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)