The Most Important Question We Can Ask of the Bible

The most important question we can ask of a biblical text is not, “What does this mean?” but “What can I obey?” A simple act of obedience will open up our lives to the text far more quickly than any number of Bible studies.

Soren Kierkegaard said,

The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.

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15 Questions from I Corinthians 13 (Love Chapter) For Self-Evaluation

Most people have heard 1 Corinthians 13 at weddings and maybe a sermon at church.  But it’s also a great parameter to assess our own “love” for others.

#1 – “Love Is Patient” – Am I giving others the same room to make mistakes as I want them to give me?

#2 – “Love Is Kind” – Do the people that I spend time with actually like being around me?

#3 – “It Does Not Envy” – Am I automatically jealous of anyone who has a great idea?  Do I rejoice when others are rejoicing or do I wish they would be struggling like me?

#4 – ‘It Does Not Boast” – Do I feel like I always need to remind people of my previous victories?  (If we are obsessed with the past, then we’re not advancing towards the future!)

#5 – “It Is Not Proud” – Do I feel that I am the only one that has all of the answers?

#6 – “It Is Not Rude” – How am I treating those who serve me?  Do I treat the waiter/waitress, customer service rep., and others with the respect I would show my own family?

#7 – “It Is Not Self Seeking” – Who is this about–really?

#8 – “It Is Not Easily Angered” – Are people afraid to bring me information that is true and accurate because they know I will lose my mind and begin to yell?  (Don’t shoot the mailman!)

#9 – “It Keeps No Record of Wrongs” – Do I remind people of their past failures or encourage them in their current condition?

#10 – “Love Does Not Delight in Evil but Rejoices in the Truth” – Can people be honest and open with me?

#11 – “It Always Protects” – Do I have the back of my co-workers and friends?  It’s very discouraging to have a relationship with someone who demands loyalty but will not extend it.

#12 – “Always Trusts” – Do I believe others (the staff at church and my wife at home) can make day-to-day decisions without my input?

#13 – “Always Hopes” – Do I always automatically assume the worst or the best about people?

#14 – “”Always Perseveres” – Am I quick to give up on people after they make one mistake, or am I willing to teach them through it?

#15 – “Love Never Fails” – Am I failing others?  Or am I loving them?

Four Signs of Weak Faith

4 Signs of weak faith…

  1. Demanding visible proof (John 4:48). We desire to see and yet we may be deceived through sight more readily than through almost any other sense. Faith based upon sight is weak. “The devils believe and tremble (James 2:19).” It is really unbelief which demands visible proof (John 20:25, 29). People who will not hear God as He speaks through the Bible will not hear Him when He speaks through miracles.
  2. Driven to God only by overwhelming need. Now, such faith is better than no faith, but it is not so good as the faith that draws us to God by gratitude and love. It is better to be driven than not to come at all; it is still better to be drawn.
  3. While it prays it dictates to God. Strong faith prays out of humility which allows God to guide and dictate rather than the folly of thinking vice versa. Those of weak faith have the impression that they could do better than the Lord, if THEY had the whole thing in hand.
  4. Impatience with God.  It is comforting to know that Jesus honors even faith like this. Though impatient and dictatorial, driven by need and seeking visible evidence, He answers the prayer. He pities our weakness. The fire of trust doe not blaze up; He sees more of the smoke of impatience and unbelief than of faith, but He will not allow the sparks to be trampled. Indeed, He fans the sparks into a flame.

 

How To Recognize the “Children of God”

First, the children of God are known by their actions:

  1. They love each other (1 John 4:7).
  2. They believe in Jesus (1 John 5:1).
  3. They love God and keep his commands (1 John 5:2).

As a result, children of God receive certain blessings:

  1. We have victory over the world (1 John 5:4).
  2. We have an intimacy with the Father by which we can call him “Abba” (Romans 8:15).
  3. We become fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
  4. We await future blessings when Jesus returns (Romans 8:19-21).

So…are you a child of God?  How have you been blessed as a result?

Prayer Obstacle No. 2

Another common obstacle to prayer is an enslavement to “feeling.”

“I don’t feel like it.”

They assume that prayers are only efficacious when they rise from an eager and emotional heart.  We should keep our appointment with God, whether we feel like it or not.  The meek submission of our will deepens our surrender; our resolution to engage in prayer strengthens thought control.

Faith, not feeling, measures the efficacy of prayer.

Prayer Obstacle No. 1

There are many obstacles to having a strong prayer life and none more employed and observed than the lack of time or busy-ness. It’s a shallow obstacle because we clearly find time for less important things–entertainment and friends. We rarely use that excuse meaningfully to excuse our lack of time spent with those closest to us. Christ stole time  from his sleep to pray.  Just begin with 15 minutes/day and try to grow that over time.

Spiritual Contributors, not Spiritual Consumers

Often I hear about people “church shopping.” This makes a lot of sense on one hand because when someone moves to a new community they should probably check out a few churches to see where they might fit best or where the doctrine/beliefs match their own. Sometimes this might also happen to someone who has experienced severe conflict in a church which makes them uncomfortable to return and continue there. But the language “shopping” with church really is not the best approach to finding a church home. It implies that the individual is a consumer looking for a church that will “meet my needs.”

I’m glad people want to find a church home. But looking for a church that meets my needs is an unbiblical statement. The church becomes a product to consume. “We loved the children’s programming but the sermons are really boring.”

God has called us to be spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world. I am here to serve God and to love people. I exist to make a difference. God created me to be a blessing to others.

So ask yourself: Am I more of a consumer or contributor? If you are a Christ-follower, hopefully you are a valuable part of a life-giving church.Do you drop your kids off in the nursery (without ever serving there), drink some free coffee, enjoy the service, then pick up your kids and go home? If so, you’re a consumer.

On the other hand, do you use your gifts to make a difference? Do you invite people to your church? Do you pray faithfully for church leaders? Do you give consistently of your finances? Do you serve passionately? Then you’re more of a contributor.

I’m not trying to be mean or make you feel guilty. I simply want you to be honest with yourself. If you are using your life to be a blessing to others today, then later you will relish sharing the stories that God allows you to tell. If you’re more focused on yourself than serving others, you’re going to end up with many blank pages–lost blessings that you can find only by contributing what God created you to give to the world.