The Bible: Take it Personally!

Posted by on Jul 25, 2017 in Signboard | 0 comments

The signboard in front of our church carried the following message:

THE BIBLE:

TAKE IT

PERSONALLY!

    

Many of us have spent a lot of time throughout much of our lives reading the Bible.  We’ve attended Sunday School, Small Groups, listened to sermons. We’ve know about the creation story, Adam and Eve, Moses, the story of the kings and history of Israel.  We’ve read the Sermon on the Mount and memorized many of Jesus’ teachings.  And we’ve studied the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John.

We know the Bible!

But, think of this… except for Jesus and some other miraculous appearances of angels and of God, the entire Bible talks about people.  Frail and fickle humans like you and me.  Can we learn from the lives of these people?

 

Yes- DO Take it Personally!

Has someone ever said to you, “Well don’t take it personally, BUT___”… then proceeded to tell you things about yourself that are difficult to hear?  Sometimes, things that are said about us can hurt.  And sometimes, those things are true and they require us to make changes.  So, yes: When God speaks to you through His Word (the Bible), sometimes you do need to take it personally; do some soul searching, confession, and make changes.

 

Personalize the Scriptures

The word “Personalize” might not even be a word, but if it is, it’s a good one!  To Personalize the Scriptures implies that you have to intentionally put yourself into the story and to search out its message for you.  It takes work.  Applying scripture to your life and growing from it doesn’t come by osmosis or by a casual reading. 

Pastor Jim, on many occasions, has taught us to place ourselves in the passage. 

Here’s a “Three-Step Method” that he’s suggested:

Read the passage.

Read it again, still as an outside observer, but picture yourself on the sidelines watching the story unfold. Envision what you would see, hear, or smell. Imagine you were there.

Read it again, but this time as if you were one of the people in the passage.

If YOU were  the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 17, and Jesus looked at YOU and told you to sell everything you had, how would YOU feel?  What would Jesus’ expression be as He looked  into YOUR eyes?  Would the other people be looking at you for your reaction?  What attitude would their faces display?  Would you feel embarrassed or that you were on the spot?  Would you get the feeling that you were interrupting the trip and slowing things down?

 

 

Give it a Try!

The Bible, especially the Old Testament, is full of many interesting stories.  It’s frequently like a movie about war, crime, and love.  It’s history.  It’s disturbing.  It’s violent.  It’s brutal.  It’s- well- a lot like the world we’re living in.  How can we learn from theses passages?

One such story is in the opening chapters of the book of 2 Samuel. Scan through  chapters 1-4, to get the gist of the story.  Here are some thoughts on the two main characters… 

 

Ishbosheth

Many of the names in the Old Testament are difficult to pronounce, and this passage is no exception. 

Try reading the king’s name this way:  ISH-bo-sheth.

King Saul died and David became king of the tribe of Judah.  But Ishbosheth (a son of King Saul) became king of the other 11 tribes (collectively named “Israel”).  But we get the impression that Isbosheth wasn’t necessarily made of the “right stuff” to be king.  In fact, he was elevated to the throne by Saul’s commander of the army, Abner.  King Ishbosheth totally depended on Abner; not only for getting him to the throne, but also for keeping it.

In his one moment of recorded courage, Ishbosheth confronted Abner when Abner slept with one of Saul’s concubines.  This wasn’t necessarily a moral issue for the king, but it was a personal affront to the king’s “power” (which ultimately was controlled by Abner). 

In response, Abner decides to jump ship and make peace with David.  He heads south to Hebron, meets with David, and the king accepts his petition.  But on his return, some of David’s men take matters into their own hands and kill Abner.

The death of Abner was like pulling the rug out from poor King Ishbosheth.  In 4:1, we read that he “lost all courage” when Abner died.  He held out in his bedroom scared and paralyzed.  He had trusted Abner for everything and was probably kicking himself for doing the right thing in confronting Abner about his wrong act.  While he was moping around and sleeping in his bedroom, two men (named Rechab and Baanah) came in and killed Ishbosheth.

 

David

Rechab and Baanah (the men who killed David’s rival king), packed up Ishbosheth’s head confidently dashed off to Hebron to meet with David.  They presented the gruesome evidence to King David thinking that they would be rewarded for securing the kingdom for David.  They trusted in their plan.

But David surprised them.  His trust was coming from another source.  His “ways were not like their ways.”  

Many years ago, Samuel had anointed David as king.  But life for David after his anointing was anything but royal.  For years, he was attacked by Philistines, hounded by King Saul, and frequently left hiding on his own in a cave.  God anointed him king, but he wasn’t king.

David had many chances to kill Saul, but he didn’t do it.  In a scene similar to the one in this passage, someone came to David claiming to be the one who killed Saul.  But David said, “how dare you kill the Lord’s anointed”, and David surprisingly had this supposed hero killed.

And so when the killers of Ishbosheth triumphantly stood before David with their hands out for a reward, David’s “reward” was not what they expected.

 

Take this Passage Personally!

This may seem like a typical Old Testament story of intrigue and violence.  It might even seem offensive and it might make us feel a bit uncomfortable.  But, as we read the scriptures- which are about people much like us- what can we learn about ourselves?  If the Bible is God’s Word, He’s trying to tell us something!  How are we like Ishbosheth or like David?

What did David Trust?

Ishbosheth trusted Abner.  All of his worth and power came from the fact that Abner promoted and protected him.  When Abner was gone, so was Ishbosheth.

But look at David. God made a promise to him and he trusted God.  David had many opportunities to take things in his own hands and force God’s hand to make him king.  He could have killed Saul.  He could have rewarded the man who did kill Saul (or claimed to).  He could have paraded king Ishbosheth’s head all over Israel and claimed the throne. 

But David was patient.  David constantly looked for God’s will.  David always trusted God.

 

What do I Trust?

Are you able to put yourself in that story and truly say that you would have trusted God too? 

When we read a passage like this it’s easy to distance ourselves; all of this happened a long time ago, in a different culture, and it was played out by people who were in power.  It doesn’t fit my life.  Or does it?  Read it over a few times and put yourself into the story.  Have you ever totally depended on someone like Ishbosheth relied on Abner?  Have you ever done what you thought was a good deed that would bring you a reward, only to discover that your “good deed” was really a “bad deed”?

 

Regardless of the passage; regardless of how distant it might seem, put yourself into the story.  Work at it, and see what God might be trying to tell you about yourself.

The Bible:  Take it Personally!

 

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Rev.  Jim Hughes is a master at putting himself into a familiar Bible story.  During his messages, he not only “puts himself” into the scripture, he usually dresses up as one of the characters!

In his July 2017 message during the Pitman Camp Meeting, he gave a great example of “Personalizing the Scripture” in the story of the the Paralytic who was lowered through a hole cut into the roof of Peter’s house (Mark chapter 2).

Check  out this  post…

You Were There! (7/16/17)

 

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