In my opinion, the only time to shop in Wal-Mart is 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. You have the store to yourself and there are plenty of checkers waiting for the crowds to arrive. That is why I was strolling (ok, for those that know me…hobbling) across Wal-Mart this morning and glanced over at the book section. My eye was caught by a title: Knowing the Heart of God. My eyebrows raised ever so slightly and I stopped for a breather (you know they put everything you need a opposite ends) and took a gander. I flipped through the book and read a passage or two in which the author “preached” his personal view of who God is. I flipped to the back and saw that it contained around 280 pages or so and then onto what others said about the book. I read:” J. I. Packer's classic has revealed to over one million Christians around the world the wonder, the glory and the joy of knowing God.” My eyebrows raised even more (they are now in my fuzzy hair). I stepped back a bit and scanned the other “religious” books: “Experiencing God”, “God is not Mad at you”, “Heaven is for Real” and the ever popular pop culture phenomenon “Happy Happy Happy” in which there are a couple of chapters late in the book about the importance of teaching God. All of these books were well over 200 pages, even the book written by Phil Robertson. Who knew the guy could say so much?Now, I understand that reading what a biblical (those who teach the precepts of the word, and “hold the mystery of the faith in pure conscience” I Timothy 3:9) teacher has written to gain encouragement and consider the word more close. Jesus told His disciples to teach the word and that meant that they had to use their words to present His. Again, the biblical writer’s purpose is to consider the word more closely. Biblical writers point us TO the word not AWAY from it. They compel us to move AWAY from our computers and the blog, Facebook post, the paper book down and TOWARD picking up THE Book, the only text that gives Truth. I am always shocked when I hear brothers and sisters able to quote some religious teacher and then not be able to quote the plan of salvation. It is shocking to hear someone has read a 200+ page book written about God, or a 160+ page book written about a four year old’s view of heaven but haven’t taken the time to read the wonderful one chapter book, Philemon- a practical story about forgiveness in the words of the Creator of forgiveness.
But, don’t listen/read me anymore. Take a listen of our Father:“the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:15-17.
“For whatever things were written before were writte
n for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4.
“…no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” II Peter 1:20-21.
Well, we could go on and on, couldn’t we? But, as I stood there in Wal-Mart at 7:00 a.m. this morning that overwhelming sadness turned into an ache as I considered all those books and how many copies had been purchased to read ABOUT the Bible. I stood there looking at the display and noticed the couple of Bibles on the bottom row at the far end kinda looking neglected. As I walked away I felt ashamed for us and thought about my students. I often get an excuse from students who failed to complete assignments correctly. It goes something like this: Johnny: “Why did I make a bad grade? Susie told me how to do it.” To which I reply: “Did you take the time to read my instructions?” Johnny always answers: “No, I thought Susie knew.” Yeah, Susie doesn’t know…. and neither do we, but we better find out from the one who wrote the instructions. I don’t think He will take that excuse. But, someone said it much better, didn’t He? “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” II Tim 2:15. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” II Tim 3:15. “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” Deut 11:18. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding” Pr 3:5. “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Ps 119:11. I think you get the idea....God says it better every time.