A Miracle in Your Hand
Dr. Jim Denison
In our last study we discussed happiness; this week let’s talk about success. If you could have anything to make your life more successful, what would it be?
Here are some technological options I found in the news recently.
You’re listening to a song on the radio but can’t remember its title or artist. Soon you will be able to put your cell phone up to the speaker; in 15 seconds the song’s name and artist will appear on your telephone, with information for ordering the CD.
“Voice badges” are an item worn around your neck, weighing less than two ounces, able to connect your voice to the Internet and your desktop computer as well.
A Personal Digital Pen—you write with it, and your computer transfers the handwriting to typed data input.
Here’s my favorite new invention: a chip for your Palm Pilot or other Personal Digital Assistant. You set your PDA on a table, where it projects a laser image of a full-sized keyboard onto the flat surface. You type on that surface, and the data is captured into your computer.
All miracles you can hold in your hand. Tools for success.
But none compares with this black leather-bound book in my hand. Let’s learn why, and discover why this is the one miracle you need for true success in your life today.
Value the word of God
Jesus continues his sermon: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets” (17a).
“Do not think” is very strong in the Greek, literally “Never think that….”
“That I have come to abolish”—to deny the divine authority, to demean.
“The Law or the Prophets”—the entirety of God’s word to this point.
Jesus goes even further: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
“I tell you the truth”—translates a phrase known to be used only by Jesus in all of ancient Judaism. It means literally, “I guarantee you this….”
“Until heaven and earth disappear”—when time ends (Revelation 21:1).
“Not the smallest letter”—refers to the Hebrew “yod,” the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
“Not the least stroke of a pen”—refers to the points on a Hebrew consonant. We would say, “not the dotted I or the crossed T.”
“Will by any means disappear”—the double negative, will “no, not ever disappear.”
“Until everything is accomplished”—until the Bible does its work, fulfills its purpose. More of this in a moment.
For now, make this decision: value the word of God, for its work in our lives is miraculous.
It keeps us from sin: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
It guides our lives daily: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
It brings us joy: “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalm 19:8).
It gives us hope: “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
God wrote a book. Value it, for it is his miraculous gift to us. Miraculous in its work, and in its preservation and transmission to us today.
John Wycliffe was the first to begin translating the Bible into English. The authorities of his day opposed his work so vehemently that they sought his death. When to their disappointment he died of natural causes in 1384, they found his body, exhumed his remains, burned them, and scattered them in the river.
William Tyndale was the next major hero of the English Bible. 90% of the King James Version is taken from his translation. For his trouble he was arrested in 1536 and hanged. From the gallows he prayed, “Lord, open the eyes of the King of England.”
And God did. Within three years King Henry VIII instructed all publishers to permit “the free and liberal use of the Bible in our native tongue.” And the King James Version would soon follow. Through Tyndale’s work, God continues to open the eyes of the world. And God gave his life true success.
This book is a miracle—inspired by God, written by men, preserved by the Holy Spirit. J. I. Packer calls it “God preaching.” Augustine describes it as “love letters from home.” Value it today, if you want God to use it to give your life true success.
Study the word of God
Next, study it. Every word, “the smallest letter” and “stroke of a pen” is the word of God. And so it deserves not only our affirmation but also our study. But we must know how.
I still have my first Bible—a red Gideon New Testament I received in the 5th grade. I valued it so much I carried it in my jeans pocket, which is why it is so tattered today. But when I began reading it, I found the “begats” of Matthew 1 and got no further. I valued the Bible, but didn’t know how to study it for myself. We need to do both.
First, decide to meet God in his word every day. Set a place and time as your appointment for the Bible. Purchase a study Bible—several are very good; the NIV Study Bible is my personal favorite. Get a notebook to serve as your journal. And begin—with the Gospel of John if you don’t have another place in mind.
As you read, seek to know the author’s intention. I told hundreds of students at Southwestern Seminary, “The Bible can never mean what it never meant.” Your goal is to learn what the Bible means to say, so you can relate this intended meaning to your life.