Bible studies and prayer meetings
John 5: These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you.
It all starts when Jesus heals a lame man with the order to pick up his bed roll and walk. The wonderful miracle is lost on the religious leaders because it takes place on the Sabbath. Never mind the miracle, they insist, what’s this about telling people to carry things on the Sabbath? Pitiful, isn’t it. When these leaders angrily challenge Jesus he does nothing to calm them down. Rather, he identifies himself with his Heavenly Father and claims his support and direction in all he does. How in the world do they think they can win an argument with the man who just worked a miracle? Jesus moves on to point out that they, Bible scholars that they are, know all about what the Scriptures say about the Messiah. He tells them it’s time to get their heads out of their Bibles and look in the eye the one testified about by those very Scriptures. Silly religious leaders! They’ve given their lives to knowing God’s Word and have now missed the Living Word of God standing right in front of them. How could they ever think that Bible study is better than fellowship with the Lord who is right there with them? I’m glad we Christians today know better. We’d rather spend five minutes in the literal presence of the Lord than an hour of debating some obscure term from the Bible. Right? I know, I know, there’s a place for both. Still, I can’t help but note that Bible studies are generally better attended than prayer meetings.
Take Away: It’s better, if one must decide between the two, to know Jesus than to know the Bible. Happily, we don’t have to decide.
Questions and the Answer
Job 41: I’m in charge of all this — I run the universe!
The response of the Almighty to Job centers on who God is, what God does, and what God knows. I’m reminded of the opening words of Genesis in which we’re not given a rationale for God’s existence but, instead, the story of God’s action in creating all things. Now, after Job has demanded an audience with God in which he could straighten things out, God speaks, not to explain things to Job but to declare himself to him. Surely the One who runs the universe is not subject to us! We see here that God isn’t especially interested in our having answers to all of life’s questions. He is interested though, in our knowing him. Job’s encounter with God is centered on all the mysteries of creation. Job needs to not only have a better understanding of God, but he needs a clearer understanding of himself and his relationship to the Lord. Of course, the same is true of us. As I better understand who God is and who I am, I realize that my questions aren’t as important as I first thought.
Take Away: I’ll never have all the answers anyway, but I can trust God to be the answer to the deepest needs of my life.
The Who, How, and What of Creation
Genesis 1: It was so good, so very good!
The account of Creation is a lot more about “who” than it is about “how.” When the story begins its God who begins it. He speaks and things happen. There’s no doubt that he’s in charge and the account of Creation is all about what the Creator does. On the other hand, there’s no more effort made to tell me “how” it happened than there is to explain God, himself. If I want to know the composition of light, I’ll have to look elsewhere because the Bible doesn’t tell me. If this is a poetic description of a “big bang” it’s okay with me so long as I can believe that God is the one who creates and directs the energy of it in the first place. So, as I read these opening pages of the Bible, I immediately encounter the “Who” of it all and I immediately find that this Creator isn’t all that interested in satisfying my curiosity of “how.” However, there is one thing he wants me to know: that’s “what” he has done. He declares to me that it’s “very good.” I know “Who” did it but I don’t know “how” he did it. Still, I know that “what” he did is “so good!” As I read this account I’d better concentrate more on what I’m supposed to know and less on what the Lord doesn’t bother to tell me about it.
Take away: I need to focus on the Creator and not get too wound up in how he created.