Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Darris McNeely] This is a two-edged sword. It’s a powerful weapon in the hands of an expert swordsman—someone who is trained in its use.
The Bible, the Word of God is described in the same way. It is said to be “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…”
The Bible is the most powerful book ever written. It can cut through the problems in our lives to bring us solutions that work. When its wisdom is understood, it can improve our quality of life. And when it’s obeyed, it can set us on the road to eternal life.
There are many examples where people have read the Bible and followed its teachings and have made a positive difference in life. Join us on Beyond Today as we explore the Bible and “The Power of the Living Word.”
[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Darris] The Bible is a very powerful book. When you read it, things happen.
When you read the Bible, you’re experiencing a living book that connects to another dimension, another realm.
When you pick up this book and begin to read its contents, you’re not reading just another human written book like you do a novel or a biography. You are reading a book that has come to us over more than 3,000 years in time.
When you read the Bible, whether you agree with it or not, whether you understand it or not, you are handling a book whose words are spirit and full of life. You are interacting with a book straight from God, the Creator of the universe.
The Bible is a very powerful living book. It has inﬂuenced the events of nations and empires. It has shaped today’s world. Its teachings will one day shape all nations and peoples.
Its teachings can change your life.
Let me take you back a few years and let me tell you a story about the enduring fascination with the land of Israel and the Jewish people.
England has a long history with the ancient land of Israel. As far back as the early days of Christianity, they desired to make a connection with the apostles. In the 1600s, the Puritans wrapped their story in the Old Testament and ruled the country with the Bible in one hand and a sword in the other. They looked at the Jews as kindred spirits, people who shared a common bond. Later years in the 1700 and 1800s England looked to Palestine as a place that must be kept out of the hands of a dominant European power. England understood the tiny strip of land on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Ocean was a gateway to the East and the colonies England controlled.
Now let’s come to the early twentieth century. World War I is raging. The Middle East will be reshaped when war concludes. Britain will lead the victors in shaping the modern Middle East—the one we see on today’s maps. Palestine becomes a key prize and England has determined the ancient Holy Land must stay intact and they must control it.
Let’s focus on two men who read the Bible. Their experience with the land and with the Jews made a direct impact on fulﬁlling a major biblical prophecy—arguably the most important prophetic fulﬁllment of the twentieth century.
These men, Arthur Balfour and David Lloyd-George—were high government offcials during the war. Men like Balfour and Lloyd-George—the ruling class of Britain—would have gone to schools where the curriculum required reading the Latin and the Greek classics. But the Bible, in that period, had begun to be removed from the lives of the upper classes.
Charles Darwin’s teachings about evolution had made inroads into faith and morality. The industrial revolution had changed England. And Science and reason was winning out over faith and the Bible.
Yet there was something in the lives of these two men that turned them slightly more toward the Bible. Balfour and Lloyd-George had been taught the Bible in their youth. Balfour’s Scottish mother had taught him the Bible and Lloyd-George had been raised by his uncle who was a minister. Both men were taught the Bible in their youth and both had a respect for the Book.
This connection to Scripture brought the two men together on one of the most critical decisions of the twentieth century—the decision of Great Britain to support the desire for the scattered Jewish peoples to reestablish a Jewish homeland in the ancient land of Israel. Balfour’s respect for the Bible and the Jewish hope led him to put his name to a 1917 declaration, known in history as the Balfour Declaration. This statement committed the British government to support a Jewish homeland.
David Lloyd-George was Prime Minister at the time. He had a strong desire to establish a Jewish homeland in what was then called Palestine. Lloyd-George would comment that the biblical place names like Bethel, Galilee and Megiddo were better known to him then the places where British troops were ﬁghting and dying on European soil.
The Balfour Declaration led eventually to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. That event, the renewal of a Jewish state in the ancient Holy Land, is a signiﬁcant step to fulﬁll end time Bible prophecy. God acts through the power of His Word and His Spirit to do His will.
That two men, raised on the Bible, both having a good working knowledge of its content, were then instrumental in helping create a Jewish presence in the ancient land is a testimony to the power of the living Word of God—the Bible. The Word of God is powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword. It can do things a sword and brute force cannot do.
When I discovered this story while researching material for a class I teach, I was amazed. I put down the books and I thought, “Wow!” The Bible’s impact on these two men was very powerful. This to me was a stunning testimony to how God works in history to bring to pass His purpose and His plan. How much should that move me, and you, to pick up this book and let it talk to us and guide our daily lives?
You know, it can do that to you.
Let me share with you a statement by Jesus that gives us an even deeper insight into this fact. While giving His disciples some of His deepest and most profound teaching, they stumbled over a point He was trying to make. Jesus wanted His followers to know that He was not just another Rabbi, not just another Jewish teacher that had sprung up in the hills of Galilee—He was God come from heaven. What He was teaching had eternal meaning and impact for them. Discerning their hesitancy, their hesitancy to accept what he taught and what He said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the ﬂesh proﬁts nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).
Christ was the Word of God come in the ﬂesh. His words were motivated by the power, the Spirit of God, and carried an authority and impact far beyond those of any other teacher. As we read the Bible, accepting it as it is, the authoritative message from God the Creator, we’re reading and hearing words of the spirit of God. That’s important. That has meaning. That is not done without some opposite reaction occurring.
You see, God acts in this world by His Word and His Spirit. Let me show you another example, this time from the history of Scripture. It’s from the book of Ezra and it deals with another time of return to the Holy Land by the Jews, this time during the period of the Persian Empire in the 6th century BC.
Cyrus the Great ruled Persia and when he conquered the great city of Babylon, God moved upon Cyrus to allow the captive Jews in Babylon to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple destroyed 70 years earlier. Let’s see.
“Now in the ﬁrst year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulﬁlled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:1-3).
How did God command the great king to do this? By “stirring up the spirit” by moving upon him to act, to move history and the plan of God to its next step. The Word of God was fulﬁlled by Cyrus. We can read it today and we can understand how the spiritual Word of God can move us to obedience and faith. The Word of God is powerful. When you read it, powerful things can happen in your life.
So you see, the Bible is a powerful, living book which has inﬂuenced events of nations and empires. But what can its teachings do for you —now, today—in your life? In everything we do? It’s always good to begin with a ﬁrm foundation. In this regard, it’s important to prove clearly that the Bible is the very word of the Living God.
That’s why we’ve prepared an enlightening, free study aid: Is the Bible True?You can have your own free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program. This study aid will help you examine how the Bible can be counted on to help you rightly and wisely handle the issues and challenges you face each day. So, be sure you request your free copy of: Is the Bible True? Later in the program I’ll tell you more about this vital, free study aid.
We have seen how powerful the Word of God can be in history and even create great events. But what about us today? How can it beneﬁt our lives? How can it act upon us and bring about meaningful change that improves your life?
Think about this for a moment. Few today connect the Bible and its stories to the headlines of history and current events. You live a busy, modern life. Are you hearing the convicting voice of God through your study and reading of the Bible?
Our message on Beyond Today is based on God’s Word. Are you acting on what you hear and read? You know that what we say is different and it needs to be said. We offer God’s Word as a solution for the chaotic and confusing messages all around us. Let this message, let the Bible and the Word of God move your mind and your heart to act—to change and to help you begin a new life of obedience to God. To begin a new life that will begin to bring good success to your life. Let me show you how the Word of God made a profound change in the life of a king of ancient Israel.
Josiah was only eight when he became the king in Judah. His story is told in 2 Kings 22. The king before him did not listen to God’s Word. He had allowed idolatry in the land. He practiced witchcraft. He even legalized child sacriﬁce and put his own son into the ﬁre of a pagan god. It’s hard to imagine a greater period of wickedness upon a nation.
Eighteen years into his reign, Josiah is overseeing repairs on the neglected Temple of God. The High Priest makes a discovery of the Book of the Law, the ﬁve books of Moses that we know of as Genesis, and Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This book was the foundational charter of Israel. It contained the history of creation through the story of Abraham and on to the founding of Israel as a special people, a people who had made a covenant with God. Laws governing the rulers, the teachers and the people were found in the book. It had been neglected for decades. It was now rediscovered.
Notice what happened when the Word of God was read by an offcial to the king. The text says:
“‘Your offcials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.’ The king was told, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.’ So Shaphan read it to the king.”
Now, notice the king’s secretary is reading to the king the Word of God. It continues:
“ When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.”
What Josiah heard was a passage from the Law which warned of the consequences of breaking covenant with God—everything that had been done by the previous king. Josiah the King was moved to take action.
He told his closest advisors: “Go to the Temple…speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do” (2 Kings 22:13).
So they went to a woman prophetess named Huldah to ask what should be done.
She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord [does]: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacriﬁces to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’
“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city’” (2 Kings 22:15-20).
The message from the prophet was taken back to the king. He acted quickly. He called together all the leading citizens of Judah and Jerusalem and he read to them the entire book of the covenant. It was an amazing presentation. Nothing had been seen like this in their lifetime. Josiah stood before them from a position of authority and read aloud the Word of God. It must have taken many hours to get through the scrolls. But the result was the same as that when Josiah ﬁrst had it read to him. The people were then moved to action.
Scripture says, the king “pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul…he conﬁrmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant” (2 Kings 23:3).
A renewal was happening. A rededication to their founding principles rooted in the Word of God.
In the following weeks, they went through a massive clearing of the remnant of pagan idolatry. It seems that shrines and altars to most of the gods and goddesses of the day could all be found in Jerusalem. Josiah led his subjects to see the idols that were dotting the landscape were nothing but stone and wood and metal objects that could not see, nor hear, nor speak. They were lifeless. The false religion was a stumbling block to the nation and unless it was removed, the nation and people would disappear.
Josiah and the people heard the Word of God and they acted. This is a stunning example of the power of God’s Word, and there is a lesson for us to consider.
The Bible says the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40.8). Physical changes—it grows old, decays and disappears. We grow old and we will pass. But God’s Word stands forever. It is not subject to changing morals and attitudes with each generation. As we have seen, it has the ability to speak to anyone who will listen and create good.
Think about what that means for your life. Are you frustrated with your life? Are you in a rut? Do you know that you need to change but you just cannot ﬁnd the handle? Then pick up a copy of the Bible and start reading it. Respect it as God’s living Word and let its words soak into your mind and heart.
The book of Psalms tells us: “The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, puriﬁed seven times” (Psalms 12:6). We don’t have to worry whether God’s Word or way works. It does! The teachings of the Bible have been proven through the generations. The laws and principles and teachings work. They produce a happy and successful life. Its promises give hope in a hopeless world. Its central message of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is true. Despite every effort to distort, deny and suppress the Bible, it stands today as a pure source of instruction for life. Its words have been puriﬁed through human experience as God has directed by His will and purpose.
Take this challenge and get to know the Bible. And if you think you already know this book, then think again! There is a deeper understanding you need to come face to face with and that is the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Up next is our Beyond Today panel to discuss more about the power of the living Word of God.
But ﬁrst, let me remind you again to order your free copy of the Bible study aid: Is the Bible True? You really need to understand how the Bible can be a vitally relevant part of your life today, and this study aid can help.
When you order your study aid, we’ll also send a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Our bi-monthly magazine is ﬁlled with articles that will help you better comprehend the many truths found in your Bible and importantly, how it can powerfully guide you in handling the challenges you face in your daily life.
To request your free copy of Is the Bible True?and your free subscription to Beyond Today , call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or, write to us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254]. You can also read them both online at BeyondToday.tv .
We’re now joined by fellow Beyond Today presenters, Gary Petty and Steve Myers. We’re talking about the “The Power of the Living Word” of God.
How has the Bible inﬂuenced your own life Gary?
[Gary] You know Darris, since I was a child, the Bible has had a profound effect on my life. My parents read it to me when I was little and then I, as soon as I started to read, it was one of the things I read. And, I think about the Bible as—it’s affected my relationship with God obviously. It’s led me into a personal relationship with God and with Christ. And it’s also given me a worldview. I mean, I see history and prophecy together as a worldview which God is involved but then also, more importantly than that, it affects the way I try to live every day. I look at the Scripture and I see this is God’s handbook on how to live. So it has a profound effect on every aspect of my life.
[Steve] It’s interesting, in my case, I grew up knowing the Bible. My parents taught me the Bible, but I didn’t ever read it for myself for years and years. And it became one of those things that I knew it, but I really didn’t do anything about it. And it was in the back of my mind a lot, but until I came to the point that I actually read it for myself and began to understand it, and see how it should impact my life, and then ultimately making those choices as God was calling to actually do something about it. Then it really changed everything. It changed the whole direction of my life and so it, like you say, it is a powerful force when you allow God to work it for good in your life.
[Darris] I like the idea of a biblical worldview. When I was young, I was always interested in what was going on in the world—history and even current events—but when the Bible began to be explained to me and I began to read it and understand it then, and have that biblical worldview that you talk about, it made the world make sense to me. And, it just has continued to help me to keep the world events in a proper perspective and not be fearful and not worry about where this world is going because there is a God who’s in control.
A person who’s not been familiar with the Scriptures, the Bible, what could they expect when they begin to read the Bible, for the ﬁrst time?
[Gary] Well the ﬁrst time they’re going to be confused by it. One of the most important things you can do is when you start reading the Bible is pray for help. Pray for God’s direction. I mean, if this is the Word of God, if this is really living, then you have to ask for God’s help and God’s direction. So, most people ﬁnd it diffcult at ﬁrst, but you have to pray about it, keep studying it and let God direct you through it.
[Steve] Sometimes I think we expect ourselves to understand everything, you know, and yet the Bible is pretty clear even about that. There is an example in the book of Acts where a man was reading the Bible and someone said hey, do you know what you’re reading? And he said, well how can I know unless someone guides me?
And so, get the help you need to understand the Bible. It’s one of the things we try to do as an organization is to produce individual products to help people to understand and get a better grip and direct them to the Bible to really help them to see what it means for them personally. And so then, you’ve got to make those choices to see how it applies in your life.
[Darris] Do you think it helps if people will even write out parts of the Bible, maybe to get a better grasp just by the actual mechanistic act of writing something out and going through it that way? That that might help?
[Gary] Yes, in fact in counseling, different types of counseling, I have parts of the Bible—sometimes I take Romans 6, 7 and 8 and actually have the people write down every verse and then beside it, what is God telling me. And just the action of writing it and then praying about it and what is God telling me, I’ve found can be very helpful with Psalms, with Proverbs. There are just whole sections of the Bible that writing it down, and then writing down that action of what is God telling me is real important!
[Steve] It helps you internalize the Word. In fact, it was an instruction from God for all the ancient kings. They had to write their own copy of the law so that it would internalize what God’s way was all about and make it their own.
[Darris] If a person says: I have tried multiple times. I’ve picked up this book. I’ve opened it and it just doesn’t make sense. What kind of advice do you give? I’ve had that happen to me and I’ve had to walk people through it. What kind of advice would you give a person like that?
[Gary] Well, of course after praying, but then read through the Bible once. Even if you don’t understand all of it, just like you were saying. None of us understand all of the Bible. We have to admit that. Read through the Bible once. Get the overview and then take speciﬁc books and read it as they were written. Psalms were a group of song lyrics, so you read them for inspiration for a different reason. You read the book of Colossians; is actually a personal letter from a minister to a congregation. Once you understand that, you are going to see all the personal aspects and you ﬁgure out why he is writing when he is writing. So ﬁrst do an overview then study each book.
[Steve] And don’t think you have to understand the whole thing all at once. You know, God’s going to open your mind to different aspects of the Bible. Now when you understand those things, you need to do something about it. There’s a funny saying that Mark Twain often used. He said, “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I don’t understand that bother me.” He said, “It’s the parts that I do understand.” And so when you understand the Bible, do something about it. Have it impact your life, Make changes as you begin to see that and God opens your mind to the truth of His Word. That’s what counts.
[Darris] It takes action.
[Gary] It takes action, behavior.
[Darris] I’d like to remind you about ordering your personal copy of our free study aid:Is the Bible True?and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Simply call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read both online at BeyondToday.tv .
All of our publications are completely free of charge and offered to you as an educational service. So, please call or write.
[Steve] Hi, I’m Steve Myers. We would love to have you come and visit and worship with us. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other. We’ve found God’s way is the best way to live. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon! Come and join us!
[Darris] God’s Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It can change your life. If you are looking for solutions to the challenges in your life then look to the Bible. When you read with a mind that seeks spiritual understanding, the wisdom of the ages is revealed. It can provide you with understanding to solve the deepest of problems.
In a world that often robs us of hope, the Bible gives you hope. A living hope in God who is working His will and purpose in this world. Do you need hope? Then put your heart into reading and studying the Bible.
God challenges us to prove the teachings of the Bible. Believe Him and begin now to discover the power of the living Word of God—the Bible.
That’s our program today. Thanks for joining us and remember to join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely, thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !