What if…

What if…

What if our Bibles were really important?  I mean really important.  A story is told of an old man who loved the books.  And he was talking to one of his friends and his friend had just thrown away an old Bible that he had found in the attic of his ancestral home.  And the friend said, “Yeah it was an old Bible.  It was printed by Gutten somebody or other.”  And the book lover said, “Not Guttenberg.  That was like one of the first books ever printed.  Why one of them just sold for $2,000,000.”  And his friend said, “Mine wouldn’t have brought a buck.  Some dude had written German all over it named Martin Luther.”  I doubt that story is true but it brings up a point.  What if our Bibles were valuable not because of who had printed them, or who owned them, or that it was a leather book, or it was fancy paper but it was valuable because of the words on the page?  What if any old ordinary Bible that we can go down to the Christian bookstore and buy right today had value?

Josiah in Kings 22 starts a project to rebuild Israel.  He takes over from King Manasseh.  King Manasseh had made a mess out of Israel.  King Josiah takes over.  He is a young boy.  He says we’re going to restore the temple.  So they unboard the windows and doors of the temple and begin restoring it and while they do that they find the scrolls, and so they sit down and read them.  And the words were so profound that they go running off to King Josiah and said you’ve got to check this out.  And they read the scrolls to the king and the king realizes that the problems Israel has been having is because of their ignorance of what the Bible says – ignorance and disobedience of God.  Nobody had read the scrolls in so long they had forgotten what they said.  And so this starts a mighty revival in the land of Judah.  And what would happen if our Bibles were that important?  What if?

Video:  What if our Bibles were just as important as our cell phone?  We treated it like we couldn’t live without it.  When we forgot it, we went back to get it.  We had lots of gadgets to keep us connected to it.  We always had it close by in case of an emergency.  We carried it around in our purses and pockets.  We checked it throughout the day for new messages.  We were constantly going over our minutes every month.  We made sure our battery never ran low.

What if our Bible were just as important as our cell phone?  Just out of curiosity, how many of us here today have our cell phones?  Darn near close to 100%.  I’m not going to ask how many of us brought our Bibles today.  Take out your sermon notes if you haven’t already and let’s look and see what would happen if our Bibles were as important as our cell phones.  And when I started doing this sermon, I came up with about 9,000 reasons.  We’re only going to look at three today so if you think of other things that might happen if our Bibles were this important they are probably out there.

Number one.  Making the Bible a priority results in understanding.  Making the Bible a priority results in understanding.  Some of us might wonder why we need a Bible.  We say you know I went to Sabbath School when I was kid, and I learn all the stories about Abraham, and David, and Jonah, and Noah, and I learned all that stuff.  I learned some of the stories that Jesus told the parables.  I know the little morals that go along with them.  I’m good.  I might not be the biggest Bible scholar in the world but I got the basis covered.  I’m feeling pretty good.

When I was in 7th grade, Podunk Ville nowhere Pennsylvania, Hamburg, Pennsylvania, I challenge you to find it on a map.  It’s so small it doesn’t make the map.  You go Google Earth and look for it it’s one of those areas where everything is so low res all it is is just a grean blotch.  There is no town there.  Little school was right here.  Parking lot was here and the principal lived like right over here.  So he is right by the school.  I’m in 7th and 8th grade class he is going to teach us wood shop.  Once a week we go over to his house for wood shop.  Now I thought this was going to be easy for me.  My dad is a master carpenter.  If you have ever been to my house, I’ll show you all the cool stuff my dad can build.  Usually my contribution to my dad is handing him the tools.  But I thought I would have wood shop mastered.  Easy.  So I decided to build something you know it wouldn’t be too hard.  Something that I could master.  Get a good grade on.  You know sandbag a little bit.  So I built a box because you know I figured that would be pretty easy.  And my box I thought I would use as a shoe shine box.  Now some of you that are young have no idea what a shoe shine box is.  We use to have to shine our shoes back in the old days and so you ended up with this collection of polishes, and rags, and brushes and stuff to keep your shoes clean.  Some of you are shaking your head.  A few of you remember these days.  And we kept ours in a cardboard box so I thought I’d build a nice wooden box – little lid that closed, and a latch, and a handle.  It would be quiet the shizzel there.  So I start working on my box and got all done and it looked mostly like a box.  I mean you could recognize it.  It was a box.  And if you set it on the carpet everything was fine but if you set it on anything hard like a table it wobbled a little bit.  It wasn’t perfectly square.  The teacher was going to dock my grade for not cutting and measuring accurately.  I said wait a minute.  I know how to cut and measure accurately.  I know the difference between 1/8” and 1/16”.  I know where they are on the ruler/measuring tape.  And the teacher said, “Well what’s the problem?”  I said, “I don’t know.  I used the tools that you had here.”  And he said, “Well show me what tools you used.”  Now because there were several of us boys in there we had to share tools.  And there were some things that there were multiples of like hammers, screw drivers, tape measures.  And I had used two different tape measures in building my box.  And when we compared the tape measures, they didn’t read accurately against one another.  They were off a little bit about 1/8” which is roughly about how much my box rocked.  And so the teacher gave me a pass on that and he said, “Oh that’s alright.  It wasn’t your fault.”  The tool was defective because the tape measures didn’t match.

In Washington, D.C. there is a building called the National Institute of Standards in Technology.  And this facility stores examples of perfect weights and measures.  It has weights for pounds, and liters, and feet, and yards, and all that stuff.  For example, in there they have a rod that is the meter standard.  It’s a reinforced bar of platinum alloyed with exactly 10% iridium.  And when they want to know the exact length of a meter they cool this bar to zero degrees Celsius at 45 degrees latitude and it is exactly 1 meter.  They know it.  It’s called prototype 27.  I don’t know why because it is the second one.  The original one is in Paris the suburbs of Paris at the International Weights and Measures.  And we need a standard.  We need something that is always true.  We know what it means and we need to understand what that standard is.

How many of you use to watch I Love Lucy on TV?  Yeah almost everybody right.  I only ever saw it on reruns.  Some of it might have watched it as first runs but most have seen it one time or another.  Did you ever notice when they went into the bedroom they had two beds in there?  Now even as a kid I remember looking at that and going what?  I go in my parents room there is one bed in there.  Who has two beds in their bedroom that are married?  Well the standard of the time was they couldn’t show two people in bed together so they had twin beds.  My how the standard has changed.  We need a standard that is always true that doesn’t change with the whims of society.  And when we know what that standard is it will bring understanding.

2 Timothy 3:16 and 17.  Read this with me.  It says All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  What is the Bible good for?  It’s useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training.  It’s the standard.  When you take a class and your teacher hands you the book and says at the end of the class I’m going to test you on what is in the book, do you know everything about the subject because you read one book?  No.  But this is the standard that you’re going to be compared against at the end of the class.  And the Bible is our standard.  It is what we should compare things with.  It is useful for teaching and training.

Luke 16:17 says It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.  I want you to think about that.  God says it is easier for the whole universe to go away.  I want you to think about how big the universe is.  Now does your brain hurt from thinking about how big the universe is?  And it is easier for all that to go away than it is for one pen stroke to drop out of the law.  It’s a timeless standard.  It doesn’t change.  It remains true.

George Barna is a researcher who researches topics dealing with faith, religion and belief in America and in 2002 he asked an interesting question.  He asked a lot of people do you believe the Bible is totally accurate?  Here is the results.  All adults averaged out 41% believe the Bible is accurate.  Adventists 64%.  We’re above average.  Of course if you’re using a grading scale we still got a D- right.  Assembly of God 77%.  Baptist, any type of Baptist all lumped together, 66%.  Catholics 26%.  Church of Christ 57%.  Episcopalian 22%.  Lutheran 34%.  Methodist 38%.  Mormons 29%.  Nondenominational Christians 70%.  Now I don’t know if you guys ever heard this but I have heard people from denominations kind of berate people that go to nondenominational churches well they don’t really teach the Bible there.  Who just got about the highest score?  Pentecostal Four Square 81%.  And Presbyterian 40%.  The best numbers on here are dismal and they go down from there.  I mean let’s think about this.  We claim to be Christians.  We’re trying to win people to Jesus and we don’t believe that God’s word is true.  You wonder why we are having a hard time.  I mean the Bible is either true or it is not.  When you go to the bookstore and you buy a book, you are either in the fiction section or you’re not.  There is no section that says half fiction half true.  Now sometimes we get stories that are based on a true story but they are still fiction.  They are still made up.  By the way I always hate that because you never know what part is true and what part is not.  It could be there was some dude named Darryl.  That’s the only part that was true.  Everything else is made up.  I always hate that.  But we have to believe that God’s word is true.  It either is or it isn’t and the only way you’re going to know whether it is true or not is not to believe me, or Pastor Mitch, or your mom or dad, or anybody else but is to read it for yourself.  And when you read it for yourself and you get to the end and you say I don’t believe it I’ll accept that.  But until you’ve read it from cover to cover I don’t think you can say you do or don’t believe it.  You have to see what it has to say.  And when you read the Bible, it is going to bring understanding.  You’re going to understand things that you didn’t understand before.  Now this is not the same kind of understanding that staying in that motel that you makes you smart brings.  Have you seen those commercials?  I stayed in the Holiday Express last night so . . . you guys not watch TV at all.  You guys have never seen where they -- uh it wasn’t that funny.  It ain’t worth it.  All right.

Number two.  Making the Bible a priority results in change.  Now it is interesting that reading something that is timeless and does not change brings about change.  Look at what the Bible says in John 17:17.  Let’s read this together.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  What does sanctify mean?  Set apart.  Set apart.  It means to set something apart to make it for a special purpose.  When you take something that was not sacred and you set it apart for something that is sacred, you’ve changed it.  Sanctification means that you are changed.  Reading the Bible will change you because the word is truth.

Years ago the State of Kentucky had a law that every classroom in its public schools had to post the 10 Commandments.  The Supreme Court ruled against the State of Kentucky ordering it to take down all copies of the 10 Commandments from the walls of the school saying, and I quote, “Having the Commandments on the wall may induce a student to read, meditate upon, and actually obey what is therein written.”  The Supreme Court of the United States recognizes the fact that reading the Bible will change you even just the 10 Commandments.

Hebrews 4:12.  It says, For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  If you have a double-edged sword, what is it good for?  Cutting stuff mainly other people and it does a pretty good job of dividing the joints, and the marrow, and the bones.  It says the Bible does the same thing.  It divides the soul and the spirit.  One commentator who is talking about this observed that the student doesn’t study the Bible as much as the Bible studies the student, and it becomes a tool for the Holy Spirit to make a difference in our lives to change us.

King David said, and let’s read this together, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  We’ve talked about the difference between knowing something in your head and knowing something in your heart.  When you know it in your heart, you believe it.  You act on it.  I know the speed limit is 55.  That is not something I have hidden in my heart.  Most of us that live in California view the speed limits as rather optional especially if you get in the carpool lane right.  The carpool lane there is no speed limits in the carpool lane.  You go as fast as you want to go.  That’s the rules right unless the highway patrol is behind you.  That is a case where we know something but we don’t always act on it.  David says, I have hidden your word in my heart.  I act on it.  I believe it.  It changes me.  When we hide God’s word in our heart, we are changed because we become aware of what God is concerned about.  And what is God concerned about?  People.  Short people.  Tall people.  Skinny people.  Fat people.  Dark skinned people.  Light skinned people.  Rich people.  Poor people.  People with power and people with no power.  People with jobs and people who are unemployed.  And every other category of people that we can make up, and we do that really well. God cares about all those people.  And when you know that and when that is hidden in your heart, you’re changed.  You’re different.  You behave differently.

Number three.  Making the Bible a priority results in readiness.  There is a great story in 2 Samuel 23.  Open your Bibles with me to that.  2 Samuel 23.  I don’t know what page that is in the pew Bible.  It’s about what a fourth of the way.  2 Samuel 23.  It’s a great story.  321.  Page 321 if you have the pew Bible there.  Now this story is also in 1 Chronicles 11 and we’re going to be looking at the version of it that’s in 2 Samuel 23.  This is another great warrior story.  My last couple sermons I don’t know why but I’ve been stuck on the warrior theme and I almost did this whole on sermon on this passage but I decided to give you guys a break and talk about something else but it is too perfect of a story to not talk about it a little bit this morning.  Let’s look at this together.  2 Samuel 23 verses 9 and 10.  It says, Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite.  As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle.  Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.  The LORD brought about a great victory that day.  The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.  I love this story.  King David, and a couple of other men, and Eleazar go down to taunt the Philistines.  I just love that.  You know you have to be a visual person here and think about this.  And here is a couple, there is King David, and a couple of men taunting the Philistines gathered there.  Now remember this is what they did back in the day.  Remember Goliath came out and taunted the Israelites and this time David is taunting them.  Interesting enough a lot of scholars believed that the place mentioned here is either the same place or very close to the same place where David fought Goliath some years earlier.  And there is an important lesson there.  You’re going to fight the same battles against the same thing in the same place over and over again.  So just learn it, deal with it and life will be a lot easier.  It’s going to happen.  It happens to David in this case and they get down there and they are taunting the Philistines and apparently they weren’t as brave as they thought they were because they all run away.  And Eleazar is left there alone to fight and he does.  And he begins to use this sword and I imagine that his sword is very familiar in his hands.  He knows how to use it defensively to block the blows.  He knows how to use it offensively and inflict damage on his opponents.  He swings it naturally.  He doesn’t have to think about oh swing it now.  Oh thrust.  It just happens.  How does this become so natural to him?  Many many hours of practice.  Many hours of fighting wooden dummies and sparing with other guys and practice and practice and practice and practice.

And so the question I have for you this morning is how well do you know your weapon?  The word of God that you have there in your hands.  Have you practiced with it enough that you know it that you could use it offensively, that you could use it defensively, that you know when to leave it in the sheath and when to pull it out?  Have you practiced with it enough?

Keep your Bibles open there we’re coming back to that.  But Hebrews 5:14 says, But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  How do we learn to distinguish good from evil?  By constant use.  Constant training.  Constant training.  Now notice Eleazar’s grip on his weapon.  How long does he hang on to that sword?  What does it say in the Bible?  Until his arms were tired it was gone and then what happens?  It froze to the sword.  One of the versions says it became welded to the sword.  Have you ever hung on to something so tight you couldn’t let go afterwards?  I can’t imagine, you know fighting and fighting and fighting so long your arm is tired, all human strength is gone, and your hand is just locked on that sword, and after the battle he can’t let it go.  It takes a while for the muscles and the tendons to relax before he can let go of the sword.  You’ve ever been in a situation where things were so desperate you had to hang on to the word of God so tightly it was all you had.  2 Corinthians 10:14 says, The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  Eleazar’s weapon is just a sword.  It’s a piece of steel.  The Philistines probably had them too.  So what made his sword different than the Philistines sword?  What does the Bible say?  Who brought the victory?  The Lord brought about the great victory.  I know we watched the movies where the hero comes in and he fights off all the bad guys and that is not reality.  That’s Hollywood.  Because I don’t care how tough you are you cannot defend against the whole hoard of other guys.  It just doesn’t work unless the Lord is on your side.  And that’s what happens.  It says the Lord brought about a great victory because he held onto his sword.  He knew how to use it.  And he held onto it and the Lord brought a great victory through that.  And so what happens if the Bible is as important as our cell phones?  We have understanding.  We’re changed and we’re ready but we need to find an avenue to make sure that we can get God’s word into us.  How do we do that?  How do we do that?  One by coming to church.  By coming to Sabbath School.  By joining the small groups.  Have you ever noticed that the folks who exercise and lose weight seem to do better when they do it with a friend?  Right.  They get a couple of guys together and they go running or they go to the gym and work out or whatever it is they are going to do.  It works better when you’ve got some friends.

You ever notice when the Amish want to raise a house.  They all get together and do it together? Why? It works better that way.  There is a lot of building going on here in Downey.  Maybe you notice some of the houses go up pretty quick and some of them go up pretty slow.  What is the difference?  The number of people working on it.  And so get together with some friends.  Study your Bible.  Listen to it on the tape in the car or CD.  Read a little bit at lunch, or in the morning, or in the evening.  We’ve got to become familiar with this.  And I’m going to do something here that I don’t often usually do but I’m going to ask you to make a commitment today.  Not to me.  Not to the church, but to God.  And I’m not going to know what your commitment is.  It’s between you and God.  But we need to make a commitment to making the Bible a priority in our lives.  Now some of us maybe have made the Bible a priority already and we’re reading the Bible and we’re doing good.  Then your commitment is to continue on.  Some of us maybe are in the middle somewhere.  Then our commitment is maybe to get one step better.  Maybe instead of reading the Bible for 10 minutes a day we’re going to read it for 15 minutes a day.  Some of us are at the beginning the journey and we don’t even know what version to read.  You go to the Christian bookstore there is like 19,000,000 different Bibles you can buy and we go home frustrated.  Or we’re not good readers so it is intimating and so our commitment is to get started.  And we’re going to pray here a little bit and I want us to make a commitment to God about making the Bible a priority in our lives.  Let’s bow our heads.

 

Questionnaire:

What if…

21 June 2008

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1.                                          .

 

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

 

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Luke 16:17 (NIV)

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1.                                          .


Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (NIV)

 

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1.                                           .

 

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. 2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV) (also see 1 Chronicles 11:12-14)

 

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)

 

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)

 

Answers:

What if…

21 June 2008

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1. Understanding.

 

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

 

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. Luke 16:17 (NIV)

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1. Change.


Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17 (NIV)

 

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

 

 

Making the Bible a priority results in:

  1. Readiness.

 

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead. 2 Samuel 23:9-10 (NIV) (also see 1 Chronicles 11:12-14)

 

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)

 

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 (NIV)

 

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