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Have you ever given a gift to God that you thought really mattered? What was it? Why did it stand out? My bet is it cost you something. I think it’s entirely possible to put yourself in a position financially where you can give like that on a regular basis.

 

I want to read a verse to you and then I want you to tell me what you think the primary focus in this verse is. Ok? Let’s go. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” These are principles gleaned directly from the OT. Jesus affirmed their prominence by saying “all the law and prophets hang on these two things.” The very next question that follows in Luke 10 says this, “But who is my neighbor?” Jesus explains by telling this story…

 

Love is at the heart of giving. Giving is a dry well if we do not have love. We give because God gave. God gave because He loved the world so much He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not die but have eternal life. I propose to you today our goal is not so much to develop a giving heart, but a heart that loves to give. Our goal is not to become philanthropists, but to love the world like our God does. Often times this will look like philanthropy! Only it will come with strings. We do not feed people to end world hunger. We feed people to build trust so we can share the Gospel with them. We do not clothe people because we have extra clothes and they don’t. We clothe the naked so we can build a relationship with them that aims at the Gospel. We fail at Jenny’s Hope if we make our end goal physical or financial assistance. We only succeed if we make our end goal the greatest demonstration of love possible.

 

Focus for today: Do not forget the poor and what they can teach you! We do not give because we have a bunch to lend. We give because God saw a poor, broken, helpless soul in us and gave us His Spirit. He lavished His beauty and grace on us. We give because He gave first. We are no different than the poorest beggar in the world.

 

At the heart of Christian giving is the concept of sharing. Paul shares with us in that famous 2 Corinthian passage “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over and whoever gathered little had not lack.” What’s up with this? The biblical idea of communion: we who have much give to those who have little. No one goes away hungry. No one needs because everyone gives. Christians should be known for our generosity. We should be the most generous people in town! Isn’t that the message of the widow with the mites? Her generosity surpassed that of all the rich people in the room, even though she gave the least. Isn’t that the message of the rich people who sheltered Paul and his compadres in Acts? Their shelter invited persecution, but they gave anyway. Isn’t that the message of Jesus feeding the 5,000? The little boy had so little, but he gave, and Jesus blessed…God took his generosity and fed a whole city. Our generosity should mark us; it should be what we’re famous for!

 

We must not make it our position to speak for the poor. The Samaritan could have said (like the other two) “He probably deserves to be beat up. He’s probably on drugs. He probably made some poor health care decisions early on in life that make him weak and susceptible to open sores. He never should have made this journey to begin with!” WE DO NOT JUDGE! One bad decision and most of us would be in the same position: lying flat on our back, beaten and bruised by the world, with no means of rescue.

 

With that said I’d like to take our service in a different direction today.  I wish we were in an IMAX theatre so I could engage more of your senses! I want to do my best to put you in the position of the beaten Jew. So often we think of ourselves as the Samaritan, coming alongside the hurting man to do the most amount of good. Let’s just reverse the roles this morning. You were never intended to identify with the Samaritan! We are the churched culture; we are the Jew and always have been. Our goal in this story is not to make ourselves feel good for the times we’ve helped people. Our goal is packed with hurt, blood, and injury. It is loaded with dirt and judgment. We can feel its judgment. The eyes of those who see us burn with contempt. Imagine this…

 

You are hurting, bleeding, and seemingly destitute. Your car has run off the road, flipped into a ditch, and is just out of sight of the drivers. You have crawled out and are laying on the side of the road. You can’t find your cell phone, so you are unable to call the authorities. You can do nothing more than lay on the side of the road, hoping someone will stop and help you.

 

Cars pass for what seems like forever without even acknowledging your presence. You are nasty, dirty, and bleeding, but the blood is hard to see from the road. You are hunched over on the side of the road and can barely even look up as cars pass by. Can you feel the pain? You want to jump up and explain to each car that passes, but can’t.

Finally a car stops. It is all beat up. You are afraid. Immediately you begin to think you are about to be robbed or worse. But instead of angry faces and mean words, what you hear and see is kindness. A lady steps out of the car. She offers to help you to the nearest hospital if you will get in the car. Do you get in? You really don’t have much choice at this point. You have to trust her. It turns out she is a nurse who lost her job due to a drug addiction. She never intended to get to that point. She started drugs when her husband left her. It was just a way to forget at first, but it quickly became something she needed; regularly; then daily. She prays often, trust God would find a way for her to have some peace, but she hadn’t found it yet.

 

She picks you up, helps you to her car, and transports you to the nearest hospital. After sitting with you in the waiting room, she goes to McDonalds and gets you food, then brings it to your room. She stays until your family arrives, all the while being nothing but kind and caring.

 

Who is the neighbor in this story? For centuries we have heard this story and wanted to do everything we could to distance ourselves from the bleeding man on the ground. But that’s exactly where we find ourselves. But Jesus turns the tables. He tell us to get up and go do what the Samaritan has done. So, now we start the story of the Good Samaritan thinking we are going to be the clean cut, well dressed guy who’s made all good decisions in life throwing a little money at the hurting. We start by thinking of all the people we pass on a daily basis who need care. Then we end the story with Jesus telling us to be like the Samaritan, the person the Jews hated. In our story the word would be for us to be like the drug addicted nurse.

 

We cannot gain a giving heart by giving more. We will not gain an obedience over giving by paying our tithe. We cannot learn faithful giving by giving blindly to different charities. In order for us to learn how to love to give we must put ourselves in the shoes of the hurting. We must learn from those we most hate.

 

Don’t kid yourself. We all have Samaritans in our lives. Everybody has somebody they don’t like much. Our dislike for a person, a culture, a part of society that’s always colored in the way we see them…and the way we see ourselves. Most of us would never consider ourselves in need of assistance from one of those we hate. As Christians, at best, we consider what it would be like for us to go help them. But that’s not love. That’s obligation. That’s justification. That’s us just trying to be right. But Jesus says He loves them! Jesus says He is building a home for them that is right next to yours in Heaven. Jesus says His death for you isn’t minimized or maximized by His death for them. It’s one in the same. John says it is impossible for us to see someone in need, say we have the love of God in us, and pass over the need. In other words, it is not uncommon for Jesus to walk past you to get to the hurting, if you refuse to see the man who is hurting. What’s more, it’s nothing for Jesus to use the hurting man to meet your needs.

 

Church, you and I are no better  than the guy on the street, the drug user in the slums, or the prostitute on the corner. WE ARE NO BETTER! At our core, we are just souls in need of a Savior. Jesus shows NO partiality! If we are going to follow Him we must learn to love to give. If we cannot, we will not have much of a place in His ministry. WE GIVE BECAUSE THERE ARE NEEDS TO MEET! Our money doesn’t keep these doors open. God keeps these doors open. Our money doesn’t keep staff here. God sustains us and our families. God tells us to give because WE NEED TO GIVE. He tells us to give to soften our hearts to the needs of the world. He tells us to give to keep us from becoming pompous, arrogant, and selfish with our money and our possessions.

 

What if Jesus asked you to buy a new bed, not so you can give your old one away, but so you can give the new one to a family that doesn’t have one? What if you ate rice and beans so the family down the road could have steak? What if you continued to drive your old car so a college student with no car could have your new one? What if you prolonged the cosmetic surgery so you could pay for someone else to have a life sustaining surgery? I’m not asking you to take these suggestions as a law. These are sourced out of my brain. I’m asking you to pray about the decisions you make and see if you are scooting up next to your enemy close enough to learn how to care for those who are like you. We aren’t smart enough, good enough, or savvy enough to determine what the hurting world needs! Who are we to think we can come up with practical, helpful, needed solutions to pain in the world around us? We must take the pain of the world to Jesus! When we do, He will tell us to do what most revolts us. He will tell us to find our Samaritan and sit with them long enough to learn their ways; then apply them. We will certainly discover how Jesus meets the needs around us and we just might learn how to love our enemies in the process.

 

“HOW CAN ONE be a neighbor? It takes eyes and ears to be a neighbor, as well as a compassionate heart. The one major difference between the priest and Levite on the one hand and the Samaritan on the other is not what they see and hear, but what they do with what they see and hear. Only the Samaritan takes pity. Only he has a heart. Neighbors are people with a heart that does more than pump blood. It sees, feels, and serves. 

 

“One often hears that the task of dealing with pain in the world is so vast that we do not know where to begin or how we can even hope to make a dent in what needs to be done. Such thinking can become an excuse for inaction. If I cannot know where to begin, I will not even start to help, because if I do, I will be overwhelmed. A better attitude is to pitch in where one feels a sense and ability to help. Maybe I cannot help everywhere, but I can help somewhere and try to do a meaningful work of service. Being a neighbor does not require meeting every need of which I become aware, but of becoming one piece of a large puzzle that helps meaningfully in a specific context. And of course, sometimes being a neighbor means just being there when a painful situation emerges with a neighbor. Neighborliness comes in all shapes and sizes. It is limited only by our failure to see, feel, and respond.”[1]

 

Hebrews 13.16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” The Samaritan paid the debts of the injured man. Care will be left in the hands of those who respond in compassion and gentleness to the needs around them.

[1] Bock, Darrell L. “Contemporary Significance” In NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Luke. By Darrell L. Bock, 302-304. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1996.

How are we to reach the ends of the earth. Could we label all the lost in the world today “the ends of the earth”? Why would I want to do this?  B/c the people in Yemen and China really are at the ends of the Christian realm. (They say by 2020 Christian #’s there will surpass the US.) Those who are lost here are so because of some very good reasons. If any of these people groups were easy to reach they would have been reached a long time ago. Most of these people have quarantined themselves out of reach of the Gospel a many years ago. Those here in America have been hurt by the Church (either by a believer or a group of believers), had the Gospel finger pointed in their face one to many times, or are a part of the generation that thinks they don’t need any outside help (and this includes God!). Many of these people have never heard the Gospel. And what is the Gospel? Why the world needed Jesus, the story of Jesus, and what the process is for us to be able to surrender our lives to Him as our Lord and Savior. There is a smaller number (much smaller) who have heard the Gospel truth but have never been pursued by the church. They know the truth and are waiting on an invitation. There is a smaller number still (very small) who have heard, been pursued, and are still choosing to be on the outside. If this group is not careful, they will become a part of the company of the rich man looking up to Heaven and watching the Lazarus’ at God’s side. We cannot change their minds, but we can still love them, pray for them, and pursue them in holy relationships. That’s the makeup of our world here. There is a whole other world out there that is lumped into the ‘never heard and never will hear’ category if we don’t go and tell them. In my opinion both of these groups can and should be considered ‘the ends of the earth’; the ones left in a long line of fatally ill people.

 

Like I said a moment ago, if these people were easy to reach they would have been reached a long time ago. It will take a church with much love and compassion, guts, and prayer to reach these people. But before any of that hits the road this church will have to have something far more basic and foundational as a part of its strategy: VISION. We must hear from God and see and understand His plan for us before we can ever see the ends of the earth reached. Now I believe God has given us His Vision in how He wants us to reach our world. I also believe you understand most, if not all of this Vision. But I do not believe we, together as a whole church, have embraced this Vision.

 

Now why in the world would I say something like that? I’m not trying to guilt you into anything or make a bridge to something simple like sharing your faith. I’m looking at a much bigger picture. I see a whole church on mission for the Kingdom. I see a group of people working, loving, and serving tirelessly to see a world reached for Christ. And I’m not talking about a group of worn out, over-worked, stressed to the hilt people who would rather be doing anything else than what they are doing. I’m talking about a group of people who have been radically changed by the Great Redeemer Jesus, whose minds are being transformed daily through the digestion of His Word, whose hearts are being made more and more responsive to the promptings of His Spirit and whose mouths are being taught to speak a new language of love and truth. This does not beg you to be here 24/7. This begs you to be obedient to Christ wherever you are, 24/7.

 

I want to walk with you through the book of Exodus this morning. Why would I do that? Because I believe that we are in very much the same position as the people of Israel. Here’s my basic assumption: God created the Israelites for the purpose of demonstrating to the world what it looked like to have God living in their camp and ultimately to introduce the solution to the sin problem the world faced. They were the channel through which grace and vision flowed for many, many years. But it took years for them to realize their ultimate purpose. On top of that, it took years for them to realize their immediate purpose.

 

If you will open your Bibles to Exodus chapter 3 we’ll begin our journey together! We are going to look at several parts of this journey together, so get ready! Let me summarize quickly before we start. Jacob brought his family to Egypt to avoid starvation, but also because his son was there in charge of the feeding operation. When Joseph died there were 70 Israelites in the land. They grew quickly and God blessed what they did. By the time they were larger than the Egyptian population a new Pharaoh had come to power and decided they needed to be oppressed, lest they rise up and conquer them. So he made them workers and then he made them slaves. He commanded that each Hebrew boy be killed. Moses was born and his mother preserved his life. She placed him in God’s hands and God rescued him through the hands of one of the only people who would have been able to raise him: Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses grew up, killed an Egyptian in anger, fled the land he was raised in and ran to Midian, a desert land comprised of shepherds and herdsmen trying to survive. While there God reveals a plan to him that involves him, Moses, being His messenger and leading the people out of bondage and into a new land of peace and promise. He spoke to him in a most miraculous way: through a burning bush. Here is what He said. Let’s READ chapter 3 verse 10.

God said “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”  Moses responded “Who am I…to bring the children of Israel out…?” God called them His people first, the sons of Jacob second. Moses didn’t even recognize they were God’s people. He referred to them as the children of this man he never even knew. “Israel’s children? Why would I risk my neck for someone else’s kids? I have my own children to worry about.” Moses forgot that he too was one of Israel’s children and had it not been for God’s grace, he too would have been killed along with the other Hebrew boys. God introduced Moses to His overarching Vision. This Vision didn’t stop with rescuing the children of Israel from slavery. It stops at the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s plan began long before Moses was ever thought of and continued on long after he was gone. Moses was a key player in the process and at this point was refusing to even look at his role.

 

Church, we too have been given a Vision for our role in God’s overarching plan. We too have been asked by God to go and bring His people, the children of Adam, out of bondage. I feel as though some of us have responded by totally ignoring the fact that God calls the world His people and answer Him with “Adam’s children? I have children of my own that need plenty of rescue! Why should I worry about another’s?” We forget that we too are one of Adam’s children and apart from God’s grace we too would have died along with millions of others who didn’t know the grace that comes through the cross of Christ.

 

God promised Moses that He personally would ‘be with’ him and that His very presence would be the sign that God had sent him.  In other words, there would be days when he doubted as to whether or not God was driving the show. He would become discouraged more than once. The people would rebel. Pharaoh would refuse. Things would go badly. But God promised that He would never leave them. He would never let them starve. He would constantly remind them of His protection. He would preserve them as a people. Then God said “after you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will serve [me] on this mountain.” Folks, I don’t know about you but I want to be on that mountain! I want to be where God is! I don’t want to miss His presence because of my frustration, discouragement, doubt, or worry. The times that God was promising to walk with them through were not easy. It was no cake walk in the desert or in the wilderness, but I’d rather be with God in the wilderness than without Him in Egypt. I’d rather eat manna in the desert that God provides than dine on steak with Pharaoh in the palace. I’d rather trust God to protect me from the fierce warriors of Canaan than rely on my own skills in peace time back in Egypt. I’ll go with God any day of the week!

 

What happened next? God gave Moses the details of the plan and some very convincing signs to use when Pharaoh doubted. A reluctant Moses agrees to go to Egypt and by the time he arrives we see a different, confident Moses striding into Pharaoh’s court demanding he set the captives free. By the time he leads the people out of the land Moses is carrying the bid for the leader of the year! God, in his grace, quickly transforms a hesitant hand into powerful partner in ministry. All because God willed it and Moses agreed.

 

Let’s pick up the story. Turn with me to the end of chapter 15.  Keep in mind God has already parted the Red Sea, walking the Israelites across and drowning the Egyptians. He has protected His people with the Angel of the Lord and a cloud. He has made non-potable water potable just for them to drink. And He is about to make food literally fall out of the sky for them to eat. Each time God amazes them with His incredible, but also very God-like ability to fulfill His own promises He made them, they go about three days and begin to doubt God’s ability again. He split the dad-gum sea in two and they gripe about water to drink! Let’s read these words of renewal from the Lord after He made the water sweet for them. 15.26.

 

What’s going on here? I think the Israelites had grown so accustomed to operating own their own without God, they don’t know how to act in His presence. They are truly grateful when He rescues them, but they quickly grow weary when things don’t happen exactly as they think they should. Sound familiar? God says “look, listen to me and me only. Obey everything I tell you and I will restore and keep your bodies from becoming what you watched the Egyptians become when they refused to listen to Me through Moses.” This is no “I will heal everything from cancer to colds and you will never get sick” promise. It is a vow to not allow them to dip into what they were accusing Him of allowing them to become. They said “we’ll be gorged to death!” and God parted the waters. They said “we’ll lose our way” and God led them with cloud and fire. They said we’ll die of thirst” and God turned bitter water sweet and a rock into a drinking fountain. They said “we’ll die of hunger” and God rained down bread. They said “we’ll die of boredom if we have to eat this bread every day” and God rained down meat. The list just didn’t stop!! And now He curbs every future fear. “Just trust me and obey! You don’t have to worry about your bodies. I will take care of you! Just come follow me.” Does that sound vaguely familiar?

 

Let’s keep moving. Moses moves on. God takes them to Sinai. He gives them laws to govern every aspect of their lives with Him. Laws to govern their worship, their behavior, their relationships with each other, even the markers they were to set up in their community to remind them of His Presence. They learn that this ‘covenant people’ thing was for the long haul. He’s showing them all the ways they needed to stand out from the other nations because they were His people and He was/is their God.

 

Then about half of what is left of the story contained in book of Exodus is spent on the Tabernacle. He shows them what it is supposed to look like; what it’s to be made out of; what it is to be furnished with; and who is supposed to work in it. He gives all kinds of instructions for the priests: what they’re to wear, how they are to act…  The very end of the book wraps up with God Himself coming to dwell in the Tabernacle they have constructed. What happens in between? The people disobey. And not just any run-of-the-mill disobedience. They make the top ten charts with this one! They create another god to worship and sacrifice to.

 

My point is this: what if God’s intention for the Israelites was for Moses to come down off the mountain, share the guidelines with the people, the people celebrate and build the Tabernacle and God come and live in it. No golden calf. No Moses breaking the stone tablets. No God swearing He should destroy the people and Moses interceding. No death in the Israelite camp because of blatant disobedience. Just celebration and the sheer presence of the Lord.

I’ve gone the long way around the mulberry bush to say this to you this morning: we have two ways we can see God’s Vision accomplished in and through our church. We can disobey Him, ignore His voice, soften/harden and soften/harden our attitudes towards Him and watch Him eventually accomplish what He desires to see in our midst. This is the way of the Israelites. It cost them the lives of many of their people. It cost them a whole generation not seeing the land God had promised them. And it cost them in many cases the very presence of the Lord who wanted nothing more than to be with them. Or, we can take the shortcut. Shortcut? That’s right! Did you know there was a shortcut in seeing God’s Vision being fulfilled in our midst? One word: OBEDIENCE. Our Vision is clear and simple: Glorify God by taking His Gospel to the Ends of His Earth, here and overseas, baptizing them and teaching them to OBEY everything Jesus commanded us.  We have been given His very authority to do this. We have even been given a very specific plan for how we, Church, are to see our part of this through. Now, let’s get the job done!

I got my first Bible when I was born. I’m told I would sit for hours ‘reading’ it. As I grew and was actually able to understand the words I read, I got a Bible that a child could apply. The older I got, the more advanced my Bibles became, to the point in High School when I received a ‘regular study Bible’. Why would I tell you this? I can imagine most of you have similar stories. Why is this important? Because even though I learned to read in grade school and could pronounce the words in my Bible, it wasn’t until years later that I really learned to read it.

 

Here’s the question that will shape our time together this morning: is the Bible’s main intent to pass along information? Or is the Bible designed to shape our lives? If the Bible is primarily an instruction book, then it suffices to simply pronounce the words. If you can read the instruction manual for a bounce house and figure out how to set it up (which we did this week…whew!), you can get all you need out of the Bible. BUT, if the Bible is meant for more than instruction; if its primary purpose is to shape your life, decisions, marriage, family life, job, morality…then we have some work to do! You didn’t come out knowing how to do that. You didn’t learn those skills when you learned the alphabet. That skill set comes with time and discipline.

 

Hopefully many of you came to this conclusion years ago, about the Bible being more than an instruction manual. Hopefully you have had a growing desire to digest it and not simply read it for a long time. If so, it’s my prayer that today’s time will be encouraging for you. I know this is hard work. I pray if you are weary, you will be encouraged to take up the task of reading for life again today! If this is news to you, if you’ve never considered the difference between reading the Bible and listening to the Bible, I pray today will be a jump start for you. I pray you will begin the journey today of eating this book that is sweet as honey in the mouth and many times bitter in the stomach.

 

LET’S TAKE A LOOK TOGETHER. REVELATION 10. READ!

 

To quote Eugene Peterson, one Sunday morning one of these wild, boisterous visions came to John as he was worshipping on the island of Patmos—“just as he was approaching the midpoint in the sequence of vision-messages, that he saw a gigantic angel, one foot planted in the ocean and the other on the continent, with a book in his hand. From this comprehensive land and sea pulpit the angel was preaching form the book, a sermon explosive with thunder. This was a sermon no one would sleep through! John started to write down what he was hearing—he’d never heard a sermon like this one—but was then told not to. A voice told John to take the book from the huge angel, this God-Messenger preaching from his world-straddling pulpit. And so he did, he walked up to the angel and said, “Give me the book.” The angel gave it to him, but then said, “Here it is; eat it. Eat this book. Don’t just take notes on the sermon. Eat the book.” And john did it! He put away his notebook and pencil. He picked up his knife and fork. He ate the book.”

What did the angel mean when he told John it would be sweet as honey in his mouth and bitter in his stomach? I don’t believe this is the purpose of the Word. In a perfect world God’s word would always be sweet in the mouth and sweet in the digestion process. But we are not perfect.

 

When we read for life, we digest things that are not so sweet to us. Things like: “love your enemies as yourself” and “if you do not obey me, you do not love me.” These statements and many others like them will settle pretty bitterly in our stomachs. As we process them and make them a part of our lives they hurt. They require action. There is a burning in our souls as we separate what we have introduced into our lives with what God intends for us. We cannot love our enemies if we do not get rid of our hatred for them. We cannot obey God if we do not repent of the sin that we harbor. That’s just painful. But it’s necessary and good. Sweet in the mouth: “Ummm umm, that’s good stuff! I want some more of that!” But bitter in the stomach: “Give me a minute. That’s a little rough.” There’s no such thing as biblical Pepto Bismal. Either we allow the Spirit to affect our lives with the Word of the Father or we ignore it and walk away. Let’s decide together to swallow everything He gives us today and trust Him to take care of preparing us for the application. Ok?

 

Let me tell you something this morning. The goal of reading this book is not to pick it apart piece by piece. I’ll put it this way. When you get a good piece of pie set in front of you, do you ask for the list of ingredients? Do you ask to meet the chef before you eat? Do you nibble it, trying to discern if it has 32 grams of sugar or 45? Or do you just eat it; do you just devour it, hoping for another? My kids know how to eat a book! They devour them as quickly as we read them to them. They internalize them. They can see themselves in place of the characters. They dream about them at night. They talk about them in the day time. We’re taught in school how to dissect a book for the purpose of learning or to pass a test. But what God intends for us is to read it like our kids; to devour His Word.

 

There is a time and place for the deep study of the word. That’s not where most of us struggle. We sit through Bible studies and Sunday school lessons. We are bombarded with explanations of the word every day. Our struggle, I’ve found, is simply digesting it. We have trained ourselves to dissect it. We understand how to read. We’ve forgotten, or never learned how to listen to it. We don’t know what to do with the digestion process. So most of the time we just move on to the next passage. Don’t do that! Sit on it. Pray over it. Ask the Spirit to open it up for you. Then listen. Just listen. Reread it and listen. Listen for the voice of the Spirit to say “That’s it! Pay attention to that word or that phrase! Sit there for a while! You need to hear that!” Then, many times, He will remind you of another word somewhere else in the Bible you read that was similar. It will help you build a wall around that Scripture so that the next time the enemy tries to lie to you, you will call it a lie, disregard it and move on.

 

Reading the Word is an incredible gift, but only if you digest it. What does the word spirituality conjure up in your mind? It should invite God-centered images; images that are initiated by Him. We should think of worship, work, and ministry. Instead this term has been hijacked by our culture to mean something mystical and mysterious. It’s all about the inner self and discovering your path. Phooey! When Jesus told the woman at the well that real worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, He wasn’t saying real worshippers will meditate in the yoga stance for an hour and receive some kind of enlightenment. He was saying that real worshippers will take God’s Word as the word of God, recognizing His Spirit when they see Him at work. They will not take for granted time and place (I have to be here or there to worship) but will get on their knees wherever they may be to lift up their Savior and build their lives around the truth.

 

My point this morning is that the Bible is livable and in fact is written and given to you with the intent that you live it! It is not primarily a feel good book. Many of its contents are harsh, full of judgment and discipline. It contains many calls to obedience and out of our complacent, feel-good lives. It is not easy to eat it, but it is oh so good! Ours is not to eat what someone else has digested. Devotionals are soooo good, but if we don’t take what they say and dive into the Word, we are eating someone else’s meal. I pray you will eat the book!

 

How do we respond to a message like this? Simple. READ THE BOOK! Don’t just read it like you would read the McDonald’s menu and don’t read it like a romance novel. Pray “God, open my heart and my mind as I read today” then open the Bible and begin to read.

 

You have to ask yourself “am I hungry for God to work in my life? Am I ready to be used by Him?” If you can’t answer yes to these questions, you need to read the Word! If you can answer yes to these questions, you need to read the Word! You thought I was going to give the guy with no desire a buy, didn’t you? That’s not true! Every believer must put themselves in a place for God to speak to them, regardless of their desire for His involvement in their lives. God creates desire in the hearts of those who make themselves available.

 

Notice that it wasn’t until after John obediently ate the scroll did the angel tell him to prophesy again to the nations about the coming of Jesus. The message we have for the world is never born out of our ingenuity or opinion. We are driven by the living, breathing Word of God and nothing else. Separate it from your existence and you suddenly have no more messages to preach.

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