I Don't Read Owner's Manuals


Have God's guidelines for living become a part of your everyday life?

"The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting." Psalm 119:160 (NAS)

I don't read owner's manuals. Never have. Perhaps I should clarify that statement and say I don't read owner's manuals... until I have a problem. By then, I'm usually in trouble.

A perfect example is a new vacuum/steam cleaner combo I just purchased. It promised to do away with messy buckets, chemicals and mops when cleaning tile floors. That promise appealed to me because with three dogs and five children at home, my floors need lots of cleaning and sanitation.

The first time I used the steam-cleaning component it worked great. The second time it worked ok. The third time it barely worked. And the fourth time I just dragged a dry machine around the tile. Then I read the owner's manual. Seems I should have used distilled water to protect from clogging.

I don't know too many people who make a habit of reading owner's manuals before they need them. In fact, the most popular time to read the owner's manual of a car is when there's a flat tire or a weird light pops up on the dashboard.

There was a time when I treated my Bible like the owner's manual of my car and steam cleaner: only read when necessary. My reading of it was limited to a few verses printed in my church bulletin, or an occasional flurry of interest. That approach proved ineffective when faced with the challenges of college and early-married life.

I wasn't equipped to deal with the self-sacrifice needed in marriage, or the allure of finding my identity in work. I frantically juggled all the demands on my time before I read that God had good advice on how to order my priorities.

By the time I looked in the Bible for answers, something in my life needed repair. Some days it was a broken relationship; other days it was a bitter attitude or bad decision I had made. Eventually I realized I had to stop using my Bible like a reference book and start using it like a life manual.

I started reading the Bible to prepare me for life, rather than rescue me from it.

I joined small groups to study with others what God's Word said. What a difference that approach made! I discovered God really does know how to navigate this thing called life.

Bit by bit, God's guidelines for living have become a part of my everyday thinking. While I may not become an expert in repairing steam cleaners, I'm trying to be a life-long student of God's Word. My floors aren't any cleaner, but my life makes a lot more sense following the ultimate "owner's manual."

Dear Lord, thank You for giving us comprehensive and helpful owner's manual. Help develop in me a hunger for Your Word. I ask for wisdom to understand the hard things, and strength to live out Your commands. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
Set aside time each morning to read God's word and ask Him to use what you read to prepare you for that day. 

What has been the biggest benefit to me personally when reading the Bible?

What is my biggest challenge in reading the Bible?

Power Verses:
2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (NAS)

John 8:31-32, "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" (NIV 2011)

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