Why I Trust The Bible

“As we trust God to give us wisdom for today’s decisions, He will lead us a step at a time into what He wants us to be doing in the future.” – Theodore Epp.

Do you trust the Bible? If so, why? If you asked that question to a large group of people you would get a full spectrum of answers. Some would say “yes,” others would say “no” and others would be somewhere in the middle.  So why should we trust the Bible? 

In this devotional, we will use a broad brush to talk about the evidence for the reliability of the Bible. We start with the early testimony for the Bible. There are 5,800 or so full and partial copies of the Greek New Testament. An original was written, and then it would be sent off somewhere and then someone would copy it and send a copy off, and those copies would be copied, and this is how the documents spread around  Couple that with the eyewitness evidence. Luke 1: 1-2  says, “ Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us.They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.”  Luke knew that to write an accurate account, he needed to talk with the people who were there. Acts 3:15 says, “…God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!”

Another factor that lends credibility to the Bible is all the embarrassing stuff that puts many of the authors in a bad light. In other words, why would you fabricate stuff to make yourself look bad or get yourself killed. Self -respect and self-preservation were just as strong in Biblical times.  For example: Before Jesus goes to the cross, He’s in the garden of Gethsemane. He tells His disciples, “Pray for me,” and they fall asleep. Twice. Yet they write it down and preserve it for us to know about their lack of devotion. If the disciples were making up stories, it is highly unlikely the details that put them in a bad light would be included. The disciples lost their social standing, physical comfort, material possessions, and social structures to follow Jesus. Add to that that the disciples died for what they claimed to have seen. Many people will die for something they believe to be the truth, but no one dies for something they know is a lie.

There are people today dying, believing that they’re dying for the truth, but the disciples, contrary to them, were in a position to know with complete certainty. They didn’t follow cleverly invented stories. They walked with Him. They ran after His death and they came back and were converted to a strong faith because of seeing Jesus after His resurrection. That’s the best explanation for the evidence. Many people will die for something they believe to be true, but no one dies for something they know to be a lie.

The Bible is the word of God. We should strive to have a view of Scripture that’s the same as Jesus.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you believe the Bible is a relevant guidebook for life in the 21st century? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think the Bible can be trusted in its description of Jesus’ life? Are there errors? Are there important things about Jesus left out of the Bible?

Rekindle Your Love For God’s Word

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

One of Yogi Berra’s many Yogi-isms is, “You can see a lot just by looking.” Although he was talking about something else it is true of Bible study. By reading a passage a second and third time, we can often catch something we miss the first time we read it. By studying the text again, it helps us understand what it meant to the original readers. You can’t apply a text that you do not properly understand. When you understand a passage, you can ask how it applies to your life, not just outwardly, but on the heart level.

The challenge is our attention span. Marketing and advertising managers know you have only a few seconds to attract a person’s attention before it is lost forever. Forty years ago, the newspaper was read daily in homes across America. Today we skim RSS feeds and if something doesn’t attract our attention we do not go any further than the headline.

Unfortunately, the same phenomenon is happening in the church. When I ask people how much time they spend reading their Bible, they look surprised. They tell me in all sincerity that they need to do a better job of reading their Bible, or they need to make it a bigger priority. But, when I ask them why they don’t read their Bible more, their answers are “I don’t have time” or “I’m not sure how to do it effectively.”

It may be a challenge of passion. If you do not regularly read your Bible, I would encourage you to ask God to help you start or rekindle your love for His word. Then we should read. And read some more. We know that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. So read, digest, dwell, meditate, and grow in your faith in God through the Bible. Take the Bible with you everywhere you go. Remember a passage and try to apply it to your life. If there is something you don’t understand, read a Bible commentary and ask someone who can help you find the answer.

The Bible has incredible power to transform your life. It should be your daily resource. Dwight Moody said it best: “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.”

Get in your Bible today and let God’s Word get in you. Because as Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Do you believe the Bible, as God’s inspired Word, can be trusted fully to teach us truth and shape our lives?
  2. How much time each week do you spend reading your Bible? How much time do you think you should spend?
  3. Pray and ask God to give you the discipline to spend time in His word every day.

Hearers and Doers

“Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” –  James 1:22-25,  (MSG)

An elderly lady who had been a member of the church for decades, stopped to shake hands with the pastor after the morning service. “That was a wonderful sermon pastor,” she exclaimed, “just wonderful.”  “Everything you said applies to someone I know and I will pass it along to them when I see them.”

In the passage above, James is not talking about applying scripture to others. Nor does He want us underlining all the commands in the Bible to pass on to others. He is talking to each one of us. Simply hearing or reading the Bible only gets us so far. We can mark up our Bible but the question is whether the Bible marks us. If a person thinks he is spiritual just because he hears the Word of God, not because he does the Word, he is deceiving himself. The value of the Bible does not consist merely in knowing it, but in obeying it.

The Word of God commands us to take action, but many people seem to be waiting for some great spiritual experience to jumpstart them doing what the Bible tells them to do. The Bible tells us to take responsibility for ourselves. It tells us to not wait for a feeling.   

Being a doer is taking the Word of God and allowing it to have an impact on our life, so it changes us. It changes the way we speak, think and live. It changes the way we treat our spouse. It changes the way we act in business. It changes everything about us. If we are to use the mirror of God’s Word profitably, then we must gaze into it carefully and with serious intent. No quick glances will do. We must examine our heart and life in the light of God’s Word.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is it so hard to move from a hearer to a doer?
  2. What can we do to move further into the doers column this week?

Great Communication

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

If you want to be great, a man of God, you need to communicate.  A case in point: A father and his son are meeting in private. No other family member is present. They are talking about some plans they are making. The mother listens in on the conversation. She doesn’t like what she hears so she grabs the other son and tells him what she overheard. The mother and other son devise a plot to counteract what the father and other son are planning to do.

The mother and other son’s plot is to deceive the father and steal the other son’s inheritance. The one son finds that his inheritance has been stolen. He is not happy and threatens to kill his brother when the father dies. The mother realizes they have a serious situation on their hands and so she sends the other son away. She says, “When this thing calms down a little bit, I’ll send for you.” The truth of the matter is that she never saw that son again. If you have not already guessed, this is the story of Isaac and Rebekah and their twin sons, Esau and Jacob. To be great, men must learn how to communicate.

That doesn’t mean we have to be a talker to be great, rather it means we need to be a communicator. Because marriage requires communication. And parenting requires communication. And friendship requires communication. Do you take the time to clarify? Do you take the time to make sure that the person you are speaking to truly understands you?  If we say something without thinking about it first, we may actually hurt that person without knowing it.

God is the best example for incredible effective communication if you really look at the magnitude of His skills. His words to us are specific and deliberate. There are reasons why He says things, where He says things and how He says things. He’s very direct in His speech yet has our hearts in the forefront of His thoughts in everything He says and does.

To be a great communicator, we must think before we speak, choose the right time to speak, exhibit the right attitude when we speak and what we say is constructive rather than destructive.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How important is communication in being a man of God?
  2. What can we do this week to improve our communication skills ?

Dare To Be Great

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 

What does it mean to be a man of God or a Godly man? It probably depends on who you ask. Some would say that being a man of God is a drab existence, while others would consider a godly man to be weak. While still others would suggest the exact opposite. 

Being a godly man is being a man of strength. Not the Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle-rippling kind of strength, but a strength of mind, heart and spirit. A strength that comes from a man who knows what he believes and stands firm for what’s right. A strength in recognizing right from wrong and confessing when he has given into the latter. A strength that is confident enough to do right, choose right and be right. If you want to be a man that is great, be strong enough to stand your ground and hold on to your values, beliefs and, most importantly, your God. In other words, don’t give in when you are challenged, attacked, or criticized. “For see, today I have made you strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.You will stand against the whole land— the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. They will fight you, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” – Jeremiah 1:18-19

Men of God also have compassion. You can always evaluate a man of God by his heart. Does his heart move for the things that move God’s heart?  Is he moved by struggles in the lives of loved ones? Is he affected when things are not as they should be in life, in situations, in relationships? A man of God allows his heart to be moved and then allows his actions to follow his heart. A great man is full of compassion and love because he has the heart of Jesus. 

Finally, men of God have humility. A man of God doesn’t need to talk up who he is, because his walk does that for him. A man of God puts away his “rights” for the right to be selfless, loving and full of grace. As we so often point out, the greatest example of humility is found in Jesus. A man who laid down his rights and made Himself nothing in order to be an example of undying love for all people, Great men seek to do the same. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read I Corinthians 15:58: What does this verse mean to you?
  2. What can we do this week to be a person of compassion and humility?

Transformation Not Information

“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9. 

A. W. Tozer once said that “Unused truth becomes as useless as an unused muscle.” He is right. Information is good, but application is everything. It’s like an app on our phones – they can get us organized, they can monitor our health and track our diet, but they are useless unless we use them. 

James says we should not merely listen to the word, we have to put it into practice. If we don’t we deceive ourselves. We are deceived because just listening to God’s word is like joining a health club and never actually going. Just coming to church doesn’t make our faith stronger. Staying awake through the sermon isn’t living a life that pleases God. Even being part of a small group learning all we can doesn’t make the difference. If we listen and learn and think that we are growing in our faith and living the life God wants for us – we are being deceived.

God has always been interested in how His people apply His word. If we go back to the Old Testament we see that just listening and being in worship brought God’s people a false sense of security, in other words they were deceived. God was not calling His people to listen –he was calling them to obey and be faithful. Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)

But the people weren’t faithful and they didn’t follow the principles God gave them or apply the word of God to their lives. Their deception eventually led to the destruction of the Temple and the defeat of their nation. What happened to them is exactly what James is talking about here; they only listened and so were deceived. They forgot the one thing we can’t forget and that is that application is everything.

Listening is not enough, we have to live out God’s word if we want to experience the blessing of freedom and life. Application is everything. Jesus said it best in Matthew 7:24-27: “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the ways that we can apply God’s truths in our lives?
  2. What can we do this week to make the Bible more actionable?

The Most Important Story In The Bible

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.” – John 15:9.

The Bible is full of amazing true stories. We can read about The Red Sea parting for Moses, David beating Goliath, Jonah in the big fish, Daniel in the lion’s den and many more. But there is story that overshadows every other story in the Bible; the story of Jesus. 

Imagine you are walking with a friend along a dusty road near Jerusalem, talking about the latest news. You look at your friend and comment, “Can you believe they actually killed him?”

“It is hard to believe” your friend says. “But the latest news on the street is that some women are saying they actually saw him alive this morning. What do you make of that?”

Before you can answer, another guy joins the two of you. “Whatcha talking about?” he asks.

“Current events,” you answer. “There is a rumor that Jesus has come back from the dead? But it sounds a little too crazy, doesn’t it?” The new guy pauses for a moment and says, “I’m not sure why you find that a little crazy? Didn’t Jesus predict that it would happen?”

Then the guy goes on to tell you everything the Scriptures said about Jesus. Things that were predicted hundreds, even thousands, of years before. Things that had, indeed, come true through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Here are a couple examples.

” … Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt. “ (Zechariah 9:9). Not long before his death, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (Mark 11:1-11). “But he was pierced for our rebellion…He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus indeed was pierced-by the nails of crucifixion and by a spear in his side-and died for our sins (Romans 5:8). “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18). That’s just what the Roman soldiers did at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:35). “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.” (Psalm 16:10). Jesus didn’t stay in the grave for long. He came back to life (Mark 16:6-7).

It is at that moment that you realize who this guy is, it is Jesus in the flesh, alive and well-just as the Scriptures predicted. And just as Jesus himself had promised. It’s a true story, this walk down a dusty road in the Jerusalem suburbs. (You can read it in Luke 24:13-35).

There are dozens of predictions that ultimately came true with Jesus. In fact, the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, tells his story, clearly pointing to Christ.  

Discussion Question:

  1. What can we do this week to increase our knowledge of the story of Jesus?

Why Should You Read The Bible?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17. 

What would we do without GPS? It is hard to imagine life without it. Today, GPS units are in our cars and phones politely but firmly inform us when we’ve gone past a planned turn or destination. Indeed, we can determine our location at any given moment with a mind-boggling level of precision. It is nearly impossible to get lost. As Christians, we don’t need to feel lost in our lives.  Fortunately, we have been given the best GPS there is, the best guidance for our lives: the Bible.

The Bible is our instruction manual, it shows us how to live our lives, it gives us examples of others who have walked this life well. It’s practical help for our daily lives, as well as showing us the future God has for us.

When you read the Bible, it heals and transforms you from the inside out. Reading the Bible settles your fears, gives you faith and hope for your daily life. As we read it and do what it says – our lives are transformed.

The Bible is a collection of 66 books by different authors written across thousands of years. This is the best historical collection of books ever! When you really study the Bible, it comes alive. You will fall in love with Jesus as you read the gospels, you will feel the passion of Paul as he talks to the Corinthians, you will be frustrated alongside Moses as he walks the Israelites through the wilderness. 

It only takes a few minutes a day to read the Bible. But don’t read the Bible alone, the Holy Spirit will teach you as you read and bring it to your memory when you need it the most (John 14:26).

So, jump in today and read your Bible, the GPS for your Christian life. Let it light your pathway into the great life and future that God has for you.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have a daily time for reading the Bible? If not, what are the obstacles?
  2. How can you make reading the Bible part of your daily routine?

The Most Incredible Book

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” – John 5:39. 

Whether you accept and believe in it’s teachings or not, it cannot be denied that the Bible is the most remarkable, amazing, unique and incredible book that has ever been written. If you read the Bible you can find just about anything: Drama, love, hate, peace, war, romance, poetry, prophecy, history, mystery, to name a few.

There are other reasons the Bible is an incredible book. They include: 

First, consider the continuity of the Bible. Here is a book written over a 1,500 year time-span by over 40 authors from every walk of life. Nevertheless, from beginning to end, its authors spoke on hundreds of subjects with harmony and continuity. Second, consider the fact that the Bible has been read by more people than any other book in history. The Bible has out-sold every book ever written and still sells more copies every year than any other book. This is in spite of the fact that the Bible was the first major book ever to be printed on the Gutenberg press.

Third, the Bible has been translated and published in more languages than any other book. Wycliffe states that parts of the Bible are available in approximately 2,900 out of the 6,877 known languages, and that there are currently 554 languages with a complete Bible translation. The New Testament is available in 1,333 languages and many more have at least one book of the Bible available.

The Bible lived through more attacks than any other book. People have tried to burn it, destroy it and outlaw it, from the days of the Roman emperors to today. The fact that it not only survived but thrived is in itself miraculous. Discoveries by archaeologists both confirm and prove the Bible’s absolute accuracy.  Not one archaeological discovery has ever contradicted or cast doubt on a Biblical reference. Add to that the Bible is the only volume ever produced which contains a large amount of prophecies accurately predicting the future of individual nations, peoples, cities, and the coming of the Messiah!

The Bible is truly an incredible book. No matter how often you read the Bible or what book or passage you are reading, you will encounter truth, some wisdom, some life lesson that is still relevant to us today. Given all that, why don’t we read it? Why don’t we study it? Why don’t we soak up the timeless truths and wisdom that can be found in every part of the Bible?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What makes the Bible remarkable to you? Why?
  2. What are some reasons we don’t spend more time studying the Bible? What can we do to overcome those obstacles.

Something May Have Been Lost In The Translation

“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.” – Hebrews 4:12. 

There are times when what you are trying to say is lost in translation. It happens often in translation from one language to another or in printed media. For example, an ad for a Bangkok dry cleaner when translated to English read, “Drop your trousers here for best results.” Another example was printed in a local newspaper. The story revolved around a major explosion at a chemical plant. The reporter interviewed a person who lived close to the plant. Something was lost in translation when the quote in the article said, “I was awakened by a loud blast in my pajamas.”

Nothing should ever be lost in translation when it comes to the Bible. If you had been looking to purchase a Bible fifty years ago, your choices would have been between the King James Version (KJV) and maybe one other. Today, you are faced with shelves and shelves of different Bible versions. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options. Which one should you acquire? What factors should be taken into consideration before making your decision? 

God’s Word does not change, but languages does change, thus the need for updated and revised translations of the Bible. The overriding goal of the modern translations is to help convey to readers in contemporary English what the original text meant. Each translation has limits. The church uses the NLT, but the ESV and NIV are excellent versions as well.

The next question you hear is should you stick with one version or several.  A rule of thumb is to use multiple translations for the purpose of increased understanding — for instance, use them as commentaries — and use one main translation for the purpose of memorization. It is hard to memorize scripture when bouncing around amongst several versions. It becomes very confusing. 

Remember two things: First, we must keep in mind that the Bible must be prayed over, studied, and committed to the heart in order for it to function in the manner that God intended. The truth of Scripture is given to us for living. We may own every version of the Scriptures that is available and not profit by any of them. Regardless of what translation you use, what matters is the changes in thinking that result from what we read.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What translation do you use? Why?
  2. What can we do this week to improve how we read and study the Bible?