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What would it be like if all the sin in all the world, for all of time, gathered together in one place? Here’s your chance to find out – because it happened. The consequences for you, however, are even more staggering.
There’s a terrible tragedy taking place across America – but it isn’t a new one. It’s probably not what you think it is, either, given all that’s happening in our nation these days. The meltdown of America is a symptom of a deeper problem, a weakness that’s been present for several decades in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I think that weakness has reached its full effect.
Despite our God-given, Constitution-recognized freedoms, we Christians don’t exercise them very well at all – and we haven’t been for years. The tragedy that’s been taking place across America is that while we have every conceivable translation of the Bible available to just about anyone, while we have more Bible-teaching Seminaries, Bible Colleges and Bible-preaching churches than any other nation on earth, we just can’t seem to get past reading the Bible primarily for informational, educational purposes. The purpose of all Bible reading, however, is for application and transformation. Understanding this difference will revolutionize your Bible reading. It will revolutionize your LIFE. If this understanding were to gain traction, we’d see a revival – a real revival – in the United States of America. It would begin with you and me.
“Which Bible translation is the best?” This is one of the most frequent questions people ask me, and it’s a good one. My answer is always this: The best version of the Bible is the one you read and apply. Merely reading the Bible – even studying it – will have little effect on your life unless you are bent on applying it with fervor. If you’re not so inclined, you will be well on your way to becoming a Pharisee or scribe. Remember those guys? Not one of them was chosen by Jesus to be an Apostle, and they passionately insisted Jesus be crucified. Chilling thought if you really marinate in it – because those guys were Bible scholars. They had the modern equivalent of PhDs in the Bible of their day, and in messianic theology – but they missed the Messiah when he was standing right in front of them. The same can happen to you and me.
If you want to think about something that has the potential of making you question your faith, in a good way, here it is: in the final analysis, it may not make much practical difference that most evangelical Christians believe that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle; most believe it is “every word inspired” and adhere to “plenary, verbal inspiration” of the original Bible manuscripts. (I believe these, too, and so does the church where I shepherd). People have parted ways over differences in these important doctrinal bedrocks, understandably so. In the end, however, such parting may have been all for naught.
The inspiration of the Bible, whether one believes it or not, is a huge deal. If we are honest with ourselves and honest with God, however, after all the hub-bub – after all the smoke clears from our hot debates defending the inerrancy of Scripture, for the most part it really doesn’t make much practical difference for the average evangelical. It absolutely should, but in practice it really doesn’t.
Why? Because there is practically not point in believing that the Bible is the word of God, the first and final authority in all matters of faith and lifestyle, that it is “every word inspired” if you aren’t diligently looking for ways to put it into action.
The problem in America is that while it’s easier than any place on earth to find a Bible, we don’t look for ways to apply the Bibles we have right underneath our noses. Perhaps our familiarity has bred contempt. Maybe we don’t love God, and His Guidebook, as much as we say we do and know we should. Maybe, just maybe, for all our talk about the importance of the Bible, we have missed the most important aspect about it: it’s the Book of books, a gift from God for the primary purpose of knowing Him, understanding life, and applying what we learn through it.
The purpose of all Bible reading and study is not for merely educational and informational purposes, but for application and life-change. If you have missed this truth, it really doesn’t matter if you believe the Bible is the word of God or not. You’ll end up living just like someone who is merely a moralist, without the power of God and the fullness therein. We need a shift in our thinking in the American church in regard to how we use our Bibles. It is God’s tool for transformation, and brother we need a lot of that these days, don’t you think?
Here’s a story you think you know – but knowing it is only half the story. Understand the significance of the Skull, the Sign and the Paradise and find motivation to live for Christ like never before.
Today ends at midnight. It’s called a week end on purpose. The ability to step away from a hard day – and a hard week – of work, is key to your ongoing success and sanity. I know, because sometimes I think I’m going out of my mind. I bet you do too. Don’t worry, that’s normal if you work hard.
Proverbs 14:23 (NIV) says,
Granted, the book of Proverbs is not a book of laws, but of principles. This is important to remember. It contains sayings that are most often true, with a few exceptions. (Laws, on the other hand, have no exceptions. Take, for instance, the law of gravity here on earth).
Working consistently hard, for example, usually has a big pay day – but there can be times when hard work doesn’t pay as well as we hoped. The gist of Proverbs 14:23 is that if you consistently work hard, you can expect eventual profit from your work. This is in contrast to merely talking about doing great things. That will get you nowhere. Sure, you could get lucky through mere talk, but the odds are against you. Once again, it’s a matter of principle.
This Monday I dive into writing a book about how to encourage people to walk by faith in a day of fear. The world has become an incredibly fear-filled, hateful place. I’m pretty sure, based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 24, it will get worse. People need to know how to be on fire for Christ in an increasingly cold world. I’d appreciate your prayers for God to speak to me and write through me. I love writing in the overflow of my time with God. That’s what always seems to work best for me.
As for you, remember that today ends at midnight and the week end is fast approaching. If you worked hard and smart, rest in what you’ve done. Take a break from your work. This is what the biblical idea of a sabbath is about. (Please don’t get hung up on the day – just take a day and take a day of rest). The harder you work, the more intentional you need to be about rest.
Take care of your body and, generally speaking, it will take care of you. Work hard and smart, by all means, but rest well, too. Take time to do nothing at all and it will help you do everything better.
You can be undermining yourself and not even realize it. We tend to think power comes with money, formal education, a degree or a promotion, but it really comes down to something everyone has, regardless of our social class, financial status, education, race, or anything else. Chances are very high that you have something you were born with that is very small and exceptionally powerful – but you may not have mastered how to use it to your full advantage. I’m talking about your mouth. If you don’t learn how to use it for good, well, that would be very, very bad.
Your entire life could be suffering for no other reason than the way you are using your little, tiny mouth. That’s huge.
Proverbs 21:23 says,
By all means, think about your mouth – but do far more. With great intention, learn how to use it for good – great good – and not a single shred of evil.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) says,
James 3:9-10 (NIV) says,
The words you speak to others (and yourself) affect far more than you may have ever realized. Take your quest for success to a new level: master your mouth. While you are working hard to get a better education, put food on the table, get ahead or whatever it is you think you need to do to succeed, don’t overlook the power of your mouth.
Until we learn how to use our mouths so they speak life and blessing to other people and ourselves, we are undermining God’s very best. We are working against Him, no matter how we may think we are working for Him. You and I can be causing calamity rather than calm, creativity and the culture of goodness that greatly honors God. Your own mouth can cause more problems than anything and anyone else in your entire life.
Learn to use your mouth for good, because that little, tiny thing is actually pretty huge.