Don’t Stop Reading

Dear friend,
       I hope you are well. I’ve been thinking about how awesome the scriptures are and it seems that the more the Lord reveals to me, there is the realization that there is so much more. There was a time in my early Christian walk when I read the Bible because that was what I was supposed to do. I would read my assignment, rarely getting anything out of it. The chapters and verses formed the boundaries of what I was to read. As I have grown in my walk with the Lord and I have seen the personal application for my life and the beauty of God’s truths interwoven together, the scriptures have become precious to me. Jesus said ,”My words are spirit and they are life.” In the original texts there were no chapter and verse breaks and so if you stop at the end of a chapter you may miss something important. There are several chapters in the writings of Paul that begin with the word “therefore” and we have to look in the previous chapter to see what it was “there for”. There is a harmony and flow to the scriptures and sometimes chapter breaks interrupt that flow. I want to give you three examples today that I believe will encourage you. I know they did me.
Then He said unto His disciples,” The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37,38
     Just as a side note, I spent many years praying for the harvest when one day an Evangelism Explosion instructor made the statement that Jesus didn’t tell us to pray for the harvest.He said that the harvest is already out there, so pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. That changed my way of thinking.
That was The end of chapter nine, so what does Jesus do in chapter ten? He instructs them, gives them authority, and sends them out. Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and He is the one who sends laborers into the field. Paul said in Romans 10, “and how shall they hear except someone preach and how shall they preach except they be sent?” In chapter 9 he says to pray for laborers to be sent and in chapter 10, He sends them.
      When the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus very sorrowful. Jesus made the statement,” How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24, 25
Those who heard it probably equated riches with the blessing of God and asked, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, ” The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:26,27 Now some have said Jesus was referring to small gates in the wall that a camel had to kneel to go through, but I heard a minister from Egypt say Jesus wasn’t talking about a gate; He was talking about a sewing needle. That would definitely be an impossibility, but all things are possible with God. So in chapter 18, a rich man getting saved was an impossibility, but look in the very next chapter. Now behold there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Luke 19:2  Zacchaeus opened his home to Jesus and pledged to give half his goods to the poor and restore fourfold that which he had taken wrongfully. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:9  So we see the impossibility of a rich man getting saved in chapter 18 and in chapter 19 we see God saving a rich man. That which is impossible with men is possible with God. That old camel just slipped right through that needle eye.
   Let’s look at the third example and there are probably many others. I can think of some others; many you can probably do so as well, but this was the most recent. I didn’t get this directly from the Lord, but by way of another of His servants and it really blessed me. I could spend a lot of time here, but most of you know the story, so I’ll briefly summarize it. When Jesus first went to the country of the Gadarenes he encountered a highly demonized man that we call the Gadarene demoniac. He was incorrigible. He had super human demonic strength. He fell at Jesus feet. You know the passage well; it is in Mark chapter five. Jesus cast this legion of demons out permitting them to go into the pigs and the pigs ran down and drowned in the sea. The people who took care of the swine went into the city and country and spread the word about what had happened. The people came to see and saw the one who had been demon-possessed clothed and in his right mind and they were fearful. The eyewitnesses gave their account and the Gadarenes asked Jesus to leave. Jesus is not inclined to stay where He’s not wanted and when he gets in the boat to leave, this man begged Jesus that he might stay with Him. Jesus , However, did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how he has had compassion on you.” And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him and all marveled.” Mark 5:19,20 The Gadarene demoniac had now become the Gadarene evangelist.
     That is so awesome, but that was not the end of the story. Jesus crossed over a second time. We can’t be sure that it was the exact same place, but it was probably the same region. And when they had crossed over, they came to the land Gennesaret and anchored there. And immediately when they came out of the boat, the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Mark 6:53-55. If indeed it was the same region then we might ask, what made the difference in their response? I would like to believe that it was the testimony of one man who had been touched by Jesus. He wanted to go with Jesus, but he was sent to declare the good news.
     You know it’s nice to read the Bible through in a year or have a regular Bible reading, but it can become law or a work of the flesh apart from the Spirit. We would do better to meditate and read slowly asking the Lord to give revelation, and wisdom to understand and appropriate His truth. His words are spirit and life. Don’t let a chapter or verse become your boundary, but flow with author. There are golden nuggets which can only be panned from the river of Life. Be encouraged today my friend, the chapters of our lives are still being written and that which you are experiencing now is but preparation for something yet to be written. Hope is an earnest expectation of a desired end.
               Herb Dean