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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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THE BITTER SWEET TRUTH

S. I. McMillen once said, "The Bible is such excellent medicine." Not for at least one man. Several years ago, Bobby Key related that under the dateline ADDIS ABABA the following news item appeared: "New translations of the Bible may be unpalatable to some, but probably less indigestible than one Bible was to Negus Menelik, who ruled Ethiopia from 1844 to 1913. Believing the printed text had curative powers, he ate two pages of it daily. This practice did him no apparent harm until he got to the book of Kings, where just a few pages killed him. He had reached a section with colored illustrations, and a poison in the coloring was too much for him.  Now  friends, the Bible never killed anyone, but it has been known to sour some people's stomachs. In Revelation 10:9-10, the apostle John, in one of many highly symbolic and apocalyptic visions in the Revelation. is told to ingest a "little book" In that passage an 9 angel said to John "'Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.' Then I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter." What was the bitter, sweet little book John ate" Some Bible students understand it to be the New Testament or at least a portion of God's will. One thing, is certain: it represented truth from God John was directed to ingest and then preach.

 The Bible is excellent medicine. It could cure our sin problems and our sex problems and our marriage problems and our moral problems if we would follow the prescriptions given in its sacred pages by  the Great Physician. In addition to straightening, out our lives, it will save our souls if we obey its teachings. But like a lot of pills doctors prescribe some people find its medicine hard to swallow. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up the cross, and that is never easy to do. Charles Colson illustrates this in his book, The Body. He writes, "At the height of her fame as the other woman in the Ivana and Donald Trump breakup, Maria Maples spoke of her religious roots. She believed in the Bible, she told interviewers, then added this disclaimer, 'but you can't always take it literally and be happy." Colson adds, "We may point self-righteous fingers at Ms. Maples, but don't many of us operate on the same principle? We do not take truth seriously" (p24). The Bible will bless and heal us - if we take it seriously. Let us not only claim  its promises. but also submit to its commands. Let us take the bitter with the sweet.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ