Summary: A sermon about the importance of the Bible, God’s Word, in the life of faith.
Now, you may all have a seat, but before you close your Bibles, I want you to turn back one chapter to Psalm 118 for a bit of Bible trivia. Today we are celebrating the Word of God as contained in the Bible by presenting our children with their very own Bible. Now, I don’t know about you folks, but I remember when I got my first Bible from my church as a third grader, one of the first things our Sunday School teachers taught us was that Psalms was in the middle of the Bible. Did you all learn this same lesson? They told us that if we would take our thumbs, put them on either edge of our Bible like this (demonstrate), and then bring them steadily together toward the middle, that where they met, if we opened up our Bible, we would be in the book of Psalms. And as a child, every time I did that with my new Bible, I opened up to the book of Psalms! Now that doesn’t work on every Bible because of commentaries, notes, and various things like that, but it is no less true that the book of Psalms is the middle book of the Bible.
A few years ago, my grandmother gave me a piece of paper that had printed on it some facts that have always fascinated me. Since she gave it to me, I have always kept it with my Study Bible. Here’s what the paper said:
Psalm 118 is the middle chapter of the entire Bible. Psalm 117, which of course immediately precedes Psalm 118 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, only two verses. Psalm 119, following Psalm 118 (and the Psalm we heard from this morning), is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. The Bible has 594 chapters before Psalm 118 and 594 chapters after Psalm 118. If you add up all the chapters except Psalm 118, you get a total of 1188 chapters. 1188 or Psalm 118 verse 8 is the middle verse of the entire Bible! Should the central verse not have a fairly important message? Here’s what is says: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." Is this central verse not also the central theme of the entire Bible?
Indeed, this is a truly amazing book in so many ways! The Bible is the Word of God that shares with us the story of God’s relationship with his creation, and especially all of us. As our reading from Psalm 119 this morning tells us, in the Word of God we find valuable teachings that give us understanding and the guidance we need to follow God’s ways and avoid every evil. In the Bible, we have the Gospel story of Jesus Christ, the story of our salvation and our hope, the story that lights the darkest places of this world. The Psalmist said it well, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”
The person who wrote these words was undoubtedly in love with God’s revelation, God’s Word. We clearly see the happiness of a person who is in love with the one who truly offers life. And think of the same happiness we feel when we open up the Bible and read God’s Word! Just imagine how happy we might be if we were to meditate on it all day long, as the Psalmist suggests! Perhaps to some that sounds like boring drudgery, but we must remember this about God’s Word; whenever we open the Bible to read it, the Holy Spirit is there with us, opening our eyes and inspiring our reading, bringing us a new and fresh message about God and God’s love for us all!
Some of you probably remember a few weeks ago when I was reading our Scripture lesson, the story of Zacchaeus, and I finished only to tell you that I had just gotten a new inspiration, that if I had it to do over again, I would write a different sermon. The Bible is like that. And to me, that’s one of the most amazing things about God’s Word; its living and breathing! We could read a verse a hundred times and every time we would come away with a new meaning or insight, a new understanding inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is the Word that reveals God’s very self and God’s guide to life, the “light” of the world! And it is available to each of us, whether we are still exploring Christianity, whether we are new to the faith, or whether we have been Christians for even longer than we can remember.
A few years ago on the radio program "For Faith and Family", pollster George Barna discussed the significant influence of music on culture. He said, "Music is really interesting because essentially it is the language of our culture. If you need an example of how that works just think about churches. Even in churches this is true,” he says. “What is the biggest war we have in churches? It doesn’t tend to be theological. It tends to be over what style of music you’re going to use in the worship service. We’ve had all kinds of fights, but in the church, music is the way we suggest to somebody, ‘Hey, I understand where you’re coming from. I speak your language.’ For so many, music is the feel; it is the sound that constitutes who you are and what you’re about.”