1-1-12-The Bible 1-1-12-The Bible (Mt. 7:20) "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." We should evaluate teachers' words by examining their lives. Just as trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, good teachers consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, good teachers consistently exhibit good behavior, and high moral character as they attempt to live out the truth of Scripture. This does not mean we should have witch-hunts, throwing out church school teachers, pastors, and others who are less than perfect. Every one of us is subject to sin, and we must show the same mercy to others that we need for ourselves. When Jesus talks about bad trees, he means teachers who deliberately teach false doctrine. We must examine the teachers motives, the direction they are taking and the result they are seeking. Jesus called his hearers to put his teaching into practice. Jesus advised: do to others what you want them to do to you. If you hear and obey Jesus' words, you are like a wise man who builds his house on a rock.God saves men by His sovereign grace through the Atonement of Jesus;; He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; but we have to work out that salvation in practical living. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not practised. The crisis will reveal whether we have been practising or not. If we obey the Spirit of God and practise in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us. Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons" unto glory, and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.(From My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers)Are you a champion of the Golden Rule, or are you a rookie? Try to apply the rule while on the phone with a client, after work with friends, at the Little-League baseball game, or wherever else you encounter people today. Try to enrich each relationship with it. (Mt. 24:23-24) "At that time if anyone says to you; 'Look here is the Christ!!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible." Jesus' warnings about false teachers still hold true. Upon close examination it becomes clear that many nice-sounding messages don't agree with God's message in the Bible. Only a solid foundations in God's Word can equip us to perceive the errors and distortions in false teaching. Christians need to be watchful and prepare for Jesus' return, because we don't know when it will be.If you lose your faith, you will probably do so gradually. In tiny increments you will get spiritually sloppy. You will let a few days slip by without consulting your compass. Your ails will go untrimmed. Your rigging will go unprepared. And worst of all, you will forget to anchor your boat. And, before you know it, you'll be bouncing from wave to wave in stormy seas.... Stability in the storm comes not from seeking a new message, but from understanding an old one. The most reliable anchor points are not recent discoveries, but are time-tested truths that have held their ground against the winds of change....Attach your soul to these boulders and no wave is big enough to wash you under.(From Six Hours One Friday by Max Lucado)How faithfully do you pray, read the Bible, attend church? Are prayer and Bible study regular parts of your life, or do you just resort to them in emergency situations? Ask God to help you be more faithful in anchoring your life in Jesus, even when there are no storms on the horizon. Goals: Participants may: Discover with the group the Bible's potential as a caring resource. Practice using the Bible as a tool for caring. Gain increasing familiarity with the content of the Scriptures. Learn to prize the Bible the Bible as God's Word to us. Discover other ways in which God communicates with us. Experience Christian community with the group. Opening Prayer Blessed Lord, you have caused all of the Bible to be written for our instruction and growth. Help us diligently to read it, hear you speak through it, and take its message to heart, so that by its comfort we can comfort and care for others. Amen.The Bible Many of the guidelines for prayer covered in the previous chapter also apply to the use of the Bible in a training relationship. For example, as with prayer, your use of the Bible needs to fit in as a natural part of your total conversation. Just as you need to choose prayers to meet the specific needs of a person, so should you gear the sharing of biblical principles and passages to people's specific needs. There are two additional points to make namely why and how you can use the Bible effectively in your training relationships. Why Use the Bible The Bible is an excellent resource for training people because it records how God has trained His children through the ages. The Bible summarized the work of Jesus, saying, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The people you train are people experiencing the bad news of the world. They live in the midst of suffering, oppression, conflict, grief, sickness, tragedy, and finally death itself. They could use some good news: they could use the gospel. Therefore, you use the written Word of God because it contains the message people need to hear. You use the written Word of God because it is practical: it deals with the same kinds of concerns people still have. But there's a third reason to use the Word of God: it's alive! To paraphrase St. Augustine: "What the Scriptures say, God says." The Word of God works in the hearts of believers for good. This is not to suggest that you should administer the Bible in large doses at every opportunity. A physician with a good drug does not prescribe it for every illness. You listen, you diagnose, and you use the Bible as a resource when it is appropriate. How to Use the Bible Effectively Choosing a Translation The Bible translation you decide to use in your training will depend on your personal preference. Sometimes people you train will feel more comfortable with a certain translation, and in such instances you might want to honor their preference. But there are also times when a good modern translation breathes fresh meaning into Scripture for someone. If you know which version an individual prefers, bring it with you, or ask permission to use the person's Bible; this is preferable. It will help the trainee become familiar with it. Carrying a Bible If you carry a Bible with you, it is a good idea to mark appropriate passages ahead aof time with slip of paper so you won't have to thumb around frantically trying to find a passage. A smaller sized Bible might be the best to use, one you can slip into your pocket or purse. A large Bible can create the impression that you came to bludgeon the other person into insensibility with a flurry of verses. If you do carry a larger Bible, keep it at your side rather than setting it down between you and the other person. In this way it will not interfere with the conversation, yet will be handy when you're ready to use it. Knowing Passages Ahead of Time In order to use the Bible effectively, it is important to know passages relevant to some typical situations. You can begin by keeping a list of appropriate passages as you do your own reading and collect verses from others. You might ask the people you care for if any verses are especially significant for them. That will not only equip you to be a better trainer to them, but also will allow them to give you something. Knowing some passages beforehand enables you to choose appropriate ones quickly and easily, matching them to the needs of the person. You might want to mark some of these passages in your Bible, or commit them to memory. Introducing Scripture When you think it would be helpful to refer to Scripture, you might say: When you talk about your feelings of sorrow, I remember the words Jesus spoke about people who mourned when he said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4). Something that really spoke to me when I was in a situation similar to yours is the story of the death of Lazarus where it says, "Jesus wept." If it was all right for Jesus to cry with grief, it is certainly all right for us to do the same. You mentioned in the past that you enjoy reading the Psalms. Would you like to read Psalm 121 with me? I find that this psalm encourages me in personal difficulties, and maybe it will you too. What it says is that God is always with you and is your protector.