Saturday, October 2, 2010

Share and Prayer Experience 5- God Calls Us and Forms Us Through the Bible

What it means to live “in accordance with the scripture”:

Colossians 3 (New International Version)
Rules for Holy Living
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Do you find Guder’s question difficult to answer?
Not if you follow the scripture, however I do find it hard to live by.

How can it be that we are biblically centered, experience biblical preaching and yet we are not a church that acknowledges or practices our missional calling…
We have many great ideas but we rarely follow through on them.

What is the practice of your congregation?
Our congregation is full of exciting ideas, but no one really ever takes the lead or follows through on any one big project or in any one direction. We have a lot of little Indians but no chiefs to lead them.

How do you sense the Bible is shaping the missional calling of the congregation and the discipling of it's members?
I think it is bringing to our eyes the realization that we have wonderful things at our disposal, we just need to be brave and act on them. We need to have some faith and follow through. We need to move forward and take some action.

In our context, is Bible study focused more about improving us or changing us?
I think it has to be about changing us first, and then improving us. We have to be willing to change, so that we can improve on what we need to improve on.

What is the significance of these different perspectives?
Well, if you are going to improve something you have to be willing first to admit you need to change it. If you are against change, then the idea of improvement never really develops.

Why do you read the Bible?
There are so many Bible characters to learn from, some of whom can serve as both positive and negative role models at different times in their lives. For example, David, in his defeat of Goliath, teaches us that God is greater than anything He asks us to face (1 Samuel 17), while his giving in to the temptation to commit adultery with Bathsheba reveals just how long-lasting and terrible the consequences of a moment's sinful pleasure can be (2 Samuel 11).
The Bible is a book that is not merely for reading. It is a book for studying so that it can be applied. The Bible is God's Word. As such, it is as binding as the laws of nature. We can ignore it, but we do so to our own detriment, just as we would if we ignored the law of gravity.

Why does God want us to read the Bible?
We should read and study the Bible because it is God's Word to us. The Bible is literally "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16). In other words, it is God's very words to us. There are so many questions that philosophers have asked that God answers for us in Scripture. What is the purpose to life? Where did I come from? Is there life after death? How do I get to heaven? Why is the world full of evil? Why do I struggle to do good? In addition to these "big" questions, the Bible gives much practical advice in areas such as: What do I look for in a mate? How can I have a successful marriage? How can I be a good friend? How can I be a good parent? What is success and how do I achieve it? How can I change? What really matters in life? How can I live so that I do not look back with regret? How can I handle the unfair circumstances and bad events of life victoriously?

We should read and study the Bible because God does not change and because mankind's nature does not change; it is as relevant for us as it was when it was written. "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). His revealed Word, the Bible, is so important that Jesus said of it, "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). In other words, if we want to live life to the fullest, as God intended, we must listen to and heed God's written Word.

We should read and study the Bible because there is so much false teaching. The Bible gives us the measuring stick by which we can distinguish truth from error. It tells us what God is like the Bible tells us how one truly gets to heaven, (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:1-10; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:10-18, 5:8, 6:23, 10:9-13). Along this line, God's Word shows us just how much God loves us (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16).

The Bible equips us to serve God (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). It helps us know how to be saved from our sin and its ultimate consequence (2 Timothy 3:15). Meditating on God’s Word and obeying its teachings will bring success in life (Joshua 1:8; James 1:25). God’s Word helps us see sin in our lives and helps us get rid of it (Psalm 119:9, 11). It gives us guidance in life, making us wiser than our teachers (Psalm 32:8, 119:99; Proverbs 1:6). The Bible keeps us from wasting years of our lives on that which does not matter and will not last (Matthew 7:24-27).

As you read the Bible, where are the places you find yourself

- in the road? Often times I find myself in disbelief that I am worthy or even able to be the person that God had in mind when He created me.

-in the gravel? Spiritual Highs- they don’t last long and as soon as reality settles back in… it dissolves.

-in the weeds? The worries of daily life get in my way of learning to rely fully on God for everything.

-on good earth? Pursuing Missional Faithfulness!

How about the congregation as it seeks to hear God’s call and vision?

In the road? I think our congregation has never really taken a good look at what God wants us to do and to be as a church.

In the gravel? Mission Trips

In the weeds? The “red tape” of the structure of church and all the business thereof

On good earth? Pursuing Missional Faithfulness!

What must change for God’s word to more consistently fall on the “good earth” in your life and that of the congregation?
Surrounding ourselves with likeminded people, other Christians that want to move in the same direction together. More prayer, more devotion, more time with God. Less distraction, less interruption, less “I can do it on my own” mentality. God wants us to rely on Him. We should make sanctification a daily choice- to become righteous people.

Familiar verse that is always changing for me:

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

This verse is constantly changing and constantly reminding me to renew my trust in the Lord. It can apply to any situation I am ever in throughout my life.

Pray for your own desire to read the Bible with a new openness and sensitivity to God’s missional call. Then ask God to speak clearly through the words of scripture to sensitize WHBC to her missional calling.

Commit this coming week to read a new verse or passage each day expecting to receive a new revelation from God and come prepared next week to share your discovery.

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