Who Really Said That?

I was reading the “Today in History” section of the paper the other day and it said that in 1858 Abraham Lincoln, during his run for the Senate, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

What got me was that I am absolutely convinced that there are many, many people reading that who think Honest Abe coined that phrase, himself. They have no idea that Yeshua said it, or that it is from the Bible.

That made me think (yes, it hurt, but sometimes I can) about how many other statements or sayings that are biblical, but which people do not know came from the bible, or (even worse) how many things do people think are biblical that are not?

How many times do we hear people say, “The bible says….” and then say something that isn’t in the bible? For instance, “God helps those that help themselves.” I hate that saying because it leads people to the wrong conclusion- it leads them to think that God wants us, first and foremost, to look to our own power for resolving our problems. And, if we do, then He will step in and help us.

WRONG!!!!  We need to look to God first: first, foremost, only and always before we do anything on our own. God is the one to count on, and God is the only one who can overcome. Yeshua said that for man it is impossible, but with God anything is possible. If what we need is possible only with God, then why even start on our own?

There is one time that you can say, to a degree, we need to start on our own- that would be regarding faith. When it comes to having faith, I believe that is something we need to show before we can have it fully justified. If we have faith only after some miraculous event, then we are reacting instead of acting. Faith is, to me, more than a word, more than a noun- it is an action verb! We say to “have faith” but it really should be (if you ask me) to “show faith.”

God will be faithful to support our faithfulness. We need to step out in faith, then He will walk beside us and guide us.

But when it comes to anything else, pray first, go to God first, and after you have first asked Him to guide and help you, then walk out in strength; fearlessly, faithfully knowing that God is with you.

We all need to know the bible- what it really says, and just as importantly, what it doesn’t say. We need to be able to right the wrong that people say which can only lead them to Sheol, and not to salvation.

How often do you read the bible? There are calendars that have a bible verse for each day of the week, there are tracts galore, there are online reminders, and every sort of biblical “reading” and daily devotional that you can find. These are not what I recommend, mainly because they are out of context and can be misleading. I believe, and I preach, go to the source. God can show you what He wants you to see, give you spiritual sight that will allow you to receive whatever message He has for you no matter what biblical reading source you use, but why go anywhere other than where He wrote it, in the way He wrote it. See what happened before the verse, and see what happens after it.

Too many of these sayings from or referring to the bible are misleading because they are out of context. The bible is not in true, chronological order, and the Christian order of books in the Tanakh is different from the Jewish order, but at least you get the history, the stories and the events in the way that Moshe wrote them (for the Torah) and in the way that people have learned them for millennia.

If you were given a book to read- history, mystery, self-help, whatever- would you read it haphazardly? I mean, would you read the first chapter, then the middle, go to the third from the end, then the second, and bounce all around like that? I hope not, but the Christian world does that. Pretty much every Christian service I have gone to preaches a sermon that takes from the bible, but the sermons have no biblical order. Now, in all fairness, maybe I am just a little too used to the Jewish system of reading the Torah portions (called Parashot) every Shabbat , in order, so that every synagogue throughout the world is reading the same message at the same time, and we all turn the Torah back to the beginning every Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah) on the eighth day of Sukkot.  There is also the haftorah, or additional reading from the other parts of the Tanakh, which emphasize the Torah portion reading.

I am not saying it is bad to use daily devotionals- any time you are reading from the bible is better than not reading from it, at all. But I hear too many people that do not know the bible, and think that there are things they hear that are from the bible. This is the path to destruction because the enemy knows the word of God as well, if not better, than almost anyone else. And he will use that to destroy your soul.

Let’s finish with this- gun control. Yes, gun control. If you own a gun, and don’t know how to use it, you are much more likely to have it used against you or to hurt yourself with it than to get any benefit from it. The word of God is like that- even Shaul tells us, in Ephesians, about how the word of God is both armor and weapon (from shield to sword.) The enemy will try to use the word of God against you, just as he tried to use it against Yeshua during the forty days He was in the desert, so if you don’t know it, and know it well, you may find the very weapons God has provided for you to protect yourself from the fiery arrows of the enemy, being used against you.

You can, and will, be defeated by the very weapons God has given you to defend yourself if you don’t know how to use them! And the way to know how to use them is ….to use them. Read His word, in order, from start to end, then go back and read it again. And make that as much a part of your daily routine as eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth (I certainly hope that is a daily thing!)

And always, always, always pray to God for the Ruach to guide your reading so that all He has for you to see in that book is made available to you.

We are living in prophetic times- the battle is coming. Quickly. If you don’t know how to use your armor and the weapons God has given you, you will be lost. Don’t think that just because you are saved now you can’t be fooled into giving up your salvation. In Revelations it tells us that many will be turned and apostatized. “Many” is a lot of people; in some translations I have seen , it says “most”- meaning more than 50% of the Believers will be fooled into taking the mark of the enemy. I believe those will be among the ones who don’t know the word of God as well as they need to.

Know your bible, know how to use the armor of God, and know your enemy.

He certainly knows you.

The Best Self-Help Book in the World

Have you wandered about the Barnes and Noble store lately? Once you get past the Starbucks (only place in the world you can get a good $2.00 cup of coffee for $7.00) and all the kids sitting in the aisles reading, you will see the Self-Help section. You can find “whatever” for Dummies books, DIY stuff, and any number of “How to be a Better You” books. How to overcome grief, how to have grief, how to overcome weight, how to accept yourself and your weight …whatever is wrong with you, or (more correctly) whatever you think is wrong with you, you can find a book written to tell you how to feel better about it.

There is another section, not the self-help section, but in there you will find the best self-help book in the world. Have you figured it out yet?

After all, what does a self-help book do?  It identifies an issue that people have with themselves; you can’t get a book published if there aren’t enough people interested in reading it, so it has to appeal to a number of folks. It identifies the issue, gives you a lot of third-party references to how it has affected other’s lives, and then it goes on to dissect the problem, break it down to it’s basic components, and, finally, tell you how, each piece at a time, to overcome or deal with the separate issues. In the end, the third party stories of success bombard you with how they have overcome their big problem, and you can, too.

Whoopie! For the most part, all the self-help books I have seen are ways for someone else to make money off your problems. They don’t really help. They are like the motivational speakers of the ’80’s who made a fortune telling us why we are OK, how to succeed in selling real estate, or getting better jobs, whatever, and everyone bought their tapes and books. They approached their problems eager to overcome them, they followed the program diligently for about 3 or 4 days, then almost every single one of them quit. Why? I think it’s because the basic problem with a self-help book is that the only one you really can depend on to help you is you, the one who can’t overcome the problem.

There is a story in the best self-help book I am talking about that tells a similar tale. A man was sowing his fields and the seeds fell everywhere. Some seeds took hold and grew fast but when the wind blew and the rains came the roots were too weak to sustain the plants. Others fell in good soil and grew roots but weeds sprung up all around the plants and choked them.

I guess you have identified the book I am talking about by now. Most people think of the Bible as the word of God telling us about how we all came to be, sin and salvation and what will happen in the future. Yes, it does all that. But it does more than that.

What really is the best “self-help” we can have?  Learn to deal with grief? Reduce our weight? Get in better physical condition? Deal with anger?  All of these are good things to do, but how long will they last? At best, only our lifetime. Then what?

I think the best self-help book in the world is one that doesn’t just address issues while I am alive, but carries me into the future, after I am dead, all the way to the end of Eternity!  There isn’t going to be a self-help book in the Self-Help section of B&N that will do that for you. But you will find one in the Religion Section.

I say the Bible is the best self-help book in the world because it does what I want a self-help book to do: make me better now and make that last forever. I never felt good about myself before I knew God, mainly because I knew I was doing wrong but had no real idea of how to control myself. And I had no real motivation, other than to get in trouble less. Religion kept getting in the way of my understanding who God is, who my Messiah is, and how I fit in to their plan.

I now understanding that the book is one book, Exodus through Revelations; that Old and New are not different because both are about God, His people, His salvation through a Messiah, and the Messiah’s life; how he taught us what God has been saying all along and how the Ruach (Spirit) can guide me and help me. This book is the one that showed me a real, effective and doable way to be a better me. I still had to work at it, but with the Bible as my self-help book I am not doing this alone. With God guiding me through His Ruach, I am never alone, and the one helping me is the only one in the universe that can.

The Bible teaches us that what we do is because that’s who we are- sinners. Overall, whether you believe you are too fat or too skinny, if you have anger management issues or an inability to deal with stress, bad at math or good at lying…whatever “problems” you think you have, the Bible teaches us that we are sinners and we all will sin. It also teaches us that without God we have no chance of overcoming the sinfulness of our nature.

How is telling us we have no way to overcome what we want to overcome helpful? Simple: it puts us all on the same level. One of the ways to deal with feeling bad about yourself is to realize you’re not alone. Everyone who lives, who ever lived, and who hasn’t even been born yet is in the same boat- we are born into sin and have sinful natures. You’re no better than I am and I am no worse than you are.

The Bible then tells us how to deal with the sin in our lives: simply let go of it. Give it to God. But you first need to have the relationship with God that will let you do that. And that is the ultimate answer to self-help: don’t do it yourself, let God do it for you. Of course, you are part of the process, in that you need to do a couple of things first: one is to accept you’re a sinner, two is accept God as your God and Yeshua (Jesus) as your Messiah, and three is ask for forgiveness; finally, ask for and accept the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) which will guide you and help you to do T’Shuvah (turning from your sin) and then start walking the path.

That’s it, in a nutshell. Form your relationship with God, and let His Spirit guide you along the path to being a better you. As I have said in the past, I am not a different me since I have been saved, but I am becoming a better me. It is a life-long journey, and knowing that it won’t happen overnight, that there is no easy way out, but that I am not going it alone is what makes it possible to get done, and to last.

The best part is because it is a journey with God as my guide, since He is eternal, my journey will become an eternal one. With any old self-help book the best I can hope for is to “improve” myself until I die; but, with the Bible, I will have what I want for myself for all eternity. I will never, ever, ever be sad or hurt or upset or depressed or feel bad about myself again, and for all time.

Spoiler alert: I will still have issues while I am in this world and in this body, with this nature. That will never change. That’s what the self-help books don’t tell you- you will always be yourself. You see, their sales pitch is that the writer can make you a different person. Bull!!  Let’s get real, people: you are a sinner, you want to sin, you enjoy sin, and sin is the natural and comfortable choice for you.

That’s why the Bible is the best. It tells you like it really is, who and what you are (in fact, what we all are ) and how to overcome it. You can’t change what you are, but you can learn to overcome it. The choice is simple: do I want some human being to tell me, totally on my own, what to do to overcome something,  or do I want the God of Heaven, Creator of the Universe, Lord of Lords and King of Kings to help me overcome it? Gee, let me think about that one. DUH! 

Think about this: you can get a self-help book and deal with your issue during your lifetime, with the only help being yourself and some other person who you will never even talk to, then face God with nothing but your book in hand and the author (possibly) already going to the down staircase.  Or, accept God and Yeshua, receive the Holy Spirit then deal with your issue during your lifetime with the help of God Almighty, who is always there to guide and support you through the indwelling Ruach, and when you face God you will have Yeshua standing next to you saying, “This one is mine, Father.”  Then be blessed and joyful throughout all Eternity. Guaranteed.

Nu? Which seems better to you?