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The Bible's Amazing Unity
Finding God's Treasure
If It's Just a Good Book, Then It's Not God's Book
Longing for Whatever God Says
My Favorite Bible

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Finding God's Treasure



Dr. Williamson, a Canadian geologist, had been slipping along a rain-soaked road that led through Tanzania’s back country when, suddenly, his Land Rover sunk to its axles in sticky mire. Pulling out a shovel, he began to dig his four-wheel drive out. After some time, he uncovered an interesting-looking pink stone. Being a geologist and naturally curious about rock formations, he picked it up. The more mud he removed, the more excited he became, but he hardly believed what he saw. When the stone was finally clean, Dr. Williamson had found a diamond! (Eldred Echols, Discovering the Pearl of Great Price, Sweet Pub., Ft. Worth, 1992).

Any diamond would have been a surprise, but he had found the now famous giant pink diamond of Tanzania. That muddy stone sparkles today in a broach worn by the Queen of England on occasions, and Williamson is world renowned for his find—accidental though it was.

It is interesting that the geologist found the diamond. Similarly the Bible tells of a treasurer who found a treasure. Jesus’ comparison of a sinner who learns the gospel to one who finds great treasure (Matthew 13:44–46) is illustrated by this Ethiopian treasurer who found the gospel on a lonely road leading back to Africa from Jerusalem (Acts 8:26–40). Why did he—of all people in the world—find the treasure that day?

The treasurer was willing to LOOK for something more.

This Ethiopian had traveled fifteen hundred miles one way to worship, and was still reading his Bible on the way home! Because he was a eunuch, he had not even been allowed into the temple proper during the ceremonies (cf. Deuteronomy 23:1). You could say he rode three thousand miles to sit in the foyer! He knew something of the Bible but wanted to know more. He was like a man at sunrise tilting his manuscript to catch the first light. As he read Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus, he was catching the first rays of the rising sun of Christianity.

Who will find God’s treasure today? Those who are willing to look for it. Growing up, we all played the usual childhood games. We “shot” each other while playing cowboys and Indians or army. We played many games of football, baseball, and basketball. And we played “hide-and-seek.”

While the rules would change from time to time, the basic gist was the same: One person would be “it,” and the rest would hide, hoping to be the last one found. Since no one wanted to be “it,” the role often was not played with much enthusiasm; those who were “it” did not always finish the game. Only those who zealously searched for those in hiding would be victorious.

God’s treasure is available to all, but it requires a careful and diligent Bible student (2 Timothy 2:15). The way to heaven is “hidden” in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus said that the Scriptures (Old Testament) testified of Him, but His name is not found there (John 5:39). He taught in parables so that only those sincerely interested would find eternal life (Matthew 13:13–15). He said that the path to eternal life is strait and narrow and will be found by few (Matthew 7:13–14). We do not find the path by a casual pass through the Scriptures, but rather by a diligent search. No single passage teaches all we need, but we must study to put the pieces together to know the truth which will make us free (John 8:31–32). We should all strive to find, understand, and observe God’s will for us—to obey the gospel and become His children.

Several Bible passages mention “seeking”: God seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23–24); Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10); God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6); we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33); he who seeks, shall find (Matthew 7:7–8).

One may have to dig out from under denominational teachings and human traditions. Many today, like this treasurer, read their Bibles on the way home from church services and wonder why what they have just experienced differs so much from what they read in the Bible. If you are one of these, read on. We should never be satisfied with a religion less than what we find in Scripture. We can do better. Christ’s church does exist today, and we can be a part of it!

God promised that all who fear Him can learn the truth (John 7:17), and He will reward those who truly look (Hebrews 11:6; James 4:8; Psalm 9:10; 14:2; 25:14; 145:18; Proverbs 8:17). Some are too busy seeking worldly things (Matthew 6:32); others are waiting for some supernatural sign (Matthew 12:39; 1 Corinthians 13:8–10); some would rather please men than God (Galatians 1:10). The truly wise person seeks the treasure of the gospel (Matthew 5:6; Proverbs 8). Its value is eternal; its worth inestimable.

The treasurer was willing to LISTEN to another viewpoint.

When Philip gave the treasurer an opportunity to learn more of God’s Word, he took him up on it. This treasurer was humble enough to admit to a complete stranger that he did not understand what he was studying. (He could have told this aggressive preacher to get lost, but then he would have stayed lost.)

What was the eunuch reading? “The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth” (Acts 8:32). The treasurer listened as Philip showed how Jesus’ death on Calvary and His resurrection from the grave fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (chapter 53 in our Bibles).

Jesus was the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8; cf. Mark 10:45). A goat, killed in the traditional manner, sends out blood-chilling cries that can be heard a mile away, but a sheep submits to the butcher’s knife without a whimper. Jesus meekly submitted to the outrages perpetrated against Him, and offered no more resistance than a lamb being slaughtered.

“In his humiliation his judgment was taken away.” The verdict of Jesus’ Roman judge was “innocent,” but Pilate gave in to the Jews and changed the sentence to crucifixion (Luke 23:4; John 18:38; 19:6).

“Who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” How could one describe a generation so blind that they did not recognize God’s own Son, and then murdered Him? Jesus’ premature death was prophesied more than seven centuries before He was even born (Isaiah 53).

This was not what the treasurer had been taught in the worship service he had just left. He learned the truth because he was willing to consider another viewpoint. What about us? Too many religious discussions end with slammed doors and closed minds, raised voices and lowered respect for a friend, clenched fists and closed Bibles. Are we willing to calmly investigate another perspective? Do we do our own thinking, or do we simply accept what our preacher or parents tell us to believe? Truth never suffers from investigation—if we were right in the beginning, further study will simply confirm it. But if we were wrong, we need to know before the Judgment! (Matthew 7:21–23).

The treasurer was willing to LEAVE his past.

As treasurer for his country, he was doubtless an intelligent and industrious man. His religion was good. He was comfortable with it. He knew its customs, understood its theology. It taught high morals and had benefited his life. But now the preacher suggested that he give it up for something better. It no longer pleased God and was powerless to grant salvation. What went through his mind? Change religions? Go against my family? Offend my friends? Start over? Admit I’ve been wrong?

Nonetheless, he desired to please God more than others (Galatians 1:10), and was willing to change religions. In heaven no one will ever regret giving up false religion (John 12:42) or sinful pleasure (Acts 24:25; Hebrews 11:25).

Philip evidently said something about baptism in their study (although Isaiah 53 does not mention it) because the eunuch interrupted this traveling Bible class to point out that they were passing a suitable place for baptism. (Since that was arid country, he may have thought, “If I don’t ask now, there may not be another river or lake until after he leaves.”)

According to the book of Acts, something is wrong today when someone claims to preach Jesus, but whose hearers never request baptism. How can any man preach the gospel and answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?” and not give the answer Jesus told us to give? (Mark 16:15–16).

This treasurer may have been wealthy in Ethiopia before his journey, but he left this scene a far richer man. In the last view we ever get of him, he is pictured with a “smile on his face.” You will rejoice, too, if you find God’s treasure!

Allen Webster
House to House Heart to Heart


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The Bible’s Amazing Unity



Imagine asking an actress from Hollywood, a farmer from Oklahoma, and a restaurant manager from Alabama to write an essay about the causes of the Civil War. Even though they would all write at the same time about a war that occurred less than 200 years ago, numerous differences would be obvious. The Hollywood actress might say the war was a result of slavery. The restaurant manager may assert the war was about states’ rights. And the farmer from Oklahoma might claim that the war was because of stubbornness on both sides—the North and South. The point is, these three individuals likely would have many different things to say about the war.

When we compare ordinary human authors to the writers of the Bible, we realize that the Bible truly is an amazing book written by men who were inspired by God. Considering it was written by approximately 40 different writers over a period of about 1600 years (1500 B.C. to A.D. 100) and contains no contradictions in its original form, one has to admit that the Bible is no ordinary book. From Genesis through Revelation the theme is Jesus Christ—His coming, His presence, and His return. Yet, the Bible writers were as different as the Hollywood actress and the Oklahoma farmer. Some were fishermen, some were farmers, some were military leaders, and some were kings. Some wrote in the Hebrew language, while others wrote in Aramaic or Greek. Some of the Bible writers penned letters while traveling, and others while in prison. Yet when we look at the Bible, it shows amazing unity—unity that can be explained only by the fact that Bible writers were guided by the Holy Spirit.

Truly then, as the apostle Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).



by Eric Lyons, M.Min. Copyright 2002 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved. www.apologeticspress.com




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If It's Just a Good Book, Then It's Not God's Book


by Eric Lyons, M.Min.





Some time ago, I read an article by a college professor who stated that “the best thing that could happen to the New Testament has happened to it.... Within the University, at least, the Bible has become simply another ‘great book.’ ” Many in the world today consider the Bible to be a “good book” containing moral teachings written by noble men, yet reject the idea that the Bible was “given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Many college professors today teach that the Bible simply is a “good book” that is no more inspired than Homer’s Odyssey or Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It merely is a result of natural genius that is characteristic of men of unusual ability. What can be said about such claims?



Common sense compels the honest person to reject such illogical notions. If the Bible is just another “good book” and not inspired of God, it makes either liars or lunatics of the biblical writers who claimed the Holy Spirit as the ultimate source of their documents. The honest person will surely admit that the Bible—a book that has been studied and examined more than any other book in the world—definitely is not a product of insane men. Its unity, fulfilled prophecy, historical accuracy, and scientific foreknowledge testify of an intelligent source. Thus, the Bible was written either by the honest or the dishonest. Logically, no other choices exist.



Moses either lied or was truthful when he recorded: “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me’ ” (Exodus 20:1-3, emp. added). Moses claimed such inspiration literally hundreds of times. Was he a liar, or did he tell the truth? In the New Testament, we can read where Peter wrote that “prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, emp. added). Did Peter tell the truth, or was he lying? This same question can be asked of all the writers of the Bible who claimed inspiration (well over 3,000 times!).



To say that the Bible is simply a “great book” written by “good men” makes liars of the biblical writers who repeatedly claimed that God was the ultimate source of their documents (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2 and Acts 1:16). Thus, the Bible is either a product of God or a product of liars. There are no other options. If these men were liars, then they “insanely” pronounced their own destruction, for they claimed that lying was wrong and that all impenitent liars would burn in hell (cf. Exodus 20:16, Colossians 3:9, and Revelation 21:8). Furthermore, if these men were liars, it leaves as inexplicable the mystery of why modern man, with all his accumulated learning, has not been able to produce a comparable book that has the ability to make the Bible obsolete.



In the great long ago, the prophet Elijah asked, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21). The Bible is either a product of uninspired liars who pronounced their own eternal destruction, or it is a product of Almighty God. Which explanation will you accept?

Copyright 2001 Apologetics Press, Inc. www.apologeticspress.com Used with permission.




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Longing for Whatever God Says



How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
- Psalm 119:103


There is a strong, vibrant link between loving God and longing for His word. If Scripture study is nothing to us but an obligation or a chore, we ought not to be so bold as to say that we love God or that we take Him seriously. It is no less true with God than with anyone else: we are delighted to receive communications from those whom we love. "This is the love of God," John wrote, "that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).

The problem that many religious people have, however, is that while God's words are sweet to our taste in general, we shrink away from the parts of His word that we ourselves most need to hear. Thus our three goals should be: to long for God, to long for what He says, and to long for whatever He says!

There happens to be a quite practical reason why we should be open to whatever God says. As J. I. Packer has pointed out, "One of the many divine qualities of the Bible is this: that it does not yield its secrets to the irreverent or censorious." If we find some of God's words less than sweet because our hearts are not open and receptive to our responsibilities, then it's not likely that we'll even understand the meaning of the words we need to understand. Adopting a resistant attitude is a sure way to cut ourselves off from the comprehension of God's words (John 8:43,44).

If we are eager to hear what God has to say, however, and if we are also eager to do as He instructs (James 1:21,22), then we will certainly be able to understand all that we need to understand. And not only that, but we will become hard-working, thorough students of the Scriptures. We will be more than dabblers in God's word. Perhaps we shall even be able to identify with the well-known words of Martin Luther: "I study my Bible as I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest might fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf."

Make it the first morning business of your life to understand some part of the Bible clearly, and make it your daily business to obey it in all that you do understand.

John Ruskin

Copyright 2006 by Gary Henry
Via the WordPoints web site: www.wordpoints.com




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My Favorite Bible





Through the years, I have owned quite a few Bibles. I have a two shelves in my office containing nothing but Bibles. They differ in size, translation, and binding. But of all the Bibles I own, one is particularly treasured by me. It is a little black Red Letter New Testament (3"x4.5") that I have had for the past 39 years. You've seen some like it before. It's the kind of Bible given to little children, and it is small enough for them to hold it in their little hands. The print in this Bible is just about too small to read. There are no study notes in it. And it only contains the New Testament. So what makes this Bible so special to me? Allow me to read the inscription on the first page:



"This New Testament is being presented to Steve Higginbotham for being the first in his Bible Study class to be able to say from memory all the 66 books of the Bible. Keep up the Good Work. God Bless you always.

Your Bible Class Teachers,

Mrs. Hester Shultz & Miss Sandy Wilson



Isn't it amazing the impact that a few words of encouragement can have on a person's life? I was just four-years-old when this Bible was presented to me, but thirty-nine years later, I still treasure, and have this little Bible in my possession. My guess is that Hester (who is now deceased) and Sandy have no memory of the presentation of this Bible, or the message they inscribed in it. I'm sure they have no idea that something done so long ago, and something that cost so little, and took only but a moment of their time, would be so treasured by the little boy to whom they presented it.



My point? There is life-time lasting power and influence in encouragement! What takes us only a moment to say or do, can impact another person for the rest of his life. Be an encourager! Take the time and the little extra effort to compliment, commend, and encourage another. Chances are, long after you've forgotten your words of kindness, they will be locked-up, and cherished as a prize possession in the store room of someone's mind.




Steve Higginbotham via MercEmail email devotionals

MercEmail


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Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, ....She was full of good works and acts of charity. ~Acts9:36



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