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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday Special: Pastor Dave Arnold

A WOODEN SWORD?

In ancient Rome, the gladiator was a slave who fought in the arena to a bloody death. If he was agile and skilled enough, and lived long enough, the emperor might grant him his freedom. With great pomp and ceremony, he would kneel before the Caesar and be touched on his shoulders with a beautifully crafted wooden sword. He then would be given this sword as a sign of a free man. However, this wooden sword was useless to him, serving only as a symbol.

The Apostle Paul referred to the Bible as the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17 and 18. The Word of God serves as a weapon in both offensive and defensive encounters. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” However, unless we read it, meditate on it, and apply it to our lives, it serves no better than an ineffective wooden sword.

Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to a friend, said, “I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book upon reason that you can and the balance upon faith, and you will live and die a better man.” Is the Bible a living sword to you as you read it and apply it? Or is it just, like to a gladiator, a symbolic wooden sword?

John Wesley wrote, “I beg leave to propose a short, clean and strong argument to prove the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures:

The Bible must be the invention of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.

It could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither would nor could make a book and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord’, when it was their own invention.

It could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their souls to hell to all eternity.

Therefore, I draw this conclusion, that the Bible must be given by Divine inspiration.”

Psalm 119, with its 176 verses, tells us all about what God’s Word has to offer. Here are a few of them:

1. The Word cleanses, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word,” verse 9. In John 15:3, Christ stated, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you,” using the word, “clean,” which means “purity.” Daniel Webster said, “The Bible fits a man for life and prepares him for death.”

2. The Word gives direction, “Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors,” verse 24. According to Nehemiah 8:13, the leaders met with Ezra, “in order to understand the words of the law.” “Understand,” means, “to be prudent, wise, and have foresight.” The idea is being shrewd in daily affairs.

3. The Word provides songs of encouragement, “Your statues have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage,” verse 54. D. L. Moody testified, “I know the Bible is inspired because it inspires me.”

4. The Word is forever founded, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven,” verse 89. As life changes and society shifts on uncertain foundations, God’s Word is settled forever.

5. The Word is truth, “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth,” verse 142. Francis Shaeffer reminds us, “If we say we believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, then we do not have to face the howling winds of cultural change—we have an immovable base. And yet, if the Bible truly be the Word of God, we ourselves must live under it.”

A little boy noticed a large, dust-covered book on a high shelf in his grandparent’s home. Out of curiosity he asked about it. His embarrassed grandparents explained, “Oh, that’s the Bible. That’s God’s Book.” He thought for a moment and then asked, “Well, if that’s God’s Book, why don’t we give it back to Him? Nobody around here uses it.”

The Word of God is a light for our understanding, Psalm 119:105. It is a mirror for our self-knowledge, James 1:23. The Bible is a sword for our conflict, Ephesians 6:17. God’s Word is honey for us to feast on, Psalm 19:10. It is a hammer to break through the most difficult situations, Jeremiah 23:29. The Word will lead us, protect us, and speak to us, Proverbs 6:22. It will keep us from the devil’s path, Psalm 17:4. This is most likely why Merrill F. Unger said, “A contagious enthusiasm among Christians for the Word of God, and a return in faith and obedience to its precepts, would do more to point the way out of present world distress and despair than all the plans and strivings of men.”

To read the Bible through in one year it takes, approximately, 52 hours and 20 minutes to read the Old Testament, and 18 hours and 20 minutes to read the New Testament, for a total of 70 hours and 40 minutes. This is only about 12 minutes a day! We have recorded in the four gospels ten times where Jesus, in reference to the Scriptures, asked, “Have you not read?” According to Hebrews 1:3, Christ is “upholding all things by the word of His power.” It is through His Word that He is holding all the universe together. With this in mind, would we not concur that His Word will certainly hold our lives together? I agree with the one who said, “A Bible that is falling apart, usually belongs to a person who isn’t!”

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:130, “The entrance of Your words gives light.” A small boy was walking along a dark, scary dirt road with his dad. They were miles from their farmhouse, and the only light they had was a lantern. As his father carried the lantern, they could only see about two feet in front of them. The young son kept thinking about all the wild animals that could spring out of the darkness to harm them. He grew more and more frightened. Though he desperately tried to see the farmhouse, he couldn’t. Finally he said, “Daddy, I’m so scared. This light doesn’t reach very far.” His father looked at him and said, “Son, I want to teach you something. If you just keep walking, you will learn that the light reaches all the way to the end of the road!” Sometimes we panic because we cannot see the end of the road. If we just keep walking God, from His Word, will provide just the right amount of light that we need to take the next step. We will learn that it reaches all the way to the end of the road!

2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

Dave Arnold, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

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5 Comments:

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very encouraging JD - Just keep walking with God and He'll provide the light.
Thank you!
Lynda R

 
At 11:50 AM, Blogger Even So... said...

Thanks Lynda, Dave Arnold is a good teacher...

 
At 2:39 PM, Blogger Gummby said...

Good stuff.

Although Pastor Dave is obviously a much quicker reader than I am. 12 minutes a day? No way.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger Even So... said...

Reading is not studying, indeed, but I try and do both. Nice to see you, Gummby...

 
At 8:45 PM, Blogger donsands said...

That was sweet.

I love the Bible. In fact, I love my Bible.
Some tell us today that we are to love God, and not the Bible; and that you can make an idol out of the Bible.
I say that's nonsense.

What if we were to go before the Lord and say, "Lord, what do you think of the Bible?"; what would He say?

Surely there's no other means to know our Lord other than knowing His Word.
It's His precious gift to us.

 

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