Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sunday School Lesson: Making Wrong Choices

Purpose: To understand that there are disastrous consequences to breaking covenant with God.

Scripture: 2 Chronicles 36:15-21, Psalm 137

What is the best way to discipline a child?

What about a child that is being totally disobedient and not responding to discipline?

What about an employee who doesn’t do his or her job as required? What is the best way to discipline them?

What method of discipline works best for you? To which do you respond to?

What are some examples of behaviors that often lead to painful consequences?

In Proverbs 1 Wisdom is depicted as a woman who "cries out in the streets".

Can you think of any circumstances in your lives that you have made wrong choices that could have been avoided had you heeded God’s wisdom?

What consequences have you had to face as a result of these poor choices?

Pro 1:20-33 ESV
(20) Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice;
(21) at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
(22) "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
(23) If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.
(24) Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
(25) because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,
(26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you,
(27) when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
(28) Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
(29) Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
(30) would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof,
(31) therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
(32) For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;
(33) but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster."

Does that sound like a parent getting very near to stop the warnings and start the discipline?

Pro 1:20-33 MSG
(20) Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts. At the town center she makes her speech.
(21) In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand. At the busiest corner she calls out:
(22) "Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?
(23) About face! I can revise your life. Look, I'm ready to pour out my spirit on you; I'm ready to tell you all I know.
(24) As it is, I've called, but you've turned a deaf ear; I've reached out to you, but you've ignored me.
(25) "Since you laugh at my counsel and make a joke of my advice,
(26) How can I take you seriously? I'll turn the tables and joke about your troubles!
(27) What if the roof falls in, and your whole life goes to pieces? What if catastrophe strikes and there's nothing to show for your life but rubble and ashes?
(28) You'll need me then. You'll call for me, but don't expect an answer. No matter how hard you look, you won't find me.
(29) "Because you hated Knowledge and had nothing to do with the Fear-of-GOD,
(30) Because you wouldn't take my advice and brushed aside all my offers to train you,
(31) Well, you've made your bed--now lie in it; you wanted your own way--now, how do you like it?
(32) Don't you see what happens, you simpletons, you idiots? Carelessness kills; complacency is murder.
(33) First pay attention to me, and then relax. Now you can take it easy--you're in good hands."

How is God’s Wisdom "shouted out" to us?

Through His Word and the word of His messengers.

What is our culture's response to God’s Wisdom as given in His word and through His messengers?

Our culture (as is true of all cultures at all times) scoffs and refuses to listen to the call of Wisdom.

What difference would it have made in your life if you had always heeded Wisdom’s call?

Let’s pray:

O God,
We offer to you our praise and adoration. We give you thanks for your many blessings, for the gift of life and the opportunity it gives us to make a difference in your world. As we study your Word, make us aware of the benefits that come from living in covenant with you and the disastrous consequences of breaking that covenant.
In Jesus’ name we pray.

Last week’s lesson offered a glimpse at a bright spot in the history of the Judaic monarchy.

Josiah was more faithful to the call of God’s Wisdom than any other king of Judah or Israel.

Josiah repaired and restored the Temple, restored the observance of the Passover Feast, brought about a general repentance of the people of Judah after discovering books of the Law which had been lost through lack of use.

How long did Josiah’s reforms last?

Until his death. Josiah was killed in an unwise military excursion against Pharaoh Neco of Egypt on the plains of Megiddo. Following his death, Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, became king. Jehoahaz only lasted three months before being dethroned by the king of Egypt and replaced with another son of Josiah, Eliakim, whose name was changed to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim ruled for eleven years before being taken captive to Babylonia. His son Jehoiachin, was crowned king at the age of eight. His reign lasted three months. The last king of Judah was Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah. Zedekiah was an older brother of Jehoiachin.

Like all the kings who followed Josiah, Zedekiah "did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God." Not only the king but "all the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful."

What do you think was God’s response to the continual disobedience of His people?

2Ch 36:15 ESV
(15) The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.

2Ch 36:15 MSG
(15) GOD, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent warning messages to them. Out of compassion for both his people and his Temple he wanted to give them every chance possible.

What characteristic of God do we see in this verse?

God’s love for the Israelite people led repeatedly in the past to God’s work of salvation. When the people would fall into sin, God would send messengers and deliverers. God would forgive the people, but then the cycle would start all over again. For over 1000 years God had shown pity, compassion, and patience to the descendants of Abraham. Despite the continued unfaithfulness of the people, God continued to have "compassion on his people." God "persistently" responds to unfaithful people with grace.

How do you think the people of Judah responded to God’s compassionate pleas?

2Ch 36:16 ESV
(16) But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

2Ch 36:16 MSG
(16) But they wouldn't listen; they poked fun at God's messengers, despised the message itself, and in general treated the prophets like idiots. GOD became more and more angry until there was no turning back–

What does this verse tell us about God’s patience?

God’s patience has a limit. God is very patient but will not always abide our self-indulgent ways or tolerate our willful disobedience.

Would the outcome have been different if the people had responded differently?

2Ch 7:14 ESV
(14) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2Ch 7:14 MSG
(14) and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I'll be there ready for you: I'll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health

The people of Judah probably could have averted their exile, but eventually there is a point of no return - "until there was no remedy."

God tried to get the people to wake up and rethink the character of their national life, but they wanted nothing to do with that.

Could the same thing be said of today’s church? Do you think that we need to wake up and rethink the character of the church?

In what ways do we need to rethink the character of the church?

In what ways do you and I personally need to wake up and rethink our character?

In what ways do we (either personally or as the Body of Christ) "mock the messengers of God", "despise his words", and "scoff at his prophets"?

Are we mocking the messengers when we make attending church or Sunday school a low priority?

Do we "despise his word" when we neglect Bible study?

Are we scoffing when we call ourselves Christian but continue to live our lives as we please?

From Wesleyan Christian Advocate:

Nowadays we talk about "making wrong choices." That is what we used to call sin. It is somehow more palatable to speak of choosing the wrong option - picking Door Number 2- instead of following God’s commandments and Christ’s commissions....We need to acknowledge our forgetting of God, seek forgiveness and follow in God’s way...

As people of the New Testament, we know the redemptive power of God through Christ. However we have a responsibility to obey God’s commandments and to honor the covenant "written on our hearts". How do we forget God in our church and in our lives?

Does God ever give up on us?

Did God’s compassion for the Israelites reach it’s ultimate limit?

2Ch 36:17-21 ESV
(17) Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand.
(18) And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon.
(19) And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels.
(20) He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia,
(21) to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

2Ch 36:21 MSG
(21) This is exactly the message of GOD that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.

Is God’s grace evident even in God’s judgement?

From Wesleyan Christian Advocate:

God’s grace is found even in God’s judgement. Maybe some of us feel like we’ve "blown it." Perhaps our choices have led us to our own place of exile. We find ourselves in the wilderness of our failure and sin. But something can be happening during that exile that we don’t always see.........

Looking back we can see that Israel’s exile was its Sabbath rest. It became as formative for her faith as the Exodus from Egypt and the sojourn in the wilderness. It was out of exile that a whole new theology was forged that strengthened and honed God’s people.

Can we see God’s grace working even in the circumstances of our own "wrong choices"?

From Wesleyan Christian Advocate:

The same is true of the exiles of our lives. The divorce, grief, failures in our family life, alcohol or drugs can all be redeemed in time. When all our bad choices have led to hard hearts and brokenness; when all the doors seem to slam shut, and judgement rains down, then, in God’s grace, exile can become a period out of which new possibilities emerge.

Does God ever give up on us?

Our behaviors definitely have consequences. It is not a very long road from recreational drug use to total drug dependency. An angry and hateful attitude leads to loneliness and bitterness as even loved ones are driven away. If we fail to listen to God’s Wisdom we separate ourselves from God.

Why is it that we humans tend to have to "hit bottom" before rebounding?

God offers forgiveness and can redeem any situation we create for ourselves, but we still must live with the consequences of our actions.

From Wesleyan Christian Advocate:

The door of grace always stands open, no matter what a mess we’ve made of our lives. There will be scars that never quite fade, regrets that never entirely go away, effects of sin that still cause pain. But more importantly, there is also the grace of a new beginning and the hope of a new future.

In what ways does our relationship with God change when we are faced with the results of our own actions?

Did the exiled Judahites realize the error of their ways?

Psa 137:1-6 ESV
(1) By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
(2) On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
(3) For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
(4) How shall we sing the LORD's song in a foreign land?
(5) If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
(6) Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!

Psalm 137 was written by one of the exiled Judahites. What seemed to be in the author’s mind in this Psalm?

As the author recalled his experiences, he was overwhelmed by bitter memories of oppression and brutality. His anger could not be contained, and it was given expression in this violent outburst. His anger was not only directed toward the treatment of the Jews by the Babylonians, but is primarily concerned with what the Jewish people had lost. They had been forced to leave behind the Promised Land.

Most people do not know the value of something until it’s gone. It took captivity for the Israelites to realize what they had lost. They had not only lost their home and their temple, but had lost their relationship with God.

Our challenge is to seek the grace of God even in challenging circumstances that we bring upon ourselves. We can pity ourselves and wallow in our failures or we can allow our failures to be the launching pad for redemption and change. We cannot escape the cost of breaking covenant with God. Disobeying God takes a terrible toll, but in Christ we can find forgiveness and the power to change our circumstances.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunday School Lesson: Seeking Renewal

Purpose: To recommit ourselves to reading and hearing the Scriptures as the key to the renewal or our covenantal relationship with God.

Scripture: 2 Kings 22-23

Tell me if you agree or disagree with this statement:

What you study determines what you become.

Give me some real-life illustrations that support that statement.

How about this:

If you study Christ and the Word of God you become more like Christ. If you study the world and the ways of the world you become more like the world.

Can the study of God’s Word change a life?

Can the study of God’s Word lead to change in our world?

Paul in Romans 12:2 says:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Rom 12:2 ESV)

Can the study of the Word transform our minds and teach us to discern the will of God?

What about ignorance of the Word? How does ignorance affect our walk with God?

Many people stumble in their walk because of ignorance.

How can ignorance of the Word be overcome?

Ignorance can only be overcome by the renewal of your mind, by conforming your mind to Christ.

And what is the best way to conform our mind to Christ?

Are all Christian’s minds conformed to Christ?

Is conforming our minds to Christ as simple as becoming a believer?

Becoming a new person in Christ is much the same as a newborn infant. We do not enter the world with full knowledge of all we need to know to survive in the world around us. As new Christians we are just as ignorant and unknowing as a newborn baby. We must be in a constant state of study and learning about the world around us. What type of adult would a person be if they stopped learning early in their life. We cannot be mature Christians if our Christian Study ended with our confirmation class or when we graduated from the senior high Sunday School Class.

So Jesus said ......, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
(Joh 8:31-32 ESV)

The writer of Adult Bible Studies wrote:

A seminary professor once told me that as a pastor I occasionally would have to try to get my church “to be Christian”...

Churches are “Christian”. Why would a church need to be reminded “to be Christian”?

What are some examples of church activities that may not be “Christian”?

How does a church (or an individual) lose its way?

The writer goes on:

Religious institutions can lose their way just as individuals can. What ought to be the primary focus of their attention can be lost. After all, churches are social institutions as well as religious ones. Weddings, funerals, bazaars, parties, meetings, and other events of a social nature occur at our churches that sometimes have little to do with the gospel. There are lots of churches that are well attended and popular and prospering where the preached and taught word bears only the foggiest resemblance to the gospel itself.

When religious institutions or individuals lose their way, when what was meant to be the heart of the faith is peripheral or ignored entirely, reformation is required. Churches sometimes have to learn how to be “Christian” again.

The most likely culprit when a church or person loses the way is when they lose their commitment to study and know the Word.

Today’s scripture lesson gives us the story of one of the first reformations of faith caused by rediscovery of the Word and what it means to abide in the Word.

Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight when his father, Amon, was assassinated by some of the servants of the palace. The assassins were captured and killed by the people of Judah and the people made Josiah king. Amon “did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manesseh had done.” Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather may have been the most evil of all the Judahite kings. 2 Kings 21 tells us that Manasseh “misled (the people) to do more evil than the nations had done that the Lord had destroyed before the people of Israel.”

Because of Manasseh’s extreme wickedness, God pronounced destruction on Judah.

But Josiah was different. Only King David was more highly favored by the Deuteronomic historian than Josiah and that mainly because of accomplishments. As a man of God, Josiah gets the highest honors:

2Ki 23:25 ESV
(25) Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

Josiah’s reformation did not begin immediately. 2 Kings does not offer a single word to describe the first eighteen years of Josiah’s reign. 2 Chronicles 34, however, says that Josiah began to seek God in the eighth year of his reign and during his twelfth year he began to purge all the high places of Asherah and Baal worship and cleansed Judah of all the priests of the false gods.

The story of Josiah’s eighteenth year as told in 2 Kings begins with Josiah funding repairs and renovations to the Temple. The Temple had obviously fallen into serous disrepair during the reigns of Amon and Manasseh, which happens to all aging buildings, but doesn’t it seem that buildings go down faster when they are not being used?

Have you noticed some of the old country churches around that have very small or non-existent congregations?

It seems almost as if severe deterioration begins immediately when the buildings are abandoned .

Imagine, if you will, what a community would be like if the only church left was rundown and decayed to the point of being condemned.

Stretch your imaginations even further and think what a community would be like if the Bible had been out of use for so long that noone even would know what you meant if you said the word “bible”. Can you imagine the Word of God becoming lost to memory in a lifetime?

Do you even think that such a thing is possible?

Could we Christians become so associated with popular culture that the way of the world replaced the Way of the gospel?

Could we study the way of the world until we conformed to the world and were no longer conformed to Christ?

It happened in Josiah’s time.

2Ki 22:8 ESV
(8) And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read

What was this book that was discovered?

Probably the Book of Deuteronomy.

Where was it found?

In the Temple.

How could the book that contained the Laws of Moses become lost in the House of the Lord, in the nation of the people of God?

It was lost because it was not being used. It was not being used because the people were occupied with conforming to the world around them.

From Adult Bible Studies:

When one associates with a culture that thinks a particular way, it is difficult to remain separate and to maintain another view of reality.

What happened when the secretary read the book?

He immediately recognized the significance of the book and took it to the king.

2Ki 22:11 ESV
(11) When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.

What happened when the king read the book?

What was the significance of the king tearing his clothes?

This was an accepted act of genuine repentance.

2Ki 22:12-13 ESV
(12) And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying,
(13) "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."

Josiah instructed his advisors to seek further advice from someone familiar with the Word of God.

He had read the book. Deuteronomy clearly states God’s opinion of folks who fail to follow the law and the possible results. Do you think he may have been seeking a second opinion to find any possible loopholes or means to escape the wrath described in the book?

2Ki 22:14-20 ESV
(14) So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her.
(15) And she said to them, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: 'Tell the man who sent you to me,
(16) Thus says the LORD, behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read.
(17) Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched.
(18) But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard,
(19) because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD.
(20) Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.'" And they brought back word to the king.

What do you think Josiah did next?

Huldah offered no hint that God may possibly hear their plea and forgive the sins of the former generations. God had already decreed the destruction of Judah as a result of Manasseh’s actions.

Josiah pushed ahead with the reforms that he had already started. Josiah brought the people together at the Temple to hear these lost words of God and to renew the covenant that had been forgotten.

2Ki 23:1-3 ESV
(1) Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.
(2) And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
(3) And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

Josiah led the people in a ceremony commanded in the Law:

Deu 31:11-13 ESV
(11) when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
(12) Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law,
(13) and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess."

The nation of Judah had lost the Word of God and had forgotten the Word of God, yet when a few men of the leadership of the nation read and studied the Word , their minds conformed to the Word and resulted in a renewal of the covenant with God.

It’s never too late.

After my daddy became so disabled by emphysema that he could no longer work, he had to take an early retirement. He did not have a lot to do and there was very little that he could do because of his physical condition. It’s a good thing that he liked to read. Daddy had always been a reader. His favorite books were paperback westerns written by Zane Grey, Louis L’amour, and Max Brand. Daddy had hundreds of those paperback westerns and he would read them over and over.

Sometime during that time Daddy started reading the Bible. I don’t remember my daddy ever going to church for any reason, even weddings or funerals. We have a New Testament that my daddy received at Vacation Bible School when he was 10 years old in 1951, so I do know that he had attended church as a child. When Daddy started reading that Bible, he read it all. He rediscovered the gospel that he had not heard since childhood. The message had been lost to him, but he found it again.

The preacher from the little country church down the road from Daddy’s house, Andy, had been visiting him regularly. According to Andy, when Daddy started reading that Bible, he also started asking such questions that even a preacher had to dig for the answers.

Because of what Daddy read, he decided that he wanted to be baptized. Andy was elated. There were problems, though. At this stage in Daddy’s illness, he could not walk from the living room to the kitchen without a bottle of oxygen. And even with the oxygen it was an ordeal. How could we possibly get someone in this condition to a church, into a baptistry, and back home again? (This denomination only practices full-immersion baptism.) Andy came up with the solution. He asked permission of his church to baptize Daddy at his home.

One of the high point in my life was the night that a few members of Hebrew Free-Will Baptist Church gathered along with the family at Daddy’s house and Andy sprinkled Daddy and everyone there sprinkled tears of joy. I cried more that night than I did at Daddy’s funeral six weeks later.

The point of this story is that Daddy started late, but it’s never too late. Once he began studying the Word, his mind became conformed to the Word and it changed his life, even though he had very little life left.

God’s Word is not something that we want to lose. How many of us have lost the Word, even with Bibles in our homes. The Bible is the most published book since the invention of the printing press, but it’s one of the least read. Let’s don’t wait until we have to re-learn the Gospel story.

In our world there is no shortage of Bibles. Yet widespread biblical illiteracy means that effectively, the Bible is "lost". What can we do to address that problem?

If we give our minds to God, God will transform our minds. We give God our minds through studying His Word. Our minds conform to whatever we fill them with. For most of my life I filled my mind with the garbage of the world. My mind was garbage. I now fill my mind with Truth and my life has been transformed by that Truth.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
(2Ti 3:16-17 ESV)

Think about that for a moment. Scripture is breathed out by God. What happens when God breathes out something? In Genesis 2 we read that God breathed into a body of dust and what happened? That dust became alive. Scripture is the same. Our Bible is not just a book full of words that tell us some history and offer some suggestions as to how to live. The Scripture is alive and lives in us when we live our lives under the authority of that Scripture.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

There are some cautions to be aware of when studying the scripture:

We should never use the study of Scripture in order to reinforce our current lifestyle or opinions. An honest study of Scripture always challenges us to acknowledge our weaknesses and to move deeper into the faith. An honest study of Scripture always leads to a changed heart.

Our purpose for study of Scripture is not simply to gain knowledge. Our purpose for study is to conform our minds to Christ and thus to become more like Christ because we are the Body of Christ in this world. We must be prepared for our task which is to do God’s will in the world.

Knowledge is a great thing as long as you use it. We can read the Bible through four times a year, but if we aren’t challenged by it and changed by it, we may as well spend our time reading the funny papers.

Let’s recommit ourselves to reading and hearing and being challenged and changed by the Scriptures, which is the key to our relationship with God.

Could a modern reformation begin as simply as a renewed emphasis on the reading and study of Scripture?