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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The B....I...B...L...E, its the book for me!

All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 VOICE)
Ever wonder why we were given scripture? It was because we needed to be "up to the task" of accomplishing every (not just some) good work. It so amazing to consider just how the words penned within the pages of our Bible actually came to be. Sixty six books, written by at least 40 authors, over 1600 years in the writing, all under the authority of the Holy Spirit and anointed by God for the task of recording these teachings we have before us today. It is the one book which has been translated into more than 1200 languages and is given away more often than any other book we could receive. As our text points out today, ALL of scripture is God-breathed, but we are under a warning not to add to it, nor are we to take away from it. This makes it pretty clear to me that God wants it to remain "in tact", but that he also wants us to have ALL that is shared within these 66 books. We might have our "favorite" passages or books within the pages of our Bible, but ALL of it has been given for our growth.
Useful teaching - when we limit our intake of the entirety of the scripture, we limit the "usefulness" of this text to help us in our growth. Even the hard to understand stuff, when studied even a little bit with the help of a scholarly teacher can help us see things as God sees them and trust him in ways we may not have really fully considered before. When I first read through the outline of how the Tabernacle of Moses was written, with all those instructions on the size, shape, content, and appearance of the various walls, altar, washbasin, etc., I was kind of thinking this was a little dry content for me. When I actually took time to consider why God required the use of the colors he did in weaving the garments of the priest or the walls of the Tabernacle, I see blue, purple and scarlet. Why those colors? Purple had long been associated with the royal garments of the King. Scarlet has long been associated with the sacrifice of Christ - blood shed for our sins. Blue may have represented the uniqueness of his grace, or the majesty of his dwelling in the heavenlies - we don't really know, but blue was very hard to make in those days as indigo was expensive and rare. My point is that even the most difficult things to "understand" can have a way of pointing us toward grace, God's goodness, the impact it can have on our character, and how much God loves each of us if we let it instruct us - making it useful in every measure in our lives.
Rebuke and correction we may be a little less than thrilled to receive from scripture, but the fact of the matter is that we ALL need both regardless of our station in life. We are never too old to learn, nor are we too set in our ways to change. Where grace abounds, so does change. Where grace has an impact, a life is altered for the good. This is the purpose for scripture acting as a tool of rebuke or an instrument of correction. It isn't to smack us over the head with all the ways we aren't measuring up - it is to help us create the foundation within our lives by which we may see the structure of our lives altered for the good.
ALL of scripture is given for our "training" - to help us move from being marginally "good" at living righteously, to being awesomely "fantastic" at it! There is no end to our transformation, though. If you were thinking you'd get to the last chapter of Revelation and suddenly be a totally different person, you were probably right. You did transform as you made your way through those pages, but...that transformation isn't over because you will do so again and again as you read and reread all those chapters once again in your walk with Christ! We are indeed a "work in process" - there is no doubt about that. The tools by which the work is accomplished are housed within the pages of this text we call the Bible. As much as we may try to remove a flat-head screw with a bottle cap, the cap is not the right tool to accomplish the task. God has given us the right tools - but we have to allow their use if we are to be transformed as we so desperately require.  Just sayin!