We face many challenges, but God has given us a book—the Holy Bible—to help. Here’s how the power of the Word of God can serve as an instruction manual for life.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt nothing seemed to be going right? When it seemed like, no matter what you did, things went from bad to worse?
Is that just the way life is supposed to be? Or is it possible that many, or even most, of these things can be fixed?
We need an instruction manual
Over the years, I’ve bought many cars. The first time I ever owned a new car was in 1967. In the glove compartment was a small book with instructions on how to get the best, most satisfying and longest service from this 1967 Plymouth. There were sections on tire size, pressure and rotations; oil changes and what weight oil to use; wiper blades; how to care for the seat fabric; etc.
More recently, I purchased a new Toyota hybrid, and the main instruction book has almost 600 pages! Knowing that most would not read the larger one, the manufacturer also included a much smaller one called the Operation and Maintenance Manual.
So many fail to read instructions on how to assemble or use products that we have a saying: “If all else fails, read the instructions.”
Most products, from kitchen appliances to garden tools, come with instructions that begin with something like, “Read this first before using.”
Read this first: God’s instructions
The most important “product” ever brought into existence is human life. There was a time when God took some clay or wet dust and made the first man. Then, from his body, God made a companion, the first woman.
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
God did not just throw those first humans out into some wilderness and tell them to fend for themselves. He walked and talked with them, teaching them.
What is the Word of God?
Ultimately God’s teachings were recorded by faithful men He used to put together an instruction book, a how-to-live book that we know as the Bible and the Holy Scriptures.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and this collection of books is also known as the written Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).
Benefits of studying the Word of God
The Word of God is an incredible how-to book inspired by God, our Creator. He designed it to teach us how to make life work.
The Word of God is an incredible how-to book inspired by God, our Creator. He designed it to teach us how to make life work.It is larger than my almost 600-page car manual, and its size could be daunting. But don’t let that stop you! Even just a little reading could get you started down a path that will make your life more fulfilling and meaningful.
From the very first chapters of the first book, Genesis, you’ll learn where you came from, why you are here and where your journey can lead you. You’ll also learn how to make that journey safer and more rewarding, and how to avoid painful hazards along the way.
Man is no evolutionary accident. He is the highest handiwork of the Creator God in the physical realm. This masterpiece was just the beginning of what He had in mind. And within this awesome book—the Word of God—are the instructions to help us make this limited life work and take us to an even better limitless life.
No other book ever printed has sold more copies than the Word of God, yet its wealth of information remains untouched and unused by most who own a copy.
For example, the book of Proverbs is a storehouse of guidelines and helpful instructions for avoiding painful problems we humans can so easily stumble into. It is much better to avoid them than to struggle to extricate ourselves after falling into them.
This book of tremendous wisdom states, “So a curse without a cause shall not alight” (Proverbs 26:2). In other words, there is a cause for every pain, every problem. If you have the right information, you can avoid the causes of many of those problems and the pain that comes with them.
Why God gives dos and don’ts
Most instructions that come with the products we purchase include a number of dos and don’ts. Don’t overinflate your tires. Do change oil every 5,000 miles. Do replace filters regularly.
The same is also true of us. If we fail to follow the instructions in the Word of God, the results could shorten our lives and make for a lot of pain and disappointments.
God’s instruction book also includes a number of dos and don’ts. While many view those dos and don’ts as things that make life less enjoyable, really just the opposite is true.
There are many helpful guidelines in the Bible. Within its pages are an abundance of diverse topics, such as finances, choosing our friends wisely, achieving and maintaining healthy relationships, what to eat and not eat, the importance of balance and moderation in life.
The Bible is filled with practical advice that can help us in nearly every aspect of life. Though the primary message of the Bible is to lead us to understand the purpose of life and how to grow in godly character and receive the gift of eternal life, God wants us to learn to avoid a lot of the mistakes that would cause us to suffer in this life.
Jesus Christ said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, emphasis added throughout).
The simple statement known as the Golden Rule, which Jesus Christ passed on to His disciples, can make an enormous difference in our relationships with others. “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.
The apostle Paul wrote of the importance of having a healthy outlook on life. An important way to accomplish that is by controlling what we think about.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
And we should avoid such futile things as envy, jealousy and comparing ourselves with others, what they are or what they have.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23, Good News Translation).
Misleading perceptions: the importance of following instructions
While we are assembling a product, there might be times when something in the instructions doesn’t make sense. It might seem if we skipped a step, we could get it done faster and it would work just as well. Though human instructions can be flawed, sometimes we find that our shortcut really didn’t work.
When I was a teen and using my parents’ vehicle, money for gas was very tight for me. I learned that I could mix some of my dad’s tractor fuel with the gas and extend the distance I could travel. The instructions for the truck said to only use regular gas, not diesel fuel. But diesel was working for me … for a while.
But then we began to have engine trouble. Mixing in diesel shortened the years of service of my dad’s truck.
Similarly, there are things we can do in life that might seem to work for a time, but in the long run bring us poor health or difficult relationship issues.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet”
The Word of God provides guidance and help to find the right path when decisions are unclear to us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
God’s instructions provide a reality check and a reward: “Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11).
God wants us to have a good life and not bring on ourselves painful problems that come from disregarding the ways of life found in the Word of God.God wants us to have a good life and not bring on ourselves painful problems that come from disregarding the ways of life found in the Word of God.
“Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16).
Obedience to God brings blessings
The Bible is truly the most practical book you will ever read. It contains laws and principles of living that truly work. It will provide the guidance to make your life more fulfilling and satisfying.
When Jesus Christ was with His disciples, He made a statement that applies to all the teachings in the Bible: “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17).
He has made sure mankind would have an instruction manual providing guidance because He loves us and it grieves Him to see us suffer needlessly.
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).
When you are face-to-face with making major life decisions, there is no better counsel than these words found in God’s Word: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
There are several important points in this scripture. One is that it is very important to pray about our decisions and plans before we settle on them as a course of action. We could also ask ourselves what would Christ do, or what would Christ have me do?
Another way of acknowledging Him in all our ways and our choices is to look into the Bible to see what counsel we can find there to help us with specific situations.
Just as there are laws that govern and bring order to the physical creation, so there are laws that help us avoid many of the pitfalls and self-inflicted pains of life.
“You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments … that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land” (Deuteronomy 4:40).
They are so important, that God exhorted parents to teach them to their children from the early years of their lives. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (6:7).
All birthing centers should send a Bible home with the parents of every little precious life with the instructions, “Read this first!”
Everyone who officiates at a wedding should hand the couple a Bible, letting them know that within its pages is information that can guide them to many wonderful years in a close, loving relationship.
The apostle John wrote a salutation to the beloved Gaius that he wanted him and all those who read his writings to benefit not just spiritually, but in physical ways also. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2).
It is our desire at Life, Hope & Truth that you discover the gems of knowledge that God has available for you within this book.