STOP!

Stop 3  Whatever you are doing right now, stop! If you were even planning to do something right now, please stop! There is simply one thing you cannot wait any longer to take care of.

So before you head to the gym. Before you have dinner. Or go to work. Or take a walk. Before you head out shopping, or to hang out with your friends, or run that marathon. Before you turn on the news or consider your political choices, or attend your child’s school conference. Before you plan your wedding day or your dream vacation. Before you get your car fixed or visit the doctor. Before you call your mother. Before you do anything else, there is one thing you really need to get done.

Because no matter how healthy you are, whether you are young or old or somewhere in between, you simply do not know what tomorrow holds in store for you. We all know someone who has died unexpectedly. Perhaps in a car accident or heart attack or house fire or some other tragedy. But by whatever means they passed from this life without warning, leaving those who knew them in shock and disbelief. And tomorrow, it could be your turn…or mine.

Most people think they have more time; another year or another decade. But the fact is, we may not even have another hour. Such is the randomness of life in a fallen world.

And one thing you can count on with 100% certainty is that when you die, you will meet God. So before you do even one more thing, please….please….ask yourself if you are ready for that meeting. Most of us know deep down inside we are not perfect. In fact, none of us would ever speak the word’s “I’m perfect” out loud in front of our friends or family or coworkers because we know that it is highly likely they will remind us how imperfect we truly are. So we inherently know the Bible verse that says “all have sinned, all have fallen short” (Romans 3:23) is absolutely true.

And because we see that is true, we also see we have a predicament. Whether tonight, tomorrow, or ten years from now, we have a meeting scheduled with God. And our sin means we are not ready for that meeting. Just think about it. Can you even imagine standing before a Holy God, who created the heavens and the earth, and trying to explain your actions? It was difficult enough explaining them to your spouse, or friend, or parent, or boss, or whomever when you had to ask for forgiveness; how much more difficult will it be when you face the Lord Almighty?

As the Scriptures say about God, “You (God) will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” (Romans 3:4)

But there is a way out of our predicament. That way is Jesus Christ. (The only way!)  Jesus paid the price for our wrongs. He took our punishment for us so the saying, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin” (Romans 4:8) is proved true as is the saying: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” (1 John 5:12) Jesus wants to save you, he wants you to be cleared. And so do I.

So before you take even one more step, or one more deep breath, please get somewhere by yourself and talk to God. Don’t make excuses or compare yourself to others, just admit to Him those wrongs you know you have committed. Ask Him to forgive you in the name of Jesus. If you do this and you are sincere in your heart, whether you die tomorrow or at the end of a long life, you will never have to fear that meeting with God again. Because your sins are remembered no more. And that, friends, is the greatest freedom you will ever know.

To learn more, please check out: KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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Am I Going To Heaven?

heaven 4  We have all wondered, at one time or another, what will happen when we die. This question usually first comes to mind at some point in our childhood years, and is, perhaps, the subject of lighter conversation during our young adult years when death is farther from our minds, but it becomes a question of more frequent thought as we age and our mortality becomes more and more evident. Whatever stage of life you find yourself in now, I’m confident this question has crossed your mind and you may or may not have found a comforting answer. It’s only natural because we all know that one day we will die; it’s the one statistic we simply can’t avoid.

And having thought about death and dying, it’s likely we’ve thought about heaven, too. And having accepted the reality that we will one day die, we have certainly wondered if we will go to heaven. But will we? Do all paths lead to heaven? How can we know for sure? These are questions we should think about…often…until we are confident we know the answer. Hopefully, this blog can help.

The truth is that there is a heaven and, unfortunately, many people are not going there. That may run contrary to what you think, but Jesus said, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Further, the Bible says, “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:18-20).

The real problem is that we have a strong tendency to be self-willed and self-centered. God placed the knowledge of himself within each of us, and he provided the evidence for himself in the creation that is all around us, yet we still tend to deny his true nature. We place our trust in science or we make up our own religion or we distort the truths of the Bible to fit our wishes or, worse yet, we choose to believe there is no god at all. I know all about this because, before I came to understand the truth, I was the worst of offenders. When we deny the truth he has made so obvious to us we really are making ourselves to be god. And that, quite understandably, is not pleasing to the real God.

But despite all our rebellion, we still wonder what happens when we die and whether we will go to heaven or not. Perhaps this is because in some way the reality that God placed within us manages to break through and remind us of our mortality. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to know that none of us are unique; the Bible reminds us that “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) So we’re all in this together. And, the reality is, Christianity is the most inclusive religion there is on the entire planet. Because, while the sin problem is universal, the solution (God’s plan of salvation) is available to all. Yes, to all. You, me, them. Every human being on earth. God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) That’s as inclusive as it gets!

This is also clearly stated in passages such as Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. So, it is really dependent upon us, whether we choose to believe God or not to believe God. This sentiment is further echoed in 1 John 5:12: Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life” and again in Romans 10:13:Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is no exclusivity here whatsoever, if you want in, you are in. You just have to choose it. So people who don’t go to heaven don’t go because they choose not to go. But if you have read this far, it is probable that the Holy Spirit is nudging you along, drawing you towards God right now. So choose life. Choose heaven. Now.

All you need to do is admit your wrongs and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. For “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) It’s that simple. If you feel it in your heart, then say a prayer something like this – Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. Amen.

And if you have said that prayer today, then you are going to heaven when you die. It’s that simple and there is no need to wonder about it anymore; you can have faith. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) I do suggest you find a local church that you can attend so that your new faith can grow and you can learn more about our great God. If you need help finding a church in your area, write to us and we’ll try to help!

God bless. I look forward to meeting you in heaven someday!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Do I Really Need A Parachute?

Parachute 1  Imagine the scene. You’re on a commercial airliner flying to the destination of your dream vacation. You’ve saved your money for several years to pay for this trip and your excitement level couldn’t be higher. You’re no stranger to flying, but this trip is definitely special. The flight attendant takes you through the usual flight safety warnings and before you know it the plane is up in the air. Only ten hours of flight time and you’ll be there!

Then the captain makes an announcement that catches you by surprise: “Ladies and gentlemen, the flight attendants will be coming through the cabin shortly with a parachute for each of you. Please take the parachute and strap it on your back.” Now if the announcement ends there, you will probably be wondering why they are handing out parachutes. You’ve flown before and this has never happened so you’re probably wondering all kinds of things; maybe even looking out the window to see if there is smoke or fire or anything out of the ordinary.

But what if the captain’s announcement continued this way, “Folks, the parachutes will make your flight more enjoyable, please strap the parachute on, sit back and enjoy your flight.” Now the flight attendant hands you this thing about the size of a small backpack, you strap it on and sit back in your seat. Except you can’t get comfortable. The parachute makes it impossible to sit normally and soon your back is sore and you start to become angry at the airline. What in the world is going on? After not too much time, you take the parachute off and make it known you will not wear this thing.

The parachute most certainly did not make your flight more enjoyable and you now have  backache causing you to feel contempt for the airline, the captain, and the parachute. You will have nothing to do with any of them after this flight. They are already ruining your dream vacation.

But what if the captain’s announcement went this way instead, “Folks, the flight attendant will soon hand each of you a parachute. Please calmly strap your chute on before helping those around you. The plane has developed a serious malfunction and will soon crash to the earth, but you will be guided to a door where your parachute will help you land safely on the ground.” With this additional information, won’t you gladly strap on your parachute and endure whatever discomfort it might bring for the assurance of safety that comes with it? I should think so!

So you see it is only when you have the complete picture of the situation that wearing the parachute makes any sense at all. Likewise, it is the same with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to come to you and say, “Friend, you need to accept Christ,” you would likely wonder to yourself why in the world would you need to do that. My statement simply wouldn’t make sense. And if I said to you, “If you accept Christ it will make your life better,” you might very well give it a try, but eventually something would happen to make you question if your life was truly better, and you might end up turning away from Christ because the promise I gave you was not fulfilled. It is only when we have the complete picture that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense.

So to fully understand the Gospel (which means “good news”) you need to first understand your need for it. Just as understanding that the plane is about to crash made the need for a parachute understandable, knowing that we are sinners helps us understand our need for Jesus. The Bible says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23) and the reality is, deep down inside, we all know we have made mistakes; we all have done things that have hurt others, we are all guilty. In fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we have likely felt the weight of that guilt much more often than we care to admit to others. To deny this is to be disingenuous just as the Apostle John wrote, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” (1 John 1:8)

Perhaps the bigger problem for most of us is that we tend to compare ourselves to others and then, despite our self-knowledge and the guilt we feel, we conclude we’re “not that bad” especially compared to (insert name of notorious sinner). And isn’t that natural? In fact, not only is it human nature, it is the very ploy of the devil to make us think we don’t need God, for Satan is the father of lies just as Jesus says in John 8:44: “He (Satan) has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” And the Apostle Peter warns us, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

So don’t believe the devil. Believe the Bible instead! And the Bible says, “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (Romans 3:10-12)  I honestly think the reality is that I don’t need to convince you of your guilt. I believe we all instinctively know the truth about ourselves deep down inside. And, therefore, being knowledgeable of our sin, what we really need to comprehend is that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God said about Himself in Exodus 34:6-7: “I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty.”

God does not let the guilty go unpunished. Not the guilt of the worst person you can think of, not my guilt, and not yours. The guilty receive punishment, and that punishment is death. But God, in his infinite love and mercy, made a way for us to escape that punishment and to receive eternal life. And that way is Jesus because Jesus paid the penalty for us. So the Gospel is this: “God so loved the world He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And just as the impending plane crash is why you need the parachute, sin is why you need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Availing yourself of the Gospel is almost as easy as strapping on the parachute; just talk to God. Admit to him you have sinned and you need his mercy. Accept the free gift of grace he offers through Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And now you know the full story! God bless.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Where Do I Start?

Where Do I Start 3 Whether you are a new Christian or just curious as to what the Bible is all about, you’ve made the decision to start reading this important book. But the Bible is a really big book, with lots of pages, and it may seem a little intimidating at first. And there’s the Old Testament and the New Testament and, looking at the shelves in a book store, there seem to be so many different versions. It can all seem very confusing, so where do you start?

I was there once, too. Twenty-five years ago, when I started thinking about God and the Bible, I faced this same dilemma. One day I simply walked into a local bookstore, bought a $3.99 paperback Bible, found a quiet place, and started reading. At page 1. “In the beginning…”

To my linear mind, this seemed perfectly logical. But was it? I learned later on that there are many ways to read the Bible and some ways could be better than others. I did go on to read the Bible from cover to cover, but also jumped around a lot as I got involved in a church small group study and followed along with my church’s weekly sermons. But I do think there is a better way for someone who is new to the Bible.

First a word about Bible versions. There are many English translations available, from the very Shakespearean sounding King James Version to the contemporary Message Bible, and all points in between. Regardless of the translation you choose, if your mind and spirit are open to God, the Holy Spirit will bring the words alive to you; all are based on the inerrant original manuscripts and translated by dedicated people committed to making God’s Word available to all. With that said, I feel the New Living Translation, or NLT, is a reliable translation that is very easy to read and understand. Perfect for getting started!

Now, for where to start. As much as I love the book of Genesis, I do not necessarily recommend starting there as I did. I think there is a better way. In terms of an overview; the Bible is actually one large book made up of several smaller books. And those smaller books are divided into two larger sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament. Within the Bible there are eight “genres” or types of writing. They are: historical, law, wisdom, psalms, prophecy, apocalyptic, the Gospels, and the Epistles (or letters). All these various books and genres can be a source of confusion and when we’re getting started, it really helps to have some guidance.

I can think of no better guidance than that of the late Reverend Billy Graham. Almost certainly the greatest evangelist of the last 100 years, Graham is known to have suggested starting with the Gospel of John. This is the fourth book of the New Testament. John was one of Jesus’ disciples, having walked and studied with Jesus for three years before Jesus was crucified. John went on the be a great leader in the early Christian church and his Gospel account helps us understand the depth and breadth of God’s love for us. It tells the story of the greatest life ever lived, the life of Jesus, and what Jesus did for us. It is an excellent place to get started so start here.

Next, according to information I found on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Associations’ website, Graham suggested reading the Acts of the Apostles (also called, simply, Acts), because it tells us what His first disciples did in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. In the days, months, and years following the ascension of the risen Jesus into heaven, the church grew rapidly, led by the courageous twelve apostles (and later, Paul) who literally risked their very lives to tell others about Jesus. The book of Acts is exciting and riveting, to this day I find it hard to put it down once I get started reading. I am confident you will experience the same!

After the Gospel of John and the book of Acts, Graham suggests we would do well to read the letters (epistles) of John (they are very short and there are three of them) followed by Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Then you may want to read Romans, which sets forth the great doctrines which Paul taught. Once you have finished reading these books, read through the rest of the New Testament. There will be certain things you read and may not understand, but ask God to help you and trust the Holy Spirit to bring you understanding. As you progress in your reading I am certain you will begin to experience the nearness of our Creator.

At first, commit to reading 10-20 minutes every day. Promise yourself you will do this every day for a whole month. I think you will be amazed before you are halfway through. The Bible is not a book about perfect people, quite the contrary, it is a book full of amazing stories of imperfect people just like you and I. Once you get started you will find the characters easy to relate to and their various stories as gripping as any movie you’ve ever seen. Try to read at the same time each day. And it can help to find a special quiet place where you can read undisturbed. Ask God to help you understand and trust that He will guide you.

My prayer for you is that you will be captivated by the Bible and that you will find yourself growing closer to God every time you read!

For more information, please check out the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website by clicking here.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Right Before Our Eyes

eyes 5  In chapter 3 in the book of The Acts of the Apostles (or “Acts” for short) a story is told of a man who was crippled from birth, who was brought daily to the temple, where he would beg for money to support himself. The man was incapacitated in his ankles and feet and could not stand or walk on his own. So he would be brought to the temple gate known as The Beautiful Gate, where he would ask for money from those entering the temple. One day, the apostles Peter and John approached.

The impaired man asks them for money as he would any other person. The book of Acts records the exchange that follows this way: Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. (Acts 3:4-8)

Luke (the author of Acts) continues his description of this miraculous healing event by describing how amazed the people standing nearby were at this miracle. Before their very eyes this man, who they recognized as the man lame from birth, and now approximately 40 years old, was healed and was now walking and leaping for joy. Peter recognizes the opportunity before him and begins to preach a sermon to the people, using the healing of this man as the launching point for his Gospel message. As Peter is preaching he is confronted by the temple leaders and arrested, but not before many of the people listening to Peter believe and are saved.

The next day, Peter and John are brought before the high council and questioned about the healing and the message they were delivering. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, responds to the questioning with a Gospel message that includes this line from Psalm 118:22: “The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” Peter is unabashed in his claim that there is no other name on earth or in heaven by which men must be saved, the name of Jesus Christ. I find what happened next to be remarkable, if not a bit flabbergasting:

Acts 4:13-22:  The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.

“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.

Take a moment and read that again and contrast the two different reactions to the healing of this man. We see that the man who was healed and the crowds who had witnessed his healing are praising God for what they have seen and experienced. They believe what they saw and many of them accepted Peter’s Gospel message as a result and now have new life in Christ. The high priest and Jewish leaders, on the other hand, though they cannot deny the miracle because the healed man is standing right there in front of their eyes, remain stubborn in their attempt to cover it up, to stop Peter and John from preaching of the Gospel. Yes – you are reading that correctly – the man who was lame from birth, who was well-known to everyone in the area, who the Jewish leaders also knew was lame, is standing right there in front of them completely healed, and the council knows and admits they cannot deny it. But all they are concerned about is stopping the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just as we see throughout the four Gospels, the high priest and the temple leaders are interested in but one thing; maintaining their power structure and status. So instead of the natural reaction of awe and wonder at this miracle, they engage in what can only be described as willful disregard for the facts. You’d think that, in the face of the evidence – the healed man standing right there in front of their eyes – that they would recognize the error of their ways, repent, and believe, but they do not. And this reaction is not unlike what we see around us to this very day –  people who continue their willful refusal to accept the Gospel message despite the fact that no honest historian denies that Jesus Christ was a real historical figure, that the evidence supporting the authenticity of the Bible is simply overwhelming, and that many millions of lives continue to be dramatically changed to this very day. These people continue to practice willful disregard of the facts, and nothing I write here is likely to convince them to change their mind.

The now-healed lame man stands right before their very eyes. They cannot deny it because to do so is irrational and illogical (though some still try). They are, as the Bible says in Romans, without excuse and one day they will stand before the living God and they will be judged. God’s judgment is always perfect, always fair, always just. But the Bible tells us “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

So which camp do you fall into? Chances are, if you’ve read this far, you either believe or are ready to believe. It is in God’s great mercy and love for us that he provided a way by which we may be saved and we may experience the fullness of life that He intended for us. That way is through Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this world though the virgin birth, lived among us, experienced life just as we experience it, and then willingly laid down his life as a sacrifice for us. But on the third day he rose again, thereby defeating death once and for all.  In Romans 10:8-13, the Apostle Paul writes: And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you haven’t already, won’t you make today the day you believe the Gospel message and call on the name of the Lord?

Learn more at KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

That’s One Big Book!

Big Book 1  A manuscript that is essentially the founding document of Alcoholics Anonymous, which members of the recovery group call, ”The Big Book,” sold at auction recently for $2.4 million to Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts football team. It is the third time the 161-page typed document has been sold. It had previously sold in 2007 for $992,000 and for approximately $1.5 million in 2004. The manuscript includes notes and scribbles from one of AA’s founders, William Wilson, more commonly known as ”Bill W.” With more than 30 million copies sold, translations in 67 languages, and the world wide success of Alcoholics Anonymous, the “Big Book” is certainly a big deal!

There is little doubt that Alcoholics’ Anonymous has helped many people and it is pretty easy to see why the original manuscript of the Big Book would have such a high monetary value; but there is a book that has helped even more people, that has been translated into even more languages, and that is far more infamous. That, of course, is the Bible. It was hard to find exact numbers everyone agreed on, but as near as I can determine, as of 2017, the full Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament alone into 1,521 languages and smaller portions of Scripture into 1,121 other languages. And while the Big Book has sold approximately 30 million copies since it was first published, the Bible sells about 100 million copies per year.

AA’s Big Book was first published in 1939, nearly 80 years ago. To this date, as the original manuscript sells at auction, no one questions its authenticity. And why would they? Eighty years ago is what we would call “very recent history”. It is easy to compare the Big Book in circulation today with the original manuscript and conclude they are the same. With the Bible, we have approximately 5800 Greek manuscripts and about 24,000 complete or fragments of manuscripts in other languages such as Latin, Aramaic, Coptic, and so on. Some of these manuscripts date to within decades of the original writing. For example, the Gospel of John is believed to have been written between 70 AD and 90 AD. The earliest manuscript evidence is a portion of John’s Gospel known as Papyrus 52, which is dated to approximately 125 AD, or within about 50 years of the original. That’s less time than has elapsed since the original manuscript of the Big Book was written!

The amount of evidence supporting the authenticity of the Bible we read today is staggering. Consider this comparison: Homer’s Illiad is generally thought to have been written in approximately 750 BC. To date, 647 manuscripts of this book have been found. Only 190 contain a complete copy. The oldest manuscript is dated around 400 BC, or 350 years after the original was written. Despite this rather large time gap, no one questions the authenticity of the version of The Iliad we have today. Yet, as we mentioned, the Bible is supported by far more manuscript evidence dating far closer to the originals. And the documentation for the Bible doesn’t stop with the manuscript evidence; I do not have space here to go into all the details, but ancient, non-Christian sources also confirm many New Testament events as being historical. Some of these sources are: Flavius Josephus (A.D. 93), the Babylonian Talmud (A.D. 70-200), Pliny the Younger’s letter to the Emperor Trajan (A.D. 100), and the Annals of Tacitus (A.D. 115-117).

So when we read the Bible today, we can be confident we are reading an authentic document. Psalm 19 describes the Bible as perfect, trustworthy, sweeter the honey, and more desirable than pure gold. Psalm 119 declares that the way of purity is found “by obeying your Word” (Psalm 119:9). The writer of Hebrews teaches that “the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12) And the Apostle Paul tells us that “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 corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In today’s world, it seems western culture has moved towards individuality and decision making based on felt needs. Children and young adults are told to be aware of their feelings and that what is right for them may not be right for everyone. This is, of course, very bad thinking – though it is nothing new. We read in the book of Judges, more than once, the words: “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (see Judges 17:6 and 21:25) History throughout the ages has shown that this never turns out good. Never. People, and society, need a moral guide to be successful. Of course, God knew this and so He gave us the Bible. The Bible is absolutely reliable for teaching us everything for Godliness and living. It is our moral compass and owner’s manual for life. By studying the Bible, you will be prepared to interpret events in the daily news, understand the behavior of your children, correctly discern the social issues affecting our world, and more. It is absolutely rich with truth from our Creator God, who’s greatest desire is that we should live long and full lives.

And the Bible is also 100% reliable for bringing each of us to eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ. In the words of AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, “no one is too discredited or has sunk too low to be welcomed cordially.” We all inherently know that we have made mistakes, that we have done things we regret. Not one of you reading this would dare claim to be perfect, nor would I. And the Bible agrees, saying: “everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The unfortunate reality is that those mistakes we’ve all made are called sin and sin separates us from God; but God made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, we are assured that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21) And so we find “we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11) Won’t you avail yourself of this grace today, if you haven’t already?

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) And those are words you can count on, for we know the Bible is 100% reliable!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Reviving The Soul

Reviving the Soul3   Those of you who have are regular readers of this blog probably already know that at one point in my life I had a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol. For anyone new here, suffice it to say that when it came to following the rules, I didn’t. I won’t dig into the details on that, I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced your own rebellious streaks at one point or another. If I have learned anything, it’s that I’m not nearly as unique as I might have once thought myself.

This rebelliousness that most of us have gone through, or perhaps continue to struggle with, is nothing new. Give a thorough reading to the Old Testament and you’ll see example after example of individuals and groups who rebel against God. The words “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (ie: Judges 17:6) have regular occurrence. It seems by our very nature we are a pugnacious lot.

While there are all kinds of rules we are expected (and sometimes reluctant) to follow, such as income taxes, speed limits, and the like; let us be concerned with the laws that God has set before us. In the Bible, from beginning to end, we find God has lots of rules for us. I won’t take the time to dive into a detailed analysis of all God’s rules, for such an analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on a few examples, taken from the Ten Commandments.

“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) So let’s get honest with each other. Who has not stolen something at least once in their lives? Maybe it was just a little something, like a few office supplies from work. It didn’t have to be something big, it was still stealing if we appropriated for ourselves that which belonged to someone else. And someone who steals is called…a thief, right?

And then there’s the rule that, perhaps, I struggle with more than any other: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…..or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) I suspect I am not alone in my covetousness. For me, it’s usually gazing upon that beautiful new truck that my neighbor just bought, or some other shiny object in my neighbor’s garage for which I feel such avarice. Have you not found yourself desiring that which belongs to someone else? Go ahead and admit it!

We are always tempted to wonder why God has such rules for us. Perhaps the answer to that question actually lies, in part, within one of those rules. In Exodus 20:12 we find this truth: “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ah, there we have something “then you will live a long, full life….” Yes! Our understanding of why God has rules for us is revealed in that statement.

Now, almost from the first moments of our lives we are already failing to honor our parents. “Be home before dark.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “Don’t play in the street.” I think we all know why our parents had those rules in place for us. In all likelihood, we have (or had) similar rules for our own children. Because we love them dearly and we want them to survive in this world and to be all they can be. And now we see, in the fifth commandment, that God wants the same for us: to survive in this world and to be all we can be!

In today’s world, a lot of people think God’s rules are archaic and irrelevant; but many of us have the same rules for our children as our parents’ had for us because, as adults, we have come to realize those rules were sensible in every way. And so it is with God’s rules, they made sense then and they make sense now – for it is only when we follow God’s rules that we experience all that life has to offer. It is only when we follow God’s rules that reach our highest potential and experience true freedom. And it is when we disregard those rules that we experience the most pain.

The psalmist wrote: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (Psalm 19:7-8) So we see here that following God’s instructions will revive us, make us wise, bring joy to our hearts, and give us insight for living because God’s rules are perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. And just as applicable for us today as our parents’ rules are for our own children or granchildren!

When I rebelled against my parents’ rules I was first and foremost rebelling against God and my life was a constant uphill struggle. Sure there were some happy times, but deep inside was constant unrest and deep dissatisfaction with life. But I have found the more I follow God’s instructions, like the psalmist says, the more peace and serenity I enjoy. I want you to know that peace and serenity, too, so I invite you to try life God’s way. What have you got to lose?

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.