Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Discipleship and the priority of scripture

Earlier this year, I put message in the churches newsletter inviting the church to read through the bible with me in 2012. Bu I didn't put it up on the blog. Here it is in slightly edited form.

There is no other book like the bible. It’s God’s inspired (God breathed) word (2Timothy 3:15). “no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation” writes Peter. “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2Peter 1:20-21).” It’s “living and active, sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and a “lamp unto our feet, and a light to our path(Psalms 119:105). It’s “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Timothy 3:15-16). The person who studies the word of God attentively and applies it to their life will be blessed (Psalm 1:1-3).

As last year drew to an end, I found myself looking at the final page of my bible reading calendar with a sense of joy. Every year, I try to read through the bible and allow God to shape my life through His word. Some years, I’ve read it chronologically (following a plan that matches history and prophecy to show you the timeline of redemptive history). Some years, genesis to Revelation. This year I went with a reading calendar that took me through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice. I do this, because scripture should be a priority the life of ever believer. Each and every one of us, as followers of Christ, should be people of the word; people who self feed on scripture and are nourished by it.

If you want to grow as a disciple of Christ (discipleship is becoming more like Christ) and know Him deeper, you need to. There is an iron link between Bible reading and Christian maturity. Daily reading should be the goal. People who read the bible on a daily basis are more likely to give generously to the church, be active in a small group or Sunday school class, share their faith more often, spend greater time in prayer, attend worship services regularly, and be involved in local ministries and international missions. Brad Waggoner, in his book, The Shape Of Faith To Come notes that “Statistically, the number one issue correlated to higher maturity scores was the discipline of daily Bible reading.”(296). When you read the Bible every day, you are more likely to demonstrate spiritual growth.

But allot of Christians haven’t gotten the memo. Sadly, only 16% of church-goers read the Bible daily, and often, pastors don’t highlight the importance of scripture in the life of a believer. Recently I was reading an article from Thom Rainer, a former pastor who now serves as the president of Lifeway Christian Resources, and as he looked back on his pastoral career he said “One of the biggest mistakes I made when I served as pastor of four churches was failing to emphasize the importance of every member being in the Word every day”. He went on to say that the missing element of discipleship that he saw most frequently is an intentional effort to involve as many members as possible in daily Bible, and commented, “The Word of God is powerful and transformative. Daily reading and study may be the most important step a Christian can take to grow as a disciple.” I don’t want to look back at my career and echo his regrets, because if I do I will have done you a disservice and hindered your growth as a disciple of Christ.

Earlier this year, i put message in the churches newsletter, inviting the congregation of First Baptist Medfield to read through the bible with me in 2012, using a Chronological reading calender (you can find the chronological reading calender at www.fbcmedfield.org) . By doing this, you will get the flow of what happened when, and get a better feel for the scope of redemptive history, seeing how God worked to raise up a people for himself, and bring salvation to the ends of the earth through Jesus. 

I have begun to post thoughts on the passages we are reading each day (I have put up the first three days of reading already), as I will do throughout the year.I would encourage you to interact with them. use the comments section. Add things that stuck out to you. Lets make this a group discuission of the scriptures as we feed on God’s word and grow as disciples of Christ in 2012.

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