I love beginning a new sermon series at church.
Is anyone else feeling me on that one?
There are several reasons for it: The start of something fresh. Hearing the vision behind why the pastor has chosen a particular portion of scripture to take our church through. And then there is just scripture itself. It’s so amazing!!!
Are you feeling me on that one? Perhaps not, but that’s ok. I wasn’t always so excited about the Word of God. It often felt confusing and boring. Sure those Bible stories about Daniel and the lion’s den and the parting of the Red Sea were pretty cool but the rest of it…I mean, come on! Seriously, why should I care about ancient genealogies, a zillion kings who “did evil in the sight of the LORD”, or weird prophesies that really smart people disagree on their meaning. Pass.
But God, in his infinite mercy and wisdom chose to not leave me believing that, but showed me, through several significant experiences in my life, the grace and joy to be found in his entire Word. Have you had any encounters with the Bible that has done that for you?
Here are my top four in chronological order:
HIGH SCHOOL I had been a Christian since I was a young kid and had been going to church my whole life. However, I suddenly decided I needed to read the entire Bible from start to finish. I’d probably read most of the New Testament by then, but the big OT was totally intimidating. I started with Genesis and actually made it through a big chunk of the major prophets before getting bogged down, possibly in Jeremiah. However, even though I didn’t finish at that time, suddenly a ton of pieces of a puzzle I had been holding for years fell into place. All those Bible stories from Sunday school had a place in a larger story. Knowing the story of Israel suddenly made the story of Jesus make way more sense. The picture was coming together.
COLLEGE BIBLE STUDY I got invited to a Bible study within the first hour of being at college. However, Bible study in high school youth group hadn’t been terribly exciting, so I wasn’t feeling particularly roused by the invitation. But the people who invited me seemed genuinely interested in me, and it was just down the hall, so I went. One week. It only took one week, and I was hooked. We studied primarily the gospels. The stories of Jesus’ interactions with people was our focus. We were encouraged to step into the feet of the disciples, into the blind man and the bleeding woman’s life. We were pushed to ask questions. And there were some people who asked the dumbest questions. Or so I initially thought, in all my arrogant “I’ve been brought up in the church and think I know everything” pride. Those questions and their answers had me looking at those stories in completely new ways. Scripture was suddenly ALIVE for me.
MANUSCRIPT STUDY I’m still in college and this time I’m invited to the Mark Study, a year-long invitation to study the book of Mark through the manuscript method. I wasn’t sure what the manuscript method was and it didn’t sound particularly stimulating, but I’m already hooked on Scripture by then, and I’m an extrovert, so studying with 20 other people sounds amazing! And it was! The manuscript method took the text out of its book form with its headers, verse numbers, section breaks, footnotes removed and gave us just the words of God on paper with a ton of room to take pens and mark it up with questions, observations, repetitions, whatever it was that jumped off the page to us. We got to do that individually for 30 min, then we broke into groups of 2-3 and shared what we saw for another 30 minutes, then the final hour was spent in the large group discussing the passage. We got our hands dirty in a different piece of scripture every week. As Jesus’ words became clear through my and the group’s study of the text, I realized I couldn’t ignore them. They demanded my application. And now God’s word was sharper than any two-edged sword and was penetrating my heart.
GREATER PORTLAND Then came Wayne Williams, Jay Gjurgevich, and the preaching guild at Greater Portland. Every passage of scripture points to Jesus? Are you crazy? Oh, but there you go, finding Jesus in every story weekly, without fail. And because of you, I grow to be even more excited for scripture because in the Word I now see my Savior everywhere.
He’s there at Creation, He’s there at the fall.
He’s there at Abraham’s promise and at David’s call.
And through each story and letter and psalm,
I see God’s narrative active and strong;
bringing to completion His purpose and goal
to redeem His creation and bring them back whole
Do you see the big story? It’s ok if you don’t. Pastor Jay and the preaching team have you covered! This new series we’ve begun called “Greater” is going to show us the great and awesome narrative God has been weaving from the creation of the world until now and beyond. It will help put so many of those smaller Bible stories into context, put you in awe of the One who has written the story, and humble us as we find our place within it.
Come and find that perhaps scripture has more there than you originally thought. Don’t miss a week!
My prayer is that God’s Word comes more alive for you, and, as it does, you find the Savior it all points to.
In the story with you,
P.S. I’m really looking forward to our Refresh Worship times! Will you join me, the worship team and others at 10:25am in the auditorium each Sunday as we prepare to meet with God together?