Wednesday, January 14, 2015
All churchgoers have heard this phrase or something similar for years at the start of every sermon: “If you have your bibles, please turn to………..” In the past, you would see most of the people in the audience flipping pages to get to the text. If everything was quiet you would even hear the sounds these bibles would make. Nowadays, when the same phrase is given, very few people open their bibles because in most churches the text will appear on the screen. And then there are those who have “the bible” on their smartphone, I-pad, tablet, or electronic gadget of their choice. I vividly remember an occasion a few years back during a church message when a young man who was sitting in the pew in front of us was “playing” with his wireless gadget all through the sermon. Obviously, I was not preaching on that day, but I confess that I was pretty agitated at what I saw. I think his mom, who was sitting next to him, noticed my look of displeasure and immediately after church came up to me to explain that her son was simply following along with his “bible’ application on his phone all through the sermon. To me, it was a big relief, and in an instant my perception of him changed.
Speaking of these new electronic bibles, I know for a fact that there are some church members, mostly the elderly, who don’t look very kindly at those who don’t have the traditional bible. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter how you get your “bible’, as long as you get it. I once heard one of my favorite radio preachers, Ravi Zacharias, tell the story of a Vietnamese friend of his who was imprisoned by the Viet Cong because he helped Christian missionaries. When ordered to clean the prison latrines, he noticed some English words in one of the soiled pieces of toilet paper in the basket he was emptying. Desperate to read something other than the communist and atheistic propaganda he was forced to hear every day, he picked off that piece of paper, carefully washed off the filth and tucked it in his pocket. Later that night, he read that still damp page by the light of his pocket flashlight. It just happened to be the 8th Chapter of Romans and the verse at the top of the page was verse 28 which reads: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This man knew the Word of God, but of all the verses in the Bible, this was the one he most needed to read again, since his faith had been wavering. That verse brought him back to God and from that point he volunteered for latrine duty every day. (Ravi also shares this story in his book, “Walking From East To West: God In The Shadows”)
Let me repeat: It doesn’t matter how you get your “bible” as long as you get it, and the best place to have and it and keep it is in your heart.
Memory verse for the week: (John 12:26) “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be : if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”