Finally, I picked up the phone and called the shop that sells and services Janomes (my make of sewing machine) and got just the advice I needed. Excellent advice. Sensible advice. Not that I didn't get good information elsewhere, but this was just what I needed to hear to get me going in the right direction.
~Religion can be like free motion quilting. Opinions and advice abound: some of it good, some of it not so good, some of it conflicting and some of it downright dangerous. But it's all just from another human being, and religion is supposed to be about our link with God. So, where does one find dependable directions? How does one determine truth? As far as I'm concerned, there's only one source. Just like I got the best directions from someone who knows my sewing machine, the only safe and reliable source of truth for our lives is Someone who knows us. And He gave us those directions in His "letter" to us, the Bible. If you want to know more information about the trustworthiness of the Bible, please follow this link: Is there anything left you can trust? That's a study that's beyond the scope of this brief devotional.
I have met people who want to pick and choose what to believe in the Bible. I've never read anything in the Bible that says that we are allowed to do that. As a matter of fact, I find this in the book of Revelation: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll." 22:18,19 NIV. If this warning applies to the book of Revelation, might it not be relevant for the whole Bible? How do we decide what to accept and what not to accept as truth? And if we decide, does that not put us then above God. What good is a god that is beneath us? If we are wiser than Him, why do we need Him? The Bible itself says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God." 2 Timothy 3:16. What right have we, then, to pick and choose what is truth and what is not?
People that do this seem to want to create their own god to their liking. But we mere human beings cannot create something superior to us, something omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere). And if our god is not all these things, then he is not really god, is he? He is a rather useless deity, the worship of whom avails nothing. And if he is not capable of performing miracles above our human perceptions, like creating the universe out of nothing in 6 literal days or allowing a large fish to swallow a man, is he really worthy of our worship or our trust? And if we have a god who leaves it up to us to decide truth for ourselves, without giving us any absolute guidelines, then we have chaos. And God is not the author of chaos, confusion or disorder (see 1 Corinthians 14:33).
For me, I choose to accept the credo of the Protestant Reformation: Sola Scriptura, the Bible and the Bible only. But all of the Bible, not just the parts that please me, that make me "happy" and don't condemn me. God is our Heavenly Father and, like any good father, He rebukes and disciplines (see Revelation 3:19 NIV), not just comforts and encourages.
Years ago, I attended a series of meetings called a prophecy crusade. One Bible text that was used over and over in that crusade was Isaiah 8:20: "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Basically it says that if someone is teaching anything that doesn't agree with the Bible, then it isn't truth or "light." Another thing I remember the speaker sharing frequently was the following poem:
What says the Bible, the blessed Bible?
This my only question be.
The teachings of men so often mislead us.
What says the Bible to me?
And that's my source for truth. Make it yours.