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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Perspectives of a Layman

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With the Lent season approaching within weeks, many believers are planning to participate in various types of corporate or individual fasts.

Most believers select a fast that involves abstaining from certain food items, in an effort to spark spiritual renewal by getting closer to the Lord and sacrificing something for him during the season that we celebrate the sacrifice he made for us at Calvary.

However, as we determine what food not to feed our physical bodies, we must also remember the “food” we need to feed our spirit: the word of God.

Whether we choose to admit it or not, many people, including some of the most devoted servants in the church community, do not review the Bible consistently.

We are more inclined to pick up the latest magazine, watch television or play with dominoes before we read even a few pages of God’s written word.

What are some of the reasons for this?

Some of the typical explanations offered include being “too busy” or having a strong desire to do something else during rare moments of free time.

Others simply believe the Bible is just plain boring or they don’t understand parts of it and lack the patience to study them. Finally, there are those individuals who don’t believe that Scriptures written several centuries ago can possible offer something useful to people living in the 21st century.

My friends, let me assure you that the Bible is just as relevant now as it was during the Persian, Greek and Roman empires (approximately 1,000 B.C. to 200 A.D.), when most of it was written.

Many of the problems being faced by people living back then are still presenting themselves today, especially war, poverty, corruption, sickness, crime, depression, domestic violence, sexual promiscuity, divisions in the church, etc.

Also, the Bible is more engaging than some people realize. Much of it contains everything you would want in a novel or award-winning film, including gripping action, murder and intrigue, espionage, betrayal, affairs and miracles.

It also has many humorous passages that often go unmentioned in Bible studies.

In one of my favorite Scriptures — Mark 11:27-33 — the chief priests of Jerusalem try to trap Jesus into blasphemy by asking him by what (or whose) authority he was using to perform his miracles. Jesus said he would answer their question if they could answer one of his questions. He asked them if John the Baptist’s baptism was from heaven or human sources.

“We don’t know,” they replied.

“Neither will I tell you by what authority I’m doing these things,” Jesus said.

Going a few days without reading the Bible is not the end of the world, but not making time for it at all starves us of the spiritual nourishment we need to stay in tune with God’s direction for our lives and navigate difficult times.

So often in the spiritual realm believers have to maintain our faith while often relying on what is unseen or has yet to happen. It’s nice to have something tangible such as the Bible to use in our faith, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Take just a moment to think about someone buying a very expensive appliance, but if they don’t know how to operate it completely they consult the owner’s manual, which is supplied by the manufacturer to offer helpful information about the product.

The Bible can also be viewed as God’s GPS (Global Position System) for us, giving his written directions during times when life makes us angry, depressed and sad.

God is the “manufacturer” of humanity, and his Bible is kind of like an owner’s manual that can be used to help gain a better understanding of the purpose he has for our lives. We may turn to it if we ever have questions about a specific challenge we’re facing (a study style Bible that has a glossary of topics is great for this purpose).

Our ministers certainly do an excellent job of teaching the word of God in sermons and Bible study, but if we are to seriously adhere to the guidelines of God, it is incumbent upon us to have our own personal relationship with him through his son Jesus Christ. Reviewing and internalizing his sacred text plays a key role in that relationship.

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