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Friday, October 19, 2012

Stewardship 6: Stewardship of the Bible


Stewardship of the Bible 



Text Verse
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and giving instruction for right living.

Introduction

It is said that the average Christian home in the West has between 6 and 7 Bibles.
Take a moment to think about whether that is true of your home.
But here’s the sad thing… many Christians have never read the Bible! What does it mean to read a book… it means to start at the beginning and read from page 1 to the page which says: The End.
Over the years I’ve found that many people find this a daunting task… but… 3 pages a day and you’ve read the Bible in a year. 2 pages of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament – the Bible in a year.

This is a good book and the message today as we continue our series on Stewardship is this: read your Bible.
God has given us His word… surely as good stewards we should read it.

“All Scripture is inspired by God”

The word ‘inspired’ takes us right back to Genesis, to the beginning, where God created human beings from dust and then breathed into them, inspired them, and they came to life.
Friends, one of the reasons to read this inspired book as a book is because this inspired writing, inspires us! Reading the Bible as a book, not as a reference book, like an encyclopedia, but as a book, as a story…. Reading it like a book gives God a chance to breathe life into us… and who doesn't need that?

I think one of the things we forget is that the Bible is a story – it has a beginning, middle, and an end. It has a theme, one overriding theme which holds the whole story together, like any good theme does.

What is the theme of the Bible, the central thread holding everything together?
It is: The reign of God on earth.
First, through two people: Adam and Eve; but the story tells us how they didn't want the reign of God… and in their story we see our story, don’t we?

And as we read their story, which is our story, God breathes into our story.
And then we read on and see how things just got worse and worse in the world… Babel… and eventually the flood and a new start… and then God starting again with a couple, Abraham and Sarah, and growing them into a family, and a then a clan, and then a tribe, and then a nation, with Kings and Priests and Prophets  - and through all this story, the theme being the reign of God, but people refusing to embrace the reign of God, and in their story, we find our story and as we read their story, God breathes into our story.

Then we read of another new start, in Jesus, who proclaims the reign of God, the Kingdom of God as being ‘near’. And then we read of another new start, the birth of the Church, and we are reminded of our own birth into the Church and into the Kingdom and the reign of God in our lives or perhaps we are called to consider letting God reign in our lives.
Then as we read letters written to the early Church, God breathes through them and suddenly they are letters to us and we find ourselves in this story, which is His story becoming our story.
And then, we read on and find the end of the earth’s story and the end of the Church’s story and miraculously, what the end of our story will be.
This is a good book, as good stewards we should read it.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful"

Notice next how scripture describes scripture.

Can you see it in our text verse? Scripture is… useful. So… humble.

Useful for what?

1.   For teaching:
The Scriptures (Torah) teach us, informs us, and tell us about the reign of God in… the universe, in the world, in nations, in individuals, in us.
Scripture teaches us our history and even teaches us our future, and it’s a very useful teacher.

2.   For rebuking:
Yes, as we read this book we discover, especially through the Prophets, that the people of the earth, and the people who decide to submit to the reign of God, all these people, including you and me, often need to be rebuked. This is a strong word and it includes an element of discipline, an element of ‘you will submit’ to the reign of God. So in the New Testament it is used by Jesus often – He rebukes the wind and brings it into submission, He rebukes Satan, He rebukes the Pharisees and  teachers of the law, He rebukes disciples when they send children away, He rebukes Peter the Rock saying, “Get behind me Satan”. Godly rebuke is good for us.
As we read Gods story we see that Gods people don’t like Gods rebuke, but we see also, that that never stops Him from rebuking when necessary, just like a good parent.

3.   For correcting:
Where rebuke is pointing out error, correction is showing the right way. The Writings in Scripture (scripture is divided, even by Jesus, into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings) show us the mind of Christ, they show us Godly wisdom.
Scripture shows us how to conform to Gods will and Gods way.

4.   Giving instruction for right living:
Where correction shows us how to think properly and wisely, instruction for right living shows us how to act properly. We are not just believers of the word, but doers of the word. We are called not only to have the mind of Christ, but to do the actions of Christ.
And the Scriptures are of course very useful for instructing us in the Jesus way. WWJD (remember the bracelet) – the Scriptures tell us and as we read them, God breathes the actions of Jesus into us and as long as we have breath, we do the actions of Jesus in the world around us.

In conclusion:
Notice why we need teaching, rebuking, correcting and instruction for right living… it is so that we can be properly equipped for every good work.
As we read the story of God's reign we see that salvation has always come to God's people through a faith, a belief that leads to actions, deeds or works.

Noah believed, and he showed his belief/faith by building the ark. Faith leads to actions, it’s how we see whether our faith is saving faith.
Abraham believes… and so acts by setting out on an amazing journey.
Moses believes… and acts.
The prostitute Rachel believes… and acts.
Joshua believes… and acts.
Samson believes… and acts.
David believes… and acts.
Many believers/has faith and acts.
Joseph believes… and acts.
John the Baptist believes… and acts.
Matthew, Peter, Saul believe and act.

You and I, as we read this good book, the story of God's reign, are invited to submit to God's reign, by believing and acting.

This is a good book, a useful book.

As good stewards of the manifold grace of God, we should read it, just like a book.

Amen.





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