2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
Right. I get it. Why would I want to read something that's going to tell me what is wrong in my life?
Reading scripture can be a painful experience. I mean, the first few chapters of the book of Romans will remind your that you are a terrible person and there is basically no hope for you. The book of Ephesians reminds me of how I fall short as a husband. Revelations reminds me...well, it reminds me of the dangers of heavy drug use. I mean, that guy either had a real experience with God or he was on a heavy dose of acid. Guillermo del Toro needs to make a movie out of the book of Revelations.
So what good does scripture do me? Why do I need to be reminded of how I've failed?
There's no better way to learn God's will for your life than to read scripture. The Bible offers insights into the history of the relationship between the creator and the created. It provides clues as to how we should relate to God and to one another. In some cases, it gives clear direction as to how we should live our lives, and in other cases it offers stories as examples that we can interpret, meditate on, and discuss so that we might seek a deeper understanding of who we are, why we exist, and how we navigate this world.
I love that God keeps his promise of free will even in the creation of the scriptures. It's not a list of dos and don'ts. It is a place where we can find examples of choices other people made and the consequences that went along with them. It is filled with ideas that spark questions that lead to conversation. We each view the world in a slightly different way based on our own personal experience and scripture offers us a place where we can meet and share those stories.
It's tangible. We can hold God's word in our hands. We can carry it with us if we choose. We can engage it anywhere and at any time. It is personal, yet it can also bring people together. I can sit in the early morning hours and read the same verse over and over, talking to God and asking for wisdom. I can sit in a small group in my living room and take turns reading from a chapter, then discuss how we might use that chapter in our daily lives. I can sit in a large room and listen as someone else reads God's work aloud, and teach me how it relates to my life.
And the only reason reading the Bible can be a painful experience is if you are reading it with the intention of improving yourself, your relationship with others, or your relationship with God. So if you've ever read from the Bible and felt like you needed to make some changes in your life, then you know you are in the right place.
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
I've said it before, when you accept God's free gift of salvation, life does not magically get better. In fact, it usually gets harder. The last thing the enemy wants is for you to have a relationship with God. So, when you are seeking relationship, expect the enemy to attack. It won't be blatant, obvious attacks. No, he's going to hit you where he knows it is going to hurt you the most. He's going to take the sins you already had in your life and amplify them. Your best defense is to know God's promises. You and I need constant reminders of God's love for us. We need those words imprinted in our minds so that when temptation comes, we are strong, and when we fall to temptation, we know we can come back to God. There are many lies that can lead us into sin, but it is usually the lie that God does not want us that keeps us buried in that sin. Being in the word on a regular basis gives us that reminder that God loves you, that Jesus died for you, and that God ALWAYS wants to be in relationship with you.
You want to remove the sin that keeps dragging you down?
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!
If you want more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your life then you've got to recognize that the same power that brought Jesus back from the dead lives within you. When we read God's word, we give life to that power. When we engage with the scripture, we connect with God. Like a drop of acid in a barrel of water, we can dilute the sin in our life with love, joy, peace, etc.
God's word is not just for Sundays. It's for all the time. It's for when we are happy and victorious, and it is for when we are depressed and failing.
It's not that the Bible reminds you of how you've failed, only that we are living in a broken world and we need a savior. It shows us our dependence on God. And yeah, Romans can be a tough read, but it can also provide the right words at the right time.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Gather with us this Sunday for a special Memorial Day combined gathering at 915am at celebrate with us as we finish out our Grow series.