sermon – a people of God; a people of the Book

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16 CEB)

And so we say without apology, with firm conviction, but with deep humility: we seek to be a “people of the Book.”

By that we mean two things.

First, the Bible is revelation from, and about, God.

Without this Book, we’d be in the dark about God. Oh, we would know something of God from creation. But, without this Book, that would be all we know of Him. This Book lights up our walk through this dark world. This Book gives us truth, and takes us into understandings of truth, that we would not have without it.

And so, we’re determined to continually open our eyes to the light this Book shines on us. We do this even though the bright light it shines on us can sometimes be glaring or painful. We are not “holy.” But we believe this Book leads us to Him who alone is Holy.

Second, this Book teaches us how to live our life with God.

This book tells us of Him who is Life. Our Life. This Book is not “our life” or our “God.” We do not worship it. But, we do worship the One who gives us life and who speaks to us through this Book. And so, we seek to belong to Him, and to Him alone. Both as individuals and as a community. This is our task in every possible way for all of our days.

In sum: He who reveals Himself to us through this Book is our Life and Light.

In a world full of uncertainties, this Book gives us certainties. Certain truth that comes from Him who alone is True.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And we are His people. This is our past, present, and future. Walking because of, with, and toward God.

In this walk, He encourages us by telling us He is with us and equips us to do His will. Our Life is beside us and inside us. Our Light, gives us ways and means to use His light.

What a tremendous blessing it is to see His Life and Light in each other! A people of God; a people of the Book!

Thanks and glory be to God!

And so we will serve Him forever!

Let the whole church say … “Amen!

people of God; people of the book

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (March 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is entitled People of God; People of the Book. The manuscript for this sermon will appear in a post tomorrow morning. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To declare our faith in the God who provides us with what we need to grow up in him.

Word

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us of a time you were tricked or misled. It can be humorous, serious or whatever.

2. Tell us of someone(s) who powerfully helped you mature in life. What did they do?

3. Complete this sentence: “I sense that I’m growing as a person whenever I ________.”

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Where do apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers come from? (vs. 11)

2. Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers? (vs. 12)

3. How long did Paul perceive God’s provision of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers would last? (vs. 13a)

4. How is “unity of faith” and “knowledge of God’s Son” related to each other? (vs. 13a)

5. What is our goal in growth and with what instrument do we measure such (vs. 13b)?

6. Who is vulnerable to misleading and false teaching? (vs. 14)

7. Where does true spiritual growth come from and where does it lead (vs. 15b-16a)?

8. How does Christ’s body, the people of God, grow? (vs. 15-16)

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. In light of vs. 11, what is job #1 for all who seek to serve and build up Christ’s body?

2. All of the roles listed in vs. 11 involve sharing God’s word. How does this understanding color all of what follows (vs. 12-16)?

3. Why is deep sincerity alone inadequate to grow in God, and “the truth,” a necessity?

4. Tell us of a time when you, due to spiritual immaturity, believed something untrue about serving Christ. What helped you escape that point of false faith?

5. What happens to a body of believers when not every part “does their part?”

6. Someone asks you: “How can I discover my role in Christ’s body?” What do you say?

7. Who gives spiritual growth to God’s people? Let this text’s words shape your answer.

8. What good do you see in the lives of folks who are on a trajectory of spiritual growth?

the Christ House project: Jan. & Feb. reading schedule

 

The-Christ-HouseAll MoSt Church members are urged to reading the New Testament completely through this coming year at the rate of one chapter per day. Along with our reading, we’re all encouraged to memorize one verse that focuses on Jesus as the Christ from each book of the NT. A listing of the year’s “Christ verses” appeared in a post here yesterday.

Each day of The Christ House (TCH) reading project you’ll find a link to each day’s reading here on my site; however, for your convenience of preview, the reading schedule for January and February follows. Our reading during these two months will focus on the writings of Luke, both his Gospel and the book of Acts.

May the Christ bless the reading of, and reflection on the words of the Spirit. Amen.

The Gospel according to Luke

Jan. 1 – Luke 1
Jan. 2 – Luke 2
Jan. 3 – Luke 3
Jan. 4 – Luke 4
Jan. 5 – Luke 5
Jan. 6 – Luke 6
Jan. 7 – Luke 7
Jan. 8 – Luke 8
Jan. 9 – Luke 9
Jan. 10 – Luke 10
Jan. 11 – Luke 11
Jan. 12 – Luke 12
Jan. 13 – Luke 13
Jan. 14 – Luke 14
Jan. 15 – Luke 15
Jan. 16 – Luke 16
Jan. 17 – Luke 17
Jan. 18 – Luke 18
Jan. 19 – Luke 19
Jan. 20 – Luke 20
Jan. 21 – Luke 21
Jan. 22 – Luke 22
Jan. 23 – Luke 23
Jan. 24 – Luke 24
Jan. 25-31 – days of reflection

The Book of Acts

Feb. 1 – Acts 1
Feb. 2 – Acts 2
Feb. 3 – Acts 3
Feb. 4 – Acts 4
Feb. 5 – Acts 5
Feb. 6 – Acts 6
Feb. 7 – Acts 7
Feb. 8 – Acts 8
Feb. 9 – Acts 9
Feb. 10 – Acts 10
Feb. 11 – Acts 11
Feb. 12 – Acts 12
Feb. 13 – Acts 13
Feb. 14 – Acts 14
Feb. 15 – Acts 15
Feb. 16 – Acts 16
Feb. 17 – Acts 17
Feb. 18 – Acts 18
Feb. 19 – Acts 19
Feb. 20 – Acts 20
Feb. 21 – Acts 21
Feb. 22 – Acts 22
Feb. 23 – Acts 23
Feb. 24 – Acts 24
Feb. 25 – Acts 25
Feb. 26 – Acts 26
Feb. 27 – Acts 27
Feb. 28 – Acts 28

Do remember, a copy (.pdf) of the year’s reading schedule and Christ verses (memory verses) is always available from the “downloads” section of MoSt Church‘s site.

the Christ House (TCH): reading project 2013

 

The-Christ-HouseHaving recently completed our church-wide Bible reading project for 2012 (Uncommon Truth for Common People) at MoSt Church, we’ll start our reading project for 2013 - The Christ House (TCH) – this coming Tues., Jan. 1. Let me introduce this new reading plan in the form of questions and answers.

Q. What’s the objective of TCH? What’s our focus?

A. The objective is to fix our attention on Jesus Christ as we journey through the New Testament (NT).

Q. Will we read the NT though in the order it appears in our Bible or in some other order?

A. While we’ll all read the NT through in 2013, we won’t follow the order in which the books appear in the NT. The order we’ll follow is based on commonality of the books’ authorship. For example, in January and February we’ll read the writings of Luke (Luke and Acts). In this way, we’ll not only get a better feel for each particular author’s style, but we’ll be able to spread out the reading of the Gospels across the course of the year (January, March, May, and September).

Q. What will we read each day and how much?

A. The pace is simple and steady, reading a single chapter each day while incorporating a number of days at the end of most months for catch-up, reflection, review, and/or independent study. That means, on average, your reading time each day will total about five minutes.

Q. Will there be Scripture to memorize?

A. Every person involved in the project is encouraged to memorize one, selected verse of Scripture that specifically mentions Jesus Christ from every book of the New Testament. We’ll refer to such verses as “Christ verses.”

Q. When will the The Christ House project begin?

A. This coming Tues., Jan. 1.

Q. When and where can I see a copy of the whole year’s schedule and acquire a copy of all of the Christ verses?

A. A copy of the year’s reading schedule and all of the Christ verses is currently available for download from MoSt‘s site (and will remain available there throughout the coming year). Tomorrow’s post (Sun., Dec. 30) here on my site will list all of the Christ verses while Monday’s post (Dec. 31) will give the reading schedule for January and February. Starting on Tues., Jan. 1, a link to each day’s reading will appear as a post here on my site.

Q. Will we use a specific translation of the New Testament?

A. You can use any quality rendering of the NT you please with this schedule. The links in the daily posts here on my site will be to the Common English Bible (CEB).

let me help you study Scripture

 

One of the quickest and easiest ways to stretch your encounter with Scripture from reading to study is to simply read Scripture in a variety of renderings. Don’t just settle for always reading your Bible in the same translation. Challenge your mind by deliberately reading the Bible in various versions. Compare the translations, noting the similarities and differences.

What’s that you say? You only have one translation of the Bible? Well, we can remedy that today without it costing you a single cent! Once a week here through the end of February we’re giving away a free copy of the Common English Bible (CEB). And so, the first person who comments on this post with the following words – “I will study Scripture by studying the Common English Bible” – will receive a free copy of the CEB.

How do you comment? Simply click on the balloon icon in the upper right hand corner of this post and leave the comment “I will study Scripture by studying the Common English Bible.”

got ‘em memorized?

 

Church, I’m curious as to how you’re coming along with our memory work for the month of January. There are four full weeks this month and our four memory verses from the Common English Bible have been:

  • “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.” (James 1:22 CEB)
  • “But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.” (Luke 5:16 CEB)
  • “You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 CEB)
  • “Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!” (Romans 12:11 CEB)

You still have a few days left in the month to commit these words to heart. It’s not hard to do so just go for it! Walk up to me and quote one of them. You’ll make my day!

picture Bible commentary

“… all the people gathered together in the area in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Instruction scroll from Moses, according to which the LORD had instructed Israel.

“So … Ezra the priest brought the Instruction before the assembly. … he read it aloud, from early morning until the middle of the day. He read it in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand, and everyone listened attentively to the Instruction scroll. …

“Standing above all of the people, Ezra the scribe opened the scroll in the sight of all of the people. And as he opened it, all of the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all of the people answered, ‘Amen! Amen!’ while raising their hands. Then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

“The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—helped the people to understand the Instruction while the people remained in their places. They read aloud from the scroll, the Instruction from God, explaining and interpreting it so the people could understand what they heard.” (Nehemiah 8:1-8 CEB)