The Bible Is Good For Us
As Christians, we are encouraged to do a number of things.
One of them is to worship our Lord Jesus Christ.
We do that by singing, praying, and thinking about Bible passages. Even the offertory time is part of worship as it provides us the opportunity to give - to return to - the Lord some of what He has given us monetarily. Of course, the money given is crucial to keep the ministries of our church functioning, so by giving, we are proclaiming our interest in and support of work done in Jesus’ name.
As Christians, we are encouraged - we are challenged and taught - to worship Jesus. We are also encouraged to pray.
In last week’s message, a prayer plan was presented. A plan that includes six steps. Be silent and listen to the voice of God. Pause and be refreshed. Interrupt for a spiritual inventory and repentance. Accentuate the joy and thankfulness for God’s provision. Exalt God for answered prayers. End each day by reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness.
As Christians, we are encouraged to worship and pray. We are also encouraged to read the Bible.
I remember a professor I had at Grace University in Omaha call the Bible God’s love letter to us. That description was designed to inspire us to be eager to read the Bible. As we are anxious to read and re-read letters from those we love in a worldly way, we are to be at least as anxious to read and re-read the loving words of God and Jesus. Words directed to us by the Holy Spirit.
God wants us to read the Bible because it has for us everything we need to know about life. Life now and, for those who believe in Jesus, life forever in Heaven.
It needs to be mentioned that for those who do not believe in Jesus, life forever will be in Hell. That is made clear in the Bible. But the Bible does tell how to receive blessings now and then be in Heaven, which is to accept Jesus as Savior. The Bible tells us how, after accepting Jesus, to live in ways that are best for ourselves, for others, and for God.
Reading the Bible is what God wants us to do. Reading the Bible will therefore please Him. It will also help us. How? That is the gist of today’s message, which features five ways reading the Bible helps us.
Of course, just reading the Bible is not enough. For God’s word to do us any good, we have to learn and apply God’s word. Let’s keep that in mind throughout this message, but there are some ways that reading and learning and applying the Bible will help us.
By the way, I recently read a devotional about what is good for us. The author shares that he likes dark chocolate, so he Googled the question, “Is dark chocolate good for you?” He received many answers, some good, some bad.
The same can be done for other food products.
Is milk good for you? Some say yes because of the calcium, while others say no because of the fat.
Is coffee good for you? The answer used to be no, but some now say yes. That it can even prevent Alzheimers.
Are eggs good for you? The answers are again mixed because eggs have both cholesterol and protein.
There is a dizzying array of answers to questions about what foods are good or bad for us. As the devotional adds, such confusion can lead to headaches. I add to that the question, “Is aspirin or ibuprofen good for you or bad for you?” Again the answers vary.
But the Bible? Reading it, learning it, applying it.” There is no question at all that those things are good for us. Why? I have five reasons.
The first one is this. It can keep us pure, which is told in Psalm 119:9-16.
“How can a young man [the same applies to young women and older men and women] keep his way pure?”
There are so many temptations all around us. That has always been the case. A few decades ago it maybe became more pronounced because of all the print material that was and still is available with pictures and headlines that shout out immorality. It is even more acute now because of electronics.
On my Yahoo account there is a spam filter. When I check it occasionally to make sure something was not mistakenly filtered, I am amazed how many porn sites are on the list. In a recent 11-day period, there were 212 spam items, 134 of them porn-related.
Two others invited me to help some Nigerians transfer their wealth to my account.
I want to make it very clear I did not open any of the nasty ones, but almost two-thirds of the spam were invitations to impurity.
The question is very relevant. How can a young man - how can anyone - keep his or her way pure? The answer. By “guarding it according to God’s word.” Word given to us in the Bible.
The call is to read, learn, and apply the Bible. That is what comes next. The Psalmist wrote, “I have laid up [God’s] word in my heart. I have done that so I will not sin against [God].”
He also prayed. “Let me not wander from Your commandments, O God. Teach me Your laws.” But he promised a willingness to be taught. He did lay up God’s words in his heart.
And get this. He also promised to “declare” God’s word to others. He was so anxious to do that, he “delighted” in God’s word. God’s word was as precious to him as were “riches.”
The passage ends with these promises. “I will meditate on Your words. I fix my eyes on Your ways [which are described in the Bible]. I will continue to delight in Your statutes. I will not forget Your word.”
Do you - do I - do we - want to be pure? I hope so. There is one way to accomplish that. Read, learn, and apply the Bible. Know and use the word of God.
Is the Bible good for us? Yes. It can keep us pure. And it blesses us, which takes us to Luke 11:28.
That verse is a quote of Jesus that came maybe a couple years into His three-year earthly ministry. As He taught one day, the idea of being blessed came up. Being blessed means to be made holy or different. To be showered with divine favor. To be assured of God’s provision. Being blessed is a very good thing.
as Jesus taught one day, He said, “Blessed [provided for, favored, holy] are those who hear the word of God.” In our day and age, we can also read it. “Blessed are those who hear the word of God - and keep it.”
Again the challenge is to read, learn, and apply the Bible. The reward is being blessed, for which we should all strive. What a privilege to have that close a relationship with God - and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Is the Bible good for us? Yes. It can keep us pure. It blesses us. And it makes us wise, which takes us to Matthew 7:24.
This verse comes toward the end of what is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It was a long sermon, extending from the start of Matthew 5 to the end of chapter 7. In the sermon, Jesus touched on just about every aspect of living rightly with God and with other people. He touched not only on actions, but also on thoughts and attitudes.
Jesus ended His sermon by making a comparison.
“Everyone who hears [or reads] the words of the sermon and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon sand. When the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house, it fell, and great was the fall of it. However, everyone who hears [or reads] the [words of Jesus] and does them [here again is the challenge to read, learn, and apply the Bible] will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. When the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house, it did not fall.”
There are storms that come into each life. We all know that from experiencing life. How can we survive the storms, at least spiritually? By being wise enough to read, learn, and apply the Bible.
Is the Bible good for us? Yes. It can keep us pure. It blesses us. It makes us wise. And it gives us light and understanding, which takes us back to Psalm 119, this time verses 105 and around 130.
Verse 105 proclaims that the word of God gives light. “Thy word [God’s word] is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Light is such a wonderful thing, is it not? I remember years ago frequently driving on a very dark stretch of a city street. It was a very uncomfortable area to drive. That continued until street lights were installed. A few each block allowed me to see where I was going. What a relief.
Driving or walking at night can be difficult and dangerous. Except when there is light showing the path we are to be on.
Spiritually, the walk of life can be difficult and dangerous, not only at night, but any time because of the dangers all around us. As mentioned earlier, that includes temptations to impurity. In addition, there are other things that can take our attention off God’s way. There are plenty of people around who, with or without intent, try to curb our enthusiasm for the way of God.
Life can be difficult and dangerous. That is why we need the proper path lighted, which God’s word does for us. Verse 129. God’s “testimonies,” which are evidences of His work, which includes His word, are “wonderful.” Words that - here is verse 130 - “give light.” We just talked about that. And it gives “understanding to the simple.” Simple is not an insult, as in stupid and slow mentally. It refers to being willing to rely on God.
Earlier, when we considered an earlier passage in Psalm 119, we saw the Psalmist’s promise to rely on God’s word. The same is true in the verses surrounding 130. “My soul keeps God’s word.” That was happening and it would continue to happen. “I long for God’s commandments. God, keep my steps steady,” which light and understanding can do.
And listen to this in verse 136. “My eyes shed streams of tears because men [others] do not keep God’s law.” What a challenge that should be for us. Not because of what the ungodly might do to us, though that is part of it, but because the ungodly cannot be pure and blessed and wise and kept on proper paths, which is detrimental to them, now and always. That happening unless they change their ways. What a concern for others. May we have that same concern.
Is the Bible good for us? Yes. It can keep us pure. It blesses us. It makes us wise. It gives us light and understanding. And it helps us grow spiritually, which takes us to I Peter 2:2.
I Peter was written to Christians who had been exiled because of their faith. Peter knew those Christians had suffered persecution. Persecution was going to continue. His purpose was to encourage them to stay strong in their faith. To be hopeful about the grace of Jesus. To be obedient to Jesus, the source of their faith. To put away bad things like malice, which is the desire to do evil or have evil done to someone. To also put away guile, insincerity, envy, slander. To instead be pure. And to love one another, thereby encouraging one another in the Christian faith.
Then verse 2. “Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk [the word of God in the Bible] that by it you may grow up to salvation,”
Babies are cute, but that would change if they never grew. Babies are supposed to grow and develop into children and then teenagers and then young adults and then older adults. There is a maturing process that is normal physically. The same is true spiritually. We are to grow.
And the growth is to continue always. I know more than I used to know about the Bible, but I realize I have barely scratched the surface. There is so much more to know and learn.
I hope I apply the Bible more now than I used to, but I realize I still need to grow in that area so that I can fully accomplish what is written in verse 5 of I Peter 2. That I will be a living stone - “a living spiritual stone “- used by God to be built into a “spiritual house,” personally and with other Christians. As discussed earlier, a house wisely built on the rock of God’s word.
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As Christians, we are encouraged to worship Jesus in song, prayer, thought, and giving.
We are encouraged to pray, including being silent so we can listen to the voice of God, pausing to be refreshed, interrupting our normal schedules for a spiritual inventory and repentance, accentuating the joy and thankfulness for God’s provision, exalting God for answered prayers, and ending each day by reflecting on the LORD’s faithfulness.
As Christians, we are also encouraged to read the Bible, which is good for us. With chocolate, milk, coffee, eggs, and aspirin, there are varied opinions, but with the Bible - reading it, learning it, applying it - there is no question but that it is good for us because - say them with me - the Bible can keep us pure, it blesses us, it makes us wise, it gives light and understanding, and it helps us grow spiritually.
Let’s pray. God, thank You for giving us the Bible. Your word really and truly is important and worthwhile. Help us to read it. Help us to learn it. Do not allow us to be discouraged that we will never know it all. Instead, give us a thirst and a hunger to learn more about Your word. And even though it can be difficult to do, help us to strive daily to apply Your word to how we live. Help us to be pure, blessed, wise, understanding, and growing. Amen.
The closing song is Be Thou My Vision.
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Nought be all else to me, save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father and true Friend to me;
Thou in me dwelling, and I join with Thee.
The next verse teaches us what our goal must always be.
Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise.
God, You are to be my inheritance, now and always.
You and You only must be first in my heart,
which can be done as I worship God,
pray to God and with Him,
and read, learn, and apply His word.
High King of Heaven, my treasure You are.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.
Lord, thank You for life. Thank You for Your instructions about how life is to be lived. Help us to take Your instructions seriously, including to read, learn, and study the Bible. That will be for our benefit, for the benefit of others, and for Your glory. Amen.