We are getting close to the end, 25 Blessings of Reading the Bible. When we get to the end take the 25 and rewrite them in your own words, but try and keep each one under 50 words, and then once every month read them. It is hard not to stay faithful when you motivate yourself with God’s blessings in your life, it works for me. Some occasionally respond to me by suggesting that being motivated by Blessings is less than noble. I would agree if we were talking about getting rich, being more comfortable, and having less trials. But we are talking about being able to teach the Bible better, having greater faith, growing wiser as a person, having inner strength to live life responsibly, I hardly see those as being selfish.
This #22 blessing is one of the most motivational for me. The result of God’s Word abiding in us is that we bear much fruit, we do things with our life that changes people for eternity. I want that more than anything, I want to bear fruit, I want to bear more and more and more. John 15:7-8 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” I am so discontent with what I have accomplished with my life, I want, I really want more.
No one does more with their life unless God gives them the opportunity, the open door. If God chooses to keep us on the bench that is where we stay. Revelation 3:7-8. “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
I am going to be 70 in 2 more months, and that means I have a lot of history in my life. Some of that history is good, some of it is very good, and some is super. I remember those events with a smile on my face. But some of the history in my life is bad, very bad, and awful. The history that we have experienced leaves an impression on our soul, it programs us, creates scares, we develop fears, insecurities, weird ways of acting, and some of our history is so damaging that names have been given to it such as “post traumatic stress disorder”.
The fact that we all have a history, some of which has scared our soul is a given, the question is, can the damage done be healed so that we have a healthy soul?
Psalms 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The Word of God, the Bible is living, supernatural, the Sword of the Spirit, and faithfully reading it, memorizing and meditating on it has great power to heal our souls over time.
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently,
We would proactively guard our own soul by choosing to discipline our life in such a way to make sure that we include time for the Word of God every day.
Good health is probably one of the greatest of all blessings. When we are sick and don’t feel well at all, life is pretty miserable. On the other hand when we feel healthy, full of energy, enthusiasm, and joy, life is good. Because of this we all tend to do things that proactively enhance our health to one degree or another. I ride my stationary bicycle an hour almost every evening because it seems to make a huge difference in staying on top of my Parkinson’s and not letting it get me down. I am highly motivated in this discipline because of the obvious difference it makes in my health. Today there is a huge emphasis on exercising and on diet because of the obvious difference it makes in our health. I have family who sell organic milk, eggs, and vegetables because of the number of people who want to eat organic as much as is possible to stay healthy. I am very faithful in my exercise, and I am becoming more and more careful about what I eat and how much in order to maintain my weight and health.
I believe very strongly in personal discipline and responsibility, but I also believe that apart from God’s Blessing we would just be a pile of dust on the floor. If God makes us healthy we will be healthy indeed. In 1 Timothy 4:3-5 God communicates some conditions in order for Him to make us healthy. “Men who advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Interesting, the food we eat is “sanctified” by God. I would guess that means that it is made healthy. It is sanctified by “the Word of God and by prayer”. That could mean that reading some Bible passages and then praying, thanking God for our food as part of our dining routine would result in God sanctifying, cleansing, and making healthy the food we eat. I tend to believe that it has more to do with our lifestyle of daily reading, memorizing, and meditating on His Word, and then pressing on to live the principles we have learned. And also the second thing mentioned is prayer, and again I would think that the Lord is emphasizing a lifestyle of prayer as apposed to a short blessing given before we eat,
While I was working at getting my Masters of Theology degree, one of the classes I took was “Preaching”. The professor of the class would regularly say to the class, “one of the worst sins a pastor of a local church can commit is to bore those who take the time to listen to him with the Word of God.” And then he would follow that up with this, “but a worse sin is to bore them every week”. Other memorable quotes that used to worry me were, “Just because you have good content, doesn’t mean you won’t bore those listening”, or this one, “Just because you have good stories doesn’t mean you won’t bore them”.
James 3:1 was a regular verse read in class, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
There were many good things taught in the class that have helped me immensely as I have preached and taught the Bible for these 42 years, but there was one thing that stood out above all the rest that I heard. When Jesus taught it says that the crowds marveled because He didn’t teach like the local Bible teachers of the day, but that He taught with authority. That authority caused the people to listen, and to believe what He said was true. Those who read the Bible faithfully, study it, and memorize it develop a confidence and faith that causes them to teach in a way that prompts people to listen. I am a teacher of the Bible, and I don’t want to commit the ultimate sin and bore people so I read the Bible faithfully every day.
A foundational fear of mankind is the fear of death. A trip to the doctor that results in the word cancer can ruin a person’s day! Most get anxious to downright fearful when they start feeling like something is wrong with their health.
Hebrews 2:14-15 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
This passage says that our faith in Jesus will free us from the fear of death. The problem is that most believers that I see deal with death, both their own impending death and that of a loved one, don’t really exhibit much freedom from the fear of death.
The reason for the fear of death is the unknown. I went sky diving with little fear because I talked to many who had done it, and enjoyed it immensely . I have never talked to a person who has died and then come back and given me a detailed description of the experience and how cool it was.
If a person is going to conquer the fear of dying they must decide what their authority for truth is, and focus on it for information about life after death. I have decided that if there is a God then He for sure would communicate with us, and as I consider the options there is none that is reasonable except for the Bible. A God powerful enough to create all I see is certainly powerful enough to orchestrate the writing of truth over time, and the collecting in one book those books and letters.
The Bible has a lot to say about death and life after death, and the various destinations of those who die depending on their relationship with Jesus. I have read, studied, memorized, and taught on most of the passages in the Bible that deal with death and what happens then.
John 14:1-3, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
The more I read the Bible the less fear I have, and the more I begin to anticipate that incomprehensible experience of seeing, and talking to God, of getting a new, glorified body, of being able to think, really think, and seeing all the amazing beauty of heaven.
I am way more motivated to grow fast in character and to bear much fruit for God, to do significant things that make a difference and last, than most people. I wasn’t born that way and I don’t have any advantage physically or mentally over others who have little to no motivation to excel in life. The key difference between me and others is that I think a lot about eternity and the judgment seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is the finish line for believers in Christ, where we will be rewarded by Jesus for who we are and what we have done. These rewards are very significant and make a huge difference for us for all eternity. I visualize myself standing before Jesus having done super well in life and what He will say to me because of that and the rewards I will receive from Him and the difference that will make for me for ever and ever and ever. I then think about what I will hear and receive if I do poorly, and what that will feel like. I begin every day with a few minutes of meditating about this event and again as I go to sleep I do the same. Doing that as a discipline results in my thinking about this most significant event all day long. This life is short, eternity is eternity so making sacrifices in this life, for the sake of the next, working hard in this life to be rewarded in the next life is a no-brainer if you truly believe in the reality of a judgment from Jesus that results in reward or consequence that makes a huge difference in eternity for eternity. Colossians 3:1 says, “set your mind on the things above, not on the things of this life”. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we will all stand before Jesus and “give an account of our life and be rewarded according to what we have done, whether good or bad”. Most live their lives now in an incredibly naive way, that is, they just don’t think about judgment, reward and consequence that lasts forever, and just hope that it will all turn out alright.
A person who reads the Bible every day will gradually become increasingly more eternal minded as apposed to earthly minded, and as a result will become a person who runs the race that has been been set before us with their eye on the finish line always.
I was chatting with a person who I hadn’t seen at JBC for some time so I asked them how they were doing spiritually. They responded by saying that they had lost their faith. I asked what that meant and how it happened. They then proceeded to tell me a series of stories about themselves that were basically stories of the hard things and trials that they had gone through for the last 6 months, and because of those trials they no longer believed in God, because according to their theology, God, if He existed certainly wouldn’t let those kinds of things happen. I said, “what about Jesus, and all the bad things that happened to Him?” They started mumbling things that strongly suggested that they weren’t interested in my reasons or my rebuttals of their theology.
Hebrews 11 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. Jesus regularly scolded His disciples, and called them men of little faith. It is said of Abraham that he grew strong in his faith. Jesus tells His disciples that if they have faith as small as a mustard seed that they will be able to move mountains and nothing will be Impossible for them to accomplish. We are saved from an eternity in hell by our faith and if we don’t have faith there isn’t much reason to pray.
I know how to grow tomatoes, and I know it is pretty straight forward, not what you would call a mystery. I grow stronger and stronger in my faith in God by reading His Word. Faith is not an event or a burst of belief on my part, it is not something that I somehow crank up in my mind, Faith is a character trait, a quality of my soul, and I grow it by faithfully choosing to read the Bible.