A book for change...

Today's thought:

2 Timothy 3:16, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

What if a book could change your life? This is the use of Scripture, the Bible, says Paul. It is meant to be a tool for change. A tool to think God's thoughts after him. A tool to help us submit to being transformed to his likeness, a likeness that is pure righteousness (doing what is right, the opposite of sin). When we are corrected and equipped in righteousness we are being trained to be like God.

What would you pay for transformation? According to a Marketdata Enterprises market report, the U.S. self-improvement market is worth $9.6 Billion. These worldly philosophies for change are toothless dogs. They make a lot of noise but have no bite, they make no real lasting marks. The Bible says that on our own we can't change. Sin, doing what is wrong or not doing what is right, is like a force operating in us. This is Paul's point in Romans 7 and is clearest expressed in verse 21, "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me." We cannot change ourselves. That's Paul's point. Real transformation can only come from God. And the Holy Spirit in us can accomplish that. Jesus called him our "Helper." With him in us we have the power to overcome this force of sin in us. And it is the Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible. The Helper inspired the Bible to help us, to help us achieve real change. It is the Holy Spirit that gives God's word, the Bible, life. "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

To know this but for us not to read our Bible is like a man a read about in the book Amazing Grace. In the book the writer and poet Kathleen Norris shares what she calls “the scariest story” she's ever heard about the Bible. Norris and her husband were visiting a man named Arlo, a rugged, self-made man who was facing terminal cancer. During their visit, Arlo started talking about his grandfather, a sincere Christian. The grandfather gave Arlo and his bride a wedding present: an expensive leather Bible with their names printed in gold lettering. Arlo left it in the box and never opened it. But for months afterwards his grandfather kept asking if he liked the Bible. Arlo told Norris, “The wife had written a nice thank-you note, and we'd thanked him in person, but somehow he couldn't let it lie, he always had to ask about it.”

Finally, Arlo grew curious enough to open the Bible. “The joke was on me,” Arlo said. “I finally took that Bible out of the closet and I found that granddad had placed a twenty-dollar bill at the beginning of the Book of Genesis, and at the beginning of every book … over thirteen hundred dollars in all. And he knew I'd never find it.” [Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (Riverhead Books, 1998), p. 95]

God has treasure for you in the pages of your Bible. It is the truth we find in its pages that is more precious than twenty-dollar-bills. Jesus once prayed for us, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). To sanctify is to make holy or righteous. You can help answer Jesus' prayer by opening your Bible today and letting the Holy Spirit begin to transform you into the image of God.

Prayer: Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you it is a living transforming book that can change us and our lives. You give us the power to change we find no where else. We are your handiwork. Transform us, we pray, in the name of Jesus, amen.