The Bible, it’s that important

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

In Second Timothy, Paul wrote to his protege, Timothy, whom he considered a son in the faith. We see hints in the letter that Timothy had fallen on some difficult times, at least emotionally and spiritually, and seemed to be backing away from a once passionate faith.

The letter is filled with encouragement to persevere, following Paul’s own example. Within that encouragement, Paul wrote:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Paul encouraged Timothy to remain faithful to God’s word, like those who had taught it to him.

The Bible is meant to be a lifelong companion and guide to the follower of Jesus. It is to shape our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, as it continually shows us Jesus.

Even if it’s through someone else paraphrasing and summarizing the message, the Bible is the way that we learn the good news of Jesus so that we place our faith in him. It is God’s gift to us, his self-revelation in verbal form, that continues to teach, challenge, correct, and train us for a life dedicated to Jesus. The Bible is the very thing that equips us and continues to equip us to live each day loving God supremely and loving others deeply.

The Bible is that important.

So whether you read through it quickly and read through it again or whether you take your time and absorb at your own pace; whether you struggle to understand certain parts or whether you grasp them with little trouble; whether you choose to use the King James or the Christian Standard versions; whoever you are and wherever you are in your journey of faith: Read the Bible, learn the Bible, and live the Bible.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Be a blessing

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

A city is built up by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the mouth of the wicked. ~ Proverbs 11:11

Complaining is easy and seems to be people’s default. On Google and Yelp, you can leave reviews of all sorts of things and many people use them to lodge complaints. We complain on social media about happenings in our communities, issues with neighbors, or politics. We complain to others about others in conversations.

Proverbs 11:11 is a reminder from Solomon that even though not everything in the world is perfect and there are indeed legitimate problems, it is your choice to be part of the problem or part of the solution

Blessings are words and works that seek to bring positive results to other people. To be blessed is to have a life that, in general, is a happy experience.

God’s people are to be the upright. Through our faith in Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God takes a stubborn and rebellious heart and makes it good and righteous. All the goodness of Jesus is freely given to us and we, in turn, are to seek to show goodness toward others. Living in and acting out God’s goodness, we are to be positive influences on others.

Jeremiah 29 gives a hint at what this might look like in our cities or towns. The people of Judah were about to go into exile in Babylon for 70 years. It was an unfavorable situation and one that could be a source of complaining. In fact, false prophets were saying, “Oh, it won’t be that bad, it’ll only last a short while,” to try to make people feel better.

But God sent Jeremiah to remind the people that they would be in this exile for the long haul. So what should they do?

Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat their produce. Find wives for yourselves and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons and give your daughters to men in marriage so that they may bear sons and daughters. Multiply there; do not decrease. Pursue the well-being of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it thrives, you will thrive. ~ Jeremiah 29:4-7

Though exiles in a foreign land, God told his people that as the city thrived they would thrive, so seek to help the city thrive.

There are countless options: Run for city council, work at a thrift store or food pantry, get involved with the schools, encourage the teachers, help coach your son’s or daughter’s little league teams, volunteer to pick up trash or beautify a park, invite people to church… Be a blessing to your community.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Sunday 8.11.19 (what matters most)

Join us this Sunday as we take a look at Luke 10:1-24 and consider how knowing Jesus is what matters most in life and how if you know him you should desire to share him with others. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Why? video study in Youth Room

Sermon Notes
What Matters Most ~ Luke 10:1-24

The sermon in one sentence: What matters most is knowing Jesus as your Savior-King; and if you know Jesus, one of the greatest things you can do is help others know Jesus too.

  • Know Jesus as your Savior and King, finding joy and humility in an ever-growing relationship (10:21-24)
  • Knowing Jesus, seek to share him with others so they may know Jesus as well (10:1-20)

Songs for Worship
Greater Is He That Is in Me
All in All
Knowing You
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Send the Light
Facing a Task Unfinished

Luke

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Always looking for a sign

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Jesus faced requests, usually from the religious leaders who rejected him, for signs and proof that he was who he claimed to be. Sometimes today we live with the same attitude: God if you will only do/show/say this, then I will _________________.

Let’s not discount that God has worked through signs and wonders from time to time. He spoke to Moses from a burning bush, to Elijah in a gentle whisper, and to Peter in a vision. Yet, when it comes to the surety of what God has said and done, the proof is not ultimately in signs but in his word.

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus told a parable of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus. Both died. The rich man went to hell and Lazarus to paradise. Seeing Lazarus reclining against Abraham, the father of the Jews, he cried out for mercy. One of his requests was to send Lazarus from the dead to warn his five brothers to not follow his path.

But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” “No, father Abraham,” the rich man said. “But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” But Abraham told him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”

Ultimately, Jesus prophesied against many of the Pharisees in his audience at the moment. They had God’s word, Moses and the prophets. They demanded signs. Jesus promised them they would see one–his own rising from the dead (Matthew 12:40). Yet, even after Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, many still did not believe.

Ultimately, it is not signs that will convict us and turn our hearts to God. Rather, God’s word, the Bible, is living and active and cuts to the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The question is: When we encounter God’s word, will we receive it for what it is–the great sign that points us to Jesus and true life in him? Or: Will we reject it and keep looking for signs that still might not be believed even if they come?

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Proverbs 6:16-19

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Proverbs 6:16-19
The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, you hate evil because it is so set against your good nature. You hate evil because you are the God of kindness, mercy, and love; whereas evil seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. Father, help my heart to hate evil in my own life and to pursue your goodness with more fervor. Help me to be humble, truthful, and kind. Help me to love my neighbor in all situations, to seek their best. Amen.

What to look for in spiritual leaders

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

After the people of Judah spent 70 years in exile, they were allowed to return to their land with a charge to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. One of the early leaders who went for this task was Ezra a “priest and scribe, an expert in matters of the Lord’s commands and statutes for Israel” (Ezra 7:11).

God used Ezra in many ways as a leader among his people. From Ezra’s life, we find an example of what we should look for in spiritual leaders, especially those who serve in God’s church.

Ezra 7:10 states: “Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Ezra was a man devoted to loving God and loving the word of God, which would then lead him to love others and urge them to love God. Spiritual leaders should be people of godly character who have a reputation for knowing and obeying God through the Bible.

The consistent message of Scripture is that good leaders are those of good character who love God and his word. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul wrote about the qualifications for elders/pastors and deacons. In both lists, he majored on character. He also pointed to spiritual maturity–a person who knows God well and seeks to obey his commands. So, elders were “not to be new converts” and deacons were to hold “the mystery of the faith with a clear conscious” (3:6, 9).

Often, due to influence from business practices, we gravitate toward leaders who show great talent and ability or exciting personalities. While those can be helps to spiritual leaders, above all we are to look for faithfulness, maturity, and a love for God.

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

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Praying the Bible ~ Psalm 149:4

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: Psalm 149:4
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, you call us to delight in you, to find you as our greatest treasure. Another Psalm asks, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Yet, more than mindful, you delight in your people. Father, like precious sons and daughters, you love us, enjoy our presence, and long for us to be in yours. Thank you for the gift of salvation in Jesus that opens that door. May you keep my heart in both joy and awe. Joy because of your delight and awe because grace is a gift of love that I do not deserve. Amen.