Eternity is rushing towards us.
You and everyone else must be ready.
Do you remember January 1st, 2016, the day when the page on your calendar turned to the New Year? Did you anticipate anything in particular happening this past year? Did any of what you expected to happen actually take place?
In the past year, we saw the election of President-elect, Donald Trump; BREXIT; the Pope declaring that all people are GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s children who worship the same God and can be united by love, the canonizing of Mother Teresa, the Christian conference Together 2016 allowing the Pope to address evangelicals on the Washington Mall, the Zika virus, the Brussels Airport bombing, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the worst flooding for West Virginia in a century, the Wikileaks scandals, the Rio de Janeiro Olympics; Michael PhelpsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ gold medal-winning streak, the Broadway play Ã¢â‚¬Å“HamiltonÃ¢â‚¬Â; and the deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Janet Reno, Nancy Reagan, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Arnold Palmer, John Glenn, Judge Antonin Scalia, Elie Weisel, Shimon Peres, and Fidel Castro. Maybe you saw a birth or death in your family as well. It is always fun for me to look back and compare what I thought would happen in the upcoming year with how the year ended up.
Will you be doing the same thing this year? Are you looking forward to what will be unfolding in 2017? Or is it one of those uh-oh years when each day you really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to turn on the computer to see what happened the night before?
But as the world seems to be going in all different directions, you and I know there is one, solid foundation that will remain immovable during the coming year. It is the Bible. It is the Holy Scripture. It is GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word. We can bank on the fact that it wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be moving, which means we can use it as the foundation for our lives.
Here is a good, short video that shows the importance of the Bible. You will find the video of Russell Moore and Andy Stanley about three quarters of the way down the page. The article surrounding it is a good read as well, if you want to look it over, too. Enjoy:
Yikes! My fault here. I was hoping this clip would bring you some encouragement, and it probably didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.
The first point made in this interview addresses whether small churches should exist. Let me say to all of you small churches out there, thank you! Thanks for persevering. Thanks for being faithful saints over the years and years and years. Thanks for knocking on doors. Thanks for having bus ministries. Thanks for realizing your church is, truthfully, owned by God and not by some megachurch.
Here is one of the statements from the video that really got to me:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.Ã¢â‚¬Â
All of you who follow this ministry, know that one of its hallmarks is reminding you, time and time again, to get into the Word of God. Study that Book. Dig through that Book. Find the answers to life in that Book. Read and heed. Put the spotlight on that Book.
Interestingly, I tell lost people all the time to read the Bible, too! I want them to be assured that what they are hearing from me is backed up by Scripture. When it is, then they know that I have not been deceiving them.
Here are some fascinating verses on the importance of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.Ã¢â‚¬Â
2 Timothy 2:15:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As you can see, God holds His words in very high regard. And again, neither the lost nor the saved would run across these verses unless they were reading a Bible.
How is anyone supposed to learn about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ unless they read the Bible? The Bible is the eye-witness account and proof text for those events.
Andy Stanley talks about putting peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attention back on Jesus, but the words surrounding his point should be a huge red flag. The question you should ask is, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Which Jesus?Ã¢â‚¬Â There are so many false Christs in the world and there will be until the return of the real Jesus Christ. New Age, Mormons, Jews, JehovahÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Witness, the Roman Catholic church, and Islam all hold different views of Jesus Christ. And because they do, it begs the question: Ã¢â‚¬Å“Where can I find out the correct information about Jesus Christ so that my life and my eternal life will be based on truth?Ã¢â‚¬Â You guessed itÃ¢â‚¬â€the same book you are supposed to turn the spotlight on.
One other thing that bothered me was why the host, Russell Moore, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say anything about Andy Stanley wanting to take the spotlight off the Bible. Why didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t one of the pastors in the audience, or anyone else in the audience, stand up and say something? I know confrontation is not easy, but if someone is mocking GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word and you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stand up and defend Him or His Word, then how will you ever stand up against anything?
So hopefully, this will be another year when you will make GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Word a priority, and read your Bible front to back again. We have tons of people following the ministry who do exactly that. It is one of the best things you can do in the coming year. I will do the same by starting again at Genesis 1:1 on January 1st. Remember, reading only three to four chapters a day will take you through your entire Bible in one year. Set aside those fifteen to twenty minutes, and you will never, ever regret it.
This is probably a great year to stop listening to conference speakers, unless they line up with the Word of God. That includes me as well. I will be speaking at some conferences this year. Test everything I say and write against the Bible. Be Bereans. Make sure that what I teach is biblically accurate. Have a great year taking the spotlight off of megachurch pastors and putting it back on GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Holy Word where it should be all the time!!
Until the nets are full,