Nourished on the Word of God

Pastor Diane Gordon

Mt Pleasant FUMC

May 14, 2017

 

 

Scriptures: 1 Peter 2:2-10 CEB and John 14:1-14 CEB

 

          One of the curiosities of life is that our emotional and spiritual maturity rarely coincides with our chronological age. We have known 14-year-olds with an old soul, wise beyond their years, intuitive and spiritually keen, and 40-year-olds that are stuck in what seems like a perpetual rebellious teenager mindset, self-centered, and oblivious to anything related to responsibility, reliability, or self-control.

          Truth be told, we all wrestle with life at times, seeking to cope with challenges and grow into the person God created us to be. It takes a brave person to face one’s own fears and to grow a faith strong enough to see us through the worst.

          Tucked inside an old book I had been given years ago, I recently found an old pamphlet, published in 1969 by General Motors, if you can believe it, for their Information Rack Service available to GM employees. It is entitled What the Bible Says to Me and was originally an article in Reader’s Digest, written by The Reverend Billy Graham. In it Graham recounts a visit he once made to Winston Churchill. He writes,

“Some years ago, I was invited to No. 10 Downing Street in London by Sir Winston Churchill. It was a dark hour in Britain’s history, and the Prime Minister was deeply discouraged. He had hardly greeted me before he asked, “Young man, do you have any hope for the world?” I took a New Testament from my pocket, saying, “Mr. Prime Minister, this book is full of hope.” Quickly, he replied, “Would you read me some passages?” For the next 30 minutes, I read selections that I thought would fit his mood. As I left, he said warmly, “I thank you. You have given an old man a renewal of faith for the future.” I hadn’t. But the Bible had.

Like Churchill, all of us know moments when our outlook is bleak and hope seems an illusion. In the Bible, we can find exactly the strength we need.”

In today’s world, it would seem odd for a major corporation to be extolling the virtues of reading the Bible. Even so, our need to be fed spiritually has never gone away. We hunger for hope and the answers to life’s big questions as much today as back in Churchill’s day. We are all infants in God’s eyes, children of our heavenly Father, born of human mothers and set on a path to grow and serve in ways unique to each of us.

Graham points out that “the bible answers [human’s] fundamental questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? What is my future beyond this life?” These questions have not lost their pertinence. Life takes on new meaning when we can answer them in light of God’s Word. We can only know God’s Word by reading the Bible, and, as a result of the Reformation in the 1500’s, we have the Bible written in the language we speak available to us so we can read it for ourselves and let it sink in and be interpreted into our daily lives. As 1 Peter 2:2-3 says, “like a newborn baby, desire the pure milk of the world. Nourished by it, you will grow into salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

When faced with uncertainty for the future, recall the words in Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

When facing stressful, challenging times remember Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  And Isaiah 41:10, “do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Or there are the words of Jesus himself saying to us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

There was a time when an angel at a hospital information desk reminded very tired me of Isaiah 40:31, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

In the task of seeking to create a vibrant Christian community it helps to remember:

2 Corinthians 5:17     So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

James 5:16        Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Zephaniah 3:17      The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love;

Deuteronomy 31:6     Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of [those who would harm you], because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14       Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Romans 8:28     We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose

Proverbs 3:4-5      Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Psalm 46:1     God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Hebrews 11:1    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

2 Timothy 1:7      For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Philippians 4:6-7     Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:22-23       The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

John 1:9      The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

John 3:16-17      For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Hebrews 12:1-2      Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Our lives can be measurably influenced for the good by reading God’s Word. When we want to know the answers to life’s toughest questions we have a way for God to speak truth into our hearts and lives through God’s Word. When we want to know God, we can see God’s very nature revealed to us in Christ Jesus, throughout the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

And when we want to connect with Jesus, we take part in Holy Communion where we are forgiven our sins and availed of his Holy Spirit as we come to His table, where all are welcome.

Then, when our days are done, we can rest easy in the words of the Psalmist:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,

I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. Psalm 23

 

And some day, only known to God, Jesus will come and take us to be with him and we will live in peace forever.

Amen and Amen.