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Pay Close Attention

By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted September 25, 2013

RELIGION Ė I came across a pretty amazing story this week on the importance of paying attention to what you read. I have singed many a document without reading what I am agreeing to. I updated my iPhone this week, I checked a box that I agreed with their policies, they could have said they will draft five bucks a day from bank account for the next 10 years and I would not have known. I just checked the box.     
And I know I am not alone.

Most people donít read the fine print on credit card applications. But one very creative and fairly deceitful man in Russia, Dmitry Argarkov, decided to find out whether banks themselves read it. He received an advertisement promoting a credit card from Tinkoff Credit Systems. After looking over the contract, the 42-year-old Russian man scanned the credit application into his computer and began modifying the contract in any way that he saw fit. He did what any of us might do and set the interest rate on the contract to zero percent. He then changed the wording and fixed no credit limit. Then, as the final act, the computer savvy Russian stipulated in the contract that the bank would owe him nearly $200,000 if it tried to cancel the contract.
Well, Argarkov of course signed the revised and very favorable contract and mailed it back to Tinkoff, the credit card company, where the bank officials also signed the deal, as they would have done on countless other credit applications that day. But when Argarkov refused to pay his credit card bill, Tinkoff sued him for his debt plus interest and fees. The amazing thing is that in early August, a Russian judge sided with Argarkov, saying the bank must honor the contract as it is signed. So, with this precedent in hand, Argarkov, the contract changer, meanwhile started paperwork to sue Tinkoff for violating the terms of his contract.

I donít commend fraud and dishonesty, but I will say that this operation was pretty slick and seemed to be legal in Russia. This does not make it right and I would recommend that none of you try it. But it sure makes you think.

But how closely do you pay attention when you read the Bible? Now for some of you, you donít read the Bible at all. I am glad you are reading this, but spending time in the Bible will profit you far more than reading this article.  Some of you are already objecting that you are too busy. A man once made this excuse to the great evangelist, D.L. Moody. He answered, "My friend, if you are too busy to read the Bible every day you are busier than Almighty God ever intended any human being should be, and you had better let some things go, and take time to read the Bible."

I like Bible reading plans and they are great, but they can at times push me to get more chapters read than I can process mentally. What really counts is not how much of God's Word you go through but how much of God's Word goes through you! It is much better to read and understand one verse, than to read three chapters and not remember anything that you read in those chapters! A little read with understanding is better than much that is read in haste.

But you still need to have some sort of a plan to read the Bible. Some people will say, "Lord, show me where you want me to read" and randomly open their Bible and start reading wherever the Bible happens to open. Sometimes the Lord will bless this method, but in general it is not the best way to read His Word.

To show you some of the dangers in the method, consider the following illustration: The story is told of a man who used this method. The first verse he happened to turn to was Matthew 27:5 which says Judas "went and hanged himself". Since he was not sure how this verse applied to himself, he flipped to another passage and the Bible fell open to Luke 10:37: "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." The man was quite upset and he did not know how he could ever obey that, so he decided to turn to one more place. Again he opened the Bible at random and to his horror his finger fell upon John 13:27: "Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly".

When we read a short story, we generally start at the beginning and read through until we get to the end. This is how the writer wrote it, and this is the best way to read it. We usually read letters in the same way. The same should be true with the books of the Bible. The best way to read is to start at the beginning of a book and continue until you get to the end. When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he did not write chapter 13 first and then chapter 8. He began with chapter 1 and then wrote chapter 2, etc. If he wrote it this way, shouldn't we read it this way?

Lastly, asking questions will also help you carefully read Scripture. The following are very helpful to get you to slow down and process what you read.
Is there any command to obey?
Is there any promise to believe?
Is there a good example to follow?
Is there any sin to avoid?
Do I learn anything about God?
Do I learn anything about man?
Is there anything I can thank God for?
Who can I share this with?

So, get in the Bible, pay attention to what you read and see what a difference it will make in your life.

Pastor Howle

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