What Goes In?
Read that which will strengthen your Christian life.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends, how in the world are you? Well, I trust everything’s alright at your house. Yes, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. I think of so many people whom I know personally who listen to these broadcasts, and then thousands of others whom I shall never meet on this side of the glory land. But we’re gonna have a big radio rally when we get over there. We’re gonna invite all the saints of all the ages to join in with us; we’ll have a big crowd, and we’ll rally around the blessings that we received from our Lord by way of this modern miracle of radio. That’s over on the corner of Hallelujah Street and Glory Avenue in Heaven. I’ll see you there, alright? [chuckle]
We were talking the last time we got together about this concept of reading. 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul said, “‘Til I come, give attendance to reading, as well as to exhortation and doctrine.” What do you read these days? And what are you giving your youngsters to read?
Now I can’t claim to be typical of this matter ’cause I had a very special upbringing for which I do thank God. For instance, with the assistance of my older sister, Mildred, who was keeping house for my father and for this little motherless, stroobly haired, runny nosed boy, I began to pick out words from my mother’s big Bible when I was at age, let’s say four-and-a-half, five, five-and-a-half, around in there, so that by the time I was going on seven, I could read from the Bible and was memorizing verses; 50 of them as a matter of fact from the Gospel of John before I was seven. On my seventh birthday, I could recite letter perfect 50 verses from the Gospel of John. I can do most of them, I think, as well today with the reference; that sticks in your mind. So that was the beginning of my reading as a child.
Now what went along with that was that we had not many books, but a few. One of which was a book called The World’s Wonders. It was written from a Christian point of view, and it told the story of Livingstone, and it told the story of the Arctic explorers, and had all sorts of wood cut engravings printed up there of various pictures, either real or imaginary. But reading that book, I would go over it and read it and look at the pictures and wonder how things went and imagine myself over there either in Africa, or in China, or in the Arctic, or wherever. And do you know what that did?
Well, it gave me a rudimentary grasp of a very elementary geography to be sure, but it also put the world in my heart. It let me know as a little boy that there’s a big world there that doesn’t stop, as the New Yorker is supposed to believe, with the Hudson River. We are a terribly insular people when it comes right down to it, and we naively think that nothing much matters beyond our own boundaries. Of course the world events now of television, so that you can see what’s happening clear around the world when it happens, that has forced us into a realization that the planet earth is just one small village, and we’re all members of it, and that’s a good realization. But I got that point of view as a little boy because somebody put some reading in my way.
What I’m saying, Mother and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa-you don’t make a federal case of it; you don’t say, “Now I want you to read this; it’ll do you good.” No, that’s the way to ensure that it won’t be done. But just put in their way, your children’s and grandchildren’s way, the kind of reading material that will stretch their minds and broaden their horizons and do it within a Christian framework. You see, there’s more to reading than just being able to pronounce, “See Dick and Jane run.” I think that in removing all sense of values from the teaching that we do in our schools, by and large, we have done a great disservice to our youth; we let them grow up without any real sense of absolutes. The only thing that many of them respect is force.
I met a friend of mine who for many years had been running a home for wards of the court out in the Midwest. And I said, “John, do you notice any difference in young people today as compared with what they were maybe 20, 30 years ago?” “Oh my yes,” he said. I said, “Well, what is the difference?” “Well,” he said, “many that we’re receiving today as wards of the court have no sense of right or wrong, and the only thing they respect is force.” Said, “That’s a sad business.” His face lowered into a mask of sadness. Now we’ve done that to our young people by giving them things to read and to look at that don’t have any values in them. Let’s you and I be careful about that, shall we? In building our families? Make available to your young people things that have some values to them.
A lot of good, attractive material that you can give to your teenager, for instance, Campus Life Magazine, Teen Quest( put out by Back to the Bible), for example, a lot of different,( and I’ve only named two; there’s dozens.) A lot of different publications that you can just make available. Put it in the child’s way, so that he’s gonna pick it up for himself and see what God may do as a result.
Now that’s one concept: Reading. But we’re talking particularly now about the individual. He said, “You be a type of the believer in the way you live,” and he said, “give special attention in this connection.” If you wanna be a type of the believer, give special attention to what you read. I’ll guarantee you that reading, for example, gentlemen, an issue of, let’s say, Playboy, you can read it, and I’ll guarantee you that you don’t feel much like going to a prayer meeting. What has it done?
Well, Peter said, “Avoid fleshly lusts that war against the soul.” And you’re looking at type and at pictures that fight literally against your relationship with the Lord. Watch what you read. Why? Because it does something to you, that’s why. Now I don’t mean that you always have to read heavy tomes that have 16-cylinder words. Many people feel that if you’re going to be true to the Lord you have to read dull stuff. That isn’t true. There is so much today that’s available that is thrilling and that is challenging and that is helpful.
And all we’re saying is, remember that what you read does something to you, so read that which will strengthen your Christian life because you want to be a type of the believer. You want to be a walking demonstration of what Christ can do. So read that which will make you that. Chuck Swindoll’s books, Dobson’s books, Weirsbe’s books. So many different ones that are good.
Now reading ought to start, heaven knows, with the Bible. I find that I pray better when I’ve read God’s Word aloud. Oftentimes when my soul is cold… Do you ever wake up and feel just religiously, spiritually, cold and dead and not really with it? Of course you do. I have found that reading aloud to God some of those beautiful Psalms, which are Hebrew prayers, warms up my own soul. Read the Bible to warm up your soul and to make it alive to God. I always pray better after I’ve been in the Word. And then there’s that flash of comprehension that the Holy Spirit, who in-dwells the believer, gives you as you read the Bible. “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Some Bible scholars said that in the old days they used to wear a lamp affixed either to the sandal or to their big toe, so that each step would be lit up, not very far ahead, but you could see far enough to take one step.
Well, be that as it may, it’d be tough if you stumbled, you’d get burned wouldn’t you? But anyhow. A lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path. God gives you step-by-step what He wants you to do. Read the Bible asking this question: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Never finish your Bible reading without finding out something that God wants you to do about it, today. What action should I take in obedience to God’s will as I understand it from this passage? Never leave the Bible reading for yourself without getting something from the Lord that He wants you to do. Good idea? Read your Bible. Read it for its exquisite beauty.
Now, the King James version of course, I grew up with that and that has become the language of my soul. I love the majesty and the cadences and the choice of words and phrases that the translators used in the King James version. That has to be my bias. If you don’t like it, it’s alright. My father used to day, “We’ll be in Heaven someday, and you’ll know I was right.” [chuckle]
I also have, right here at my right hand, The Living Bible. This issue is called the Life Application Bible, with an application for the various verses. It’s an excellent, it’s an excellent volume. And I’ve got the Amplified Bible and I’ve got the Weymouth New Testament, and I’ve got, of course, my Greek New Testament, right here under my nose, and so many other different versions. But when it comes to reading, he said give attention to reading. Get your Bible and just read it for the beauty of it, for the majesty of its prose, for the rhythm of it. The Bible is the greatest book in all the world. Get familiar with it, get acquainted with it, read it. Dr. Walter Wilson used to say, in his whimsical fashion, “Look at the flyleaf of your Bible and find out what you should do with it,” he would say. “You will read there, it says ‘appointed to be read,’ so read it.” Do you remember Dr. Walter Wilson? [chuckle] Dear man, my friend.
Anyhow he said give attendance to reading. Now I’ve covered a couple of points. One is what you read makes a difference. It has an effect on you. Number two, you’re responsible for what you put in the way of your young people, your small fry, by way of reading. Number three, your reading should begin with the Bible, that’s the basis for your faith and your growth in the Christian life.
Then what? Then read everything you can about everything you can. Be up on things. You don’t have to be taken by surprise by life because you didn’t know what was going on. You can be “with it” as the young people say. Be an omnivorous reader. Read everything you can and keep up on things as God enables you to do it. Well, we may talk a little more about that the next time we get together, and then we’ll go on to this matter of exhortation, which is the art of persuading others.
Dear Father today, make us people who read the right things and who have the right results in our lives because of being in Thy Word and in good reading. I ask in Jesus name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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