10 June 2008

The Word: God's Diary

This week's theme: The Word. (Notes from Monday's theme rally)
Memory verse: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be fully equipped for every good work.
Speaker - Mark Smith
As Mark Smith took stage, front and center, we began listening to his message. He began a dialogue, questioning if he really wanted to believe what the Bible said. Ten commandments? Who cares? He rips out the pages. The gospels? Nah. Rip. Genesis? Well, that goes against what the scientists are saying. He grabs the book and rips in half. Don't need that part either. Psalms? Well, I like the psalms. Think I'll keep them. Now, how many of you are offended? Almost all of us raise our hands. God is offended too when we don't take the Word seriously, when we pick and choose what to believe. By the way, Mark says, I'm holding the book of Mormon.

Though it somewhat hurts to see what we think was the Bible being shredded before us, it's not these pages that are important. It's not the ink on the pages. It's the word that God has given to us. Deuteronomy 32:47 - They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."

The same breath that God used to give life to Adam (Genesis 2:7) gave life to Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). God's Word is life for us. It's what God uses to communicate to us. So...why did God make people? Exactly -- to have a relationship with us. God is really big, and we're really small. The difference is so great, God said if we even look at his face, we will die (Exodus 33:20). So God started revealing himself (Old Testament) in three ways: the law (God's likes and dislikes), prophets (God talked to the prophets, the prophets spoke to the people), and history (God's resume).

God gives us Jesus as another way to communicate to us about God. John 1:1-2 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." Jesus is referred to in John as "the Word." Words convey a message. The New Testament is about who Jesus is, what he did, and what his message for us is.

The Bible is like God's journal. The thing is, he wants us to read it. The Bible is only a micro-fraction of who God is, but he wrote down the most important stuff. That's kind of like what we do when we write in journals. We don't record every single thing, just the really important stuff.

Have you ever been asked about your family and have been able to talk for hours about them? Why is this? Yep, it's because you've spent so much time with them. For how long can you talk about Jesus? Maybe we should start spending more time with him. If we really want to know God, we have to spend time with Him. How deep is your relationship with God? Are you picking and choosing what to believe? What about the really confusing stuff? Like in Luke 16 when it describes hell -- A rich man is burning in hell and he asks Abraham to cool his tongue with a drop of water. Abraham explains that there is a great chasm between them now and no one can cross it. The man answers, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment" (Luke 16: 27-28).

Nahum 1:2 describes God's character as being one of wrath. In Leviticus chapter 10, Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu are burning offerings for the Lord and decide to add incense. This isn't what the Lord commanded. "So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord" (Nahum 10:2). He killed them because they put incense in their fire? Whoa! Hold up. How is that good? But...God is big and we are small. Who are we to define what is good? We don't define what is good. God defines what is good.

Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Is your Bible man-centered or Christ-centered? How will you let God speak to you? In the man-centered Bible, man is the #1 character. We might read it and even changes some truths because it's easier. We make the truth fit into the culture. We focus on the good here and now. We build foundations based on emotions. In the movie, Saved, (I don't recommend it, by the way), Mandy Moore says, If it feels so right, how can it be wrong?

A Christ-centered Bible makes the Trinity the main character. We ask God to show us how the truths are good and we wrestle with them. We make our culture fit to the Scriptures. We focus on what is good in an eternal perspective. As best we can, we trust that the Bible is truth.

Why do we focus on man? Three reasons: 1) We're selfish. We read the Bible and ask, "How does that affect me? How does this make me feel? 2) It's culturally unpopular. It's easier to support what culture tells us is cool. 3) Satan is our enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 says we have an active enemy. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word is active as well. Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of God and the Word is described as being a sword. The sweet thing about a sword is that it's both an offensive and defensive weapon. Satan is the master of lies, deceit, and doubt. When Jesus was tempted in the desert (Luke 4:1-13), he used the Word against Satan's temptations. The Word penetrates the hearts of the lost and our own hearts as well. It protects us from the world and combats against Satan.

Believing the Word is an act of surrender from our definition of good to trusting what God says.
Isaiah 45:19 -

I have not spoken in secret,
from somewhere in a land of darkness;
I have not said to Jacob's descendants,
'Seek me in vain.'
I, the LORD, speak the truth;
I declare what is right.

The more time we spend with God in His word, the more we understand the Lord, ourselves, and other people. The Word is our life (Deuteronomy 32:47). It is the only way to know god and the only sustaining truth and the weapon for fighting against Satan's attack. Desire to hear from your Creator daily. Surrender your mind to be transformed by Him. Take the Word seriously.

1 Thessalonians 2:8 - We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

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