Living by the Book:
“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls. And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don’t obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law – the law that sets you free – and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:21-25).
When I first became a Christian, I discovered that there was a God who loved me, and had a wonderful plan for my life. When I learned that truth, I went out and bought myself a Bible, and began to read its contents. I decided that if this God had been so good to me, I wanted to learn everything I could about Him, and how I could live a life to please Him. Since then, I continue to read through the New Testament about once a year and the Old Testament once every two years. It is so amazing to me that there are people who have been Christians their whole lives who have never even read their Bibles ONCE.
The purpose of today’s devotional is not to condemn anyone, or make you feel bad if you don’t read your Bible. But I do want to stir up your thinking a little bit here, and I pray that the Lord would use me to do that. Why should we read the Bible? Here are three principles to consider…
1. THE BIBLE WILL HELP KEEP YOU FROM SIN
Someone said once that sin will keep you from the Bible, or the Bible will keep you from sin. And it’s true. The Bible says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). When we memorize Bible verses, and meditate on them, and hide God’s Word in our heart, it helps to keep us from sin. When we walk in sin, we won’t have a desire to read the Bible, because we know that God’s Holy Word will convict us. That’s why James says, “Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and THEN humbly accept the message of God’s Word in your hearts.”
2. THE BIBLE IS A MESSAGE TO OBEY, NOT JUST LISTEN TO.
This is an important truth. There are many people who think that God gave us the Bible as a book just to be read. But the Bible was not written to be studied – it was written to change our lives. James says if you don’t obey what you read in the Bible, you are deceiving yourself. If you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. When you look yourself in a mirror and you see your dirty face and your messy hair, you change what needs changing. God’s Word is like a mirror that shows us what we should look like – spiritually speaking – and when we see that truth, we should change our lives to match the image that’s contained in the Bible. If we read in the Bible that God’s children are supposed to be loving, then we should purpose to be more loving in our lives. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.”
3. GOD WILL BLESS YOU WHEN YOU OBEY THE BIBLE.
James said that if you keep looking into God’s Word, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for your obedience. There is a blessing that comes from obeying God’s Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32). When we obey God’s Word, there is the added blessing – we will be set free from our bondage to sin. Some people think of freedom as the ability to do whatever we want, but TRUE freedom is to have the ability to do the right thing. That freedom comes only from the power of God’s Word. Friends, let’s start LIVING BY THE BOOK.
Pastor Chris Jordan