TranscriptChristianity 101.4 Why & how should I read the bible?
Psalm 1:1-3, 2Timothy 3: 12-17
May 6, 2012
Pastor Anne Choy
Since Easter, we have been preaching Christianity 101. Christian basics that are always good to review and go deeper in. After Easter we looked at, “Who is Jesus?”, “Why Did Jesus die?” and last week, “How can I be sure of my faith?” or my relationship with God. Today we are looking at “Why and How should I read the bible?”
In Matthew 4:1-4, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ “
Life is not just from bread or the food we eat. Life is more than a physical existence. We can probably all think of people who are physically alive but their life has no has no meaning or joy.
In the Message interpretation that verse is “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” Words are still coming from the mouth of God! Amazing. The verb used here is in the present and ongoing!
Why should we read the bible? Some would say the bible is popular. It is the top selling book of all time. But just because a book is popular doesn’t mean I want to read it.
The bible is precious. Many here have been in countries or know missionaries who have gone to countries where the bible was banned such as parts of the Middle East, China and Russia before. People would sneak in parts of bibles to share secretly with others at risk of being arrested.
In 2 Timothy we heard today, the apostle Paul writes his last letter to encourage Timothy, a timid and gifted pastor. If we go back earlier in the letter, Paul tells him do not be like those who love themselves, or money, or boast, or are arrogant, abusive or disobedient. Paul says look to my life as evidence of how to live. All believers will be persecuted.
How is Timothy to stay faithful and be instructed in this way if Paul is not there? In verse 14, Paul says continue in what you have learned, believed and been taught.
The bible teaches you:
• The way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
• For showing mistakes, correction and training character.
• So that you may be equipped to do everything that is good
Paul talks about the scripture being God breathed. We tend to think of this in regards to the writing of scripture. And it was. But God is still breathing life.
*Scripture is inspired by God and inspires others.
God breathed life into the world in Genesis, into dry bones in Ezekiel, and continues to breath life into us now!
Why read the bible? We read the bible because it is Powerful. So many people are seeking spiritual life and supernatural. Through scripture we meet with supernatural powers of good.
When we read the bible, we see how God spoke in the past.
God reveals God’s character and Jesus, the incarnation.
We know God in relation to people and the world. Read stories of God and God’s people and creation.
God speaks today, through the bible God is:
• inviting us to follow and be in relationship with Jesus. The bible is a love letter to us.
• Establishing identity. Last few weeks we talked about Jesus and the I am’s. I am the bread of life, I am the way, the truth and the life. Last week we talked about Who I am in Christ because of who Jesus is. In Christ I am secure, loved, significant. Maybe some of those verses are becoming your favorites.
• Giving guidelines for life. Many of us don’t like a lot of rules but what would it be if we were out driving and there were no rules? There would be a lot of accidents as each person did what they wanted. Or many of you have children and grandchildren, what would happen if a sporting event had no rules? It would be really chaotic and not fun. Rules guide us.
• Teaches kingdom values and ways, showing us how to relate to others.
• Offering presence, God’s joy, peace and power in everyday challenges. You may have heard Bellen Castillo share how Ps 139:16 helped prepare and sustain her as she dealt with her son’s unexpected death. Last week Bella Marcelo spoke of Joshua 1:9 that gave her strength and courage as she became a widow. God’s presence in our lives today.
• Giving purpose direction for our lives beyond this material existence, food for souls.
The other week I told you how I like to watch the show “Clean House”. One thing I have learned from that is how people can end up collecting and holding onto cherished belongings that remind us of people and memories. But it becomes so cluttered that we do not even enjoy it anymore and the thing becomes a barrier. The thing points to much more and instead becomes a barrier. One man had a massive collection of shirts and Hawaiian shirts from his father but never saw them or enjoyed them.
What is a favorite bible verse? I encourage you to write it down. You might know the chapter and verse. You may just remember part of the words. We can look that up. Maybe one of “In Christ I am… from last week.
Many of you know that after college I was laid of a bunch of times. I felt awful, hopeless and terrible about myself. Everything I had been working toward seemed to be falling apart and the future seemed very scary. My favorite verse for that was Jeremiah 29:11. I held onto that verse to remind me who I am and it gave me power, hope, guided me. I met the holy in that verse. If I focus on what happened to me then, I can still feel overwhelmed. Instead I focus on how God met me in that verse.
Psalm 1:1-3 is the first prayer in the book of prayer in the bible. It sets the pace. It tells us not to follow others but delight in the law of Lord, meditating on it. That word is like cows chewing on their cud over and over. When you do this you will be like trees that are well watered, fruitful, not withering away in dry times but prospering.
So how should I read the bible?
• Make a ¬¬¬¬time and place to read that fits your life. Maybe you are a morning person with a cup of coffee and in your favorite chair. Or if you dash out of the house in the mornings, maybe at night before you go to bed. Or maybe a little time over lunch. Find the time for you.
• Ask God’s Spirit to speak to you. Such as: Speak Lord, your servant is listening. From 1Samuel 3. Or God, would you speak to me through your scripture? God is breathing life. Be open to him.
• What does it say?
• What does it mean in its setting and context? I know many of you have study bibles with notes, study guides or commentaries are available online. See me if you need help finding one.
• How does this relate to my current situation? The bible is not just for the past but it connects to our lives today.
• What is God calling me to do, be or change? How will you respond to God’s leading?
I heard a quote the other day that says many of us own a Bible, but do we let the bible own us? Do we allow the bible to shape our character, identity, and how we see the world and respond to it with God’s heart and mind?
I listed some favorite scriptures in the sermon notes to hold on to and be held by. I invited people to post on our Facebook page their favorite verses. So far we have Galatians 6:9 do not weary in doing good, Romans 12:17 do not repay evil for evil and Jeremiah 29:11.
Why read the bible? To be open to God, be shaped, molded, for life that streams from the word of God.
Let me close with this prayer from Ephesians 3 : I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.