I have always owned a Bible but for so many years it has been tucked away in storage or collecting dust on a shelf. The Bible used to seem archaic to me, written for people living 2000 years ago, not for our modern times. But thanks to the grace of God, I have gradually come to discover how very wrong I have been all these years about His special book. Think about the following statement that I heard Matthew Kelly, a catholic apologist say:
"The Bible contains the answers to all of life's questions
and the secrets to all of life's success."
Really? It sounds impossible, doesn't it? But it is true! God does give us the answers to all of life's questions and yes, he reveals the secrets to all of life's success in the Bible! The Bible is our creator's "Little Book of Instructions" on how we can lead a wonderful life! And the advice God gives us is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago!
Once you delve into it a bit you will see that in the Bible God gives us concrete advice on how to manage our money so that we can live debt free and have financial peace. God gives us advice on how to nurture a marriage full of respect and kindness, joy and peace, gentleness and love. God also reaches out to us if we are single and tells us what traits to look for in a boyfriend or girlfriend and what kind of friends to surround ourselves with, friends who will build us up and challenge us to take our lives to the next level.
In His Word, God even covers the topic of how to enjoy food, drink and yes, alcohol, in a way that produces a healthy body and lifestyle and in a way that fills us with energy and drive when we wake up each morning. He even teaches us proper table etiquette!
In the Bible God tells us how to use our talents to work in a way that leads to success. He tells us how to overcome stress, anxiety and depression. He tells us the secret to becoming wise and the many blessings a wise person receives. He tell us how to raise our children so that they will become our pride and joy when they grow up. God tells us that if we take care of our parents in their old age and if dementia sets in that our actions will later serve to melt away our sins. God even reveals the secret to how we can receive a blessing on the day we die! I have only scratched the surface with these examples. But name any area of your life and in His book God discusses that area and lays out in simple terms how to thrive and become successful in it!
If it sounds to good to be true, take a look as the few Bible verses below. They are from the Book of Sirach in the Old Testament. If you are like me, chances are you did not even know there was a Book of Sirach. I discovered the richness and amazing advice in this book only because I proclaim at mass and sometimes the first reading comes from this book. I quickly became intrigued by its magnificent wisdom!
Here is some advice on God's secret to us become WISE! Over the years I have prayed for the gift of wisdom. I figure if I have wisdom I will have a much better chance of making the right decisions in life. By the way, wisdom is feminine in nature. In the Bible wisdom is always refereed to as "She".
Sirach, 1: 14
Fullness of wisdom is fear of the Lord; she (wisdom) inebriates men with her fruits.
Sirach, 1: 23-24
If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will bestow her (wisdom) upon you. For fear of the Lord is wisdom and culture; loyal humility is his delight.
Sirach, 4: 11-12
Wisdom instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her. He who loves her (wisdom) loves life; those who seek her out win her favor. He who holds her fast inherits glory; where ever he dwells, the Lord bestows blessings.
Here is advice on what type of friends to choose. You know that old saying "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold." I think that may have come from the Bible and maybe even the book of Sirach!
Sirach, 9: 10
Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him. A new friend is like new wine which you drink with pleasure only when it has aged.
With the learned be intimate. Have just men for you table companions.
FOOD AND DRINK
EATING AND DRINKING; Sirach 31
Remember that gluttony is evil. Behave at table like a favored guest, and be not greedy, lest you be despised. Be the first to stop, as befits good manners; gorge not yourself, lest you give offense. If there are many with you at table, be not the first to reach out your hand. Does not a little suffice for a well-bred man? When he lies down, it is without discomfort. Distress and anguish and loss of sleep, and restless tossing for the glutton! Moderate eating ensures sound slumber and a clear mind next day on rising. If perforce you have eaten too much, once you have emptied your stomach, you will have relief. Let not wine-dunking be the proof of your strength, for wine has been the ruin of many. Wine is very life to man if taken in moderation. Does he really live who lacks the wine which was created for his joy? Joy of heart, good cheer and merriment are the wine drunk freely at the proper time. Headache, bitterness and disgrace is wine drink amid anger and strife. More and more wine is a snare for the fool; it lessens his strength and multiplies his wounds.
CARING FOR OUR PARENTS
The book of Sirach was written in 200-175 BC! Based on the following verse, dementia was a part of life over 2000 years ago. It is not new to today and God gives us advice on what to do if our parents have dementia.
Sirach 3: 12-15
My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fail, be considerate with him; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering-it will take lasting root. In time of tribulation it will be recalled to your advantage, like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.
RECEIVING A BLESSING ON OUR LAST DAY; Sirach, 1: 11-12:
He who fears the Lord will have a happy end; even on the day of his death he will be blessed.
BECOMING FREE FROM ANXIETY
I want to share with you one of my very favorite verses in the New Testament. It tells us what to do if we begin to feel anxiety and worry setting in.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
I have prayed Philippians 4:4-7 so many times I have it memorized! (I tend to worry a lot and then anxiety sets in.) When I am beginning to feel overwhelmed at work or at home, no matter the situation, I stop and I say this short Bible verse and I offer up my requests to God and in that moment a sense of peace comes to rest inside of me. I don't know how to describe the feeling. I can only say that I release my worries to God and believe that He is right at my side filling me with the wisdom of how to make it through the task at hand, or how to make a deadline at work or how to juggle many tasks at the same time. After I say Philippians 4:4-7 I have a real feeling of peace and even joy inside of me, almost a giddiness! His peace that surpasses all understanding really does guard my heart and mind when I say this prayer!
If you suffer from anxiety, I urge you to memorize this prayer and pray it every time you feel worry or stress or anxiety set in. It is better than any drug or therapy session and it is much cheaper. In fact, it is free! A free gift from our loving Father! This one little nugget in the Bible has saved me from suffering from depression-I am sure of it!
In just these few verses that I have listed above we learn how to become wise, what kind of friends to surround ourselves with, how to eat, how to enjoy wine and alcohol, how to have good table etiquette, how to melt our sins away and how to be set free from anxiety! Amazing! And I have only scratched the surface here!
Of course we can and we do search out the answers to life's questions and the secrets to life's success in a variety of other ways (we ask advice from friends and family members, we hear advice in song lyrics, magazine articles, on the internet and in self-help books, we try to emulate the lifestyle of people we admire, etc.). Some of these resources for advice on how to live may be wonderful but I believe that unless the advice we receive from others is in agreement with God's advice for us, then the advice will be nothing more than a short-term bandage that leads us back to where we started or maybe even worse off. The only way to a truly happy and successful life is to follow God's answers and secrets for us which He openly shares with us in His living Word; The Bible.
When you stop to ponder all of this it really does make a lot of sense. God created His people for life on this beautiful earth. As our Father he prepared and left for us a His "Little Book of Instructions" which is full of advice on how to live. Just as we give our own children advice so that they may lead rich and abundant lives, so does our Father in heaven do for us. It would be absurd to think of a loving father not giving his children any guidance or advice, wisdom or help on how to live. The cool thing is that leading a life full of passion and happiness, peace and joy does not have to be "trial and error" or a guessing game, not if we choose to turn to the Bible as our source for the answers to all of life's questions and the secrets to all of life's success!
So why not start today by reading the Bible for just 15 minutes a day! I love the book of Sirach and the book of Proverbs for a lot of concise advice on how to live our lives. Matthew Kelly, the Catholic speaker who I really enjoy suggests to start with the four Gospels to learn who Jesus is and how he lived his life. Now that is a life we do want to and should try to emulate! I also love the rest of the books in the New Testament. Kelly then suggests we pick our favorite story or book in the Old Testament and read that. You can even get a guide that explains exactly what each book is about, kind of like cliff-notes for the Bible.
Start learning the answers to life's questions and the secret's to life's success in the Bible today! Don't get overwhelmed, just take one area of your life at a time that you don't feel so great about. Search out our Father's advice on how to improve that area and work on just that one area. Gradually add on more areas. Compliment reading the Bible and following its advice with praying for God's guidance and wisdom. If you begin or continue reading the Bible and seeking out God's answers to your questions for how to live and be successful, you will be excited to wake up in the morning and start the day because you will know you are not starting the day alone any longer. You have your best friend by your side-your Heavenly Father! You will be filled with so much more direction, clarity, peace, joy meaning and purpose than every before. And you will begin to live a life uncommon.
As Matthew Kelly says; Think of the great champions, saints, heroes and legends that lived throughout history. What separates them from us? The only thing that separates them from us are our habits. They had better habits. They just had better habits. Look to the Bible for how to develop new habits in any and every area of your life in which you are not happy or those areas you have always wanted to change or improve on but did not know how. Whether it be financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually or organizationally-God offers us fool-proof guidance in His Word.
Theresa G. is fascinated by the topics of God, spiritually and the Catholic Church. As her faith and knowledge about these topics grow, her desire to write about them grows as well. Maybe you will be able to relate to one of her articles and maybe they will affect you in a positive way!