Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          February 9, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 50



We pray because prayer works! James writes: "The effectual prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (5:16). If God never listened, or if God never answered our prayers "Yes," then why pray? There would be no motive to pray. We would say, "it just doesn't do any good." But we know better. All of us can be thankful for the numerous prayers answered in our lives. Prayer works! God is moved by the prayers of His people.

But, what are we expecting from our prayers? The simple answer would be, "We are expecting God to answer them." Thus, we pray in faith that He will respond.

Sometimes, however, I feel that some look at prayer as the "magical fix all" to our problems. We make a mess of our marriage and then in desperation pray about our home and think God will now make it right. We mess up our health by poor eating habits and a lack of exercise and then lay in a hospital bed praying for our health to return. We think the church will grow just because "we have prayed for that."

It seems that in all of this, we are expecting God to right all the wrongs, fix all the mistakes, and make everything fine simply because we have prayed about it. Now this is not questioning the power of God but it is essential that we understand our roles and responsibilities and our need to work with Him.

We Find Ourselves In A Mess Financially: -- because we spend instead of saving. It will take more than words to right the wrongs of unwise decisions.

We Find Ourselves In A Troubled Marriage: -- because of gossiping, nagging, dishonesty, and negativity. A change of hearts and a renewed dedication are essential to turning that relationship around. God will not "fix it" without the cooperation of those "in it."

We Find Ourselves In A Stagnant Church: -- because of indifference. Such a church cannot grow by the members merely saying a prayer and then waiting with arms folded for something to happen. Obviously, God expects cooperation from us.

Whether financial or familial, are we to expect that all one has to do to fix the mess is pray and everything will be fine? Absolutely not! There are consequences to our choices and responsibilities that rest upon our shoulders. God will do His part but... we must do ours!

---Roger Shouse

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I once heard an aged gospel preacher refer to a comment he received from a person who appreciated his sermons: “I wish I knew as much about the Bible as you.” His reply was, “Lady, if you study the Bible for as many years as I have you would know as much or more!” Bible knowledge was prized, desired and gained in the diligence of study.

Today, it is very sad to realize that there are many people who have allowed themselves to be convinced that the Bible cannot be understood. Many others hold the view that the Bible is very difficult to understand and for that reason they do not investigate it for themselves. How dreadful and dishonorable it is for people to not know what God has spoken! The Apostle Paul said people could have the knowledge he had by reading what he had written (Eph. 3:4; cf. 5:17).

In many cases, people who do not study the Bible for themselves have come to rely upon preachers to provide answers to their questions. Many preachers are very happy to help as many people as possible in gaining an understanding of what God has said. It is the mission of those who preach and teach God’s word to “make all men see” or “bring to light” the wisdom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Eph. 3:1-ff). But we must heed the warning that Christ gave with regard to relying on men as a source of truth. Of the religious leaders of His day, He said, “…they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14). People should study the Bible for themselves. If they do not, they become so easily deceived. (1 John 4:1). Studying the Bible is not nearly as difficult as some would lead you to believe. Being a worthy Bible student is simple if you will follow these three basic principles:

1. Recognize that the Bible is the word of God. This amazing book is unique; no other book compares to it. The writers were men, but they wrote what the ultimate author commanded: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). This incredible one-of-a-kind book reveals where man came from, why he is here and where he is going. Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Jesus Christ respected the Scriptures and regarded them as the word of God (John 17:17). You are in good company when you so regard the Bible.

2. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Following the Lord’s directive in Matt. 5:6, if we have an intense desire to obtain “the righteousness of God” (2 Pet. 1:1; Rom. 3:22; 10:3), with the same fervor we seek food and drink when hungry, we will obtain it! When we develop an appetite for regular servings of spiritual food, we will indeed grow thereby (1 Pet. 2:2). These are the ones who take advantage of every opportunity to discuss and learn from God’s word.

3. Pay the price. Paul admonished, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2Tim. 2:15).  Study is work. It is careful examination, analysis, seeking answers to questions with the specific purpose or intent to understand and learn.  There is no “easy” button to push and no knowledge pill to take. This price is far more than most are willing to pay. The price of that filet mignon causes me to lose my desire for it and choose chicken. The price for knowing the Scriptures causes many to allow others to tell them about their religious views rather than going to the source of truth. Any who are unwilling to do what it takes to know the Scriptures will never know and understand them as they could or should.

Yes, friend, you can obtain a great deal of Bible knowledge, if you remember and apply these simple basic principles. If you have the proper respect for the Bible as the word of God, a burning desire for the righteousness it contains and a willingness to pay the price for success, you can understand and know what God has spoken! Andwith that knowledge you can enjoy all the spiritual blessings that God has for man, which are found in Christ (Eph. 1:3). May we help you today?

---Gary Smalley 

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Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

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