Ryan and I consider ourselves blessed to be members of a congregation with leaders so committed to being faithful and obedient to the scripture. We are learning under an eldership and deacons that have studied the scriptures and it's original meaning in Hebrew and Greek. We've learned over the years at Countryside that it makes a huge difference in the meaning of the text when you understand what each translated word means in it's original language. We're learning to really love the scripture, God's words and their purpose in our days.
This weekend, God brought rain, and that meant that Ryan and I got to attend our Essentials conference all weekend. No soccer! 6 different sessions focused on the essential of the Bible in our walk as a christian. We've learned so much that I thought i'd record it here for my own memory, and that it may encourage you as well!
Our first session focused on James 1:19-21 and how we are to hear and recieve the word of God with a cultivated heart. I've never heard it explained like this before and truly, i'm forever changed! The Word says this, "This you know, my beloved bethren. But everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. For anger does not bring about the righteousness of God."
I've always assumed this verse means that I need to use my patience and self control, listen when in conversation, and communicate more effectively. While I think this point can be applied, Scott put this verse back into context and applied it directly to my recieving the Word of God with a cultivated heart. Earlier in the same chapter, James is addressing those that find themselves temped. He specifically addresses those that are blaming God for their tempation. When verse 19 is put into context, we can clearly see that James wants us, when temped, to be quick to listen...TO THE SCRIPTURE! We should immediately seek wisdom in the scripture when tempted. Secondly, we are to be slow to speak...AGAINST GOD in our temptation. We're told ever so clearly that God does not temp us! (verse 13) And lastly, we're to be slow to anger...AGAINST GOD. We so easily tend to blame others or God in our suffering, making excuses and holding bitterness and resentment. Interesting how we can pluck a verse out of the Bible, and use it selfishly. Applying it to children to teach them to listen better to their parent, or not speak out when upset so much...in reality, this verse, when kept in context is about our coming to the Lord for counsel and maintaining a right view of God. We must be quick to listen to His words, slow to speak against His soverign will, and slow to become angry at our circumstances. Wow, i'm still shocked at how out of context i've taken this scripture for so many years!
Breifly, a few other points that have stuck out to me are as follows. 1) In scripture, God places much emphasis on being a LISTENER to His Word. What a huge responsibility our pastors and elders and deacons and teachers have to teach us and preach to us. I am totally convicted that while their responsibility is huge, ours as listeners is ENORMOUS. If I am showing up and listening and taking notes and seeing God's Words in front of me...yet I walk away unchanged and do not apply what i've learned, what a fool am I. I will be held responsible for what I choose to do with the words that fall upon my ears. 2 Tim 4:1 tells us that when we are hearing the Word of God preached, we are hearing from GOD HIMSELF! These words in the Bible are straight from our Lord and Savior. I'd better listen up and start to allow them to change me. This is one way God sanctifies us, grows our hearts to become more like Him. Mt. 7:24
This morning, we heard a sermon that has placed a serious vice on my heart that I pray will never be loosened. 2 Tim 3:16 " All scripture is inspired by God..." We dug into this word, "inspired". The meaning today, as we use it, is an emotional movement. The original Greek text had the word, "pneustos" which means, "to breathe out". I remember hearing the version that said, "All scripture is God-breathed", but today it really sunk in for me. These words on my precious Bible are actually God's words. Yes, other great men penned them onto the scrolls, but God gave them just the right words at just the right time. These are the perfect words, the only words we need, nothing more, nothing less, and articulated just exactly as God intended them to be articulated for His glory. Our speaker gave the example of a statue in a room with all of the sculpting tools sitting beside. No one would ever think to give the tools the credit for crafting this sculpture, there has to be a sculpter behind those tools. So it was with the men God chose to record His words. They were simply the tools. These words are not these mens' best efforts to record their thoughts on God...these words in our Bible are God's perfect words for us to believe and trust.
I know i've not done these lessons justice in my recap here on my blog. I guess i'm just feeling so convicted that I'm able to make time in my day to play a word game on the computer, or scroll through Pinterest but i've not carved out a time in my day to read these real words from my Lord God.
To add salt to that wound for me, I got to see something yesterday that many will never have the opportunity to see in their lifetime. Remember that our conference was centered on the importance of the Holy Scripture in our walk? The reality of the origin of the scriptures. Our leaders arranged for a display of epic proportion. Ryan and the kids and I were all able to veiw, touch and page through the very first ever, printing of the English Bible...that means that the first time the Bible was EVER translated from Greek/Hebrew into English...that's the book we saw. And guess what? The words in that Holy Bible were exactly the same as the words in my Bible. The table also contained the first edition of the "Book of Martyrs." Talk about a gut check. Diagrams, hand drawn sketches of the punishment men and women suffered through because they refused to denounce the truth of the scripture. It's because of these men and women I even have my translation today. I honestly never realized what men and women of faith went through to protect this precious book we so flippantly leave on our counters or in our car...these Holy Words of our Lord go unnoticed in our homes.
God has changed my heart this weekend. I'm so thankful He chose to give us an actual book to touch, translations to track, and proof that He is real, His words are true and that He is the author and perfector of our faith. What a mighty God we serve! Be encouraged, be in the Word and allow God to give you the gift of sanctification...He will change your heart to know Him more.