God’s Instruction Book

I often call the Bible “The Treasure of God’s Word”. This Treasure is available to each of us, and when we open it, God reveals His nature, His character and His plan for our eternal success.

Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Joshua 1:8 NASB

This was one of God’s instructions to Joshua as he prepared to lead Israel into the Promised Land. The “book of instruction” was the Torah – the five books of Moses that comprise the first five books of the Bible. Pastor Allistair Begg of Truth for Life often reminds his listeners that we are to read and understand the Old Testament in the context of the New Testament. Specifically, we are to view the Old Testament writings through the revealing lens of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

I want to call out a few words in this passage:

  • Instruction – The Torah reveals God’s Law under which all will be judged. It also lays out the covenant God made with Israel as He freed them from the bondage in Egypt. Succinctly stated, that covenant said God would free Israel if they would obey His laws. It also provided a system of confession and sacrifice to address violations of the Law (sin). For Joshua and for Israel, this system would preserve them in God’s eyes until the promised Messiah came. For us, the Book of Instruction is the complete Book of Scripture, the Bible. Not only does the Bible help us understand our condemnation under the Law, but it also assures us of redemption and salvation through faith in Jesus. The Bible instructively informs us of God’s eternal plan for our lives, already assured and secured through Jesus.
  • Continually – God did not give us Scripture with the intention that we only consider it when read to us in church on Sunday mornings. He did not intend for our Bibles to sit on a bookshelf gathering dust. No! God wants us to “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” His Word (1662 Book of Common Prayer). I have discovered over the years that my outlook and my life are in a much improved place when I read my Bible daily than when I let the book sit as the dust gathers. God speaks to us through His Word, and we gain the most benefit from His Word when we spend time in it.
  • Meditate – More than just reading the Bible, we are to ponder God’s message to His people. Often, after my morning reading, I use my morning walk as a time of solitude to pray and think about what I just read. Through prayer and meditation, we connect with God and He helps us discern His message. The Bible does not say different things to different people. Its message is singular, it is consistent, and through prayer and meditation God helps us understand what we have just read.
  • Day and night – I love this. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and it is also our instruction manual for living our lives. It is the foundation on which the Christian is to build her values, organize his priorities, conduct her daily activities, and approach his sphere of influence. It is the complete package. We are to carry God’s Word into our homes, our workplaces, our schools, and each of our human interactions.
  • Obey – Actually, I should highlight “obey everything”. In Old Testament times, obedience to the Law was the focus of the covenant. In New Testament context, we know that our obedience does not secure our place in Heaven. No, our place in Heaven has been secured through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Our obedience to God is an outflow of the salvation we know. We obey God because we know Him, we love Him, and we want to glorify Him so others see and give Him glory as well. This obedience is not easy. In these modern times, much of what the world esteems as right and good is contrary to the instructions found in the Bible. The easy path is to align with the world’s values. The more difficult path is to remain in alignment with what the Bible teaches us, even when society says otherwise. I pray every day that God would give me the courage to obey Him completely.
  • Prosper and Succeed – This is not “name it and claim it” prosperity. This is not about a growing bank account, a nice home, or a fancy car. This is not about those things at all. Prosperity and success are eternal. That is not to say that God is not interested in our daily lives or that He does not provide for our needs – He is interested and He does provide. But this prosperity and success is most appropriately viewed through an eternal lens, extending far beyond anything we can achieve, accomplish or gain in this temporal life. When we surrender our lives to God, fully trusting in Him, we will prosper and we will succeed. For ever and ever.

See what I mean? This, my friend, is Treasure! There is so much negativity and strife in the world today. Indeed, 2020 is shaping up to be quite the strange year. The world faces a pandemic. We have rioting in our streets as some seek to unravel the threads of American Democracy in exchange for something else. We live in a society that considers the killing of children in the womb to be healthcare and of supreme importance. Law and order seem to be diminishing in importance as many with power and influence support these movements. These are scary times. But, thanks be to God, He reminds us in His Word that He is Almighty. God is sovereign. God has a plan for us that will not be derailed. In fact, that plan is already achieved through the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.

When is the last time you picked up your Bible, found a quiet place, and read God’s Word? If it has been a while, why not dust it off and start anew today? There are a plethora of Bible reading plans on the You Version Bible App. I am in my third “Bible in One Year” reading plan, and I can tell you, the Treasure is real, it is tangible, and it awaits you.

Soli DEO Gloria! To God alone be all honor, glory and praise! Amen!

(c) workisministry 2020

The Peace of the Evening

I don’t know about you, but I often have those evenings in which my body is so physically tired I can barely keep my eyes open as I sit on the couch trying to concentrate on the TV. I finally give in and announce to my wife, “I’m going to bed,” only to lie down and have my mind begin racing over the events of the day and the work of the day to come. As my  mind races, it shifts to thoughts of financial security, the welfare of my kids, did I feed the dogs, are the doors locked… Oh, be quiet already! I just want to sleep! Have you experienced evenings like this?

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8 NASB

I remember the very first time I read this Psalm. I was a freshman at Concordia Austin in the fall of 1980. A group of us were talking at an evening chapel service about all of the studying we had to do, the difficulties of learning Latin, and various other stresses that college students face. A classmate opened his Bible and read this psalm to us, and it was as if the door opened wide and the light shined bright.

King David wrote this psalm. If you’ve done much study on David, you know he had a lot going on in his life. He was king of Israel. He was a sinner, and he knew it. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, then arranged for her husband’s death to try and hide his sin. He had rivals seeking to take his life. David, as imperfect as he was, knew that he could take solace and comfort in the arms of his Lord. That is what this psalm is all about. And it applies as much to us today as it did to David when he first wrote it under the inspiration of God Himself.

I recently wrote about the quiet of the morning, and how my morning time in Scripture with God is my favorite time of the day. Evening has the potential to also be a time of quiet; a time to settle down, to calm the mind, and to meditate and pray over the events of life. David writes earlier in this psalm, “Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.” (Ps 8:4b) Do you take time each evening for a closing moment with God? I confess – I don’t. And I’m reminded as I re-read this psalm how important it is to do just that. You see, my problem is I wait until I have physically exhausted myself before going to bed but I do nothing to prepare my mind for sleep. It’s almost as if my mind is saying, “what about me? I’m not tired yet!”

This week I’m going to try something new. I’m going to try taking a few moments after I’ve hit the sack to read this psalm again, meditate on God’s message, and dedicate the night’s sleep to Him. I believe that there can be peace in the evening, the source of which is in God’s Word.

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image credit: YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry.com 2019