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Sunday, March 14, 2010

How Can the Bible Benefit You?

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 (NIV)

        Have you noticed how many people look for guidance in their lives?   They look to self-help and self-improvement books, advice columns in newspapers, programs on television and radio.  Many seek help through psychological treatment or other forms of therapy.  People want help and so often they look to other people--sometimes people who might be going through the same problems they are or even worse.  We often assume that just because a person has PhD after their name they know how to fix us.  These people might be able to help us but they don't know all of the answers.  There is only one source that can answer every question that we have and that is God.

        Fortunately God has provided us with the perfect guidebook to see us through our life journey--The Holy Bible. Some may scoff at the notion that the Bible is relevant to us in this modern age.  Some may call it a book of stories from a past time.  But have they truly put themselves in the right frame of mind and read this great book.  Sure, if you approach the Bible to pick it apart you can come up with many logical sounding arguments that seem to refute much of what it says. Satan is a master at this.  But if one uses pure logic and truly focuses on what the Bible is saying, it makes complete sense. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

       If you are seeking to derive the full benefit from the Bible, you must start with God.  Through prayerful study the truth of His Word will be revealed to you.  Those who study the Bible with the intent to refute it or merely look at the Bible based on their understanding and wishing to interpret it to suit their own needs will not derive any lasting benefit as was intended by God.  This would be like getting in your car for a long trip without a map or a compass and just going whatever way feels right.  Our life's journey can be so much easier when the Bible is our road atlas and God is our compass.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

         Pick up any book in the self-help section of the bookstore.  These books may have some good advice, but how much different is that advice compared to what the Bible teaches.  Oftentimes these self-help books draw directly from the Bible.  And if these books are trying to tell you something that is against what the Bible teaches, then you should reject them.  The Bible is infallible in its teaching.  When you study mathematical pursuits you find that there are certain formulas that stay the same in every case.  It's the same with certain principles in life. There are life formulas that are consistent and by following these laws our lives are ultimately made easier.  Any other teaching is false teaching and in the end will lead to doubt,  hurt, and separation from God. Submit fully to God's way and He will carry you through difficult times.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)

        Jesus exemplified the strength of the teachings of the Bible in this parable.  A life that is built upon solid truths will weather times of trouble, hardship, and testing.  The wise person who follows God's way will not be exempt from suffering perhaps, but that person will have a hope and strength in what they believe.  The foolish person whose life is built upon lies and ideas that have no lasting benefit will find his world collapsing when difficult times come.  If there is no firm foundation to keep him standing, then he will fall.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:23-25 (NIV)

           God's word is a reflection of who we are meant to be.  The Bible is our gift given by God to instruct us, encourage us, and lift us to a place higher than we can ever lift ourselves.  God's Word is the perfect book.  The lessons and laws contained in this book will ultimately give us the greatest freedom.  Do not fall under the false teachings of those who reject the Bible and offer a substitute set of rules for our times.  There are no new laws, the same laws apply.  If we remember this, our lives will be blessed.  It's a formula that all falls into place in the end.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22 (NIV)


  1. Hi Lee:)

    Greetings and good wishes on Sunday morning:)

    Very sound advice. Your post conatins profound wisdom.

    I fact today I listned to the sermon in the Church where the priest was elaborating on the words- I AM THE LIGHT AND THE WAY.

    Even today, the BIBLE is the most widely read book and the most sold BOOK in the world. Whether people follow the BIBLE or not, is a different question altogether.

    There are many things in the BIBLE which will open our eyes and show us the way. I love to read the story of JOB. There is unparalelled wisdom contained in the SERMON ON THE MOUNT AND THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

    Your lovely post is an eye opener to all of us who use the BIBLE sparingly and read it very atuomatically like a machine without trying to understand the real meaning contained in it.

    Best wishes:)

  2. I think that people often overlook their holy's amazing the source of strength and wisdom that can be found and that can apply to so many situations.

  3. Hello Lee,As an avid reader of self help books I can see your point of view. Way back 12 years ago I was at the point where I thought I must have upset God in some way, after all he took my mother and husband from me within 2 months and for a short while I lost my faith, That was short lived I'm glad to say I do read the bible and the self help books I read come with a relazation cd which is beneficial to me. I have learnt much from both the bible and the books I buy.
    I enjoyed reading your post, very soul searching , thanks for sharing.

    Have a grand day.

  4. I really believe in your statement, "this book will ultimately give us the greatest freedom". So often we think that rules or laws take away freedom. Chaos (the lack of structure)does not bring freedom and that's what we would experience without laws or rules. So my thought is that the Bible with it's rules guides and directs a person's path to freedom, freedom from the consequences of sin and bad decisions.

  5. Yeah, the Bible is the ultimate self-help book.

  6. You're right, a lot of self-help books pull from the Bible. My own book is no different! I think some people read them because it adds to what is already in the Bible or puts it in terms they can understand.
    Of course, ultimately, reading a translation of the Bible one understands is best!

  7. your post has not pulled any punches...and yet, you have guided us with care and understanding...

    thank you for your post...and so happy to have you visit me :)

  8. So true! Everything we need is in that Book! I've always found that prayer before reading is a must. I ask for wisdom to understand what it is I am meant to learn from the passage. He promised that if we ask for wisdom, He will grant it.

  9. My thanks to all who follow my Bible study posts. I hope they bless you in some way. Your comments are always a blessing and an encouragement to me.

  10. I admire your writing. However, I'm going to show my young naivete for a moment here and suggest that sometimes we are also looking to the Bible for answers when they are simply inside of ourselves and we just have to have the courage to face whatever it is we fear, because we look for answers when we are afraid.

    Sometimes, we just have to jump off the deep end, with or without the Bible or any holy book. It is my belief that it takes our own personal courage to jump off because we don't know until we know. It is nice to read the Holy Book, but it is up to us, and not the Bible, to face our fears.

  11. Ginny -- thank you so much for your comment. I don't know if you were responding to the challenge I gave in my Saturday post or not, but I really glad that you have expressed your thought on this.

    I would agree with you from the standpoint that often we go through our lives with only our inner sense of direction to make decisions. Experience is the most concrete and real teacher that we can have in so many ways because after all seeing is believing.

    Especially when we are younger, we want to experience life and see for ourselves and challenge notions held by elders, authorities, and the ages. I know because I've been there. I grew up with a respect and affection for the Bible, but once I was out of high school I wanted to challenge the world. I don't know how I survived much of what I did other than attributing it to God watching over me. But I questioned much that was dished out to me not just from the Bible, but from many other sources as well. It's a natural tendency that I saw in many of my friends as well.

    Age and experience certainly tempers one's resistance to ancient wisdom and opens one's mind to the vast possibilities that exist for each of us individually. I realize all of the mistakes and faulty choices I have made in my life. I would change any of them now because they are part of who I have become, but I wouldn't advise anyone else to take those roads either. But we do what we do and hopefully it all turns out.

    To give a comparsion about the Bible as a guidebook as opposed to one's inner "knowledge". It's like having a dictionary or thesaurus when writing. We might use our hunches about correct usage or spelling of words, but if we totally rely on what we believe we may be making errors that make our writing faulty and lacking in credibility. Instead, we study English, grammar, and spelling and learn the rules necessary to write correctly. We study books on writing and read great literature. If each of us just made up language and wrote according to what was inside of us, then literature would be impossible.

    Or imagine doctors who only relied on their instincts. If a doctor performs surgery on me I hope he has studied his medical books and learned what those who preceded him have learned from their experience. I don't want to be part of his trial and error medical experiment.

    Likewise, life offers lessons that have been learned by others before we have come into this world. The Bible is a pretty amazing book full of history, poetry, practical rules, health tips, and advice on living. If one just studied one book like Proverbs and thought about what it says and applied it to their life, I'll bet that person would begin to see amazing things happen to the betterment of their life.

    You are so right when you say that we must each have the courage to face our fears and, for that matter, life itself. Just reading the Bible does not necessariy do anything. And totally leaning on the Bible is often using it as a crutch or an excuse. Using the Bible to justify one's own actions while judging and chastising others is misappropriating and twisting the truth. There are many wrong uses of the Bible, but one who carefully meditates on what is really being said in the Bible and applying its truths to ones life is going to be much better in the end.

    Thanks, Ginny, for your thoughts and for reading my thoughts. I don't think we disagree that much, we're just seeing things from different perspectives.

  12. I'm just skimming this post as I don't have time to read this all today. But I want to praise Ginny for her comment. She is absolutely right - sometimes we need to have the courage to do what we know we have to do. But Lee is also right that we can't just rely on ourselves to know the right thing.

    For example, I am heartbroken right now because my friend's husband has decided to divorce her. He has been depressed and unhappy for years and feels he made a mistake in marrying her. They have two young boys and he feels it is better for the boys if he's not around and they aren't arguing all the time. To him, this seems like the right thing to do and I know it took a lot of courage for him to make this decision.

    BUT... both of these two young boys (ages 5 and 7) have forms of autism. My friend works part time as an aide at their school, making only about $10,000 per year. She can't do any other work because she needs to be around to work with the boys before and after school, and for the therapists that come to the house in the afternoon. They are already struggling financially, and the divorce will make it much, much worse.

    Plus, any change in the boys' routines will affect them greatly. They need consistency and routine in their lives. And the older one adores his father. Whenever he has a nightmare or scrapes his knee he cries for his dad.

    The parents are fighting because of the normal stress of marriage and of having two special needs kids. But the dad feels "it's best for them" if he walks away.

    The Bible tells us that God hates divorce, and that he will give us the strength to do everything we need to do if we will just rely fully on Him. This man claims to be a Christian, but doesn't want to hear that he may not be doing the right thing.

    I'm just praying he'll change his mind.

  13. Correction: She doesn't make $10K per year, she makes $5K. Didn't want to mislead anyone as to what full-time aides make. She spends all day struggling with one special needs child, trying to help her do what she needs to do in class and managing her temper tantrums, and doesn't even get a lunch break.

  14. Christine- that is a difficult story and I can certainly empathize with it having had to go through an unwanted divorce where children are involved. God and my study of the Bible kept me going through particularly hard times.
    Divorce has become too easy in my opinion and using "unhappiness" as an excuse to me is a bit lame if the real understandings of the entire situation haven't been examined thoroughly.

    Thank you, Christine, for your response.



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