by site founder, Connie Rice
For a while now, I have been praying for a new great awakening of historic proportion – that the Holy Spirit would move in a mighty way to soften hearts and minds to the truth that we all fall short and will stand before a holy God, and so are in desperate need of a Savior. For those not familiar with the “Great Awakening” that occurred in America during the 1700s, you can read the linked article – perhaps you will notice some similarities before it took place to our current spiritual state. It really shows what God can do with just one person who submits to His will with their whole heart. Our culture has moved so far away from God’s Word that in 2018, it was lower than it has ever been in our country. On a positive note, there was improvement in most areas of Bible engagement for 2019 according to Barna Research. Unfortunately, the percentage of adults who were “Centered” (the Bible influenced their choices) dropped from 9% to 5% on the same chart.
“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. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”Hebrews 4:12-13
Bible illiteracy can cause problems not just for individual Christians and their fellowship with their Creator, but also for our culture and nation as well. None of us are perfect and as we strive to be more like Christ, we understand that we will never be 100% successful this side of heaven. In this way, we are all hypocrites – trying to be perfect while that is unattainable. However, when we do not partner with the transformational work that the Holy Spirit wants to do in us through God’s revealed Word, we deprive ourselves of the power needed to live a life pleasing to God and reflective of His love to others. Through reading the Bible regularly, we can develop the discernment needed to navigate this confusing and ever-changing world. Bible illiteracy can also cause us to develop a faulty view of both ourselves and God, which can draw us even farther from Him. Our hypocrisy can become the norm rather than unintentional mistakes. As God’s chosen ambassadors on earth, this should not be.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.Roman 3:21-26
In the times we find ourselves in, it can be tempting to put our hope in political leaders or medical professionals or human relationships or occupations or money or in any number of things. Sometimes, it seems as if evil and corruption is winning. As Christ-followers, our hope is not in this world; it is in the person of Jesus Christ who came to earth as fully God and fully man, choosing to give His life to pay the penalty for our sins through His death on the cross. He overcame sin and death through His resurrection, and sends all who receive Him the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which brings power to us in prayer and deed as we seek to follow God’s will. Jesus prayed for us before returning to the Father:
“My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. You are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one – I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”John 17:15-23
God has many attributes or characteristics. Some of these He shares with us (capacity to love, create, reason, etc.), but some are His alone (incommunicable). In trying times, I find those attributes to be most comforting. God is self-existent (has always existed and always will). He is sovereign over everything. God is immutable (never changes). He is completely just. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), and omnipresent (everywhere at once). When this world is confusing, scary, and changing rapidly, we can hold on to God and His Word because they never change. When we are unsure about the future, we can be assured that He isn’t surprised by any circumstances we encounter. When we feel betrayed, we know He will make things right in the end. When challenges arise, we can trust that God has our best interests in mind and either has something for us to learn, is preparing us for something in the future, is humbling us and making us more like Christ, or He wants us to have more compassion and understanding to extend to others. It is important to remember that some of God’s promises were meant for a particular people at a particular time (not meant for us) and also that many of them are conditional upon our obedience or trust:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Matthew 6:14-15
When reading the Bible, it is important to seek out the context and not bring our own ideas into the text. Helpful tools and resources can be found on this site under the heading of Bible. I would recommend a study Bible if possible, a Bible dictionary (illustrated ones are nice), and a handbook that gives an overview of each book of the Bible (“What the Bible Is All About Visual Edition” – by Henrietta C. Mears,). A very helpful video tool is “The Bible Project” – they offer short (free) online commentaries for every book of the Bible as well as on major themes. Last year, as I read through the Bible, I watched all related videos through their “Read Scripture” program. As you can add them, other helpful tools might include a book of maps & charts (“Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, & Timelines” from “Hendrickson Rose Publishing”). Sometimes I put items on Christmas or birthday wish lists. That’s how I got my “Webster’s 1828 Dictionary”, but now it’s available online too. The definition of “education” has certainly changed.
Ultimately, the more time we spend time in the Bible, the more we learn about God, ourselves, and the world. That prepares us for life, giving us realistic expectations – there will be evil and life is full of challenges. It also gives us our identity in Christ – beloved and valued even though we’re flawed. The more we know the Bible, the more we can trust God with every aspect of our lives. And that is how we get to experience the incredible peace and joy that only comes from Him. It also gives us “eyes to see” (reason for the name of this website) Him working and the miracles He does all around us and through us. It causes me to want to be “worthy of the calling” He has given me and to choose to serve Him every day He gives me on this earth. I want everyone to know how much they are loved by their Creator and how He wants them to accept His free gift of salvation. If you haven’t yet done that, I pray that you will do that right now. He is just so must judge sin, but He made a way for us to stand before Him and give an account of our lives with the righteousness of Jesus covering our sin. Jesus even offers rewards for those who invest in His eternal Kingdom. His love for us is without measure and He has already proven it. How will you respond?
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:5-8
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.”1 John 3:1-5
There have been signs of a new great awakening – God is working all over the world drawing people to Himself. We don’t know when Jesus is coming back, but we need to be ready and in the meantime use our time, talents, and treasure to point as many people as we can to their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, so we can all enjoy being in His presence together in heaven – with no more illness, no more evil, no more sadness, and no more death. The book of Revelation makes it clear that Jesus will conquer evil once and for all. The good guys win and we can all celebrate together.
© Constance Rice 2020