I have awakened from my sleep…that is my blog sleep. This is the first post in quite a while. However Sunday’s message and the importance of “continuing in God’s word so that we might continue in God’s ways” especially in the midst of suffering, merits an awakening- not just from blog writing but in our souls. I do pray God will do it. I pray God would make us like the Bereans of Acts 17 who scoured the Scriptures daily with eagerness. The sermon title expresses appropriate desperation- “Oh God, We Need Your Word.” My prayer for our church and anyone else who stumbles across this blog is that we would see the evil schemes of the devil that want to distance you from God by distancing you from His word. And then see how the devil schemes to inflict you with pain in order that you might join in with the world rather than follow Christ. In response to the pain, the world gives up, curses God, or tries to numb the pain through any means of escape possible- sex, drugs, alcohol, clothing, movies, games, TV, internet relationships through Facebook or Myspace, etc… We will go that way unless we are anchored in the word of God where the Spirit of God actively works to 1) make us wise unto salvation and 2) to equip us for everything God calls us to (2 Timothy 3:14-17). I sincerely hope that we would stop putting ministry before a relationship with Jesus, stop investing in theological debates before we have invested in communion with Christ, stop making excuses, and start consistently soaking in and meditating on God’s word while listening for His Spirit to speak to us through His words. The gospel promises that as we read God’s word, He will work for us because of Christ. While we are in God’s word, even when we can’t feel his presence, rest assured He is working to deepen our faith, to make us bold, to increase our love for Him and others, and grant us, “simple-minded” people, wisdom that we never would have had apart from God working on our heart through His word (Psalm 19:7-14).
I remember one day when I was reading in Matthew and it felt so cold to read my Bible. I had little to no feeling for God or the words I was reading. The words just seemed like words on a page. However, I read the portion of Scripture I had allotted for myself to read on that day, prayed and asked God to use it, although I had little confidence that he would because it felt so routine. Later that day, God brought to my mind the very verses that I had read (and forgotten) earlier that morning. These verses (I wish I remembered which ones from Matthew they were) helped me have wisdom in making a decision that day, and helped me encourage someone else. I share this to encourage us to a 21+ day concerted effort to make reading God’s word a rewarding habit. Physiologically doctors say that after completing an activity for 21 uninterrupted days people have made that activity a habit and most people couldn’t imagine it being absent from their routine. To do this we need a plan, a place and a time- a plan (ex. what will we read- at TCC you could begin in 1 Corinthians which we will start Sept 19), a place (ex. the chair in your living room), and a time (ex. 5:30am). I would also encourage you to involve someone who will keep you accountable (spouse, roommate, best friend, community group member, your triad, etc.). You were not designed to grow in godliness alone.
For some of you this might seem cold. Two things I want to leave with you. 1) Not reading your Bible is cold! Not only will leave you cold but it is giving God the cold shoulder because He promises this is how He most intimately communes with his people. It is also giving the cold shoulder to humility, acting as if you can make it without calling to mind and praying the promises of God daily. 2) This is not cold legalism. Legalism reads the Bible to gain God’s acceptance. This is a call to read God’s word as an accepted person knowing that God has promised to grant us grace, love, power, and joy as we read. We read out of neediness not out of the empty hope that we can earn God’s favor through our performance. As Tullian Tchividjian said, “Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.” So let’s begin this life long journey together with God’s word, God’s church, and 21 days.