Instructions Are Included

01/12/2010

Can you imagine a world where there are no instructions included?
Buy a toy with “some assembly required,” but no directions.
Buy a car…but there’s no owner’s manual.
Buy a computer…with no “Geek Squad.”

How about…get a life…but figure it out for your own self!

Isn’t it nice to know that God gave us an Instruction Manual called the Bible! Isn’t it awesome that we can get up each morning, open up the Word and see what we are to do with the day ahead of us…how we are to act, what we are to say, where we are to put our focus, why we are even here in the first place? Yes, all these questions and so many more are answered in God’s Word. As I’ve heard it said, The Bible is our “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” manual. Are we using what God gave us to its greatest potential? Or, are we setting the instructions aside and trying to piece this life together on our own?

Most times when I buy something that includes instructions, I ignore them. But most times I’m not the one putting things together, because that’s really not my “gift”! My husband, Jim, is great at reading the instructions and figuring things out. Even when I get a new cell phone, he loads in my numbers, he shows me how to work it, and I pretty much ignore the booklet they gave me to show me how to use it. In fact, with my last cell phone, I took it over to my granddaughter and had her show me the ins and outs of it because she has the same phone. It’s so much easier to learn how to use the text feature, and the camera, etc…when I have a teacher to demonstrate it for me.

But in life, who will do that for us? Who will show us how to live each day? Oh sure, we have our parents when we’re children, and our pastors to explain God’s Word when we’re older, and we have some who have gone before us down similar paths in life who can help us understand some of how this life works. We also have books, and retreats, and conferences, etc…all good tools that can be used along life’s way…but ultimately, and most importantly, we need to read our Instruction Manuel for Life—to meditate on it, to pray through it, to listen to it, and to follow it.

Where are some of those answers we’re looking for each day? Let’s open up the Word of God and take a look:

What are we to do with the day ahead of us?

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

How are we to act?

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” James 2:12-13

What are we to say?

“In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing,
so that no one can speak a word of blame against you.”
Philippians 2:14 (NLT)

Where are we to put our focus?

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights
on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at
God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT)

Why are we even here in the first place?

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."
Matthew 4:10 (NIV)

And these are only a few questions that our Instruction Manuel addresses, and only one of many answers to each of these questions. It’s all in there; God’s Word is alive and speaks to us in so many different ways. We can read a verse today and it will give us guidance, and then we may read the same verse three years from now and it will speak to us in a very different way and yet totally apply to the new situation we are facing.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the
thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Most of the time, we don’t give God’s Word enough credit. Think about it—our Creator, our Father God, inspired these Words for us to read. He gave us One Book, the Bible. It’s not like a set of Encyclopedias, no, God put it all in one volume! And yes, it can be disputed and argued about as to its validity, but who are the ones arguing about it and disputing it? Those who do not believe…and why?

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from
the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand
them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)

Without having God’s Spirit alive in our hearts, we cannot communicate with God, Spirit to spirit, it’s just not possible. There is a veil there that needs to be taken away. So, trying to understand what God is saying to us in His Word without believing He is exactly Who He says He is just doesn’t work. It would be like buying a toy from Germany and trying to read the directions in Deutsch. The letters are practically the same as in English, we recognize the “I’s” and the “E’s” and most all the rest of the letters used, but they are put together in a way that makes no sense to us. Even if you learn how to pronounce German and can read it, it still doesn’t mean you can understand what you are reading. I lived in Germany for six years, I took German in High School, and I can read practically anything written in German, I can pronounce the words, but I still don’t understand all of them. It might sound good as I read the directions out loud to you as you put together that toy, and if you understand German you could then assemble it from what I’m reading to you, but I certainly couldn’t explain it to you after reading it because it’s foreign to me. It’s not who I am on the inside, it’s only a vocalization on the outside. It’s only letters on a page to someone who doesn’t understand the depth and meaning of what is being read. We can’t know if the words are making sense or not, if they work or not, or if they are true or false; just as the Bible is only words on a page, void of true meaning, to those who don’t believe.

“God blesses those who realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.”
Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

We have to have a “wanna” when it comes to God and His Word. If our “wanna” is missing, the veil still remains. And if the veil remains, then the Instruction Manual given to human beings on earth telling us how to live this life appears as a “foreign” language. It can’t be understood, and it won’t be understood until the “wanna” is there. And when the “wanna” arrives…WOW!! The depth, and the love, and the care, and the wisdom, and the scope of God found in His Word will blow us away!! It’s a resource that is needed daily, if not for answers, then for inspiration, or hope, or comfort, or guidance, or you name it…it’s there! Really and truly!! It’s God’s Book, so why wouldn’t it be? It’s a supernatural treasure from our God who loves us, and He left us with all the answers we are looking for right at our fingertips! Amazing!

“There's a lot in the Bible that I don't understand and that makes me uncomfortable.
But the fact is, it is the truth. It is a map that always takes me where it promises.”
Rick Warren

“Thank You for granting this guidance in personal ways as I hear
You say to me, ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is
best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’ And this:
‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise
you and watch over you.’” (Ruth Myers, “A Treasury of Praise”)

Let’s look at some more questions we might have, and the answers we can find…

Why this? Why now?

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

Will there ever come a day?

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Revelation 22:20 (NIV)

What do You want me to do God?

“Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.'”
Matthew 22:37

I’m confused, can You help me out?

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.’ I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.” Galatians 5:7-10 (NIV)

Will You always love me?

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NIV)

Open the Good Book, it is fascinating! Read until you come to a phrase or a word that speaks to your heart…stop there for a bit, talk it over with God, and ask Him what He would like you to know about it, or do about it, or simply be with it in Him…resting. The Bible is comforting…sometimes, all you need to do is pick it up, hold it tight to your chest and thank God for giving us such a marvelous work of His love for us. It’s always there to have and to hold.

I had a man come into the haircutting place where I work, he was full of jokes about the Bible, and it was really a fun way that he shared the Word with others. He said, “You do know that baseball is in the Bible, don’t you?” I questioned him…and he answered, “In the big-inning…” He went on to talk about aspirin being in the Bible also, as in, “…when Moses brought two tablets down from the mountain.” This man was a kick, and he had fun with God’s Word. It was refreshing. Another interesting thing happened after he left…as I went to throw his appointment slip in the garbage, I noticed his last name was Manuel. It caught my eye, so I dug it out of the garbage to look at his first name again. His first name was Ed. First initial—E. Manuel… Normally, I don’t share real names in these messages, but I don’t think Ed would mind, I think he would smile that I noticed. I’m not sure if it was his real name or not, but I look forward to seeing him again and joking about it with him if I do!

The Bible is not out of date, it’s not stale, and never grows old. It is God’s wisdom at our fingertips; it is full of joy, intrigue and goodness. It is a gift we have been left with, and it tells us our past, our present and our future!

“For the Kingdom of God is not just fancy talk;
it is living by God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 4:20

There is so much going on in our world today, tough stuff that we all are either going through or know someone who is going through it. How are we to make sense of any of it? I had a gentleman in my chair the other day telling me how he had lost his health, his business, his dad, and his wife was divorcing him. He said, “You know it’s bad when you’re talking to a perfect stranger about it.” I asked him about his faith, what was getting him through? He said he was depending on God. I told him I would be praying for him… What else, who else, do we depend on when our whole world comes crashing down around us? And if we don’t turn to our Instruction Manual for comfort, then where do we go for the right kind of help? We can talk to a stranger, sure. We can talk to our friends and family, of course, but we need the One who knows more than anyone or anything. God knows we need Him; it’s we who have to learn that He is the One we need.

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)

Once more from my prayer book by Ruth Myers:

“As I labor in the tasks You assign me, and as I face the suffering You allow, I can look to You and Your grace for enabling. I can say as Paul did, ‘I exert all my strength in reliance upon the power of Him who is mightily at work within me.’”

That was a light-bulb moment for me, reading the part about exerting all my strength in reliance upon God’s power. Instead of turning our strength outward, trying to accomplish anything on our own, Paul says to turn any strength we might have inward, relying on all the power that God puts in us. It seems too many times when we’ve used up all our strength outwardly first, only then we will then turn inwardly and pray…as a last resort. Why do we make it so hard on ourselves? When we start out with such a small amount of energy compared to God’s mighty power in the first place, why not take that small mustard seed of faith we have and plant it in God’s garden inside of us and let it blossom there. It makes so much more sense, but we forget, and we get worn out, and we wonder how we will make it one more day.

John Piper writes: “…the main aim of our wrestling is to rest - in God and not in money or position or looks or achievement; the aim of our wrestling is to rest in the promises of God and not the promises of sin.”

The promises of God are found in God’s Word. The promises of sin are found in this world. To escape the world’s craziness, to find a refuge from it all, to rest at all, we need our Lord’s Word and His faithfulness in our lives. The Bible doesn’t have to be complicated, it’s not meant to be complicated, but we resist the help and the encouragement and the comfort it offers us too much of the time. We get all tangled up in our lives and they get complicated—lives that God has given us—and our Father simply wants us to come to Him, sit down with His Good Book, and rest. Why is that easier said than done?

Because we think nobody knows like we know? But God does!
Because we think nobody can like we can? But God can!
Because we think nobody will like we will? But God will!
Because we want to do it ourselves, but we really don’t!

More questions:

What am I supposed to think about all this?

“He will guide you into all truth.”
John 16:13

I’m feeling so alone, where do I turn?

“But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”
Psalm 10:14 (NIV)

Who has the answers I need?

“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways. For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:33-36 (NLT)

It’s all there in God’s Word, multiple answers to every single question we will ever have. More information than we will ever need to get by. The Bible is full of the best love letters, the most encouraging notes, and the greatest stories that tell us we’re not alone in our struggles. It holds the hope for our future and the comfort for each day. The Bible has wisdom, guidance, compassion, advice, warnings, and on and on… If we will follow it, life won’t be without trials, but we will see God’s love and care in all circumstances. We will find His hope in darkness. We will rest in His power instead of wrestling with this life. If we’re not putting life together with God’s guidance and help, it’s not going to work the way it should—not perfectly, but peacefully!

As I stood looking at the Christmas tree with my grandson Jackson (3 ½), I told him that the tree was Jesus’ birthday tree. He looked up at the Cross hanging on the tree, and he asked me, “Is He coming?” I said, “Well, no…but soon.”

When we read God’s Word, we will know that there will come a day…and in that Day…we will rejoice!!

“You should look forward to that day and hurry it along….looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God.”
2 Peter 3:12, 13 (NLT)

Until we meet again,

Diane