Summary: Readiing and reflecting on Scripture helps us grow closer to Christ and conforms us more into his image.
We are currently in a series looking at our need to grow spiritually. Growing spiritually means we receive God’s grace to know him better (in other words it’s relational) and we mature to be more like him (we reflect Jesus’ character and actions, doing what he would do). God loves us the way we are, but God has created us for so much more. We live so far below where we could live in Christ. Even as Christians we tend to accept our self-centeredness, pride, anger, lack of joy, peace, love, when God has created and saved us to live a whole different way. To live more like Jesus. We accept status quo because it’s safe and predictable and we don’t have to change. What if we determined that we want to have all that God wants for us? What if we were to decide change was a good thing in our life? Then we would make a choice to grow spiritually. As the Apostle Paul said, we would send down our spiritual roots in Christ, we would allow God to change us to be the person he wants us to be. Growing means changing, so you have to decide if you are ready for God’s best life now?
Listen to what people who have grown spiritually report in their life:
• They feel a genuine sense of the presence of God in their lives
• Their religious experiences are a source of strength, personal growth, and the healing of inner conflict.
• They have a greater sense of inner peace, feel joyful and happy and less depressed
• They are more humble
• They find themselves far more engage in compassionately helping others.
• They are far more capable of forgiving people
It’s no secret on how we grow spiritually. Those who grow spiritually closer to God and reflect God’s character are those who are willing to practice what are called spiritual disciplines or as I am calling them practices. These practices are the same ones Jesus did when he walked this earth, which helped him grow closer to his heavenly Father. These practices include: Praying, reading and reflecting on God’s Word, following the guidance of the Spirit, slowing, servanthood, and worship to name a few.
These practices help make us receptive to receive God’s help, his grace, to have the life we were meant to live. Without them, quite frankly, we will not mature spiritually, no matter what age we are, or how long we’ve been a Christian.
Today we are looking at the practice of reflecting on Scripture, the Bible.
The Bible is more than just a record of history of a group of people called Israelites, and a specific Israelite or Jew named Jesus. The Bible is God’s self revelation to us. When I say revelation I am not talking about the book in the Bible, I am referring to God revealing himself to humanity. God interacted with people and then inspired authors to write down what happened and what God said. It is, as the Apostle Paul said, the inspired work of God. God inspired people to write down his interaction with humanity, beginning with Adam and Eve, later making a covenant relationship with Abraham and his descendents the Israelites, the whole purpose of which was to restore a relationship with all people on earth lost in sin, that’s all of us. Later God was to come to earth himself as a human being, God the Son, Jesus, in order restore a relationship broken by sin with all people. In the Bible we have a record of everything we need to know about how to be return back into a relationship with God and to live the way he created us to live.
By reading God’s Word we know who God is.
Through reading the Scripture we come to know who God is and what God does. I said at the beginning that the first part of spiritual growth is knowing God better. How do you know God better? Last week we looked at prayer. Through faith in Jesus we are able to go right to the throne room of God and have a direct personal relationship with God. Another way we know God more is through reading, studying, AND reflecting on his Word, the Bible.
Too often we make our impressions of God based on what other people tell us or model for us, the pastor, the radio or television preacher, the saintly person a church, but God has revealed himself in his Word. If we rely on other people, we are getting only a partial picture or possibly even a false picture of the God who wants to know us better. I just finished reading a fictional book called The Visitation, where a man entered a small town doing all sorts of miracles, and allowed himself to be called the Messiah, and he began gathering his own followers. By the end of book you discover he received his powers not from God but from the demonic and he was very evil and he got that way because his father, a pastor, a representative of God, treated him horribly, and in a desperate attempt to straighten him out, he did the unthinkable he crucified his son to a fencepost. The son rejected God and turned to the devil. Why? Because his picture of God was warped, it was shaped on a fallen person rather than the God of the Bible. Where do we turn to know God better? We must look in his Word because eventually people we look to for our understanding of God will disappoint us or fail us because they are not perfect. Are you looking toward that person or are you going to the source.