The Usefulness of Scripture (90 Days...Part 2)
Have you ever flipped to the back of a Gideons Bible in a hotel room - late at night - searching for something in there to help you when:...you are lonely...struggling with addiction...grieving...need peace and comfort...assurance...when there is a kind of darkness you can’t put your finger on.
I know for some people that’s their first engagement with the Bible. When they’re desperately searching for supernatural help. What about for those of us who have Bibles in our bedrooms, “Do you come to the Bible for stories and pithy words of comfort, or for the more serious tasks of learning, healing and salvation?” (p. 51)
In using this book I’ve been really impressed with the application questions and prayer prompts at the end of each day. The Bible is never just a book you read, it’s a book you use. It contains all the life tools we need for navigating every type of relationship, especially the one with our God and creator, for salvation through Jesus and preparation for the life to come. And yet, it is not my ‘go to’ book when I’m in a crisis. Is it yours?
A Book You Use
I grew up watching my mum read the Bible in season and out. (And by read, I mean with a concordance and commentaries and sermon notes and long conversations outside my bedroom door while I was just waking up and she had discovered something exciting in the scriptures she wanted to share). Crisis or no crisis it is her ‘go to’ book. And I am in awe of that.
While I don’t turn naturally to it when things are dark I’m grateful that the ministry of the word is in me. What do I mean by that? All those sermons and conferences, beach missions and conversations with God’s people - they’re in me!! But where are the hours I’ve spent reading the Bible alone?
Books like this one are a great opportunity to take God’s word in, day by day, with wise and helpful counsel. To build a habit that teaches you to read the Bible in season and out. Crisis or no crisis. To be able to minister to others and to yourself the life changing word of God.
Every seven days the editor switches things up by including an Anglican Homily or sermon written by Thomas Cranmer (sometimes others) recognised in the Reformation as containing wholesome doctrine. I have to say there is something very special here (as there should be in all Bible Study) where the reader is confronted with a view of life that tells the truth.
I think that sometimes we can have the impression that really godly people would be scandalized if they knew how sinful we really are. But actually, those people that use their Bible - have so let it shape and change them that they’ve felt the pain of jettisoning all sorts of cherished and not-so cherished things about themselves. They know the ugly truth about sin, and the life-changing truth of Christ that has the power to set them free!
I felt as I read this book I had such comforting, wise and relentlessly honest friends reading the Bible with me - I felt sure they would see right through me. And at times they did! But they did it with my good in mind.
Two weeks into the book, it’s a beautiful Saturday morning: I get up early and go for a run around the bay, take a hot shower, eat breakfast, chat to my neighbours. I’ve got plans to meet friends later, I give each of my kids a squeeze - still, something isn’t right.
I slink upstairs and get back into bed, the sun shining brightly outside, I pull the doona up around my ears. Out of habit I pull the 90 Days book and my Bible from my bedside table: I’m just going to read one day and then go to sleep. I feel suddenly flattened… overwhelmed… empty… and sad. I’m going round in circles obsessing over all the things that are painful in my life. All the things that are not going right. I force myself to read:
In today’s extract from the Anglican Homilies, we see why the Bible ought to be much in our hands, in our eyes, in our ears, in our mouths, and in our hearts. (p.51)
I look up Psalm 19:7-14 and answer these two questions from the book:
“What do the words of the Lord do?”
I write messily:
“What would we be without the words of God, his commandments and rules?”
(I make sure I underline ‘wild’ twice)
(and further down the page with a heart drawing I write:)
Despite my skepticism that ten verses can make much difference, what peace descends! I want to tattoo this part of the Bible onto my brain. Digging into God’s word has calmed me and also filled me with joy and fresh energy that I couldn’t get anywhere else. This wild heart of mine is so still and calm and settled. I am so thankful for the presence of God and the vibrancy of his word. “Thank you for not leaving me alone with my wild heart.”
“Those who are oppressed with misery in this world shall there find relief in the promises of eternal life, to their great consolation and comfort.” This Bible of mine is the book I need to turn to in season and out of season. I want it to be my ‘go to’ book.
Cranmer goes on to say:
If it is necessary to teach any truth, or reprove false doctrine, to rebuke any vice, to commend any virtue, to give good counsel, to comfort or exhort, or to do any other thing requisite for our salvation, all those things we may learn plentifully from Scripture. There is abundantly enough, both for adults to eat, and children to suck. There is something appropriate for all ages, and for all ranks and all sorts of people.
There is enough here for me too - a mum with three kids, living in Sydney in 2017.
Change Your Thoughts: Change Your Life
You might have heard the popular self-help mantra: “Change your thoughts: Change your life”. It’s good advice, and all the more radical when you apply it as a Christian to redirect your thoughts to what God wants you to think about. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “Capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.” I pray that you might have the opportunity this week, perhaps by using this book, or reading the Bible on your own for God to show you how comforting, healing and rebuking the Bible can be. Psalm 19 is a great place to start!
Writer | Katie Stringer is a lover of books, baking and beaches. She leads a Bible Study at her local Anglican church, All Souls Leichhardt and loves being part of the Leichhardt community. She is married to Andrew and they have two daughters and a son.