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"I had heard it was meaningful, and everybody knows it is the best-selling book of all time, right? So I got out the one my aunt gave me for graduation and started reading it ... let's just say, I didn't get far. You gotta be kidding me with this stuff? The Bible-yeah, no thanks. Just not interested anymore.' To which I respond, "I'm not surprised."
B.I.B.L.E. - someone called it Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth is just what he said-the best-selling book of all time. By the latter half of 2018, the New Testament is now translated into some 1,521 languages1, while the whole Bible is in 670 languages, (out of 7,099 living languages2). The Bible is also available in 30+ English language translations and paraphrases. There are patriotic designs and notes, manly covers with devotionals designed for men, teenaged-girl-appropriate designs with cool graphics, compact designs to carry in a backpack, and coffee table heirloom sizes to hand down to loved ones.
But the experience of the guy above? So common. He picks up his black leatherette gift Bible, serious about reading it and logically starts at the beginning like most other books, right? All good until he runs headlong into stuff that is nigh unto impossible to understand and certainly seems to offer no application in any way to his life these days. And to further confound, the text is not in chronological order! How to make sense of it anyway? And why, after all?
In the last number of Morning Briefings, I have built a case for reading the Bible:
It tells us how we got here ... the creation in Genesis One--
that God created the heavens and earth, then mankind, intending perfect harmony with the people he created-
but, loving them so much, did not want to coerce them into relationship, but gave them free will:
prophesies of the Saving One's coming
records his arrest, mock trials, crucifixion and miraculously,
His RISING from the grave, making him victorious over death!
And then, the rest of the Bible tells the story of the establishing of the Christian church,
Following those who took the Savior's love to other lands and people groups,
Teaching how Grace, made possible only through the Savior, changes everything!
And that one day, on a day no one knows but the Father alone, Jesus Messiah will come again, establishing a new Heaven and a new earth where there be only joy and light forever; there will be no sorrow or pain, and the sights and sounds will be beautiful!
No thing imagined on earth will even compare to that glorious day.
There you go - the Cliffsnotes of the Scriptures from 35,000 feet above, literally - as I wing my way from Southern California to New York City, where I will be doing some Spirit Time at Brooklyn Tabernacle.
So that prompts a thought - every so often, I FaceTime with my daughter, Amy, and her four children, (who live in Wake Forest, North Carolina, for the bunch who just added into these 'here Morning Briefings'. Bennett is almost 5, Alyssa is 2 ½ years old and identical twins, Lincoln and Logan are 7 ½ months old). While 'FaceTiming' is not the same as holding the babies or playing with Bennett and Alyssa, it is the next best thing to bridge the 3000-mile gap between us. I get to hear their voices and see their facial expressions, see what they are doing, and even participate in a small way.
Wouldn't it be cool to have a contact listed on your iphone under 'H' for Holy Spirit? You could tap it, and after a brief moment, the Spirit would materialize in some form, then you could have a little SpiritTime, and hang up feeling much more connected to God?
Well . . . in a different way, we can. See, we can think of God, desire to communicate with him, invite him to 'Come' (another way of saying 'pray to God'), and illumine our minds with his wisdom so we can read and grasp the truths of scripture. (We can SpiritTime!) Then, we can do a little work to establish a framework for understanding the gift of God's words, yes, the inspired Word of God for our lives. We can seek to understand the people to whom and the time in which it was originally written, and how it set up the course of history. With the eyes of our hearts and minds readied, we can then grab ahold of Scripture and understand how God wants us to liveand the purpose for which we are to live, and just do it. Really live.
Yup, we can. So let's. You can really live - with Basic Instructions.
2 - Ethnologue, https://www.ethnologue.com