Why Read the Bible

WhyReadTheBible

2 Timothy 3.15 – 17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

First, let’s get some foundation:

  1. The Bible is Truth.
  2. The Bible is God’s inerrant Word.
  3. The Bible contains all we need for righteous living.
  4. The Bible is God’s love letter to us: His way of establishing, maintaining, and deepening our relationship with Him.

Read the Bible to discover Truth. When we don’t read God’s Word, we start making up our own truth, and living the way we think is right. That was the original sin with Adam and Eve: to be like God and know good and evil. Only God’s perspective is Truth. Whatever we think is good or evil is twisted according to our fleshly desires.

Read the Bible to balance your life. John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Read the Bible to understand yourself better. Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to God. John 14.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to other people. Colossians 3.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. God’s Word provides insight into human behavior. It explains why we think the way we do, and how to correct our thinking. It gives us God’s perspective on love. what love is, and how to love one another when our flesh is unwilling.

As you read more of the Bible, it comes back to you more often. Whether you’re watching the news, conversing with others, or completing routine chores, God’s Word interjects itself into your meditations and thoughts. You will be able to make connections that you never thought of before. That’s because reading God’s Word provides wisdom.

Read the Bible in order to understand what not to do: Psalms 119.9-11 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. We must have some sort of plumb line so that we may live righteously. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions, wrong feelings, depression, anxiety, and a sinful lifestyle.

To gain deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s Word, I direct you to Psalms 119. Read it. Read it often. Read it deeply. Use it as a springboard to read more and more of God’s Word.

Recipe Friday: Things to Do

Holy cow, is there a lot of stuff to do! Is anyone bored yet? Not me! I still don’t have enough time in the day to finish what I’d like to do.

Keeping your mind and body active is important for overall health.

Find productive things to do. There is almost nothing more frustrating and deflating than looking back at the end of the day and find you have wasted a bunch of time. And don’t think that, oh well, you’ve got plenty of time tomorrow. When we can go out again, don’t you want to be changed, renewed, more learned, more accomplished and more capable than when you went in? Don’t you want to be closer to family and friends?

Here are a few ideas on how to spend productive time:

Not-computer stuff:

Talk with each other. Like, have face-to-real-face conversations

Color (with a coloring book, or make your own)

Listen to the radio

Go outside:

  • go for a walk
  • bike ride
  • rollerskate or rollerblade
  • play corn hole or hopscotch or jacks or tag or Simon Says or Red Rover, or hide and seek.
  • Jump rope
  • play catch: baseball, softball, Frisbee, or kick a beach ball or dodgeball
  • Take a nature walk (this would be worth it, even if you have to drive to get there). Investigate as you go, breathe deeply the fresh air. If it’s warm, go barefoot.

Read books

Is your library open? Check out some how-to books, fiction, non-fiction. Learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to do: is it knitting or crocheting? Varnishing / refinishing? Cooking? Play chess? Play canasta?

Clean the house. It’s spring. Do spring cleaning.

  • Clear out the cobwebs and dust bunnies
  • Sweep / vacuum / mop all the floors (yes, move the furniture, and wipe/dust the furniture backs and sides)
  • Wipe down / dust all surfaces
  • Disinfect whatever needs it
  • Take stuff out of closets, fluff it up / wipe it off, clean the floors and shelves, put things away neatly
  • Take those area rugs and carpets out into the sunshine and shake or whack away.
  • Wipe off all your kitchen appliances.

While you’re cleaning, organize stuff. You’ve always wanted to do this; now you have the perfect opportunity. SO much to organize: closets, kitchen cupboards, the garage, the shed, the freezer, the downstairs pantry, bedrooms, drawers, books, clothing, collections. Clean as you go.

While you’re organizing, sift out what you don’t use any more. Collect items to bring to donation points (Salvation Army, Goodwill, second-hand stores, etc).

Can you start a garden yet? If not, maybe some inside plantings.

Play the piano, or other instrument.

Play board games and card games. Don’t know how? See library suggestion, above.

Cook great meals. Make it a family affair.

PRAY. Pray by yourself, pray with your spouse. Pray with your family. Pray with your friends over the telephone.

Write a play and act it out.

Get moving! Blow the dust off your exercise videos and DVDs.

Sit quietly and listen to some of those CDs that are sitting in the basement.

Meditate

Write:

  • Stories
  • Lessons for your children or others
  • Journaling
  • Letters (hand-written letters are such a blessing!)
    • Along this line, start a pen pal friendship. There are pen pal resources at the library or online.

Home projects. Hardware stores are still open. Fix that squeaky door. Repair the window screen. Replace that snarky outlet. Refinish or re-upholster your chairs.

Telephone your neighbors. Arrange a time for a neighborhood walk to wave at each other as you pass, or through windows.

Sidewalk chalk! Coordinate with neighbors, and have an art walk afterward.

Visit-at-a-distance:

  • Stand on the sidewalk as you chat with your neighbor
  • Drive over to a nursing home, assisted living, or friend or relative’s house. Bring a camp chair. Chat via phone, through the window, or stay outside as they speak through an open window or from a porch.

 

Computer stuff:

I just learned how to Zoom! I practiced with a couple of friends from church, and we are setting up prayer times. Zoom.us is the website. They have generous free options, in addition to paid options. Other video chat sites:

  • Google hangouts
  • Facebook messenger
  • Skype
  • Whatsapp
  • Facetime (for Apple users)

What to do in group video chats:

  • Chat
  • Pray
  • Bible study
  • Church service
  • Hymn sing (one person can hold up a hymnal to the screen for everyone to sing from)
  • Dinner party: everyone can cook the same thing, or different dishes. Chat while you prepare dinner “together,” then chat while you eat.
  • Watch the same movie and chat about it
  • Craft party: sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, jewelry making
  • Have a group of talented people? Take turns teaching what you do best.

Take online classes from an accredited college or university. Always wanted to get that degree? Get that promotion? Change jobs? This is the perfect time to get the education you never had the time for.

https://www.mybluprint.com/ Bluprint is offering free classes until April 9th. They offer a LOT of stuff!

You can learn or watch just about anything on youtube. One I find interesting is cake decorating. Or look for essential oils, car repair and maintenance, making soap, baking, drawing, cut your hair, sing, sew, make your own sourdough starter, solve a Rubik’s cube, play the piano, figure out or find cool things on your smart phone or tablet…

Start or join an online book club to discuss books. Your local library is a good resource.

Learn how to play cards. Then turn off the computer and play cards. https://bicyclecards.com/rules/   If you don’t find the card game you want, just type how to play _____ in the web address line (i.e., how to play canasta) and you’ll get a stack of results. (The Bicycle site will likely be first.)

Listen to online sermons or educational talks:

Take educational tours:

Your local PBS stations have oodles of educational and informative online resources for adults and kids.

Get moving! Find dance and/or exercise videos. On youtube, search dance exercise workout.

Some of our local shops are going online with tutorials to go with products they sell. For example, paint-and-take shops and other crafts.

E-mail all your best friends. E-mail people who are kinda friends.

I’m sure all of you are brimming with great, creative ideas. Please share them with us!

Expressing Gratitude

ExpressingGratitude

I am grateful for being raised by parents who model gratefulness. I am also grateful to be married to a man who expresses his gratefulness daily.

Am I extra-special blessed, or do many of you live in such environments? I pray you encounter many in your daily life who show gratitude. It’s a huge thing. It affects your whole outlook on life.

That must be why God commands us to give thanks IN all things (1 Thessalonians 5.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you) and FOR all things (Ephesians 5.20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ).

And it’s more than just thinking about thanks in our hearts. It’s also expressing gratefulness to those around us (because God is a God of relationships).

In my home, my husband and I tell each other regularly how grateful we are that God brought us together, that we are thankful to be married to each other. We thank each other for favors and kindnesses, large and small. We show we are grateful, and it blesses us both.

In our community, we tell people thank you for things we appreciate: the pianist at church this morning, the pastor for his message, the store clerk for her smile and courtesy, the workers at the assisted living place, doctors and nurses, and neighbors.

In prayer, we tell God how thankful we are for His many blessings. We name things we are thankful for (and there are SO MANY).

Expressing gratitude is akin to giving smiles and hugs: they bless both the giver and the receiver.

God’s Vineyard of People

We had a Sunday School lesson based on teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan’s series, ‘That the World May Know.’ I highly recommend looking into this series / these teachings. A YouTube search will offer up several videos to get you started.

This particular study was called, ‘A Well-Watered Garden.’ Mr. Vander Laan took the group in Israel to a portion of a hillside vineyard or garden (Hebrew, gan; plural, ganim).

Imagine, if you will, the land that God created for these farms. It was perfect. Did it look perfect? Not likely. The early Israelites’ ancestors had come from bondage in Egypt. They must have heard the stories of the rich farmland of the Nile River basin. They were promised a land flowing with milk and honey.

But they had spent 40 years wandering in the desert. Those desert years had taught them some things:

  • Dependence on God
  • Fortitude
  • Patience
  • How to listen to their leader (Moses, then Joshua)
  • The dangers of not listening to God / their leaders
  • A sense of community
    • In all that moving around, they had each other to depend upon: it was them against the world
  • Who their enemies were, and how to do battle

The desert was a wasteland. When they thought of a land flowing with milk and honey, what did they picture? Whatever met their eyes, it was better than the desert. God had promised that (Deut 6.10, 11) “it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not.”

God's Vineyard of People

When that rocky soil and those terraces met their eyes, did they have to shift their paradigms? Were they willing to put aside whatever they had imagined, and accept what God gave them? Did they see this new land as the amazing gift that it was?

The hillsides had been transformed into terraces so the crops of figs, olives, and grapes could be grown.

I found it interesting that each family’s portion was not a vertical strip of several layers, going up the hillside, but the land they took care of and farmed was one terraced layer.

You can imagine, as folks were tending their gardens, that they would often run into each other, looking up at cousin Ashan and waving, or down at Uncle Bozkath to ask about his new grandchild.

The farmers tending their gardens had much work to do in order to reap a good harvest. And most of the work was communal work: digging cisterns and irrigation, using rainfall to best advantage, grafting plants from each other, prevention of disease and rot, harvesting and using the fruit, and maintaining the walls.

The walls had to be kept strong and firm. If the garden walls above your own crumbled, that soil and water would come pouring down to make a mess of your own garden. And a fellow couldn’t necessarily see his own wall: he would have to walk in his neighbor’s garden, below, to inspect his own walls. Most often, each gardener would keep an eye on his neighbor’s wall, and shore it up when needed. They depended on each other to maintain their walls: Uncle Bozkath kept an eye on Zanoah’s wall; Zanoah kept an eye on Ashan’s wall.

The ground these farmers used for their crops was not the rich loam we are used to seeing in modern gardens. No, these olive and fig trees, and grape vines, grow in rocky soil. When building their terraces, they were able to access a rich store of supplies in the rocky ground.

Once in a while, the soil would shift, a rock in the wall would loosen, a hole would work its way there. Accordingly, as each farmer worked his plot, he might find a rock in his soil. Those of you who garden or farm might look upon those rocks in your soil and groan. Not those Israelites. They knew they were a gift, and they knew just what to do with them: Look at your neighbor’s wall, and see where that rock fits in to shore it up and make it stronger.

I love how God is Lord of Relationships. He created us to have relationship with Him, and with each other. He creates opportunity for relationships. Make Him Lord of your relationships.

I love how God gives us gifts. He gives us work to do, and the resources to use.

Some people see a rock, an obstacle, a nuisance.

Other people see a useful gift.

Who are your neighbors? What are the rocks in your life? Ask God what He would have you do.

{image from google images}