March is officially Bible Appreciation Month. I’m not sure who originates this stuff, but there you have it. I appreciate the Bible all twelve months of the year, and have been doing so for over four decades. I’ve made it a practice to read at least one chapter of the Bible every day. Now that I’m a little older, I love reading the Bible on my Kindle, so I don’t need to wear my cheater glasses. I even keep a copy of the Psalms in the bathroom to quietly read while sitting on the “can!” Like many others who have tried and failed, I tried the “read the Bible in a year” program. I did succeed in reading the entire Bible through in a year a couple times, but eventually couldn’t keep up. If a person enjoys a challenge, then reading the Bible through in a year can be a good thing. However, reading a chapter a day, or just a few verses consistently can be more beneficial in the long run.
I believe the Bible is a book like no other. In fact, it’s 66 books written by 40 authors over a 1,500-year period. As diverse as that sounds, there is an incredible unified theme from Genesis to Revelation. I firmly believe the Bible’s true author is God Himself. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).
The Bible is a powerful book because it contains the God’s words. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Heb. 4:12). Despite the allegations of doubters, the Bible has held up as an accurate book. New discoveries in science, history and archaeology have not disproved the Bible, but have continuously substantiated its claims. The Bible has proven itself reliable time after time.
I trust the Bible. I trust its promises. Its words have profoundly changed my life. I consider myself flexible and open minded about current thoughts and trends, politics, and ideas about how church should look and operate; but I won’t compromise my belief that the Bible is the Word of God. I know there are certain words in the Bible that have been translated incorrectly in some versions. I know that we need to read Bible passages in their context. We need to know the historical and cultural background associated with biblical texts as well. I’m not arguing any of that, but I trust the Bible to possess the words of eternal life. I base my beliefs and core values on what the Bible tells me is true and worth living for.
There are a group of people who refer to themselves as “Red Letter Christians.” They believe only the words of Jesus are relevant to our Christian lives; basically, canceling out the rest of the New Testament (mostly written by the apostle Paul). Peter, the apostle who walked with Jesus during his three-year ministry on earth, referred to Paul’s letters as scripture. “This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction” (2 Peter 3:15 & 16 NLT). Peter admitted that even he had a hard time understanding some of Paul’s deeper teachings and hard sayings, but he elevated Pauls’ epistles (letters) to the status of holy scriptures. How would the Paul feel about people wanting to disregard what he had to say? He tells us in his own words, “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (Philippians 3:15 NLT). I love that! Paul said (I’m paraphrasing), “Grow up and you’ll eventually agree with me.”
When I allow God’s Word to penetrate my thoughts and feelings, I change in profound ways. For me, this happens in a very practical way. Let’s say for example, I’m struggling with fear. I’ll do a quick word search on a Bible reference website, and compile a list of scriptures about fear. Then I will print a scripture reference page dealing with the specific subject of not being afraid. I’ll prayerfully read that sheet daily, and let those words sink into my mind and heart until they change my attitudes and feelings. I’ve done this simple practice for years with dozens of issues that I’ve struggled with, and it has truly been a transforming experience.
I believe the Bible is specific about sin (even the ones I’m guilty of). People would like to cut those passages out, believing that practicing their favorite sin allows them to be free. The Bible teaches just the opposite. “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16 NLT).
Most importantly, the Bible tells us of God’s great love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God..” (Romans 5: 6, 8, 11 NLT).
The sweet, little children’s song we sung in Sunday School sums it up best for me.
Yes, that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God.