Tuesday, September 23, 2014
If you like lists, what would you do with these?
That sounds a little more dramatic than it was.
This morning I had a meeting with someone at a Barnes & Noble, and if you know me, it's a dangerous thing for me to be lured into a bookstore ... I could go broke there!
But since it was business, I mustered enough self-discipline to get out of there without any damage done.
While I was there, though, I was struck at the rows of magazines (pictured above). There were four rows of shelves packed with all kinds of magazines. With the onslaught of e-readers and digital media, I was a little surprised that there are still so many printed magazines on the market. So many of these publications don't last long, yet here were scores of them still being bought by the general public.
So I scanned the covers of several of the magazines and I noticed one thing in common on many of the covers --- lists.
For example, there was a magazine called "The Good Life," a new publication by Dr. Oz. Printed in large, bold letters on the cover were the words, "95 FAST HEALTHY CHANGES." Many of the other magazine covers also boasted lists, such as "10 days to a slimmer you," "3 secrets to 6-pack abs," or "100 ways to spice up your marriage."
Considering the number of magazines on the shelves and the number of tips they were proclaiming to offer, there had to be thousands of "secrets," steps, ideas and methods being offered from just the magazines alone in that one bookstore.
How could you not radically change your life with all that advice being splattered about?
But people don't.
We scan these lists in magazines as an exercise, seeing how many items on the lists we agree or disagree with. But it isn't often that we actually apply to our lives any of the myriad suggestions on these lists.
The Bible has a lot of lists in the form of scripture verses that offer short, direct "lists" of actions we can take that will change our lives. That's one reason why it's so common for preachers to have three (or more!) points in their sermons.
Have you ever noticed lists in the Bible? See if you identify any "lists" in the verses below ...
"No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God," Micah 6:8.
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me'," Luke 9:23.
"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things," Galatians 5:22-23.
"Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience," Colossians 3:12.
"In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone," 2 Peter 1:5-7.
Talk about a rich resource of lists, the Bible is full of them!
Do you ever study them for personal application? Do you ever copy down one of the lists from a verse and spend a week focusing on applying to your life what's on the list? Or do you just read the list like a magazine article to see what you agree or disagree with?
Most of the lists on the cover of a magazine are there to grab your attention and tempt you to buy the publication. But the lists in the Bible are authored by the very One who made you and are provided by Him to have a transforming impact on your life. I encourage and challenge you to dig into the Bible, discover these lists, and use them for the life-changing impact they can have if you do more than scan them. And just think, all these powerful lists available without the need for a single subscription!