bible's seriously.  It is God's Word to us.  But, how does this work?

A few years back a guy named A.J. Jacobs wrote a book entitled The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.  It is a humorous book written by a non-Christian who tried for an entire year to obey all biblical commands as literally as he could.  He grew a beard, dressed like Moses, and started eating kosher.  He lives in New York City and would prowl around

Central Park on Saturdays "stoning Sabbath-breakers."  He would stealthily pelt people with tiny pebbles from behind and then look the other way.  Of course, we read about this and we think this guy must be crazy.  But, that's the point of his book: no one can truly take the Bible literally.

Mr. Jacobs made the error many people make.  The Bible is not a RULE BOOK, it is a GUIDE BOOK.  The Scriptures are sent by God not to crimp you and control you, but instead to equip you and fulfill you (make you complete).  Read the Bible for LIFE.  Read the Bible for NOURISHMENT.  The end result is not an impossible, weird lifestyle, but instead it is FREEDOM.  "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

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