Summary: The first in a series of 5 messages based on the HBC Core Beliefs
The Bible is My Guidebook
* Anyone who has ever given served in the military recognizes the acrostic “UCMJ”. It stands for the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While still under the “common law of the land”, people in the military are held to a higher standard of behavior. For instance, you and I cannot be convicted for “conduct unbecoming of a citizen.” Conversely, a service person can be charged with “Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” This is an act punishable under the UCMJ which, while not necessarily criminal under common law, reflects adversely on the government, the military service, and the officer corps and violates the standard of behavior for a military person. Excessive use of profanity or engaging in a drunken brawl might also be considered “conduct unbecoming.” Make no mistake this very real and is strictly enforced. Additionally, the Armed forces have a “Code of Conduct” (CoC) which also sets standards of behavior. Staying home from work called “faking an illness” (if proven guilty) will result in forfeiture of pay, confinement, AND a DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE? While that might sound hard and harsh, the truth is this; after over 20 years of being around service people, I believe they have the highest character and moral integrity of anyone you can meet. Why? Because they know what is expected & they abide by it. Here’s the point, if you are to be in the service, you should know what’s expected of you because what you don’t know can hurt you.
* Let’s develop this a little more. To be accepted into the Military an individual must pass certain tests. While I don’t know “all” the required tests, I do know there aptitude vocabulary test and a health test. Once you pass those tests, are accepted, and are sworn in, you are under the standards which are required for members of the Armed Forces. At this point, you better make it your task in life to know what is expected of you.
* In the same way service people are called to a higher standard of behavior than non-service people, so are believers called to a higher standard of behavior than non-believers. The UCMJ & COC are guidebooks on how to behave for members of the Armed Forced and similarly the Bible the guidebook for believers in Jesus Christ.
* Three years ago I took an entire summer to offer us a series of messages on HBC’S statements, core beliefs, and functions. Over the last couple of months I have sensed God’s leading to revisit our core beliefs.
* Core belief #1 – THE BIBLE IS OUR GUIDEBOOK. I begin with a personal question for you; “Is the Bible the guidebook for your life?” It will never pass the test of being the guidebook for the church until it is YOUR guidebook. The two are inseparable.
* Three years ago this message offered you three reasons which expressed the “WHY” it should be our guidebook; because it was inspired by God, it contains information about God, and because it gives us instructions from God. While each of these reasons is true, the practical question now is this: “HOW” does the Bible actually become my guidebook? We can say the Bible guides us, but how does the Bible impact us when the waiter gets our order wrong, the boss treats us unfairly, the conversation turns to gossip, or ‘the’ temptation which Satan knows rings our bell? How is it that in these difficult times can the Bible guide us?
* Well, it can’t if we don’t know what it says. You and I cannot depend on our teacher, preacher, or leader to spoon feed us until we can handle the trials, tests, and even temptations which come our way. For the Bible to guide you, I offer you 4 truths to employ:
1. I must admit my need. – In his book entitled, “The Power of Desperation” Michael Catt suggests that we will not do business with God until we are desperate. Candidly, until we believe we have a need for a guide, rarely will we adhere to any other guidelines than our own. The Bible tells us the real facts of life. It teaches us about sin, death, love, life, marriage, relationships, vocation, and in principle, it speaks to a host of issues which we need.
a. Our scripture tells us that the work of God is living. This means it can find any void or need in our life and fill it. It is just like pouring water into a glass filled with marbles. Everywhere there is an opening, the water fills the emptiness. God’s word will fill our emptiness. The greatest emptiness we have is in our heart. Why? Because our heart was designed for an intimate relationship with God. Adam was not only made in the image of God, but God blew into Adam His breath, His spirit, and HIS soul. It was all GOOD until Adam sinned. Picture it this way; God kicked them out of the Garden of Fellowship and this separation created a void. God immediately provided the animals skins and for the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin, but the damage was done to all of mankind. When God sent Jesus to die for our sin, it was & is the only way that we could and can be restored into fellowship with the Father, find life to the fullest on earth, and spend an eternity with Him in heaven. It begins with an admission of our need for His word, His Life, and Him.