Marjorie and I were up here in Inverlussa in the Autumn on a fabulous sunny day. And out of this window, you can see Alistair’s apple tree. I‘ve seen it through all the seasons, bare branches, in blossom and in leaf, but this particular day, as the sun shone on the apples their red skins reflected the light, so that they almost glowed. I felt God say –that’s what my children are like when they bear fruit because they reflect my glory.
Quick question? Where is your Bible?
• Is it a) In your hand or in front of you? Or perhaps you have a tablet or a phone these days.
b)You’re using a pew bible today
• C)You forgot it
• D)Its on the shelf at home in very good condition , hardly used ( as amazon says)
You can give yourself 10 marks for a, 5 marks for b, 2 for c , because at least you have one. 0 for d, it wont help you there.
Just before Christmas, I was going to the weekly Bible study, I had to catch an early bus, I was rushing around,tried to fit in a bit of shopping and arrived at a friends house quite flustered. It was then that I realised I didn’t have a Bible. Not much point going to a Bible study without a Bible. Thankfully, a friend had a spare one, it was shiny black leather with Gold Lettering, and inside some verses were highlighted in red. I really liked it. I was interested to see what translation it was so I had a quick swizz over the front page and read “ The Ultrayathon Bible”. Now I was a bit worried, I had never heard of the Ultrayathons, and wondered where on earth she had got it from. I thought I’d better ask her about it later. I drank my tea and had a biscuit and calmed down a bit, and thought about what I’d read. So I turned to the front page, at the bottom it said Christian Bible Society, so I thought it must be Ok ,then looked at the translation ,do you know what it said…. The ULTRA THIN Bible! I was glad I hadn’t said anything! Is that how the Bible gets you sometimes? You read things and it leaves you flummoxed?
Last year I was studying a course in the Old Testament, my tutor had asked us to write an essay relating the escape from Egypt by the Israelites to the O.T. covenant. I remember having a total blank, I couldn’t get started at all I seemed to have brain freeze. I recently found the notes I wrote which said “ The plinkyplonks went with the Ninky nonk to see the whatingers with Iggle piggle and macca pacca.” Now if you have young children or grandchildren ,you will know what I’m talking about, because you’ve seen the program or read the books.
People often say to me, God doesn’t answer my prayers, I ask them if they read their Bible, and usually they say not often. Well a lot of the time God will speak to you through His word, but if your Bible is on the shelf you might be missing what He is saying. Most importantly the Bible tells us, who God is, what Jesus has done for us and that we have his guarantee of the Holy Spirit. The more we read , the more we understand about Jesus and grow to love him. Rick Warren says “ If you are not in the book everyday, you are missing out on the banquet.”
The first Bible I had was the revised standard version, it had nice coloured photos of Bible lands ,It was the one we had at school and were encouraged to use at Bible College, I’ve had mine for 50 years and still use it although its stuck together with lots of tape. Stanley Hood says a Bible that is falling to pieces is well used. I tend to use an NIV and as language translation improves more accurate versions become available. Use whatever version you are comfortable with, but although the KJV may have beautiful language it may not help you understand the text. If I’m stuck on a passage, a quick read in The Message might give me the gist. Even if you are only reading a verse a day, and mulling it over as you work, you are being fed. Its amazing how God can speak to you through his word. Walking along Kilduskland road the other day in the rain with the dog, I was chatting to God about a worry, when stuck to the pavement was a card from someone’s bouquet of flowers . On it, it said, “ Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin…. How much more will he clothe you.” Luke 12. 22 It was exactly what I needed to hear. As you will hear in our Old Testament reading in Psalm 1, A man or woman who delights in the law of the lord is like a tree planted by the water, bearing fruit at the right season bit like Alistair’s apple tree.
Who do you think you are? Do you watch that? People tracing their ancestry to find their roots. My family arrived on the shores of Cornwall in about the 11th Century from Scandinavia to extract tin from the mines. They then returned to farming and moved to Dorset, which they did for a few 100 years. A young man called Wesley roamed the towns and villages of the West Country in the 1740’s and many came to faith as Methodism was born. Including my relatives. In 1878, my great grandfather, Henry Arthur James Vater was born, and was brought up on a farm, but being quite bright he became a Surveyor. He moved to Sussex and felt called by God to build a Methodist Chapel , he found a site in the village of Buxted and got to work, he worshipped there with his family until he died. I met my grandmother when I was about 4 years old and I like to think that she prayed for me and her prayers were answered when I gave my life to Jesus . If you are sitting in the pews here, you probably have your own story about how or when you found Jesus and how your journey following after Him is going.
In our NT reading Paul says to the Colossians, who had been suffering a bit of opposition in their Christian journey,
“You’re Deeply rooted in Christ,” When Christians look for their roots, this is where they should be. Those verses were my Baptismal Verses, when I was baptised by immersion 38 years ago. My pastor urged me to remain deeply rooted and built up in Jesus and this comes from studying Gods word. Its not always easy , but whatever your situation, the Bible has something to say about it.
Identity theft is rampant, people want to steal your bank account numbers, , your passport, your National Insurance number to name a few things. The devil is no different, he doesn’t want you to know that you belong to Gods family. He wants to steal your identity, confuse and diminish your faith.
He is not as powerful as God , he cannot create but he can distort, pervert and destroy.
He can affect other peoples opinions of you, he wants you to feel worthless, a failure, ugly, overweight and we are fed these feelings through media and culture.
We need to learn our true identity in Christ, this will build us up in Him, and help us put down roots. What does God word tell you and me? I’m going to take you on a quick tour.
.1Pet. 2 v9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….”
This is Gods view of you. You are royal!! You are Princes and Princesses. You belong to the Royal Family. God chose you, Prince David, Princess Libby.
Ephesians 1.4 For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Isn’t that exciting God chose us even before He created the world? He knew those Vikings would invade Cornwall and one day I would be standing here.
Not only, that Jesus made us acceptable. Being a member of Gods Royal Family is not based on what you do but on what Jesus did Titus 3.7 From The message translation, “It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.
So we are chosen, royal and clean.
We are Valuable!
Our lives are priceless. Do you watch Antiques Roadshow. If a famous person has owned something and it has provenance, it is worth money. That persons’ name adds value. Well, we are owned by God, we are his treasured possessions Isaiah 43.4 you are precious and honoured in my sight…The Good News Bible puts it….I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor.
On Tv we are often told how much pieces of art are sold for. Millions in some cases, but they are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Well we are the Kings sons and daughters and Jesus paid for us with his life. And because of that we have eternal life!
So if anyone tells you that you are worthless ,they are wrong, you are very valuable.
We are lovable, You may be able to think of some Christians that you know who you would find difficult to describe as lovable. But if they belong to Christ they are eternally loved by our Father, as are we. We are part of a huge family. Hebrews 2.11. He purifies people from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure all have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his family. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus.
God loves us with an everlasting love , no one else will ever love you like that. Its unfailing and unconditional. There are no Ifs, if you do this or that I will love you, not because you look good I love you. God says in spite of the fact you don’t always love me, I go on loving you. And that’s GRACE.
Even Christians that are committed to their faith have difficulty grasping Grace. When bad things happen they think that God is getting even. God does not carry grudges. We are totally forgiven Isaiah 43. 25 I, even I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake and remembers your sins no more. God does not remember your sins, He doesn’t look on them. Jesus wiped them out. Forgive yourself. John 3 16. I hope I don’t have to tell you what that one says!
Why read the Bible? …because you need to know how God sees you. Read the verses ,stick them on the fridge, get your Bible off the shelf, if that’s where you left it. When we know these things, what do we do with that knowledge? We are disciples of Christ? Because Henry obeyed God and built a chaopel many came to know Jesus. We may not be called to do that but we are called to share the Good News. We want others to have what we have. What did Jesus do, he did practical things: He fed the poor, He healed the sick, he met the needs of people practically as well as spiritually.
First we have to provide the help, then others will see our faith and will be willing to listen to the Gospel.
I heard a young man from Paisley Bible College preach, the other day. He said we often pray for a revival, and he asked What if WE are that revival? He quoted from John 1 reading from The Message … “The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” Jesus is God, he came to earth and lived as a man. When we follow him, he lives in us. We are His flesh and blood and we live in a neighbourhood. We are Jesus in the Post Office, Jesus on the bus, Jesus in the local shop. We are the first part of the Bible that many people will read. We need to be the skins of Alistair’s’ apples radiating Christ.
The only opinion about who we are that matters is Gods. Be deeply rooted in Him and be built up in him by reading his word. Who do you think you are? You are God’s.