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A Bible Reading People: Scripture Memory #7

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted September 23, 2014

RELIGION – "It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom." Horace Greeley. A few weeks back I saw the movie “America: Imagine a World Without Her.” In it I was fascinated by a quote from Abraham Lincoln from an address he gave before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield (one of the leading forces in the cultural activity of Springfield), Illinois, on January 27, 1838.

"How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction were our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Now, the cultural implications of this quote in our day are startling and should cause all of us to shudder as we are seemingly seeing this become a sad reality. But if we look at national suicide and then juxtapose that with the statement from Horace Greeley, who was a unique political figure, may our current national problems stem from the vast majority of Americans failing to read, know, and apply the scriptures in all areas of their lives? I don’t think that is too radical of an assertion.

So our verse to work on memorizing this week is a reminder of this reality. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” The phrase “breathed out by God” Comes from the Greek word “Theopneustos” which is a compound word, with theo the Greek word for God, attached to the word pneustos which means “wind, or spirit, or breath.” We have this word in our English word pneumonia – a disease of the breath, or lungs.

So this verse literally says that all scripture is “God-breathed.” When you think about it, that’s what words are. They are breath resonated over the vocal chords and shaped by the tongue and lips and teeth. When we speak – it is our breath. Therefore, all Scripture is God’s breath, or God’s spirit. When the human authors like Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Paul, wrote Scripture – that Scripture was God’s inspired Word. These men were guided in such a way that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted them to write. God actually spoke through them so that the result was a book that was really written by God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” It is “God-breathed.”

Soon, cool Fall mornings are coming our way.  And you will see your breath on a cold day, and as you do think about this 2 Timothy 3:16. Think about when you read or study the Bible you are seeing and encountering the very breath of God!

Furthermore, the Bible is a love letter.  Have you ever fallen in love? I hope so. When my wife Rebecca was in a separate college than I, she would write me love letters while I was attending North Greenville University.  I loved them and would read and reread every word. So guess what I did when one of her letters would arrive? Did I mumble, "Oh, no, another letter from Rebecca (sigh).  I guess I better read it?” Did I sit down, read the first paragraph, and then say, "Well, that's enough for today. I can check that item off my list!" No way! I used to read every single letter four or five times. At night I'd read them before I went to bed. I'd tuck them in my Bible because I did not want to lose them.  Why? Because I was in love with the person who wrote them. That's the way we should approach the Word of God. Read it as though it were His love letter to you. Because that is what it is! Every part and every word you should be able to see His love and grand purpose for your life and this world!

Also please read the Bible thoughtfully: Thoughtful reading involves study. Not boredom. When you come to the Bible, put your thinking cap on.  Don't just throw your mind into neutral. Apply the same mental discipline that you would to any subject in which you take a vital interest. Are you an investor?  Then use the same mental intensity to study Scripture that you would The Wall Street Journal or a stock prospectus. Do you fly an airplane? Then pay as much attention to the Word as you would to a flight plan or weather advisory. Maybe you are a nurse? Then look for the "vital signs" in the passage you are reading that day just as you would with any patient on your floor.

The reality is that the Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy. Proverbs 2:4-6 states this truth: “if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure,  (5)  then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God.  (6) For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Our passage likens biblical wisdom to precious metals, found not lying around on the surface but at a deeper level.

Think about it like this, there have always been rich oil deposits under the parched deserts of the Middle East. But for thousands of years people wandered across those waterless tracts of land, unaware that only a few thousand feet away laid a vast resource of oil and wealth.  So it is with Scripture. The very truth of God is there, able to transform your life. But you must probe for it. You've got to penetrate the surface with more than just a cursory glance. In other words, you've got to think deeply as you read God’s love letter written to you!

As you do this, you become a freer, more informed, more loving, more passionate citizen of our nation! What a difference it would make if our nation was a Bible reading people again. You can’t make anyone read their Bible, but you are responsible for yourself. So the next time you want to curse the state our nation is in, don’t! Pick up the Bible and read some instead! Seeing God’s breath will make a bigger difference in you and in others than simply spewing your own.

Pastor Phillip

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