Darkness hates, no detests light. When light comes up to darkness, light always wins and darkness has to leave. Where light is, darkness ceases to exist there. So those in the dark detest those having light. The darkness in these people wants to consume them in hopelessness and death disguised as light so they feel better about it and even embrace it as they are choked. The light loves the person and wants freedom and salvation for the person carrying the light. Darkness tells the person that temporary pleasure outweighs eternal pain. Light realizes truth and hope are in the future eternity and now is to work on that and shine the light to try to save the person distracted by the darkness. Don’t expect the person gripped by darkness and pleasure to like the light and be overjoyed to see the light for the lie upon lie the darkness has told has duped the person into believing the darkness is the light. Realize that when you are hated and attacked by darkness, the darkness is the enemy and not the poor person so deceived. Pray for truth and light and hope to capture the person carrying darkness as a badge and allow their heart to see truth from lie. This is what we can offer. Our light can be their salvation so never cease to share it. The darkness hates the light and all people because they were made by light. The light hates the darkness but loves the people created by light. We must separate the person from the darkness in our mind and heart and our eyesight will follow.
1. Cover to cover. It always made me question when people pick up any book and start flipping through and read this one part or this part. That doesn’t make any sense. No one can understand any book that way. The Bible is no different. It is the truth but when not read straight through can seem contradictory rather than complimentary (stole that concept from my husband). Any book read in bits and pieces is confusing at best and nonsensical at worst. When read straight through, you understand the importance of the stories, the history of the world, the prophecies and their meanings, the Lord’s will, God’s character and power and love, etc. When one verse is taken out of context, you can get it to say anything you want, within reason. My grandpa says it this way. If you take a verse here and a verse there, you could end up with something like this, “Judas hanged himself.” “Go thou and do likewise.” It is a funny way to think of it but it is true.
2. Faithfully. If you are consistent and make reading a vital priority part of your day, it is easy to create a good habit. One decision a day at a time and you are in the good habit of reading daily and are blessed by it.
3. Version Friendly. I personally hate paraphrase Bibles but some people love them. I think the best idea is to invest in a version that is a direct translation in modern English (or whatever language you read best). I love the New Century Version, personally, and it is free on BibleGateway.com (along with many versions). I have my Bible on my tablet, Kindle, phone, printed by my bed, etc. Accessibility is key because there are always times you need truth in your day or are just waiting around.
4. Prayerfully. When I read, I pray in my heart that the Lord show me what I need to learn or that He will show me what He wants me to know. The Holy Spirit living in us guides us and interprets what we read and teaches us what we need at that moment. It is extremely cool and exciting how this works. Sometimes I will reread the same verse several times and even out loud before I get it. I ask God why He said it that way and what the importance was of that detail, etc. Sometimes I will read it again the next day and ask God a different question, like what can I learn about His nature from that verse or chapter(s).
5. Contemplatively. I will often stop reading something for a minute and just think about it. Reading to read out of duty is very different than reading to learn or grow. Being teachable is the key. Learning requires a measure of humility and open mindedness. When you come to the truth with your own bent or bias or rigid ideas, you learn little and get agitated. When you enter the truth, to accept it into your mind, you must come as a child with wonder and humility and be teachable. Otherwise, there are a million other ways you can confirm your own ideas as truth. The Bible is truth and we must come to it prepared to accept it as such even if it is different than what we have been taught or constructed as our truth. This is the hardest part for many of us who have this pesky pride thing hitting us upside the head all the time. However, enormous dividends and blessings await those who pursue truth and accept and incorporate it into their consciousness.
My home town of Buchanan, Michigan is a small town near Niles and St. Joe in the Southwest corner of the state. It is about a half hour’s ride to Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan and about the end of any long dirt country road is a little lake, like Ronnie’s Beach. Until I was about 10, we lived in a trailer park on Red Bud Trail North Road and the trailer was sold and driven away when I was 10 and we moved out to the farm on Chamberlain Road. Two of my favorite things in the world to do were first to run through the fields after chores were done with our black lab mix dog Sheba and walk over the railroad tracks and down the hill to McCoy Creek. I’d play on the playground and we’d swim in the creek and on a lucky day would watch a softball game there. We’d head back home through the woods on the trails by dark. The other great thing was to ride my bike and meet up with my best friend Shawn and get a Slurpee from 7-11 and head over to the park. There was also an amazing place called Marz Sweet Shop downtown that made amazing homemade chocolates and the best tuna sandwiches and banana malts you could ever imagine. If still there, that place alone is worth the journey. The town was quaint and beautiful to me, a picturesque and endearing scene of beauty any season of the year. We were close enough to South Bend and Mishawaka, Indiana to have any amenities you’d ever need. And the church there I grew up in, Buchanan Christian Church, was robust and alive and full of about a quarter of the town as members, or so it seemed and people lived their faith. People knew people there and helped them out. Of course this was necessary in a place where snow coated the ground half the year. 🙂 But the people of the Midwest, and particularly the area I grew up in are some of the friendliest, realest, most good hearted bunch of folks I’ve come across in all my travels and places lived. I miss my home town and hope to make the long voyage back someday. But if you are looking for a destination to explore and really enjoy peacefully,out of the rat race, I recommend Buchanan, Michigan.
Who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. – Romans 5:2-5
A wise God-man once said “Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Everything else comes from the evil one (my paraphrase).” I always wondered what that meant. Did that mean no small talk? Did it mean never explain yourself? And just today I realized that it means the eliminate excuses and extended explanations that rationalize sin. Say yes I agree or will do it or no, I won’t or don’t and let it be yes or no. In between is weak, like yes, I will obey you unless this or this happens and then I will modify it. Or yes, I agree with that belief unless so and so does this or thinks that and then I will rethink it. So, to me, that verse is interpreted as “Commit, be all in, only say it if you mean it and stick to your guns.” Excuses are avenues to sin or otherwise open that door to do so. It is unwise to commit more of your thoughts into words than is necessary because the enemy is a created being also and can read your body language and hear your words and see your actions but can not, and this is very important, can not read your mind. So, if you say yes or no and act accordingly, you do not give the enemy unnecessary information to attempt to destroy you with. There is power in words and some times greater power and much wisdom in keeping those words to yourself. When excuses are eliminated, you empower yourself and the Holy Spirit within you to work stronger and grow spiritually. Yes or no are very powerful words when used alone. Maybe something to try?
It is the thought that counts, and not just when you are giving gifts. The thoughts precede the actions every time. Even automatic man or woman makes a conscious decision to do what they want to believe is automatic. Thoughts matter. They count. Maybe if we do more thinking and inputting truth I to our thoughts (Bible reading), we would spend less time sinning and trying to make it right again after. Prevention seems to be where we should invest ourselves. Doesn’t that make sense?
Today, yet again, while driving I was cut off by someone texting or talking on the phone and the road was clear behind me. So, they obviously were thinking they were more important than me at least as they pushed in front of me, fighting for that spot when many other spots were free behind me. Half baked narcissists are everywhere, in politics, in grocery stores, definitely driving everywhere, in homes and in the press. They are even in churches! My rant is that the idea of yourself being the most important person in the world or even the room is as far from the mind of God than anything else I can think of and reveals a boldness of stupidity. I am never the most important person in the room. I do not want to be. The first will be last and the last first when this brief life is done. This is why I never understood so many churches wanting titles with “first” in it. Why aren’t there more “last” churches out there? Last Methodist Church, Last Catholic Church, Last Baptist Church, Last Assembly, etc. Seems to me, we should be setting some kind of example, shouldn’t we? The Bible says in the end times people will be lovers of self. So, this means we are pretty much in the end times. I hope for these center of the universe folk’s sake that it is a long drawn out end times to give them a chance to develop some much needed humility to stand before a holy and perfect (and huge) God. We will stand before Him and no one will be making Him wait while we finish our important conversations on our smart phones cutting people off on our way to our “First” churches.