Practice the Bible

Written by: Tim Wood

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”  (Mt 24:35 NIV)

One of the first books to come off the printing press when it was invented was the Bible. And it’s still the world’s best-selling book. An anonymous author has written: “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the fate of sinners, and the happiness of believers. It is a light to direct you, food to nourish you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s road map, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s weapon, and the player’s game plan. It’s a mine of incredible wealth, and a river of genuine joy. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Christ is its grand subject, your good its design, and the glory of God its end. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be spiritually healthy. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. Let it fill your memory, rule your heart, and guide your steps. It is given to you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered for ever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and judge those who trifle with its sacred contents.”

St. Peter wrote that “the Word of the Lord stands forever” (1Peter 1:25).  Most of us respect the Bible; the trouble is we don’t read it daily and put it into practice. The power of the Scriptures to transform your life is found in putting the Word into our daily practice. The wise person, according to Jesus’ parable, hears the words of Christ and puts them into practice (Matthew 7: 24). The Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15).

After hearing a discussion on various translations of the Bible, one man said: “I prefer my mother’s translation, because she translated it into everyday life.” Another person said, “People may not read the Bible but they will read you.”  Are you putting the Bible into practice? You need it and so do others.

 

Martin Luther and the Bible

Written by: Tim Wood

In April, 1521, Martin Luther appeared before church leaders who were accusing him of heresy. They had given him the ultimatum to repudiate his unwavering faith in the sufficiency of the Scriptures.  It is recorded that Luther responded, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the word of God. God help me. Here I stand.”

What an example! Let the Scriptures bring conviction to your life.  Allow your conscience to be captive to the Word of God.  Stand on the Scriptures alone (Sola Scriptura).  These are three pillars to build faith and increase hope.

On another occasion Luther wrote, “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.”  Luther knew that the Bible was God’s Word and therefore most important. He realized the Word provides unparalleled and eternal benefits. If this is true, and I believe it is, what should our responses be to God’s Word?

We should believe it - John 6: 68-69 “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

We should honor it – Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.”

We should love it – Psalm 119:97 “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

We should obey it – 1 John 2:5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him.”

Like Martin Luther, let us stand on God’s Word.

Three Guidelines to Know God's Will

Written by: Tim Wood

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! —Psalm 119:105-107

How can you know God’s will? How can you get on the right path and stay on it? There is a lot of confusion about this. Here are three, absolutely guaranteed, you-will-be-on-the-right-path guidelines. Because God wants His will to light your way every day.

First, God’s will is found in His Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The Bible lights up your path. It helps you navigate the way ahead. When you are uncertain or feel like you’re in a really dark place, turn on the light of God’s Word. Pick it up and open it. Make this your daily practice, so you’re not just randomly reading, but beginning to know where the answers are. Keep a list of particular passages that have given you direction. The Scriptures help you see where your feet are standing and, perhaps more importantly, where you’re heading on the path in front of you.

Here’s the second guideline. Along with spending regular time in God's Word, you can find further light on His will through godly counsel. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” People often think, I don’t want to ask anyone for their input. I know what I want to do. If I ask someone for advice, they might tell me my plan is a bad idea! The Bible says a foolish person doesn’t get counsel from others before they make an important decision. Don’t be indecisive—or decisive on your own. Seek the wise input of those who have proven to be trustworthy.

Third, the Spirit of God leads us. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Many people want the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but they don’t seek godly counsel or the Word. Yet these are the very tools the Spirit of God uses to guide you. If you don’t fill up on the Word and wise counsel, you’re not giving the Spirit much to work with. You’re left with only a subjective sense of “the-Lord-told-me-to-do-this.” God will not tell you to do something contrary to His Word and contrary to the godly wisdom of others. If you insist on deciding against God’s Word and wise counsel, the results will be entirely your own fault.

These three guidelines together are a powerful decision-making combination. You can say, “I’ve been in the Word, and I’m getting counsel from wise, godly people. The Spirit Himself is bearing witness with my spirit” (see Romans 8:16).

Start with Scripture, include wise counsel and reliance on God’s Spirit, and your testimony will be, “He guides me.” When life is difficult, you want to know you have sought God’s guidance every step of the way.

 

The "Ezra Way" to approach the Bible

Written by: Tim Wood

For the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.  (Ezra 7:9-10)

God’s hand was on Ezra because he devoted himself to the Scriptures (the Law of the Lord). But what does it mean to be devoted to the Word of God? It means that the Bible becomes the standard for our lives. The norms of the Scriptures are the norms that we live by, and we dedicate ourselves to finding out what those norms are. We commit ourselves to study the Bible and to fellowship with like-minded people. We look for people who can help us and teach us how to incorporate the Scriptures into our lives. We learn its principles and memorize its words. We pray over it and dialogue with its Author. Like Jeremiah, we "devour" its words. And like Ezra, we are determined to obey the Word and to teach its decrees. When we are determined to obey the word, our lives become a living word for others to see. The best commentary on the Bible is a person who puts it into practice. Howard Hendricks said this about the Bible: The Bible was not written to satisfy your curiosity, but to make you conform to Christ’s image. Not to make you a smarter sinner, but to make you like the Savior. Not to fill your head with a collection of biblical facts, but to transform your life. Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold.” 

As one Pastor put it - The Bible…Read it through. Work it out. Pass it on!  That’s the Ezra way of approaching God’s word. May the gracious hand of God be on us as we devote ourselves to His Word!

Being in a Small Group is Important

Written by: Tim Wood

One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.   (Luke 6:12-13)

 It’s interesting to me that one of the first things Jesus does as he begins his ministry, is to form a small group.  Notice in our text there were other disciples called to the mountainside – but Jesus chose 12 to be His Apostles.  Did Jesus need these guys to accomplish his mission?  No. Jesus is perfectly capable.  Jesus didn’t need these guys to help him teach better, or give him more power to heal, or help him with compassion or mercy showing.  Jesus was giving us a pattern of how to change the world. Think about this:  When Jesus left this earth, he didn’t leave behind a bunch of buildings or financial resources, a budget or a bunch of infrastructure.  He left behind his small group.  He left behind 12 people who rocked the world.

I’ll tell you how seriously Jesus takes this notion of small group. Those of you who know the New Testament tell me the answer to this: How often did Jesus approach someone and say, I want you to follow Me. I’m putting together a band of disciples, and I want you to be one of them. But I know you’re busy. You don’t really have time to be part of a small group, plus some of the disciples can be kind of a pain. Peter talks too much; Thomas is pretty negative; Judas…don’t even get me started on Judas. They’re not normal like you and I, so you can follow me offline. You can skip the small group part. Just make sure you read the text; make sure you attend the lectures; you can do discipleship on the “Self-Study Plan.” How often did Jesus make that offer available to somebody? He never did. Jesus modeled small group at the beginning of his ministry and the night before he died he prayed for the oneness of his small group.  There is no doubt that small group was valuable to Jesus.  So let me give you two very important reasons why small group is important in your life.

1) BECAUSE JESUS WAS PART OF A SMALL FAITH COMMUNITY.  Jesus chose 12 people with different jobs, different personalities and he encouraged them to love one another.

2) BECAUSE JESUS IS UNIQUELY PRESENT IN SMALL GROUPS. He is always present, every place, every moment but he is present in a special way in small gatherings in his name.  In Matthew 18:20 Jesus said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.”  Dallas Willard said, “Personalities united can contain more of God and sustain the force of His presence than scattered individuals.”  This means that we experience God in a magnified way when we are with other people who want to experience God as well. We are better when we are together with the purpose of connecting with God.

Let me encourage you to join a small group because Jesus was in one. Let me encourage you to join a small group to experience God in a magnified way. It’s important.