Monday, April 29, 2013

The Importance of the Bible - to me #4.

Life’s True diet

Television is obese with shows about chefs, foods from around the world and eating competitions. Then the news comes on about famine and food shortages in other regions and tribes. What Jesus said applies to both realms. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4.

Here is another reason why I convinced about the Bible and committed to its author, Jesus. You may live on the richest foods yet in God’s sight you are not living. Alternatively, you may be constantly hungry yet in the Lord Jesus’ eyes you are alive. The difference is diet. Not as the World considers food but from Christ Jesus’ perspective.

To come alive to God, to grow strong in knowing Him, to mature in serving Him and to be healthy to worship the Lord God Almighty requires a special diet. Jesus lived it out as well as outlined it. True life is feeding upon every word from the mouth of God.  This raises a problem. There are many religious and so called spiritual books and program which are really poisonous to the soul and spirit. How can you determine the real and the healthy from the bogus?

Consider the long term outcome of prolonged indulgence in any spiritual diet. Will it bring you to a personal understanding with the Living God? Will it simply satisfy for the moment but in life’s tough times leave you powerless?  Will the promoted recipes for living actually lead you to a fruitless and hopeless end? So many diet programs, whether spiritual or gastronomic are designed simply to make the authors rich.  
The Bible claims to offer food fare with an eternal guarantee. Do we know any who have tasted it and lived a fulfilled life, regardless of their earthly circumstances? Actually the Bible is filled with those who have tasted and found God’s word satisfying, fulfilling and energizing. The most notable of these is none other than Jesus. The record of His life is testimony to the nourishment of God’s word for top level living under adverse conditions. Since then the testimonies of those who have taken on board Jesus’ menu for life bear testimony in life and death to its value. Their stories fill books, magazines and DVD’s.

Life may burn up our emotions, deaden our souls and corrupts our spirits. How then can we be satisfied and overcome such inner pangs? By what has been prepared by our Heavenly Chef, the Holy Spirit. He serves it to us when we read or hear the Word of God. The hunger of the heart is satisfied! God has a word which guides the searching of the mind into meaning. It provides hope about God’s grace, forgiveness and acceptance. God’s word has something for you to devour and to be filled when dealing with everyday situations. The Bible is described as milk for the spiritually new born. It is bread and meat for the maturing. It never has a used by date and is fresh every time we go for a ‘meal.’  The Psalmist gives a wonderful invitation: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him.’ Psalm 34:8.
Ray (ever satisfied by God’s Word) Hawkins

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Importance of the Bible - to me

Why I tremble
                          When I read the Bible there are times it causes me to tremble.

Why should this be so?
I tremble because I meet the Lord God Almighty in its pages. They tell me He is Holy and Just. Written within its pages are His expectations and straight out commands. I have trembled as His ten Commandments strike home to my heart. I realise I’ve fallen short of God’s standard. I’ve not measured up to Heaven’s quality assurance for entry.

I tremble when I read of the Eternal God’s love for you and me. His holiness condemns but His mercy seeks our forgiveness and cleansing. How could this be resolved? Only by someone without blemish standing in my place, your place, and taking the righteous judgement!

I fall down in gratitude to read of the One and the only One who could do it. His name is Jesus! I read of all the preparation He undertook to ensure when it happened we would recognise it. Jesus Christ overwhelms me with His grace not simply for me but for the whole world.  The cross was no accident. It was the historical, tangible, physical experience of Jesus who applied it to the spiritual realm to deal with my sin, unbelief and rebellion. He took my judgement, your judgement. His life flowed out when His blood was shed and it became our cleansing and covering. (Read Romans 5-6)

I now tremble with delight in accepting Christ Jesus as my Saviour and Lord.  There are times when I realise I’ve not been as faithful as I should have been to His calling on my life. But as I read God’s word I don’t find banishment but the opportunity for repentance and restoration.

What is the power within the pages of God’s word, the bible that causes a reader to tremble? It is the Holy Spirit making the print speak to the heart. He works a work of grace so as to bring us to and keep us true to Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour.  In Isaiah 66:2b is this promise, God speaking, “this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit, who trembles at my word.”

Ray (the trembling) Hawkins

When I Hear Your Word

When I hear your word
I tremble
O Father, how I tremble!
When I read your word
And know your plans
My heart trembles

When I enjoy your word
I rejoice
O Jesus, how I rejoice!
When I study your word
And know your mind
My heart trembles

When I obey your word
I’m humbled
O Spirit, how I’m humbled!
When I love your word
And know your will
My heart trembles

©Ray Hawkins 21/4/2013.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Importance of the Bible to me #2.

Life’s Light
‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ Psalm 119:105.

Apparently the imagery behind this verse comes from ancient footwear. Night travellers would have a special shoe with an oil lamp attached. It had a small light with enough brilliance to reveal what was just in front of the next footstep.

Here is another reason I appreciate the Bible. Sure it has a long beam of light to penetrate things unseen, such as Heaven. Yes it does have a wide ark which encompasses future events and fulfilled prophesy. What the verse quoted informs me about however is that God’s Word throws light on my everyday situations.

I switch it on, that’s called reading its content. What it then says, points to or reveals through investigation, creates an inner light show. It may be a warning light flashing about some religious scam; a moral alert about the seduction of pornography; or highlighting some unsavoury habit developing. Then again it might be a green light to confirm some decision, giving wisdom on some critical issue or making alive and personal the sense of the Lord Jesus’ pleasure.

The lighting power of the Bible never fades or dies. Its source is none other that the Eternal God. One of His characteristics is described as ‘Light–Eternal light!’ Therefore He has imbued His word with the same energy to light up our life. There have been many times over the years God’s word has influenced my footsteps unconsciously. It has thrown light upon certain pathways which would have led to unnecessary embarrassment, hurting, especially to loved ones and friends, or put me into endorsing things with which I disagree.

The Bible has shone light upon the very fundamental questions asked by the Human heart. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Is there a God? If so what is He like and what does He expect? Can I find forgiveness and deliverance from the guilt, shame and fear in my soul? No other book, secular or religious has any power to light up a person’s life, mind and heart. In fact all other books dealing with these questions actually create a deeper darkness. Often they are a cause of so much stumbling and heartbreak. 

Years have rolled over me since I first took the Bible seriously and opened its pages regularly and systematically. My only regret is that I didn’t start a few years earlier.  To have done so would have saved me from a lot of silly stumbling and shallow, selfish living which sullied the soul. Fortunately the Lord of the Bible offered cleansing and forgiveness. I still have memories but not the guilt nor the dirt.

The light God’s Word shines will continue to teach me, warm me, protect me and nurture me so long as I read it and put it into practice. Why do I have that assurance? Because the Bible has led my footsteps to meeting Jesus Christ the conqueror of Calvary! He is the Light of the Word. He is the Light of Life. He is the source of the Bible’s light. He is the Life and Light of my life. I get to know Him more and more through the Light that shines on Him through the Bible  
Next week: Much more than bread and butter.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Importance of the Bible

The Bible – God’s Sword.

The Judeo–Christian Bible is loved or hated, feared or revered, assailed or defended because of its content and claims. As I share this series I want to let you into the reasons why I love it, enjoy it, am convinced of its inspiration and integrity. For me the Bible has more going for it than any other religious/spiritual book.

We will consider some of the claims it makes and whether they match up to reality in a person’s life. For instance why does it claim to be the sword of the Lord? ‘The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two–edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12) 

Notice it isn’t a literal sword. It is much more enduring and powerful. A metal sword can only kill not bring back to life. The word of God does both. When we hear it or read it there is a power and vibrancy penetrating our mind and heart. It’s searching out anything contrary to the eternal and holy God. This is why so many resist reading it.  Over the years I have felt the smiting of God’s sword. It cuts deep and deals with thoughts, motives, dark passions and self–righteous virtues no one but God and I know about. It reveals so as to deal with issues effecting a personal faith and obedient relationship with our Lord and Saviour.

What happens next? I must offer up those unwholesome things of my inner and active life to the sword. The Lord doesn’t snatch them from me. I must yield them to the sword. In so doing the word of God puts them to death, provides forgiveness and offers new resources to live a life pleasing to God It becomes one which will bless others and also prevent any blackmailing from Satan. God made me (and also you in similar circumstances) alive together with Him when He forgave and put to death all my trespasses. (Colossians 2:13)

If I don’t read or listen to God’s word then I may imagine I’m safe from His sword. Foolish thinking! The ultimate day will arrive when we stand before the One who wields the sword of His mouth. Before the Lord gives permission to enter His glory how much smiting sword play will He require to be performed on me, on you? We cannot enter with moral, spiritual or emotional darkness and disease in our inner being. Best to deal with it in our life time than to be embarrassed before His judgement seat. Sure salvation is not at risk, but knowing the pleasure of the Lord concerning our faithfulness is.

So I’m thankful for those across the years who taught me God’s word, which I didn’t put into practice unfortunately until late teens. The pain and shame of feeling God’s sword wasn’t pleasant but Oh how thankful I am that He used it. I’m also glad that the Lord continues to make His word alive and active today. Why? Because it safeguards my Christian life and testimony as well as knowing his pleasure!

Next week…The Bible as life guiding light..

I hope you will come along with me each week to have a look at some of the wonder, the beauty and the promises alive and vibrant in His word. Until next week – enjoy reading and hearing the most thrilling book in all of time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

God's Messages in Stone #6

The Radiant Stone

Precious gems have an inner radiance although encrusted by layers of mire and clay. When tumbles and polished then placed in a lovely setting they can take our breath away.

The Stone we have be considering actually went through a similar process. The Lord Jesus humbled Himself when He came from glory to take on the flesh of humanity. (Philippians 2:5-8) He willingly encrusted Himself with the clay of His creation. Not only that, Jesus on the cross also collected all the mire, filth and judgement of humankind’s sin.  As the Christ He became the rejected Stone.

By the power of His righteous life He overcame all this and rose again. He is now the Living Stone.  I think it was on the cross and in the tomb that Jesus also experienced the tumbling and polishing of God the Father’s power.  From that He arose triumphant and glorious. All the clay and mire of sinful humanity could no longer cling to Him.

In Revelation 4:3 we are given a glimpse of the living Stone named Jesus. Here, He is in the regal setting of Heaven. When John sees Christ Jesus he is overcome and left almost speechless. John could only describe Jesus in words of precious gems. Not only that, the stones mentioned were the first and last in the breastplate of the High Priest. This too is significant when we know Jesus is our eternal High Priest.  Here are John’s words: ‘There in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looked like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looked like an emerald.’

What a transformation. The rejected Stone is declared to be the Radiant Stone. Such beauty isn’t cosmetic. It comes from Christ’s essential and eternal nature.  His glory has been enhanced by His becoming the crucified and risen Saviour. Our Lord is now in His proper setting waiting until the time is right to return to Earth as the Lord God of hosts.

As John concludes the account recorded in Revelation he mentions the eternal city of the New Jerusalem. ‘It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.’ (Revelation 21:11)  What that says to me is that the future city is permeated by the very radiance and beauty of our Lord and Saviour. I’m overwhelmed by the wonder of His grace that Jesus has made it possible for the likes of you and me to be citizens of this place. 

When we believe on Jesus as the Stone who took on our clay and mire we acknowledge Him as the Rejected Stone. When we commit our lives to Him by faith in Him as the risen Lord He becomes our Living Stone.  As we get to know Him more and more through the Bible we realise Christ Jesus is our Foundation Stone. Because of all that, one day we will behold Him with wonder and praise as Jesus Christ, Lord, Saviour, Eternal God, our Radiant Stone!