Tuesday, May 5, 2015

When all else fails, read the instructions...

Week 18:

Psalms 119:130, 133 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.  133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

I tend to try to fix things, build things, assemble things, and generally do things without first reading the instructions.  At times, once finished assembling something, I am perplexed by the unused parts and wonder why a manufacturer would waste material by placing un-needed parts in the box.  Then, when what I have put together does not function properly, I realize those were not “extra”…oops. 

I have heard of teachers who in their instructions at the top of a test noted that if the student has read the instructions to completion, they simply can put their names on the test, turn it in and receive a 100% without answering any questions on the test.  I would have been the student who answered the questions on the test. 

I do the same thing in my walk with God.  I try to walk through life on my own.  I do this based on my knowledge, my experience, and my wisdom.  Then I come across a dark time and wonder, “How did I get here?”  I didn’t read the instructions.

For quite a bit of my life, I have treated the Bible in several different ways:

·         I have viewed it as instruction for spiritual matters only.  At this point I have separated my life into different personas to fit different categories in my life.  I touch on this in my blog post:  Same life everywhere…
·         I would feel guilty for my lack of Bible study and would begin a regimen of reading.  I would not connect with what I was reading, get bored and stop.  Then I would feel guilty again.
·         I use it as a means to gain an answer.  Or I would use it to argue a point. 

What I have not done is see the Bible for a life instruction manual.  The older I get and the more I study and apply scripture, the more I realize that it is beyond just a book of laws.  Now God is bigger than the Bible.  He works in so many other places beside just between the covers of the Bible.  Yet, for us as Christians, the Bible is where we can begin to understand the character of God.  And not just in the New Testament…all scripture points to God’s character. 

Beyond learning more about God and His character; we also learn about humankind.  When I look into the character of the people written about in the Bible, I see me.  I see parts of what I do in them.  I see how God handled them.  I see instructions for living.  Not just instructions for a Holy life, but life itself.  I have made the mistake of separating “life” from a “holy life”.  For those of us in the kingdom of God, it is all to be intertwined. 

I am amazed that when my life is heading down a certain path that I do not understand; I can open up the Bible and the Spirit can lead me to a certain Biblical character and his or her life resembles what I am experiencing.  Unfortunately, this usually happens when I am in this situation.  Had I read this beforehand, I might have taken a different path. That is one of the important things about reading the Bible.  It’s not to please a far of God somewhere up in the heavens (although that is good too).  The Bible can become my instruction manual.  By reading on a regular basis I can mostly avoid putting myself in the situation of…When all else fails, read the instructions


1.      Which are you:  Read the instructions first?  Read the instructions only when stuck?  Explain.
2.      What has been your approach to reading the Bible in the past?
3.      Have you viewed the Bible as an instruction manual for life?
4.      What might be getting in the way of a healthy Bible study? 
5.      This week, pay attention to where you may need guidance form God’s Word.  When that comes up, as soon as possible, go to the Bible and see where the Spirit may lead.

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