Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m planning to resume our Read Through the Bible series in a few days (probably Monday). We will be picking up in Philippians.
Life happens. Work – in the corporate world or at home – sickness, other unexpected events, and everything in between. And through it all, God is not frowning upon His children for not reading the Bible every day. Indeed, His Word – Jesus is the Word – lives within us, and His truth is written upon our hearts (Romans 2).
But God desires that we would feed on the green pastures of His Word and His truth for our sakes.
There are times when our own hearts and minds will not remind us of the truth. Times when, in fact, our hearts and our minds will utter only lies.
You just lost your salvation, or you never really were a child of God.
There is no hope of victory – for you, over the world, etc.
And the written word helps to remind us of the promises of God that we so quickly forget.
So often, our tendency is to think of reading the Bible as a requirement we must keep in order to be good Christians.
We are already righteous and complete in Christ. Nothing else can earn righteousness for us! Nothing.
We can’t save or re-save ourselves through the sacraments. It is Christ who saves us initially and forever. He is the one who keeps us, and who has atoned for the sins of all time.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
1 John 2:1-2
There is nothing we can do to impress God. Anything good in us is because of Christ, and the Father is pleased with His Son, Who lives in us.
The truth is, the Bible is not a Christian checklist item so that we can appear righteous to God.
It is a gift.
It is God’s love letter to remind us who we are when we forget, and to help us walk like that which we are already declared to be – children of the Most High God.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
We read the Bible because we are sheep and we need food.
There are many ways to feed on God and His truth. But the Word is solid and sure food when all the other food seems hard to find. It anchors us. It brings us back to solid ground when we feel untethered.
When we can’t “feel” God, we can still read the truth about God. We can declare what we know to be true, even when our feelings are saying something different.
When I am away from the Bible for very long, I do see a difference. It’s like I’ve missed my breakfast. I see things in a more negative light. I’m more anxious and fearful.
This is not God’s punishment. This is the natural consequence of trying to lean on my own strength to get through life and forgetting that God’s truth is the anchor. Forgetting that nothing good exists apart from Him and His truth.
Does this mean I cease to be anchored at all in God and His truth when I stop reading the Bible?
No. I can still talk with Him. I can still speak the truth of His Word that He has hidden in my heart. The truth of which His Spirit reminds me.
Although my brain and memorization ability are rather compromised right now, by His grace, God has been reminding me of the truth of His word as if I’d memorized it. (That’s a praise!)
He does not leave me, even when I “drift from Him”. I cannot flee from His presence, which is a reassuring thing.
But my peace is greater when I more consistently feed on His written word.
Making it a priority makes a difference.
I’ve gotta admit, it’s been tough to keep up with reading lately. And I am behind. Sickness sometimes impairs my ability to read very well. But even when I read a little, God blesses that greatly. He certainly comes to meet me through that.
My dear brothers and sisters, if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all necessary things will be added to us. We will have time for the other things that truly matter. We will have money for the things that truly matter. If we’re seeking God first, and He hasn’t provided the resources for those other things we’re wanting, we don’t need them, or we don’t need them yet.
Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
We make other activities and pursuits our priorities largely because those things feel – or are – demanding and urgent. Or because we believe they will improve our lifestyles, our social images, etc.
Some of our priorities are actual needs, some are vain desires. God loves us even while He is transforming our wrongheadedness.
But in these days especially, we must learn to count all other things in our lives as loss for the sake of Christ.
This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the blessings God has given us. But we need to hold them loosely. And we must not be mastered by the desires or blessings of this world. We must not be in a place spiritually where we could not live without them.
This doesn’t mean we should “practice” by choosing to forgo necessities – such as healthy food and supplements – if God has provided these for us. Without such things, I would probably not be able to maintain this blog at all. Going for very long without vitamin B6 and zinc seriously affects my mind that much.
We shouldn’t be imprudent and throw out the window things which are necessary to help us function in this life. We should steward our bodies well. But we must also trust that it is God who provides, and that even if all should be taken from us, this world is not our home anyway. And these bodies are not us. And God will give us grace and strength for every trial with which we are faced.
We must be ready to lose everything for the sake of Christ and the gospel. In this generation, that may be required even of Christians in the Western world.
In the near future, it is quite possible that the written word may be taken from us. This is another reason it is wise to appreciate and devote our time to it while we have the chance. We want to know the truth within. We want to internalize and remember the truth even when it is no longer in writing before our eyes.
Many of our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world have little – if any – access to the Scriptures, and long for what we freely enjoy and take for granted.
Additionally, knowledge of the truth in God’s word protects us against the deception of empty philosophy, the worthless traditions of men, and false doctrine.
Am I saying all philosophy and tradition is bad? No. But it all must cohere with the Word of God. It must, at the very least, not contradict anything in the Word. Unless philosophies and traditions pass this test, they are worthless, if not destructive.
A tradition such as the Roman Catholic one which teaches that the administration of sacraments can bestow salvific grace is contradictory to the Word, which teaches salvation through Christ alone.
Some songs of encouragement for you: