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DeacoNote 46: The Lived Bible - In & Out

June 26, 2024


What does your personal Bible look like?


This is the question that popped into my mind as I sat drinking my coffee this morning. Our dog was up on the back of the couch looking out the window, no doubt living out his lifelong dream to be a guardian of the galaxy. My wife was reading her Bible. At that moment, she happened to read a verse that stood out to her. She then took a pen, highlighted the verse and wrote a note in the margin.


To fully understand this picture, I have to point out that her Bible is practically brand new. She just got it a few days ago, and it is so crisp and new that some of the pages still stick together here and there. It is pristine - no marks or scuffs, no torn or crinkled pages - no scattered notes and bookmarks from sermons or studies long ago. It is new - and looks almost like it would in a store display. But then, she wrote in it.


Once upon a time, I would have thought such an act to be sacrilegious. I recall being in a church as a young person. I guess I had attended there just enough, was just the right age, and happened to be there on just the right day. That day, they presented me with a new Bible. I took it home. I treated it like the special book that it was. I put it up on the shelf so nothing would happen to it, or maybe even on display like a coffee table book. And there it sat quite literally for years. Occasionally I wiped some of the dust off, but otherwise it was kept in pristine condition like the day it came out of its original box. And like so many coffee table books or books on home library shelves, it remained unopened and unread.


Looking back, it was a little like the servant in Jesus' parable in Luke 19: 11-27 who was given a mina to invest. Instead, he wrapped it in a cloth, so that it remained in pristine condition, just as it had been given to him, but otherwise unused. This was not what the Master had wanted.


Similarly, I do not think God intended His word to be a mere coffee table book - that serves only for decoration - something to looked at, maybe even admired, but never read, never understood, never put to use or invested.


When Jesus was a young boy, Luke tells us He was separated from his parents, but later found (Luke 2: 46) in the Temple courts "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." The nearest equivalent we have today would be if one of our teens attended the Pastor's Sunday morning Bible study. He was studying the Scriptures, absorbing them and understanding them - not just admiring the cover art.


After Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, He met with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. These two disciples later explained how Jesus had "opened the Scriptures" to them (Luke 24: 32) - another Bible study, if you will.


Likewise, Paul writes to his protege, Timothy, saying

II Timothy 2: 15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


The Bible was never intended to be put up on the shelf, or on display on the coffee table. It was intended to be read. It was intended to be studied and understood. It was intended that its lessons would be absorbed and become the principles by which you lead your life.


Someone once asked me, which was the best Bible? My answer is: the one you will actually read. Do you need simple clear modern language? Do you need pictures and maps? Do you need study helps and notes? Get that one. Get the one you will read regularly and make your own. If you are in the Word, studying to understand it, God will take care of the rest.


When my wife and I moved back to Vermont, we searched for the first house we would buy together. As such, and since we were starting fresh, so to speak, we discussed what attributes we wanted that house to have -what was the criteria by which we would decide which one we would buy. Principle among the final list of criteria was that we wanted every room to be lived in, where people would relax, and feel "at home." Another way to put it - we did not want a single room to be just for show - every room was for living. If you tour a new house, that has never been lived in - it shows. There are no signs of life - it is cold, sterile, impersonal. It is only after you move in, fill it with knick knacks, hobbies, memories, and living that it becomes a home. And when you do, it shows.


I think the same should be said about your personal Bible. It should show that it has been LIVED IN. There should be signs that you have spent time there. Maybe it is with highlighted verses, or notes in the margin, or just wear and tear on the cover and pages, or bookmarks, or old bulletins. I should point out that the reason my wife was reading a new Bible was because the one she had had for many years was falling apart - it had been in daily use for a couple of decades and showed the fact it had been well LIVED IN. Eventually, the new one will too.


As compelling as this thought is, however, it is only part of the story. It is not enough to just live in the Bible. It is not enough to just understand what it says and what it means. You should also apply its lessons to the way you lead your life. In other words, not only should you Live In your Bible, you should also Live Out your Bible. James put it this way in his epistle,

James 1: 22 Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.


An interesting tool to help in studying the Bible is to ask three questions, and I think it applies here as well. The questions are:

  1. Why?

  2. What?

  3. So What?


To understand the process, consider a well known verse: John 3: 16

Why - For God so loved the world - in effect this is the reason for what happens next.

What - that He gave his one and only Son - this is the act of living out the motive of loving the world

So What - that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life - this is the "so what" or consequence of having taken that action because of that motive.


So, if we apply this same methodology to our question of studying the Bible, it might look like this:

Why - we want to know and understand our God better

What - we live in his Word, study to understand it and apply its lessons to our daily life.

So What - the "so what" or consequence of living out God's Word in our daily lives is that we will bear fruit for the kingdom


John 15: 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last ...


Matthew 7: 16, 17, 20 By their fruit will you recognize them ... Likewise every good tree bears good fruit ... Thus by their fruit you will recognize them ...


John 15: 5, 8 I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit ... This is to my Father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


A man was asked one time, what his favorite Bible was? His answer has always stuck with me as being simple, but profound. He said that his favorite Bible was his father's. By that, he did not mean a bound collection of printed pages in one translation or another. What he meant by his answer was the way his father lived out the lessons of the Bible in his everyday life. It had borne fruit in the lives of those who observed him and interacted with him on a daily basis.


So this brings us back to the beginning: what does your Bible look like?

Does it look Lived IN?

Does it look Lived OUT?


If not, I pray that you plan to move in soon!


Amen.


Please feel free to share this DeacoNote with a friend, or post a related thought in the Comments below.


Your Brother in Christ,

     Warren


Warren J. Ayer, Jr.

Chairperson, Board of Deacons

United Church of Colchester


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