Summary: God changes lives through His Word
Colonel Floyd J. Thompson, the longest-serving American prisoner of war in any conflict died July 16, 2002, at age 69. His obituary reported that for nine years he "endured cold cells, jungle cages, and torture in Vietnam.” The citation that accompanied his Distinguished Service Medal said "Jimmy" Thompson had endured "unfathomable deprivation and hardship" in the service of his country.
Perhaps the most arresting paragraph in the obituary was this: "’Dying is easy,’ an enemy camp commander told him. ’Living is the difficult thing.’" And the obituary revealed just how true that had become. Col. Thompson after returning home was divorced twice, battled alcoholism and depression, and in 1981, he suffered a stroke that put him in a coma for six months and left him partly paralyzed.
That enemy commander was right. It may be that your life is every bit as difficult as Thompson’s was. You may be trying to live through the results of abuse or addiction. The consequences of others or yourself may have left you scarred and broken. Perhaps your life doesn’t come close to the pain of this soldier but just because it’s not as traumatic doesn’t make it any less painful and hard.
Understand that those who follow Jesus—who are “Christians”, do not escape the difficulties of life. Divorce and death affect Christian homes just like it does those who don’t believe. The consequences of sin impact our lives like it does the most blatant pagans. But the difference is followers of Jesus have the presence of Jesus with them and that is a powerful positive force in our life when the hard times come up against us.
Yet if this is true, and it is, why is it that sometimes the Christians we know don’t deal with disappointments any better or differently than the non-churched pagan down the street? Let me offer a guess. When there is no difference the reason is not because of the lack of Jesus’ power. The problem comes from the follower who hasn’t take the opportunity to become familiar with the owner manual for our lives—the Bible.
The Power of God’s Word to Change Lives:
Steve Auterburn reports how a Wycliffe Bible translator in a remote village in Papua New Guinea reported the power of God’s word. He wrote, “When the opening chapters of Genesis were first translated into the native language, the attitude toward women in the tribe changed overnight. They had not realized or understood that the woman had been specially formed out of the side of the man. Without even hearing this concept developed, these people immediately grasped the ideas of equality between the sexes and began adjusting their behavior. The people heard. They believed. They obeyed. They changed. Just like that.”
They weren’t taken in by the statistics that you may have read on the screen before worship, that 80% of Americans believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The percentage who believes there is no one set of values that is right: 48. As Auterburn said, “The people heard, They believed. They obeyed.”
If God’s word has such power why don’t more of us live like it? One reason is that God’s word doesn’t promise us what we want. We want happiness. God’s word promises joy. We want to be important. God’s word promises us we’ll be last. We want to be safe and secure. God’s word promises us persecution and hardship. We want a good life. God’s word says no one is good except God.
Another reason we don’t put God’s word to use is because we don’t read it. We complain it’s too hard to understand but we don’t even try one of the easier Bibles that make it much simpler. Another complaint is that in this day and age we just don’t have time to read the Bible. But we’ve got time to turn on a sports show or the latest reality show, to play the latest video game.
Cutting to the Chase:
Let me ask you a difficult question before we go on in this sermon. Are you satisfied with life? Are you content with the emotional state of your life? Are you content with the depth of the relationships you enjoy with your family and friends? Is your work, school and recreational time giving you a sense of purpose and meaning that fuels your life for days on end? Are you okay with your responses to the frustrations, set backs, health questions and disappointments you are facing? As you grow older do you find yourself happy with the prospect of facing Christ face-to-face or dwelling in the past with all the things you’ve missed?
If you are content, happy and okay with all what I’ve just said then you can safely ignore God’s word. But the fact is that the answers to such situations and others of life questions are found in God’s word. And if you wait for a sermon to give you the answer to your problem then you’re probably waiting in vain because this is just one way in which we are suppose to be exposed to God’s word.