Our Spiritual Wellness and the Word
Scripture: Matthew 7:24-29
I was a 1-year old Follower of Jesus. A friend, Tony, was discipling me. Tony said, “John, I hope you can come with me Saturday evening to meet a friend of mine who’s going to lead a Bible study. I know this guy is going to mess with you.” He’s going to mess with me. What did he mean by that? He’s going mess up and dishevel my hair or wrinkle my shirt? Naw! He was going to challenge my status quo.
Tony was right. That stinking guy and His Bible study changed me. He was the first live oversea missionary I ever met. I didn’t even think missionaries still existed. I thought they were relegated to books of history. This missionary didn’t actually challenge me to be a missionary. He simply stood in my presence, opened up the Bible and talked about God and his work.
Tony correctly size up the situation. That encounter with this friend and that Bible study messed with my heart, starting a new life journey. That friend and the Bible, fun and kidding around began a journey that changed the way I see myself. That friend and the Bible that night forever changed the way I saw the purpose of the church. That friend and the Bible forever changed my me-centered view of the church.
My journey was hurky-jerky, filled with me fighting tooth and nail to keep me the way I was. I was a finance major in college for a reason. I liked money. My life was about ME and I was good with that. But then through that friend and the Bible God messed with me, for the good.
God wants to mess with you…not simply for the pleasure changing things around, but because He wants to be with you and he wants to care for the world and people through you.
The Power of God’s Word: So how does God mess with you? Or put another slightly more conventional way, how can you get to know Jesus? There are a bunch of ways Jesus reveals himself to us, but the most certain way involves His Word which we have right here (hold up Bible).
When you open up this book and read the NT a marvelous thing is going to happen. You’re going to join a crowd of people, who lived back in Jesus day. You’re going to listen to his teaching. You’re going to hear the insider conversations he had with his inner circle. You’re going to see his miracles and you’re going to be cover with dust kicked up by his sandals. It’s going to challenge you. It’s going to move you.
Listen to these words from our first reading. It’s from the OT part of the Bible. It talks about the Bible being God’s power to get things done. Isaiah 55:10-12a (NLT), The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. 12 You will live in joy and peace.
We see the same thing in the NT. Romans 1:16 tells us, For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes….
This is powerful stuff here. If you don’t want anything in your life challenged DO NOT pick it up. If your spiritual wellness is exactly where you want it DO NOT make this book a part of your life. BUT if you sense that your spiritual wellness needs shoring up, some pushing…then I invite you to pick it up and make it a part of your day.
If you’re a skeptic; if you’re an atheist; if you’re an agnostic or if your life simple too busy for the spiritual stuff I challenge you to give this Word an honest try. If at the end of this honest try your mind and heart are still set in their ways, then fine. At least you’ll feel there’s even more integrity in your journey. If this is you, my one tip is this, don’t do this alone. If you wanted to learn how to use a compass you could simple read a book. That would move you a long a bit, but from experience I can tell you, you will make much more progress if you do with someone who know compass orienteering.
After we pick the Bible up how should we handle it? Jesus’ teaching we see He moves beyond information to transformation. The information’s purpose is transformation. From our third reading this morning we heard Jesus teach, Mt. 7:24-26, Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
What makes one person wise and another foolish? What makes one life be one rock while the other is on sand? Both hear the Words of Jesus. The wise one puts Jesus’ words into practice, allowing them to mess things up, while the foolish one walks away from Jesus’ words with the status quo intact. Some of the most mature Christians with beautiful, serving lives are deep into Bible study and deep into Bible doing. James 1:22 tells us, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. Bible study and Bible doing equals transformation.
Here’s the thing…in this journey we are all going to fall short, we’re going to miss the mark of what God wants. Even with Jesus’ Word has engendered in us an ardent desire to do the Word, we’re going to be like sheep, going astray, each to our own way. There will be moments of frustration.
But that is the exact reason why Jesus came, went to the cross, died, was buried but then rose back to life. He did all that to wash away the sinfulness of our walking away from Jesus and His word and His way. When we walk away from his Word and His way Jesus’ sacrifice is there washing away our wayward way. When we prefer our way, refusing his way He says “I forgive.” When we refuse his way, much preferring the Lazy-Boy Way of I’m fine today He is there saying, “I died for that sin.” When the dark gremlins of its-all-about me has us say “No not today” Jesus says “My forgiveness is for today.”
Picking up the Bible, following Jesus teaching and putting them into practice is key to spiritual wellness. If you want spiritual wellness then you want the Words of Jesus to cascade over you. There some practical steps you can take to have Jesus’ word saturate your heart.
One: There are a lot of people who say the early morning is a good time to read or listen to the Bible and I can’t disagree although I would have to add that lunch time, afternoon, before dinner or going to bed are also good time to read or listen to the Bible. The key point is to prioritize it by scheduling it. The important things of life make it onto your calendar so put it onto your calendar.
Two: Don’t just “study about” Jesus. Let your time in the Bible be about talking with God, getting to know Jesus and acting out His Words.
Three: Before reading or listening to the Word, say a simple prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes. The HS is our Guide to understanding and transformation. He is God’s Revealer and Spirit of Truth. He is God’s teacher and witness.
Four: Yes, read the Bible alone, but make sure that you are also getting together with others, having fun and laughing as you gather around and talk about Jesus.
As you do this, God’s Word will mess with, in a good way, make you…a truer you.
Sermon Worthy Question: How does God mess with you?
Call to Greatness: God calls me to be a person of His Word through which I become the person I was placed on earth to be and do.
Ten Second Take Away: God’s Word will mess you up good.