15-The Bible-Part 1
The Bible provides us words about the purpose of life, the meaning of the world we live in and the reality that lies beyond it.
(Psalm 33) This Psalm is one that truly reflects many of the thoughts that we should have. It should be one that we review frequently.
In the Psalms we see a God who is Father of all created things yet is near to all who are his children.
The Book of Ezekiel emphasizes the need for inner renewal of the heart and spirit.
(Luke 4:8)(The purpose of the Bible)
Jesus answered, “The scripture says, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!'”
Have there been times when the Bible has helped you in some difficult struggles? How did you use it then? What was most helpful?
One of the most effective ways we can listen to God’s guidance is to seek it within the Bible. Reading the Bible, will provide much insight into God’s mind. But we must be careful that we do not misinterpret His message. In order to avoid this we can cross-reference our understanding through “small faith/study groups,” Bible Commentaries and the church we belong to.
Paul, through his letters in the Bible, writes about how the Christian life should be lived, especially about the way of love in relations with others. He takes up such themes as service to God, the duty of Christians to the state and to one another, and questions of conscience. The whole Bible is God’s inspired Word. Because it is inspired and trustworthy, we should read it and apply it to our Lives.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the truth, rebuking error, correcting faults, and giving instructions for right living, so that a person who serves God may be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed.
In one of his writings, Saint Augustine has God saying to him, “What my Scriptures say, O man, I say.” Do you agree with this statement? What are it’s practical applications?
“We do not need complicated arguments to prove that the Bible is more than a human book that it is divinely inspired. Its very durability over the centuries supports Isaiah’s claim” ‘The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of God shall stand forever.'” (Rev. Billy Graham – What the Bible Says to Me).
The Bible provides us words about the purpose of life, the meaning of the world we live in and the reality that lies beyond it.
“We shall never have all the truth. Great questions of life and death, good and evil, remain unanswered… But this much seems plain to me: locked in the unconscious of each of us are the same elemental forces of love and hate that have haunted and inspired the human race from the beginning. There is an ancient book that for 3,000 years has been a help in time of trouble to any person wise enough to use it” (Smiley Blanton, M.D. – The Bibles Timeless-and-Timely-Insights).
The Bible relates how God sent his Son to become a human being so that he could provide guidance to God’s love, healing, hope, forgiveness, and a fulfilled life to the world.
How can the Bible and/or your church become “gods” which would keep you from having a close relationship with “God the Father?”
WORDS OF LIFE
“The Bible is the Word of Life. I beg you, that you, that you will read it and find this out for yourself – read not little snatches here and there, but long passages that will really be the road to the heart of it.
“You will not only find it full of real men and women, but also of things you have wondered about and have been troubled about all your life, as men have been always, and the more you read, the more will it become plain to you what things are worthwhile and what are not; what things make people happy-loyalty, right dealing, speaking the truth, readiness to give everything for what they think their duty, and most readiness to give everything for what they think their duty, and most of all, the wish that they may have the real approval of the Christ, who gave everything for them; and the things that are guaranteed to make men unhappy selfishness, cowardice, greed, and everything that is low and mean.”
“When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key to your own heart, your own happiness, and your own duty.”
The Bible addresses itself to a broad range of human concerns, experiences, and situations. people frequently turn to Scripture, especially when they are experiencing problems and needs.
“The study of God’s word, for the purpose of discovering God’s will, is the secret discipline which has formed the greatest characters.” (J.W. Alexander).
The Bible contains reassuring words and promises of God. The psalms, for example, run the gamut of human emotions from despair to exhilaration from anger at God to love for him. The parables capture various truths that enrich the spiritual lives of people. The lives of biblical characters provide examples of people with weaknesses and strengths who placed their faith in God. The teachings of the Bible instruct people in the art of living in relationship to God and one another.
How would you explain to a teenager that says to you; “I don’t need to go to church, I can read the Bible if I want on my own.”
Our God is a God who not only acts, but also speaks. he has given his people a great treasure by having his Word recorded, written down for our instruction and consolation. The Bible speaks the word of God into the real joys and the real problems, hurts, and paiins of real people.
The Bible like all training material, needs to be used carefully. It takes learning, guidance and practice to become skillful in applying the right passage or story at the right time.
Does God speak to people in any ways other than through the Bible? if so, what might they be?
As you see in this material, the Bible is an important part of your training but it is not the only part. We see this restated in the following:
“…there are believers who accept that scripture comes down through a tradition and is even enriched in a certain way by the understanding of it which has been developed by a multitude of generations and witnesses in the course of the centuries” (Father Yves Conger, O.P.-Roman Catholic Theologian).
“But if some men do not know the Father of our Lord jesus Christ, yet acknowledge the Creator, or seek the unknown God in shadows and images, then God himself is not far from such men, since he gives life and inspiration to all (cm. Acts 17:25-28), and the Savior wills that all men should be saved (cf 1 Tim. 2:4). Those who, while guiltlessly ignorant of Christ’s Gospel and of his Church, sincerely seek God and are brought by the influence of grace to perform his will as known by the dictates of conscience, can achieve eternal salvation. Nor does divine Providence deny the assistance necessary to salvation to those who, without having attained, through no fault of their own, to an explicit knowledge of God, are striving, not without divine grace, to lead a good life” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church-II, 16-II Vatican Council).
Share an experience where you have seen Scripture appropriately used in living and it was a blessing to someone.
W cannot state God’s revelation can be found only in the Bible. Revelation existed before the Bible was written. The earliest book or the new Testament (1 Thessalonians) was written twenty years after Christ’s death.
During that twenty years, Christians grew and moved onn to heaven. It is not written in the Bible that it is the only source of saving truth. It is written: “now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book…” (John 20:30). St. Paul wrote, “keep the traditions that we taught you, whether by word or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).
Do you have any practical suggestions as to how you might become more familiar with the Bible in order to use it more effectively in your life?
One proof of this is; that there is no agreement among Christian churches and sects who all profess to be guided by the Holy Spirit. They all act as an authoritative interpreter of the Bible. These churches all utilize as justification for this interpretation (Matt. 28:19; John 14:21; John 16:13). All these churches have people who teach, interpret and guide.
(2 Peter 3:16)
“These are passages in them difficult to understand and these like the rest of the scripture, are twisted into a wrong sense by ignorant and restless minds, to their own undoing”.
The Bible is not only God’s word but a book by God through members of a Church.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 we sometime have confusion with the words “all scripture” and “Profitable for doctrine.” The word “profitable” was used not “sufficient and complete. Otherwise the Bible would become “archaic,” “obsolete” and other similar words that detractors call it. Instead it is interpreted by the Holy Spirit through yourself and teachers or coaches who assist you.
After all Timothy only has as “Scripture” the Old Testament. Most of the new Testament had not as yet written or approved by the Church as cannon (officially approved). if we were to replace “profitable” with “sufficient” we then require the Old Testament as the full and complete guide to our life. And there would have been no purpose for Christ and Christians.
But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘man cannot live on bread alone, but needs every word that God speaks.'”
One of the areas that the Bible well documents is that Men will be judged on their actions.
Find at least two passages of Scripture that are meaningful for you. Share their personal significance.
“He will award to every man what his acts have deserved; eternal life to those who have striven for glory, and honor, and immortality, by perseverance in doing good; the retribution of his anger to those who are contemptuous, rebelling against truth and paying homage to wickedness.”
(2 Corinthians 5:10)
“All of us have a scrutiny to undergo before Christ’s judgement-seat, for each reap what his mortal life has earned, good or ill, according to his deeds”.
(2 Corinthians 11:15)
“Their end will be what their life has deserved”
What are some of your favorite verses in the Bible?
“Whoever does wrong will be required for the wrong done; there are no human preferences with God”.
What is your Bible reading plan?
(1 Peter 1:17)
“You appeal to God as your Father, yes, but he judges each man by what he has done; look anxiously, then, to the ordering of your lives while your stay on earth lasts”.
How am I going to insure that I follow the plan?
Share some part of the Bible touching on the following areas Quality is more important than Quantity):
1.Assurance that God will stick with you no matter what.
2.Assurance that God is always available to us any time you call on him?
3.Passages showing men or women of God working their way through troubles far greater than those you are likely to face.
4.Passages that convince you that God Accepts you, just as you are.
5.Passages in which Jesus emphasized the positive aspects of people.
6.Passages showing you that human failures weaknesses and frailties are important to God and are used by him for his own purpose.
7.Passages assuring us of Jesus; presence with us.
8.Passages speaking directly of Christian hope.
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them, I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil now.”
As part of earth being a training place for humans to join God in heaven; earth is a tremendous battle ground where the forces under Satan’s power and those under God’s authority are at war. Satan and his forces are motivated by bitter hatred for Christ and his forces.
“Then the dragon (devil) was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
How do you overcome Satan?
The “rest of her offspring” represents all believers. John says that the war is still being waged, but the outcome has already been determined. Satan and his followers have been defeated and will be destroyed. Never-the-less Satan is battling daily to bring more into his ranks and to keep his own from defecting to God’s side. Those who belong to Christ have gone into battle on God’s side. God will not lose the war, but we must make certain not to lose the battle for our own souls. Don’t waver in your commitment to Christ. A great spiritual battle is being fought, and there is no time for indecision.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
To withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of his armor.
What do you need to do to get ready for battle?
(1 Peter 5:8-9)
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are under going the same kind of sufferings.”
Lions attack sick, young, or straggling animals; they choose victims who are alone or not alert. Peter warns us to watch out for Satan when we are suffering or being persecuted. Feeling alone, weak, helpless, and cut off from other believers, so focused on our troubles that we forget to watch for danger we are especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. During times of suffering, seek other – Christians for support. keep your eye’s on Christ, and resist the devil.
This resistance will greatly increase your capabilities to further resist future attacks. And each battle won brings Glory to your Father in Heaven and your brother in this fight, Jesus.
“Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
With the Holy Spirit’s power, we can resist the devil.
Don’t let yours diminish.
“Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as a priest.”
All of us have special skills. God wants to fill us with his Spirit so we will use them for his glory. A talent must be used or it will diminish.
How will you use special talents and abilities for God’s work in the world?
Responsibility to use them well
“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded.”
Every one of God’s people has been given special abilities. We are responsible to develop these abilities-even the ones not considered religious-and to use them for God’s glory. We can become skilled through study, by watching others and through practice.
How can I work on using my abilities better?
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
Jesus has told us how to live until he comes; we must watch for him, work diligently, and obey his commands. Such attitudes are especially necessary for leaders. Watchful and faithful leaders will be given increased opportunities and responsibilities. The more resources, talents, and understanding we have, the more we are responsible to use them effectively. god will not hold us responsible for gifts he has not given us, but all of us have enough gifts and duties to keep us busy until Jesus comes.
What has God entrusted to you as his manager? If you knew that in 30 day’s time Jesus was returning, what would you do to get things ready for inspection?
Invest yours wisely
“Whoever has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Who ever does not have, even what he will be taken from him.”
This phrase means that we are responsible to use well what we have.
“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.”
The master divided the money (talents) among his servant according to their abilities. No one received more or less than he could handle. If he failed in his assignment his excuse could not be that he was overwhelmed. Failure could come only from laziness or hatred toward the master.
The talents represent any kind of resource we are given. God gives us time, gifts, and other resourcces according to our abilities; and he expects us to invest them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have.
What will you do this week with the talents God has given you?
(1 Pt 4:10-11)
“Each one would use what ever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
Everyone has some gifts; find yours and use them. All of our abilities should be used in serving others; none are for our own exclusive enjoyment.
How can your gifts be used to show God’s love?
Can be a barrier to faith
“Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!'”
The rich, with most of their basic physical needs met, often become self-reliant. When they feel empty, they can buy something new to dull the pain that was meant to drive them toward God. Their abundance and self-sufficiency become their deficiency. The person who has everything on earth can still lack what is most important – eternal life.
What in your life could Jesus point to as something that is preventing you from receiving the kingdom?
Help the rejected feel accepted.
“So Jephthad fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a group of adventures gathered around him and followed him.”
Today, both believers and non-believers may drive away those who do not fit the norms, dictated by our society, neighborhoods, or churches. Often as in Jephthad case, great potential is wasted because of prejudice – a refusal to look beyond ill-conceived stereotypes. Look around you to see if there are potential Jephtahs being kept out due to factors beyond their control. As a Christian you know that everyone can have a place in God’s family.
Don’t be foolish by making spiritual deals with God. God doesn’t want our promises for the future but, rather, our obedience today.
Our Lord never insists on having authority; He never says – Thou shalt. He leaves us perfectly free – so free that we can spit in His face, as men did; so free that we can put Him to death, as men did; and He will never say a word. But when His life has been created in me by His Redemption, I instantly recognize His right to absolute authority over me. It is a moral domination – Thou are worthy…”. It is only the unworthy in me that refuses to bow down to the worthy. If when I meet a man who is more holy than myself, I do not recognize his worthiness and obey what comes through him, it is a revelation of the unworthy in me. God educates us by means of people who are a little better than we are, not intellectually but “holily,” until we get under the domination of the Lord Himself, and then the whole attitude of the life is one of obedience to Him.
If our Lord insisted upon obedience He would become a taskmaster, and He would cease to have any authority. He never insists on obedience, but when we do see Him we obey Him instantly, He is easily Lord, and we live in adoration of Him from morning till night. The revelation of my growth in grace is the way in which I look upon obedience, We have to rescue the word “obedience” from the mire. Obedience is only possible between equals; it is the relationship between father and son, not between master and servant. “I and My Father are one.” Though He were a Son, yet learned His obedience by the things which He suffered.” The Son’s obedience was as Redeemer, because He was Son, not in order to be Son.
(From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)
Have you ever promised to do something for the Lord if he will grant your request? God doesn’t work that way. He wants us to be loyal and obedient constantly. His answer to our prayers reflects his perfect will for us.
Can you do anything to help these people gain acceptance for their character and abilities?
What does God see in you that others might miss on first meeting you?
Jesus accepts you as you are.
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.'”
The good news about Jesus is that he comes to all, including the plain and the ordinary. he comes to anyone with a heart humble enough to accept him. Whoever you are whatever you do, you can have Jesus in your life. Don’t think you need extraordinary qualifications-he accepts you as you are.
You should accept your mistakes and let them contribute to your learning and growth. Mistakes are the price you must pay for any knowledge you acquire. For making those mistakes, you must pay the consequences. The alternative to this is to choose to remain where you are and stagnate or you can choose to grow.
You should treat yourself kindly because you are now a “Child of God.” Today you should accept that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. You should continue to improve as you grow in success and in wisdom.
Each day gives you a new opportunity to express the holy Spirit which is within you. With this realization in mind, you should bless every individual that you encounter. You now should release all old negative images and refuse to give them any power. They are burdensome and have no place in your life. Today you should replace these old images with God’s perfect love of you.
What is socially acceptable is not always right.
In (Gn 30:4-13) we see Rachel and Leah were locked in a cruel contest. In their race to have more children they both gave their maid servants to Jacob as concubines. Jacob would have been wise to refuse even though this was accepted custom of the day. The fact that a custom is socially acceptable does not mean it is wise or right. You will be spared much heartbreak if you look at the potential consequences, to you or others, of your actions.
God remains faithful to us, just as he did to Jacob. He fulfills his promise by blessing us during trying circumstances.
God is economical. He doesn’t waste training or experience. he knows what we are doing, what we are learning, and how he is going to use all of that five, ten, twenty years from now.
It’s easy to be disappointed when we have prepared for “the plan of God for my life,” only to have the door shut in our faces.
That’s because we were busy focusing on the plan when God was focusing on the preparation. Watch how he uses that preparation in a whole new way.
When the signals are blurred and you are uncertain, keep on praying, getting Christian counsel, but don’t stop what you are doing. Trust him to steer you if you are on the Wrong course. But don’t stop!
A sailboat’s rudder is useless while the sails are down. Set sail, get going. You can’t get any direction until the wind fills the sails. Then when the wind changes, be ready to come about. God may have to change your course, but when he does, you will have the momentum for it.
God knows how to move you when the time comes for you to be moved. He knows what is happening for you. In other words, trust God to be God. There isn’t anything he doesn’t know.
(From God Guides Your Tomorrows by Roger C. Palms)
Are you frustrated because your life plan progresses slower than you like? Remember, Jacob served twice as long as he originally intended before reaching his goal. Right now, pray that God will guide you today through his plan and keep you trusting.
Are you doing anything now that might cause future problems?
Many won’t accept your faith.
“I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his home town.”
Even Jesus himself was not accepted as a prophet in his home town. Many people have a similar attitude-an expert is any one who carries a briefcase and comes from more than 200 miles away. Don’t be surprised when your Christian life and faith are not easily understood or accepted by those who know you well.
Are you doing anything that Non-Christians have trouble understanding? Why not?
God’s plan is composed of endless variety. I can be easy and less demanding of myself and others when I realize nothing in human life is perfect. But if God is in control of my life, and I’m doing my best to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance; I can let go of control and panic as I marvel at the miracle of God’s plan.
Attitudes more important than
“But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.”
Some of the older people remembered Solomon’s temple, and they wept because the new temple would not be as glorious as the first one. But the beauty of the building was not nearly as important to God as were the attitudes of the builders and worshipers. god cares more about who we are than what we accomplish. Our world is always changing, and once-magnificant accomplishments decay and disappear. Seek to serve God wholeheartely. Then you won’t need to compare your work with any one else’s.
Today I will look at my tasks with new eyes. I will not over emphasize my projects and become over-whelmed with what needs to be accomplishments. Neither will i become bogged down with detail.
I enter new projects with a consciousness of balance and God’s control. If I need help, I will ask for it, and I will not be ashamed to seek assistance. I am not expected to know everything. I am not expected to achieve perfection in all situations. Instead, I only need to do my best in all that God gives me to do. Today i only need to follow God’s plan and know that I can succeed one step at a time.
Deadly erosion has plunged our world into frightening deep darkness. Some Christians have distanced themselves so far from the lifestyle of the unbeliever that they don’t have a clue how dark the world system really is. They don’t see its boredom, its flat tastelessness, its terror and its stark hopelessness. There is the inescapable threat of AIDS, along with the abduction of children, alcoholism, fears of growing old, of financial reversal, of marital infidelity, of emotional breakdown. Such darkness surfaces only briefly, then runs and hides its face in the valley of death.
(From Simple Faith by Charles Swindoll)
Important projects at work or home or even at church run into problems: injuries strike, the cash flow dries up, arguments arise. Work to resolve the problems you can. Pray for wisdom for the problems you cannot resolve. Satan always challenges God’s followers. Even though Satan occasionally appears victorious, he cannot triumph as long as we stand strong in our faith.
How patient are you (with self, God, or others) when waiting and accepting results?
Don’t look for meaning in
In Eccl 1:1-11) we see a common belief which was and still is; that good people prospered and wicked people suffer, but that hasn’t proven true. Solomon wrote this book after he had tried everything and achieved much only to find that nothing a part from God made him happy. He wanted his readers to avoid these same senseless pursuits. If we try to find meaning in our accomplishments rather than in God, we will never be satisfied, and everything we pursue will become werisome.
Today I give myself full permission to fail. I will turn down the volume on all “need to accomplishments” messages that tell me otherwise. I do not have to have exceptional ability, a genius I.Q., or perfect conditions. realizing that God is in control of my life, past/present/future. It is his plan, his results, his glory. I will no longer sabotage God’s plan by setting unattainable goals, over-scheduling myself, or working myself in to a frenzy. I will not work so hard that I undermine God’s control of my life.
Today I remind myself that it is God’s glory, I seek not mine. This gives me the ability to laugh and enjoy the pleasure of daily living.
For what would you like to be remembered after you are long gone?
“meaningless! Meaningless!” says the teacher “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
Solomon’s kingdom, Israel, was in its golden age, but Solomon wanted the people to understand that success and prosperity don’t last long. All human accomplishments will one day disappear, and we must keep this in mind in order to follow God’s plan for us. If we don’t we will become either proud and self sufficient when we succeed or sorely disappointed when we fail. Solomon’s goal was to show that earthly possessions and accomplishments are ultimately meaningless. Only the pursuit of God’s glory brings real satisfaction. We should honor God in all we say, think, and do.
When I don’t follow this, it usually means one of two kings-a false confidence in yourself, or the need to inflate your own ego. Today you have learned that you don’t have to be perfect to get credit and appreciation.
What area of life do you take to seriously?
Don’t base your self-worth on
(1 Pt 2:9-10)
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
People often base their self-concept on their accomplishments. But our relationship with Christ is far more important than our jobs, successes, wealth, or knowledge. We have been chosen by God as his very own, and we have been called to represent Him to others. Remember that your value comes from being one of God’s children, not from what you can achieve. You have worth because of what God does, not because of what you do.
“Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
The tower of Babel was a great human achievement, a wonder of the world. But it was a monument to the people themselves (expensive clothes, big house, fancy car, important job) to call attention to our achievements. These may not be wrong in themselves, but when we use them to give us identity and self-worth they take God’s place in our lives. We are free to develop in many areas; but we are not free to think we have replaced God.
God will not permit us to replace him as supreme in the universe. We belong to him and are responsible for our actions.
The scene is almost spooky; a tall, unfinished tower looming solitarily on a dusty plain. Its base is wide and strong but covered with weeds. large stones originally intended for use in the tower lie forsaken on the ground. Buckets, hammers, and pulleys – all lie abandoned. The silhouette cast by the structure is lean and lonely.
Not too long ago, this tower was buzzing with activity. A bystander would have been impressed with the smooth-running construction of the world’s first sky scraper. One group of workers stirred freshly made mortar. Another team pulled bricks out of the oven. A third group carried the bricks to the construction site while a fourth shouldered the load up a winding path to the top of the tower where it was firmly set in place.
Their dream was a tower. A tower that would be taller than anyone had ever dreamed. A tower that would punch through the clouds and scratch the heavens. And what was the purpose of the tower? To glorify God? No. To try to find God? No. To call people to look upward to God? Try again. To provide a heavenly haven of prayer? Still wrong.
The purpose of the work caused its eventual abortion. The method was right. The plan was effective. But the motive was wrong. Dead wrong. Read these minutes from the “Tower Planning Committee Meeting” and see what I mean:
“Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and [watch out] let us make a name for ourselves.”
Why was the tower being built? Selfishness. Pure. 100 percent selfishness. The bricks were made of inflated egos and the mortar was made of pride. men were giving sweat and blood for a pillar. Why? So that somebody’s name could be remembered.
We have a name for that: blind ambition.
We make heroes out of people who are ambitious.
And rightly so. This world would be in sad shape without people who dream of touching the heavens. Ambition is that grit in the soul which creates disenchantment with the ordinary and puts the dare into dreams.
But left unchecked it becomes an insatiable addition to power and prestige; a roaring hunger for achievement that devours people as a lion devours an animal, leaving behind only the skeletal remains of relationships.
Blind ambition. Distorted values.
God won’t tolerate it. He didn’t then and he won’t now. He took the “Climb to Heaven Campaign” into his hands. With one sweep he painted the tower gray with confusion and sent workers babbling in all directions. he took man’s greatest achievement and blew it into the winds like a child blows a dandelion.
Are you building any towers? Examine your motives. And remember the statement imprinted on the base of the windswept Tower of Babel: Blind ambition is a giant step away from God and one step closer to catastrophe.
(From God Came Near by Max Lucado)
What towers have you been building? Wealth? Success? Recognition/ Focus on what God wants you to build. Simplify your life. Surrender your desires to him! Let him guide your efforts.
What “towers” have you built in your life?
We are accountable for many of our problems
“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”
Gideon questioned God about the problems he and his nation faced and about God’s apparent lack of help. what he didn’t acknowledge was the fact that the people had brought calamity, upon themselves when they decided to disobey and neglect God. How easy it is to overlook personal accountability and blame our problems on God and others. Unfortunately this does not solve our problems. It brings us no closer to God, and it escorts us to the very edge of rebellion.
When problems come, the first place to look is whether we are following God’s plan for us.
And would you like to “tear down” in your life, if you could? And what would you like to “build up” to the glory of God?
Harry was not generally perceived as a brilliant man, but he was admired for always being prepared. When he took office at the death of Franklin Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, he faced an enormous task. He would meet with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill in July to discuss the world peace process and the treatment of Germany and Japan. Truman had not been in the earlier meetings with these two men, nor had his predecessor confront the reality of the atomic bomb. The decision of whether or not to use it rested on his shoulders. Truman inherited a tremendous load of decisions for which he bore sole responsibility. Yet those who met with Truman found him to be thoroughly prepared. He would fastidiously examine every document and briefing until he understood the issues and was thoroughly equipped to make his decision. Truman became known for his decisiveness, but this decisiveness was borne of his meticulous preparation. Leaders can make momentous decisions with confidence if they are adequately prepared.
Help me to believe, to trust, to know. Cast away my doubts, and reassure me that no matter what might happen, you will always be with me. Stand beside me as I grow in faith, and grant me your peace. Amen.