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Biblically Minded Part 2: A Light to My Path

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

SERMON SLIDES

Stonebrook Pillars:  Biblically Minded—Part II

A Light to My Path

My extended family lives in Loveland, Colorado.  An hour north of Denver.

One year after we visited the family, we jumped in our van early in the morning with our four daughters and headed east on Interstate 76.  But within the first hour, we encountered a significant problem:  Fog.  At first it was sporadic and not too dense.

But fairly quickly, the fog was so dense we could see almost nothing.

I was white-knuckling the steering wheel.  I could barely see the painted lines marking my lane and or the shoulder.  I considered pulling off at the next exit, but I couldn’t see any signs.  I wondered if I should pull off on the shoulder and wait it out.  But I was afraid someone would rear-end us.  I had no idea how fast I should drive.  Too fast, and I would rear end someone.  Too slow, and someone would rear end me.

Life can be this way.  We get in a cultural fog, an experiential fog, or a sinful fog, and we can’t see clearly.  And it’s worse when we seem to be unaware that we’re actually in a fog.  We are blind to our blindness. 

How can we see clearly?  What will blow away the fog?

I propose one primary thing:  Scriptures. 

The Scriptures are intended, among other things, to blow away the fog and help us see reality. 

Using a light vs. darkness theme, the psalmist said,

Psalm 119:105 ESVYour word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

God’s Word is like a bright light in our darkness.  It’s like a strong wind that blows the fog away.

We are in Week 4 of a series on Stonebrook’s Core Values.  We call them our Pillars.

These 7 qualities we hope and pray that we can live these out.  That we will grow in these.  Even be examples in them.

We will press PAUSE on the series next week from Easter to Mother’s Day, then after that, we will press RESUME.

Today, as Matt did last week, we are exploring the Pillar, “Being Biblically Minded.”  Blowing away the fog…bring light to the darkness… all that this world and our flesh and the devil throw at us… worldly thinking, fleshly thinking, demonic thinking…. to finally begin to see life clearly.  To see life in truth.  In God’s truth.  In reality.  Not #FakeNews, but #TrueNews. 

The big question I want to examine today is this:  Do I actually believe the Bible is true?  And do I live like I do?

If the Bible is actually inspired from Almighty God—and I believe it is—do we treat it accordingly?  Do we read it and search it and think about it as if it is words sent from heaven for me and for you?

Biblically Minded

To be Biblically Minded is, in one way, to let the Bible—God’s own words—shape our thinking and our way of life.

Many other things shape the way we think about God and life and heaven and sin: 

Our flesh can shape us.  The sinful tendencies we carry around inside us.

The world can shape us.  Philosophies and systems of the world that are contrary to God.

The devil can shape us.  Jesus called the devil the father of lies whose mission is to trick us into believing lies.  The word for that is deception.  We can get deceived.

So those things influence how we view life and God.

But the Bible claims to be the authoritative source of truth.  The Bible claims to be the words of the God of all Truth.  The Bible proclaims to be the source of Reality.  Matt did a great job covering this last week.  Go to our website, www.stonebrook.org, to listen to it. 

Matt spoke of this verse last week:

2 Timothy 3:16 ESVAll Scripture is breathed out by God…

Yes, it was penned by mere mortals—apostles and prophets—but it was breathed out through them to us. 

There are dozens and dozens of examples like these, where it is written, “The Lord says….”

So ponder this.  Let this sink in.

The Bible you are holding in your hands….the words written there…. are from God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  God wrote this.  He wrote it for you.   God is communicating to his creatures, made in his image.   He wrote this for us.  So to be biblically minded is to let the truths of God shape our lives—True Truth…not half truth or sort of truth… the Truth of God and from God.

In first grade when you were 6 years old, did you ever do “Show and Tell”?   Show and Tell is where you bring some object to school to show your classmates.  It’s a chance to show them something that is very valuable to you.  Important.  It’s a chance to tell your story.

In a way, God has done a Show and Tell.  He has inspired prophets and apostles to record his words.  Words that he wants men and women—made in his image—to know about him and about life.  Several years ago, we re-wrote our Statement of Faith in story form.  12 brief paragraphs written in chronological fashion.  We call it “The Story of God and Man.”  I love that name.  In a way, that’s what the Bible is:  It is the Story of God and Mankind. 

Faith

Fundamentally, what do we need to approach the Bible?

Faith

Faith means “to believe.”  We simply need to believe that this is from God, it is true, and we can trust God in it.  We must believe what God wrote here.

Through the revelation of the Scriptures, God has “breathed out” many things.  He has spoken of various themes.

Here’s a short list:

  • God is knowable.  He is vast and beyond description, yet he is tender and intimate, and he wants you to know him.
  • This broken world is explainable.  We look at this crazy, broken, dark world, and we’re all confused and distraught.  What is wrong, we wonder?  The Bible explains it all.
  • I am fixable.  My experience and the Bible tell me that something is very wrong with me.  A brokenness.  A sinfulness.  My pride hinders me from admitting it, but I know deep inside I need to be fixed.  The Bible tells me that there is Redemption for me.
  • Eternal life is obtainable.  Life after death is not wishful thinking.  It is real and it can be obtained through Jesus.  We don’t need to guess or wonder.

And so many other themes and issues that have extraordinary importance. 

Aside from simply guessing about God and life itself, we can just look to the Scriptures.

So again, the question this morning is,

Do we believe this?

Do we believe….do we grasp… that this book is a record of God’s own words?

Or, do I see it more like a textbook or a good novel (even a well-written novel)?

Is it merely words in a book that I’m supposed to follow, obey, love, listen to, and speak about?

I enjoy reading.  Before bed every night I’m always reading something.  History, biographies, occasionally novels.  Next on my list is the autobiography of Jackie Robinson.  In the 1940’s, he was the first black baseball player to play in the Major Leagues.

So is the Bible sort of like other books I read?

OR, is this book categorically and powerfully and eternally different?  i.e., is it words from heaven?

Hebrews 4:12 ESV  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Bible claims to be the “word of God.”   Ponder that.  The word….of God.  God’s word to me…. to you. 

I can give you all kinds of tips and techniques on how to read and study the Bible, but those will help only to the extent that you and I believe that these are the very words of our Creator, Almighty God. 

Do we believe God is knowable and is worth knowing?

And that his character and nature are as revealed in the Bible?  That he is who the Bible says he is?

Psalm 42:1 ESV As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.

The psalmist believed God was knowable.  He believed God was worth seeking after, like a thirsty deer laps up water from the stream.  The Psalms, part of God’s inspired word, tell us about the Lord and inspire us to know him better. 

So do I believe in God for who he really is as revealed in Scriptures?

If I have an incorrect view of God, I am likely to AVOID reading the Bible.

And conversely:  If I am avoiding reading the Bible, it’s quite likely I have an incorrect view of God.

For example, 1 Peter 5:7 is a verse on my mind this week speaks of how much the Lord cares about me. 

“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

But if I don’t believe God really cares… after  all, he didn’t answer this prayer, and he let me down in this situation… then why would I want to read his words?

The trap that is SO easy to fall into is that the very book that tells me God is good, glorious, beautiful, holy, and caring…. that he is eternal, all-knowing, and my Creator… this very book that can open my eyes to see him in truth…….. is the book I don’t want to read because I doubt he really is all that.

Do I have a proper view of God based on what this book says, not on my feelings or my doubts?

Do I believe the Bible holds the true answers to eternal life?

No guessing.  No wondering.  Do I believe the Bible clearly tells me how I can live forever?

The Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy: 

2 Timothy 3:14–15 ESV But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Timothy had heard the sacred writings… the Scriptures…since his childhood.  And it brought him salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  

While I was growing up, I remember my mom on the phone with a friend.  They were wondering how they could get to heaven.  My mom had gone to church her entire life and had heard many, many parts of the Bible.  But somehow at that point in time, she didn’t understand about the Bible’s clear revelation of salvation through Jesus.

Do I believe the Bible points me to a life with God that never ends?

Do I believe it has answers to help me grow in knowledge of God and in godliness?

In the next verse after the one we just read, Paul continues:

2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESVAll Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable [useful, beneficial] for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Do I believe that what I need for life and godliness is found here?

We all come to Christ with loads of hang-ups and problems and sins.  Can God change me?

Is the Bible just one of five major sources of life for me?  Or is at the top of the list?  Do I see it as the ultimate authority for my life, like Matt talked about so well last week?

God’s Word brings good to our lives.  Do we believe this?

Psalm 19:7–10 ESV

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;

Do I believe God can revive my soul?

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

Do I believe I can gain wisdom?

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; 

Do I believe God can give joy in my heart?

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes…

Do I believe God can make me truly enlightened?

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.

The Bible is better than the sweetest sweets and the biggest pile of gold.

There are so many other things we must wrestle over in faith concerning God’s Words in this book.

We say we believe the Bible is true and good and necessary.  But do we truly believe it at this moment?  Have our trials hindered our trust in God?  Have distractions made my heart cold?

There are ways to test this.

  • Do I read it?
  • Do I turn to it during trials?
  • Do I take seriously teachings and discussions?  (Do I come prepared in prayer and homework, and do I leave committed to apply it?)
  • When I have doubts or questions, do I search honestly for answers?
  • Do I talk about it with others?

Now, I hope none of you freaks out about this.  This isn’t a test Pass-Fail.  This is simply a way to assess our faith.  None of us will get 100% all the time. 

This book has been the center of my life for 40 years.  But not as just any book.  Rather, as the words from God’s mouth.

 I love what the Lord has written.  It brings me life every day. 

Through his written words, God has brought me an awareness of him, increased understanding of his nature, strengthened my faith by reading of his mighty deeds, given me clarity about my own heart and life and problems, granted wisdom in confusing circumstances in my life and in others. 

The Word of God is living and active” in me, as it is in so many of you. 

It frightens me to consider where my life would be if the Lord had not touched my heart with his words written in here. 

If the Lord can use his Word to transform me, he can do the same in you.

How is Biblically Minded is Lived Out

So how do we actually live a life that is biblically minded?  How can we get the fog lifted in our hearts and minds?  How can we bring light to dark areas in our lives?

Action steps

Commit to learn and grow

We may need to freshly resolve to learning and growing.  Perhaps we are taking it all for granted.  Perhaps we aren’t walking by faith when we read our Bibles or go to LG or come here on Sunday morning or attend a retreat.  Perhaps we’re half-hearted when we are exposed to God’s own word. 

Tell your spouse or friend in our LG, “I want to renew my effort to seek God in his Word, by the help and power of the Holy Spirit.”  Every one of us needs supernatural help from God’s Spirit because the Word of God is deep.  And the Word of God is deep because God is deep.  And human nature has complexities.  Plus, we are finite and not omniscient.  This all takes humility.  Be passionate about God and what he says. 

You don’t have to be a scholastic nerd.  You should simply strive to pay attention.

Hebrews 2:1 ESVTherefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

With God’s help, commit to paying much closer attention.

I strongly encourage you to read the Bible yourself.  This is quite good.  Not as some burdensome chore.  But because God’s word is alive, and the Lord wants to work it in you. 

But also commit freshly to learn and grow in Community.   Most of what I have learned over 40 years has been learned in community.  Watching others, listening, studying together.  We pastors talk weekly about topics and Scriptures.  I am routinely inspired and challenged by them.  Even corrected.

Commit to learn and grow. 

Don’t waste your trials.

Psalm 119:71 ESV It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.

Psalm 119:92 ESV If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

The psalmist found delight…pleasure, satisfaction… from the Word of God in the midst of his affliction. 

It’s safe to say that the greatest, most memorable lessons I have learned about God have come through trials, even severe trials.

Stories about finding God in the midst of suffering are all over the Bible.

  • The ultimate story is found in our Savior’s life, persecution, murder, and resurrection.  He sought his heavenly Father to the end.  And the outcome is life forever for us.

There are also countless other stories of suffering we can learn from.

  • Joseph in Genesis.  His own brothers sold him into human trafficking.  Slavery.  But he sought God in the midst of tears, and 22 years later he saved his family and an entire nation.  Joseph found the Lord, not just at the end of the trial, but in the midst of it.
  • King David of Israel.  In one situation his own son Absalom turned against to kill him that the kingdom might be his.  So David is running for his life.  His kingdom seems to be at the end.  A tragic ending.  Yet in the midst of this he wrote Psalm 3.

Psalm 3:5 ESV I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.

Last month this verse was precious to me one night as I faced some burdens.  I read it right before bed, and God comforted me.

If we persevere with joy and a heart to know God, we will find light coming into our souls.  The fog will be lifted more and more. 

Don’t waste your trials.

Examine your heart for obstacles to faith

Are there obstacles to trusting God?

  • A severe trial that has knocked you off your feet?
  • A prayer that wasn’t answered, or at least not answered the way you want?
  • Unrepentant sin that is deceiving you?  e.g., a secret sin that no one knows about, or
  • Doubts that have not been addressed?
  • Out-of-control busyness.
  • Distractions
  • Guilt and shame

In such obstacles, you will need help.  Talk to a friend in your LG.  Talk to one of the pastors or a parent.   We are members in the Body of Christ, and we are not sufficient and complete in ourselves.  We need to humble ourselves and admit we need help.

Take practical steps to renew your mind:

The list of ideas is quite long.  Consider choosing one thing here to increase your time and impact in the Word. 

  • Read.  And if reading is hard for you, try reading while listening to the Bible being read.  I do this occasionally.  My Bible app called YouVersion lets me listen and read at the same time.  It helps me to concentrate.
  • Pray through the psalms and other Scriptures.  i.e., talk to the Lord as you are reading it.
  • Memorize.  Over the years, especially in my early years as a Christian, I memorized many verses.  Perhaps 1000’s.   My goal was to be able to think about God’s Word more.  To understand it better.  To believe it more wholeheartedly. 
  • Sing
  • Listen to podcasts in the car, while exercising, or on campus while walking to class.
  • Prepare for and engage in Life Group discussions.
  • Pray and prepare your heart before coming on Sunday mornings.
  • Attend conferences and retreats.

Conclusion

Let me close with this.

I believe with all my heart that this book….the words on these pages have been given to me and to you as a gift.

A gift.  A treasure.  A priceless treasure. 

  • That we might know God. 
  • Understand ourselves.  Our brokenness.  Our need for God.  What it means to be made in his image. 
  • Comprehend what is wrong with this world. 
  • Discover redemption. 
  • Learn about an unseen world inhabited by God and created beings called angels and demons. 
  • Have hope in future things.  Specifically, hope for the resurrected world where God’s people live directly in his presence forever and ever. 

My final word is this: 

Persist.

Don’t give up.  Sometimes the Bible will seem confusing.  Or boring.  Or pointless.   God will seem distant or uncaring or even evil.  Sometimes my Bible reading is dry.  I walk away thinking, “Meh.”

But simply persist in faith.  Talk to the Lord about it:  “Lord, I want more of you.  I need help, strength, comfort, correction, encouragement, hope.  I can’t do it on my own.” 

Persist in fighting the good fight of faith. 

Persist in talking to the Lord about your doubts.  Your questions.

David wrote in Psalm 13:1 ESV How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?

Just be honest with the Lord.  It’s no secret to him, so stop trying to hide.

Persist in reading every morning.

Persist in coming Sunday mornings.

Persist in joining with your Life Group friends to read, discuss, and pray.

Persist and you will bear much fruit.