As we approach the annual U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, I’ve been thinking of how grateful I am for the Bible! Our Creator has not left us in the dark! He gave us His personal Instruction Book!
God’s Plan for humanity as revealed in the Bible is the hidden “treasure” and “the pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:44-46). In 1961, I began to read the Bible and understand it. Later I realized that God was calling or “drawing” me to Him and using the Holy Spirit to give me spiritual understanding of the Bible (John 6:44, 65; 1 Corinthians 2:6-14).
Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (Matthew 13:16-17). I eventually realized how God had blessed my eyes and ears with the miracle of understanding!
The Bible is an amazing set of miracles—it’s inspiration, communication, preservation, translations, publications and distributions! I thank God for the many thousands (or millions) of people that had a part in accomplishing all these steps. That of course includes the approximately 40 people that God used to write the books of the Bible.
I’m grateful for the many translations of the Bible that I’ve accumulated. I’m grateful for the all the Bible reference books I own including Bible concordances, dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries and many other Bible helps. I’m grateful for the many biblical online resources via the Internet. I’m grateful to the countless people who had a part in writing and producing all these resources.
I’m very, very thankful for the many radio broadcasts that ignited my interest in the Bible with the “good news of the world tomorrow”—the gospel of the Kingdom of God. I owe enormous gratitude for the countless magazines, booklets and other church literature that I’ve received and read since 1961—and for all the authors, editors and others who helped to produce those publications.
Words are inadequate to express the gratitude I feel for the innumerable sermons and Bible studies I’ve heard that have enlightened, corrected, motivated and inspired me over the years. That means I deeply appreciate all the ministers and others who spoke those messages. In Romans 10:15, Paul quoted Isaiah in writing, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!"
I praise God for calling me into His Church where I have been so well-nourished and where I have had wonderful opportunities to give back in service. I’m deeply appreciative for United Church of God and its dedication to fulfilling its two-fold mission of “preaching the gospel, preparing a people.” And God has poured out His blessings on United. Our greatest resource is the people, but God has also blessed us with many remarkable media methods and tools. They include this website—www.ucg.org—and the Beyond Today television program.
Instruction doesn’t come only in formal ways. I realize I have been constantly learning godly love, knowledge and wisdom from my brothers and sisters in Christ every time we’re together in fellowship.
I now want to mention some of my more personal teachers. I’m certainly grateful to my parents for teaching me the Christian living principles of the Bible. And I’m thankful for all the people in my life that have been good influences on me or who have shared words of wisdom.
And one of my most important teachers has been my wife Elsie. I met her at the Feast of Tabernacles in 1962 when I as yet had very little understanding of the Bible. One of the many things that attracted me to her was her bubbly enthusiasm for God’s Word and way of life.
At that point, Elsie understood a lot more about the Bible than I did. And no one had cautioned her to refrain from pouring out too much information too fast on a new believer. Therefore many of our conversations started by Elsie asking me, “Don, do you know what the Bible teaches about this? Don, do you know what the Bible teaches about that?”
Well, I was fertile soil for those discussions. I was a sponge soaking it all in. Since then, Elsie and I have often looked back with laughter at that scenario. She, the eager teacher. Me, the disciple, hungry for every word. Within those few days, she taught me more of the basic doctrines of the Bible than any other person in my life. It reminds me a little of how “when Aquila and Priscilla heard him [Apollos], they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).
So, it’s no wonder that before long I was wanting to marry her. I had become zealous for God’s truth and I wanted a partner who had “the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). And she has always been a great role model and source of inspiration for me.
Then Elsie and I were blessed with three wonderful children. Anyone who has had children knows that you not only teach your children, you also regularly learn from your children—“out of the mouth of babes!” (Matthew 21:16).
I’m super thankful that God many times works through families. It has been a great joy to me to see God call our children, my brothers and their families, and Elsie’s mother into the Church.
So in the last 50 years, I’ve had lots and lots and lots of Bible teachers. I am very, very, very thankful for all of them.