In Pursuit of Treasure

As I studied the treasure map for the first time, having moved recently from the point where I was told to begin, to another section of the path, I thought I had taken a wrong turn or had lost my place.   Having already found treasure as I moved through the new territory, I did not let my confusion put a halt to my quest.  I felt enlightened by my discoveries and wanted to continue finding treasures.

Treasure.  Something of value which people may pursue by digging, diving, or otherwise searching.  It may be gold, jewels, or archaeological items. 

Or it may be something intangible that enables us to know and love God.

The treasure map is the Bible.  It points us to the treasures that only God provides:  unconditional love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, and other things that enrich our lives.  It lays out the path to eternal life through forgiveness of transgressions that separate us from God, through a proactive acceptance of Christ into our hearts.  As we follow the map, we get closer to God by knowing Him the way we would know a parent, and we want to please Him by obeying His instructions. 

To know the Bible is to know:

– that God loves ALL of us

– Creation

– the history of God’s relationship with people

– how to live in a way that pleases God, and that we must trust Him even when we don’t understand His ways

–  that the heroes and villains of the Bible are no different than we are in many ways, and that he often uses the least likely people to accomplish his purpose

– the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection from those who were either eyewitnesses or close associates of eyewitnesses.  It is the Gospels to which I refer in my first two paragraphs.

In early 2001, as someone who was ready to invite Christ into my heart, who had never before read one page of the Good Book, I had recently gotten through John (the fourth book of the New Testament) and had paged back to read Matthew.  I did not know that each of those first four books included different authors writing about the same events – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  After I read about the same experience in Matthew, and then moved on to Mark, I understood what was going on.  Each book has its own focus, authorial style and intent, but they vary from each other depending on what the writer wanted to convey.

–  Last, but not least, knowing the Bible enables us to defend our faith in Christ. 

When I first started this blog on March 27, 2010, I had trouble determining my ‘target audience’.  After realizing the challenge of reaching unbelievers through a blog, I decided to write with new Christ-followers in mind, as well as any Christian who might benefit. 

The very thing that is crucial in defending Christ, in defending God, is a knowledge of the Bible, and unfortunately this is lacking in many Christians.  Just as others might doubt it when we tell them of a buried treasure, unbelievers doubt the treasure map.  We must be equipped to defend God’s Word. 

Here’s some ammunition in the battle for truth:

-The Bible was written by over 40 different authors, from different occupations and walks of life, and in various places, over 1500 years, yet there is consistency and continuity.

-Many of the authors – particularly those in the New Testament – were imprisoned and some were executed in terrible ways for their beliefs.  No monetary rewards, no notoriety, only extreme difficulties and death that was incurred by opponents.   Not really an incentive to fabricate an elaborate, conspiratorial work of fiction.

-There are more manuscripts of the Bible than there are of any other accepted document in history.  There are 24,000 manuscripts, including those in Greek, Latin, Armenian.  Compare this number to other reliable works of antiquity. :
   Annals of Imperial Rome AD 116 = 1
   The Jewish War = 9
   The Iliad = fewer than 650 (from 800 BC)

-Historical, archaeological and scientific evidence that people, places, and events are real.   Please check out these links:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/365092/is_the_bible_scientifically_and_historically.html?cat=38

http://www.forumterrace.com/Questions/Historically.html

http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps/archaeological-and-external-evidence

What to expect, and some tips:

Yes, it is a huge, daunting task to “read” the Bible.  (I use the quotation marks because it’s a different kind of reading.)  Like any goal, if you concentrate on a portion at a time, it will seem less overwhelming.  Aim for a chapter at a time – or establish a certain time limit.  Check out reading plans available on the Bible Gateway website (see link below).

Also on Bible Gateway, you can check out different translations, so if you don’t own a Bible yet, you can determine which translation you prefer.  I like New Living Translation, my church uses New International Version frequently, and I have a friend who likes the paraphrasing of The Message.   A study Bible may increase understanding as it includes historical notes and other information.  I love my Life Application Study Bible; it includes historical information, explanations, and life application lessons, as well as profiles of key people, and maps.

You won’t remember every little verse, every event.  As you study, jot down notes.  If a particular verse speaks to you and you want to memorize and use it in your life, jot it down on an index card.  Ladies, keep the card in your purse to study when waiting in a line.  Or post it on the fridge.

Here’s something I do to encourage Scripture memorization:  I go to Bible Gateway http://www.biblegateway.com

I copy and paste two verses I want to memorize into Word.  I then print it on plain white paper and cut out the printed section.  I have one of those little picture holders on my desk at work – not a frame – but the kind that works like a big paper clip.  It’s perfect for holding the verses.

Scripture ‘addresses’ (book, chapter, verse) make great passwords.  I often use a verse I’ve memorized as my password, although I use a verse I’ve committed to memory rather than one tht I have on my picture holder.  When I log in, I silently say the verse as I type in the password.   

Biblical reference to treasure:

Proverbs 2 tells us about moral wisdom.  Here’s 2:4-5: 

4 and if you look for it (wisdom) as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,  5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Matthew 6:20-22

20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

Readers:

I know some of you are walking Bibles.  Others may not have started studying the Bible yet or are starting to work your way through it.  In another post I’ll share some verses that I use in everyday life or that spell out certain truths for me.  Please share those that you find most useful in your faith or that speak to you, regardless of where you are in the journey.

May God Bless You!

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