Do you have a relationship with God’s Word? If not, why not?
Do you have a relationship with God’s Word? If not, why not?
October 13, 2017 will mark the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, so we Lutherans have been hearing a lot about the people and events that played a role in the world changing movement called the Reformation. In our sermon Sunday, my husband discussed what the Reformers went through to make the Bible available to everyone. He said that these days the Bible has been called the most purchased and least read book in America. Almost everybody has one …or more, as there are a myriad of different translations and specialty versions….but do we remember to give thanks for that gift, and realize what a privilege it is to have God’s Word readily available to us in our own language? We take this for granted but many people were persecuted and killed in order to make that happen. Here are a few:
So next time you read your Bible–or the next time you put off reading your Bible–remember how many people risked or gave their lives so that you could have it. Your Bible was purchased for you by the blood of martyrs. Take that seriously and take time to read it.
At. St. Paul’s we sing this hymn every week before the readings. A great reminder of what a gift we have in the Bible, our road map for obedience.
This is a continuation of the ideas in yesterday’s post about the Sunday sermon at St. Paul’s.
Joseph followed the directions God sent him orally, through the visitation of angels and in prophetic dreams. Those sorts of occurrences were rare even in Bible times, so we can’t expect to rely strongly on them today to guide our decisions. However, we do have an important road map for finding our way.
“Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
The Bible is God’s word. It enlightens us. It informs us. It guides us. It’s hard to follow any path in darkness, but the verse above tells us that God’s word brings the light we need to follow Him. Try imagining it like the luminaries that some churches put out on Christmas eve, along the street or sidewalk.
Of course, the Bible does not contain specific instructions for every situation. It does have broad principles that can point us in the right direction. It also contains the life stories of many of God’s people. As we study them, we learn how to deal with similar challenges and temptations. The book of Psalms is another great place to start. In Psalms you will find every human emotion known to man. The Psalms can teach us to cry out to God, in any situation.
You can come to church each week and hear God’s word. Better yet, you can study it every day on your own or with others. What a great New Year’s resolution that would be! Follow God’s road map and you will always walk in the light.
“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 1 Timothy 3:16
This post was written by Lynn Wellumsom, our national WMF(Women’s Missionary Federation) president and published in the Fall edition of the Helping Hand Newsletter. I thought it spoke to our monthly theme of Reformation, and received her permission to share it on the Lutheran Ladies Connection blog. For more information on the Women’s Missionary Federation, click on WMF on our header.
Katie Von Bora Luther entered a convent around the age of five. She used a slate and chalk, my darling six-year old Naomi entered Riverside Christian School with an ipad. Virtually the same size. Same or different?
Katie met, got acquainted and married Martin Luther through difficult and dangerous circumstances. Today people go to On-Line dating services and search for a perfect mate. Same or different?
Katie and Luther, as married adults, lived in tumultuous times. Today our nation is going through cataclysmic changes. Same or different?
Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the church door, the bulletin board of its day. Anyone can post on Facebook today. Same or different?
Martin translated the Bible from original languages. Wycliffe Bible translators, in some cases, can speak a language into a computer that translates into another language. Same or different?
The biblical theology Luther discovered was quickly disseminated through pamphlets and books using Guttenberg’s new invention, the printing press. Kindle makes it possible to access millions of books in electronic form almost instantly, less trees die. Same or different?
Times and methods may change but the message remains: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
For thousands of years, the priests of the temples sacrificed animals to atone for our sins. I cannot imagine how many animals were killed, but because they were not the perfect sacrifice, it never provided the perfect atonement necessary for us. We received the perfect sacrifice from Jesus Christ on the cross. The prior sacrifices were a constant reminder of our sinful nature and that we would never receive the complete atonement we craved. It took our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to provide the necessary perfect sacrifice. The moment He did the first covenant was abolished, and the new covenant, the atonement of our sins through the blood of Christ, was installed.
What a wonderful gist He gave us.
God Loves You And So Do I
I guess by now regular readers know that I read a lot. I’m currently reading a novel by Ann Hood, called The Book That Matters Most. It’s about the members of a book club who have decided that the theme for the year is “The book that matters most.” Each member gets a chance to choose a book that changed their life, or that was especially significant to them. Most of the choices are classics: Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, etc..
Of course, this made me think, what is the book that matters most to me? I’ve read many, many books in my life but not one of them stands out this way for me except the Bible. It has something to say about every aspect of human life: being young or old, married or single, Jewish or Christian, slave or free. It addresses every human emotion: anger, grief, love, compassion, joy, anxiety, and more. It teaches history and theology. It has biographies, adventures, sermons, poetry and practical advice. It uplifts, it inspires, it challenges.
Here’s a quote from The Catcher in the Rye (one of the books selected by the club):
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”
Guess what, with the Bible that does happen. It’s God’s love letter to you and me. We can talk to Him about it (or anything else) whenever we want. There’s just no contest — what book could matter more?
For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant. –Luther’s Tabletalk No.1877
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:17
God’s word is meant to be used. Think about it. It’s not just ancient history, or beautiful poetic language. It’s not a philosophy that you can decide to take or leave. It has a purpose, an important purpose. Reading and listening to God’s word trains us to be better people, shows us what we need to change and prepares us to do His work in the world.
Do you read the Bible this way? Do you meditate on it daily? Do you take the words of the Sunday sermon to heart? Do you realize that the Bible is God’s love letter to you, today? Or do you take it for granted?
At a Via de Cristo retreat one of the things we learn is to take time with a group of other Christians to evaluate our spiritual lives. I’m in such a group and here are some of the questions we ask each other every time we meet:
What have you studied this week to better understand Jesus Christ and His mystical body, the church?
What was the most helpful Spiritual insight from your study?
What will be your plan for next week to enrich your study?
I try to ask myself these questions regularly. It helps me think about and understand where God is leading me. If I don’t do this, chances are I’ll miss an opportunity to grow and learn in my faith. What about you? How have you used God’s Word this week?
“For the word of the Lord is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Sometimes studying the Bible can be unsettling. We read or hear things that we don’t understand; things that don’t seem fair, even things we don’t like or agree with. The verse above tells us that this is to be expected. Studying the Bible sometimes reveals just how sinful we are, how far from understanding God and living according to His will. When that happens it is up to us, not God, to change. This is the process of sanctification and for our own good, we should welcome it and participate in it. Will we ever be perfect? No. Will we ever completely know God? No. But we need to study the Bible seriously so that we can grow toward being the new creation God wants us to be.
Here’s a quote I like about this:
“You know no disturbing voice? God never points out to you a pathway altogether different from the one you had planned? Then you, my brother, you are still in the land of slavery, in the land of darkness.
G. Campbell Morgan
Has God’s word ever called you to do something you hadn’t planned? Tell us about it.