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Talk to the Hand

BIBLESTUDY January 13, 2008

Biblical instruction
By Jeff Powell

Ask, “What tools/techniques did you use to


Introduction make those decisions?” (Answers may include, “I
Let’s review for a moment. For the next few talked with my friends. I talked with my pastor. I
weeks we are discussing the core values of our watched Dr. Phil. I read a book. I got in a chat room
church, as discovered by the Strategic Leadership on the Internet. I researched the topic on the
Team. There are ten of them. The first five are the Internet. I drew a line down the middle of a piece of
foundational core practices of any biblical church, paper, and compared the pros and cons. I used a
not just ours. They are “non-negotiables” if you “magic 8-ball”. I consulted a psychic. I flipped a
want to have a church that fulfills its purpose. They coin. I put out a “fleece”. I just hoped for the best.)
are: The decisions you make in 2008 are going to be
• We value Fellowship. important to you, so you need to be careful how you
• We value Biblical Instruction. go about making them. Some of these things we’ve
• We value Service. mentioned work better than others. Let me suggest
• We value Evangelism. to you that the most reliable resource you have in
• We value Worship. this new year is God’s Word.
Read Psalm 119:105 out loud. Ask, “What is
The next five make up our core personality. implied about you and me in this verse?” If God’s
While every church should share the first five, the word is a lamp and a light, it implies that I’m in the
next five are what make us unique. They describe dark!
our core personality, our “DNA”. They are: Ask, “What’s the darkest place you’ve ever been
• We value Family. in?” For me, it was Carlsbad Caverns in New
• We value Cultural Relevance. Mexico. Halfway through the tour the guide turned
• We value Lost People. out all the lights to show us what true darkness really
• We value Missions. is. It was the blackest darkness I have ever
• We value Prayer. experienced. When you’re in that type of darkness,
what feelings tend to rise to the surface? Fear,
These values work together to act as an confusion, disorientation, etc…
“internal compass”. They guide what we do, and Do you ever feel that way when you’re facing a
what we don’t do. They are the foundational upon big decision? Fearful? Confused? Disoriented?
which our entire ministry rests. Here’s the good news. God’s Word provides
Last week we talked about “Fellowship”. light, and light always conquers fear and confusion.
Fellowship is about assimilation. It is about But to imply that the Bible is only a map or
connecting people to Jesus, and to each other. It has owner’s manual is to sell it short.
three characteristics. It is: Read Hebrews 4:12 out loud. Ask, “What book
• Practical – Real fellowship involves meeting have you read most recently?”
the practical needs of those around you. •Was it “living”?
• Personal – Real fellowship means being •Was it “active”?
transparent, open, and honest with each other. •Was it “sharper than a double-edged sword”?
• Partnership – Real fellowship means we work •Did it “divide your soul and spirit”?
together to achieve a common goal. •Did it “judge the thoughts and attitudes of
That was last week. This week we continue your heart”?
“Talking to the Hand”. Let’s move to the index The Bible is not your ordinary book. Read 2
finger, which represents our next value – “Biblical Timothy 3:16 out loud. Ask, “Define ‘inspired’ or
Instruction”. ‘God-breathed’. Often we say that a book or a
painting or a song was ‘inspired’. Is this the same
thing, or is the Bible ‘inspired’ in a different way?
Biblical Instruction How?”
The Bible is “alive” because God Himself has
Ask, “What are some big decisions you had to breathed His life into it. These are His Words, to us,
make in 2007, or you will have to make in 2008?” and God’s words are powerful. Remember back to

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BIBLESTUDY January 13, 2008 the Creation story in Genesis. What happened when • Correction - Now God could just let you
God spoke? Things were created! Chaos became suffer in guilt, but because of His mercy He provides
order. Life! the way of ‘correction’. He not only calls a halt to
God’s Word still does that today, in a way that your moving in the wrong direction – he also points
no other book can. When I encounter it, I am you in the right direction. That’s ‘correction’. The
changed! Greek word for ‘correction’ is ‘epanorthosis’. It’s
Those changes fall into two general categories. formed from three parts: epi’ – to, ‘ana’ – up, or
again, orthoo’ – make right, straight. Put that all
together and you get…”to make right again”. It
External Changes literally means a restoration to a right state. Isn’t that
what we really need? We don’t need someone to tell
First, there are external changes. This refers to us what we’re doing wrong – we are usually already
my behavior. very aware of that. What most of us need is help!
Read 2 Timothy 3:16 again, paying attention to We need someone to point us to the “Exit” sign –
the second half of the verse. Paul lists four ways that how do I get out of this mess?
God’s Word instructs my behavior. • Training in Righteousness -
• Teaching - The Bible teaches me how to live, Commentator William Barclay couples this phrase
how to act, how to live with others, etc… It teaches with the phrase that follows in verse 17 – “…that the
me what I need to know about God. Finish this man of God man be thoroughly equipped for every
sentence: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the good work.” The idea here is that the truth taught in
___________.” (…”Bible tells me so.”) I know that the Bible will equip me to accomplish any task which
Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me He does, God lays before me. For example, it teaches me
and it’s narratives of His life and actions show me about my spiritual gifts. It teaches me about courage
that He does. Ask, “What do you know about God?” and perseverance. It teaches me about dealing with
Then, “How do you know that?” Then, “Where opposition and obstacles. It is the “training manual”
does the Bible teach that?” (For instance, “I know for life!
that God is forgiving.” How do I know that? “He But the Bible does more than just change my
forgave people in the Bible.” Where does the Bible behavior – it changes me! It’s not just educational –
teach that? “God forgave David after his affair with it’s transformational. It’s not just about the externals
Bathsheba. Jesus forgave Peter after his denial.”) The – it’s about the internals!
point is that the Bible has taught me what I need to
know about God, and what I need to know about
living with others.
• Reproof - Ask, “What is ‘reproof ’?” Webster Internal Changes
defines ‘reprove’ as: “to speak to in disapproval; It is a biblical axiom that who I am drives what
rebuke;” Ask, “Can you give an example of a time I do. Jesus taught that “…out of the overflow of the
when someone ‘reproved/rebuked’ you? What was heart the mouth speaks.” Lasting change in my life
the result?” (Teacher, be prepared to give an does not come from keeping rules or changing my
example. If your response was right, then the result behavior. It is the result of inner transformation.
was growth/correction. It may have been painful, Only when my heart is changed will my behavior
but it was helpful.) That’s what the Bible does for remain right.
me. First it teaches me how to live, what to do and God’s Word has the ability to effect that
not to do. But like Paul, “Sometimes I don’t do the transformation. Let’s look at three examples of that.
thing I should do.” I get off track. I forget, or ignore,
• The Bible Strengthens My Faith - Read
God’s instructions. And so God responds with
aloud Hebrews 11:6. Finish this sentence: “Without
reproof. He rebukes me. He expresses His
faith it is ____________.” (…impossible to please
disapproval of my actions. He often He does this
God). This is a huge deal to God! Ask, “Why do you
through his Word. Ask, “Can anyone give me an
think that is? Wait for responses. If I am not walking
example of this from their own life?” Here’s what
by faith, then I am walking by “sight”. I am doing
usually happens. You’re reading your Bible, or
life on my own. I am leaving God out of the
listening to a sermon, or sitting in Sunday School,
equation. I am left to my own strength and my own
when a passage of Scripture “just jumps off the page
devices. Why is that a problem? I can think of two
and hits you right between the eyes.” You have the
reasons. First, I will get the credit for every good
intense feeling that God put that verse in the Bible
thing in my life. “I am a self-made man! Look at me!
just for you. It causes you some discomfort, because
Look what I did! (Does this remind anybody of the
it points out where you’ve gotten off track. It
story of the Tower of Babel?) I am taking credit for
convicts you of your sin, very specifically. That’s
things that God is responsible for. Second, when I
reproof.

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BIBLESTUDY January 13, 2008 leave God out of the equation, I greatly limit the Closing
impact my life will have. Ask, “What role did faith
play in the life of Abraham? Joseph? Moses? David? So let’s finish up by reviewing. Letting the Bible
Paul? Peter?” Faith launched them into instruct my life will affect me in at least two ways. It
extraordinary experiences with God, and it will do will change me externally. It teaches me how to live;
the same for you. So how do I strengthen my faith? it rebukes me when I get off track; it shows me how
Read Romans 10:17. There’s a formula here. to get back on track; it equips me to fulfill God’s call
Hearing God’s Word > Faith. Pretty simple, isn’t on my life. And it changes me internally. It
it. But as I read the Bible – it’s teachings on God’s strengthens my faith. It renews my mind. It makes
faithfulness to me; it’s examples of faith in the lives me wise.
of godly men and women – something begins to But there’s one prerequisite.
happen to me. That same faith begins to grow in Read out loud Matthew 7:24-27. Ask, “What’s
me! Ask, “How has the Bible strengthened your own the lesson here?” The Bible is alive; it is
faith? Share that with the class.” transforming. But only if you read it! Study it!
• The Bible Renews My Mind - Read Memorize it! Meditate on it!
Romans 12:2. What do you think that phrase You will hear God’s Word preached and taught
“renewing of your mind” means? Paul warns us of here every week. It is foundational to our ministry.
the danger of being “conformed to this world”. But that will not be enough to propel you new levels
What do you think that means? Webster defines it as of faith and life. You must make time to read and
“to make the same or similar”. The world is study on your own.
constantly trying to conform us, to make us like It’s the beginning of a brand new year. Would
itself. Give examples of how this happens. (TV, you join me pledging to spend some time in the
politics, music, advertising, celebrity lifestyles) Ask, Bible every day this year?
“When I am bombarded by messages from the world
literally every minute of every day, what can begin to
happen to me?” I can begin to believe them. I can
begin to accept them. It usually doesn’t happen all at
once. It’s subtle. First, I disagree with the message.
Then… I disagree, but not so much. Then… “Well,
that’s OK for you, but not for me.” Then… I get
comfortable with the message. Then… I agree with
the message. Then… I embrace the message.
Then… I’m completely deceived! And I never saw it
coming. Give me some examples of some of these
messages…What will likely happen if I embrace
these messages? With all the inputs it receives, I find
that my mind needs to be “rebooted” often. It is like
a rifle scope that needs to be re-sighted. And the
only thing that works is God’s Word. It is the Truth
by which all other “truths” are measured. It protects
me by adjusting my worldview to match God’s. And
it is only God’ Truth which will set us free. 6
• The Bible Makes Me Wise - It’s obvious
that wisdom leads to good things. So how do I get it?
Do I have to wait until I am old? While wisdom is
most often found in older adults, it is not exclusively
reserved for them. It’s been said that there are two
ways to become wise – one is to learn from your own
mistakes. Painful but effective. The second is to learn
from the mistakes of others. Not quite so painful, but
still effective. Let me suggest a third way. Spend large
chunks of time in God’s Word. Read Psalm 1.
Compare the wise man and the wicked, both what
they do, and what the result is.