OK - Let’s do this sermon backwards…application first.
· Everybody grab a Bible or hold up your own bible…or hold up your device, I guess.
· Repeat after me: I will read the Bible! Good. that’s settled.
Now, let me answer 4 questions you might well be wondering about…
· Every day. You might not hit that goal but it must BE your goal.
o when you wake up, when you go to bed, during the day, as you run/ride/walk
Where do I start?
· There are 66 books. Start anywhere but here are 5 to choose from if you can’t decide.
o Psalms, Proverbs, Gospels
· Raw. (you, God and the Bible…and maybe a journal)
o don’t limit your bible reading to what is baked into somebody’s devotional
§ i.e. Jesus Calling, My Utmost for His Highest, Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul , etc.
· Fast or slow
o Fast Bible Reading : read – think – read - think – read – think
o Slow Bible Reading (Inductive Bible Study): observation – interpretation - application
§ observation = context, characters, storyline, type of literature
§ interpretation = what does it all mean? What’s the point? What’s the focus?
§ application = what should I do with this? how should I change?
Why? Ahhhh….now there’s the rub. If you do not have the answer to this question settled firmly in your mind then reading the Bible will be the equivalent to going to the gym, watering your plants, changing the oil in your car or getting your teeth cleaned. Something you know you should do but never seem to get around to it.
So why? Why read the Bible everyday?
Well…if I was just shooting from the hip and sharing my gut reaction to that question I’d say…when you do, magic happens.
· invariably when I read it…it reads me. Something breaks loose, something knocks me over, someone wraps His arms around me…magic happens. Take my word for it.
But…since you need a little more reason than my gut let’s return to this series Tim kicked off last week – in these 3 weeks we’re trying to give you GREAT reasons to read the Bible.
Last week we focused on this classic portion of the bible: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16
Here’s how Tim summarized the top reason why we should read the Bible…
Here is the bottom line…
…If you want to know what is true about God
…if you want to know what is true about you
…if you want encouragement, affirmation, confidence, and hope
…if you want a clear sense that you are loved and important to God
…if you want your life to be complete
…then you had better make the time to read, listen to, and breathe in the words of the Bible
If you would just listen to Tim’s sermon 3 times you’ll be convinced and you’ll start doing it. But, let me go further. Let me give you another reason to read the Bible.
Psalm 119:105 page 512
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
Today I want to show you light and darkness - the 2 kinds of light and 5 kinds of darkness in life.
Notice- Two kinds of light that the Bible represents here in Psalm 119:105:
· lamp to guide my feet = localized light…torch, candle, or flashlight
o it is targeted light.
§ fixing your car kind of light
§ finding lost stuff kind of light
§ guiding you around obstacles kind of light
§ revealing your next steps kind of light
· light for my path = general universal kind of light…this is the light of the dawn
o the light that puts everything into perspective…
o “Dawn is ever the hope of men” JRR Tolkein, The Two Towers
§ from the Lord of the Rings
o “And in that very moment, away behind in some far corner of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed reckoning nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.”J.R.R. Tolkien,The Return of the King
the Bible is BOTH kinds of light - The Bible is the piercing light of revelation and it is the dawning light of hope.
And that is why you should read it.
· do you need revelation? Read the Bible.
· do you need hope? Read the Bible.
If you are not yet convinced, let me push you further to consider the wonder of God’s Word. Whereas there are two kinds of light…there are many forms of darkness. There are many shadows in the world and in your soul that require the light of God’s word .
Let me show you 5 kinds of darkness that the Bible confronts…
Keep your Bibles open: We’ll stay right here in Psalm 119:
(note on Psalm 119 – it is a song all about God’s word. Every single verse has some reference to God’s rod, his commands, the scriptures, etc. You could substitute the Bible or the scriptures in every verse.)
5 kinds of darkness: …(119:19)
I am a foreigner in the land; don't hide your commands from me. Psalm 119:19
What darkness is referenced here? Darkness of loneliness.
· it’s dark when you feel like a stranger
· it’s when you feel alone
· it’s dark when you have no place.
· It’s dark when you have no community
· it’s dark when even in your community you feel isolated
While in your darkness the Bible’s light is crucial. The bible reveals who you are: loved and a child of God
Here’s another kind of darkness: (119:10)
I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. Psalm 119:10
· This is describing spiritual darkness. Where are you God darkness? Knocking on the door of heaven and getting nothing darkness.
· This is the darkness of a broken heart/ shattered dream/aching body/ deep depression…
when you cannot find God.
When you face spiritual darkness the light of the word of God is essential. That’s why the Psalm writer says: don’t’ let me wander from your commands.!
Here’s another kind of darkness:
Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions. Psalm 119:29
· this is the darkness of self-deception
· it is dark when you don’t know what’s going on inside of you
· when you read the bible it acts very much like a mirror and you see yourself unlike any other way.
o this is precisely why most folks DON’T read the Bible.
“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.” William Shakespeare,Macbeth
We would prefer to deceive ourselves – and the Bible is a sure remedy!
How about THIS form of darkness: (119:59)
I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. Psalm 119:59
· this is the darkness of calling…the obscurity of destiny…the murkiness of your next move
· EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME wants to know who they are, why they are here, what should they do…we are hard wired to fulfill a calling from before we were born.
· Note what the psalm writer says: I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. Psalm 119:59
The Bible is the google of God: you got a question…type it in!
How about one more form of darkness: (119:61,69)
Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. Psalm 119:61
Arrogant people smear me with lies, but in truth I obey your commandments with all my heart. Psalm 119:69
· This is the darkness caused of fools and evil people
o the darkness caused by manipulating bosses, horrible demeaning co-workers, humiliating spouses, even dangerous children
· Where do you turn in such darkness? Friends, yes. Community, yes. but note what the psalm writer says…
o Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. Psalm 119:61
o Arrogant people smear me with lies, but in truth I obey your commandments with all my heart. Psalm 119:69
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”Martin Luther King Jr.,A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Let me summarize…
If you are walking in darkness (of any kind), then read God’s Word.
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
Fast or slow…morning or night…Psalms or The Gospel of Mark…read the Bible!
The Bible is the piercing light of revelation and it is the dawning light of hope.
Read the Bible