Know Your Bible

VOL. 14                                                                                                                         April 17, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 5



Of a good honest sincere man it was said: He brushed his teeth twice a day with nationally advertised toothpaste. The doctors examined him twice a year. He wore overshoes when it rained. He slept with the windows opened. He stuck to a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables. He relinquished his tonsils and took his vitamins faithfully all year. He golfed but not more than 18 holes at a time. He got at least eight hours of sleep every night. He never smoked, drank or lost his temper. He always did his daily dozen exercises. He was all set to live to be a hundred. The funeral will held Wednesday. He is survived by ten specialists, four health institutes, six gymnasiums, and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics. He made just one mistake! He forgot God! He lived as though this world were all there was to live, and he is now with those who say, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."

The millions of footprints left by humanity in every generation bear testimony of the futility of seeking paths that lead only in this life. Death becomes a dead-end for those who seek to find everything in life and never find God. It is like a road that leads to nowhere. Jesus warned, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). Life is not about here; life is about there.

Living life with God takes our journey beyond the vale of death. Our path of life never ends but continues in the hope of eternal life. Living with God brings peace and security in the answers men seek. "Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts" (Psalms 119:98-100). The word of God guides us from where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. 

Living with God comes from knowledge of Jesus Christ. Man cannot live without Jesus Christ. To acknowledge Him is to believe in Him as the Son of God. This belief is what tenders our lives with the obedience of His word. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him" (John 14:6-7). The reason that men live without God is they will not accept the Son of God. There is only one way to find life after death and it is through Jesus Christ.

The more we come to know the Son, the more we come to know the Father. When you look at your life, what is the focus of your day to day living? Do you spend endless hours pursuing the things of this world with its glory and accolades of honor? Is life one achievement after another as you move into retirement from work and plan for the golden years of life? Does your road end in death or is there a bridge over the valley of the shadow of death leading to a street paved with gold extending throughout the eternal ages? Life is not about what we possess; life is about what possesses us.

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ''If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15). That is living with God!

—Kent Heaton

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Within most serious minded Christians is a desire to have a close relationship with the Lord. We desire to feel as though He is our friend, that He is always with us, and that His hands are busy molding us into the character of His Son. 

This is God's great desire -- He wants us to know Him. Think of all He has invested in it. Why else would He spend thousands of years, write hundreds of pages of Scripture and at last send His Son, God in the flesh, to earth? God longs for us to know Him. Isn't this your great desire? 

How do we develop such a satisfying relationship with God? For me, it still comes down to this dynamic trio: reading the Bible, prayer and meditation. These do not come easy and must be mastered in private. Americans especially don't handle privacy very well. We like noise. We like the radio or the TV on, if for nothing else, some background sounds so we feel like we have company. To grow close to God, we have to cultivate a love for being alone with Him in quietness. Let's look at these three private disciplines. They are called "disciplines" because that's what it takes to do them (1 Cor. 9:24-27). They take time, require focus, and must be guarded. The devil will try to take you away from them. The reward is great because "everyone who is perfectly trained will be like His teacher" (Lk. 6:40). That's what I want; to be like Him. 

Bible Reading: -- Take time to see what you are reading. Feel the moment. See Jesus walking on the sea. Catch glimpses of Him out there between flashes of light and feel the terror as the disciples say, "It is a ghost!!" Hear His shout over the wind beckoning for Peter to come to Him. Feel the water touch His feet. He's doing it! Marvel at the power of the Lord! Got the idea? Go to the scene. it's not hard to do. You haven't lost the imagination of your childhood. This simple shift in your reading will do wonders for your closeness to Him. Jesus chose 12 men so that they might be with Him (Mk. 3:14). The dynamic lives of these men were bewildering to the world until "they realized they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). This is not something just for the twelve. You too can be with Jesus. Open your Bible and travel with Him. In time, people realize you have been with Him, too. 

Prayer: -- Here again, the power of prayer is in how you see it. The best words to describe it are those in 2 Sam. 7:18, "Then king David went in and sat before the Lord..." That's it! Prayer is sitting before the Lord. See yourself coming before God's throne and sitting in His presence. Allow yourself to talk to Him like you would a respected friend. Nobody is listening for eloquence, God just wants to hear from your heart. Hannah knew that (1 Sam. 1:13). In times of sadness, pour out your soul (1 Sam. 1:15). Your very best prayer might not be very pretty but don't worry about it. Praise Him for all He is, for always being there, and for being your best friend. Trust me. This kind of praying coupled with a devoted life to God will give you a sense of being His friend. Like Abraham, you can be called a "friend of God" (2 Chron. 20:7). You will look forward to quiet times with Him just as Jesus did. 

Meditation: -- After having been with Jesus as we read our Bibles, we need to take time to meditate on God. We can ponder great themes such as His power, His mighty works, His creation, and His Will for our lives. Most of the time, this will have to be done when you "go into your room" (Matt. 6:6). I enjoy the ascent up my stairs for my study is just such a place. But I also enjoy going to outdoor places near my home. Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest encounters with God were outdoors? As someone once said, "Moses didn't meet God at the mall." It was common for Jesus to go to a garden, a mountain, the seashore, etc. God's places of nature are places for meditating and drawing closer to Him. And while you are there, chew on some part of His Word, creation, or heaven. I enjoy thinking about my life before Him, asking Him to help me see all the areas about which I need to improve. Solitude helps. Solitude is like an operation where the anesthetic puts everything to rest before the surgery can take place. Jesus not only taught the need for solitude, He sought it relentlessly (Mk. 1:32-37). It refueled Him. It will do the same for you. 

These three disciplines are time-tested and proven. I am persuaded they will help bring to you the depth of relationship with Him you have always desired. And more. They will also create a longing for Him that only eternity in His presence will satisfy. You will go to your grave wanting more. That, my brethren, is what heaven is all about. 

—Jeff May

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