Just Read It!
“Oh, this is so frustrating! I just don’t know why the sprinkler system works sometimes and other times it won’t!” Jill exclaimed. “If I don’t get some water on these grapevines there isn’t going to be any harvest and the vines might die!” “Well, can you call Jay and ask him?” Susan replied. Jill looked at Susan in disbelief. “You know when Jay gets called into special ops the only form of communication we can have is for him to write me snail mail letters. I wish he would come back. He’s been gone for much longer than we expected.” “Yes,” Susan replied, “He did have to leave in quite a hurry. Too bad he couldn’t give you some instructions on how to take care of the vineyard. It’s beautiful here but there’s a lot to do. Have you received any letters from him?” “Yes…yes I have. Sixty-six of them actually” Jill replied. “And…?” Susan inquired. “Well, I read them at first. And then I just kind of got out of the habit of opening them” “Would you mind if I opened some up?” Susan asked. “He might have sent some instructions on how to run this place.” “Sure, knock yourself out. I’m going to go see if any water is coming out of the emitters.” Susan scanned a few of the letters before Jill returned. “Jill, it says here there is a sprinkler timer inside the black box in the pump house. Did you know that?” “No,” Jill replied. “That makes sense though. No wonder it doesn’t work sometimes.” “Um…Jill? You know Jay is crazy in love with you, don’t you? You really should read these letters. Do you still love him?” “Of course I do. Well, I guess...I mean, well it’s just that since he’s been away, my feelings aren’t as strong as they used to be.”
“I didn’t get around to opening the love letter” from the man she wants to marry, SAID NO BRIDE EVER! OK, that’s kind of a cheesy story but I didn’t make that scenario up. Jesus did! You know he calls the church his bride and, while that is a bit hard for guys to relate to, it is still true. Revelation 2 says “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” In marriage counseling when a couple complains that their love for each other has grown cold, they are encouraged to do what they did when they were first dating: spend lots of time together doing things that they both enjoy. You remember when all you could think of was the next chance to see them or talk on the phone with them. Scripture calls us to self-examine and correct areas we may have slipped in. Reading scripture helps us to not only know about God, but to know God. When we read how much he loves us, it increases our love for him.
Another example I use for comparing the importance of reading scripture is equating it to weight training for football players. If football players don’t spend a lot of time in the weight room they are going to get their tail kicked out on the field. (Now I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t think that explains the second half of the Seahawk’s season!) Over the years I have been better and worse in keeping physically fit (as my wife will tell you) but one thing is always the same: once I start exercising again, I feel SO much better mentally and physically. The same is true when I am consistently “working out” spiritually.
According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 45% of people who claim to be Christians read the Bible outside of church less than 3-4 times a year.
I would like to think that the percentage is much better in our church. Pastor Peter did a great job of explaining the importance of scripture and gave us many practical ideas on how to establish better scripture reading habits in his sermon last Sunday. (Check out the sermon on our website if you missed it.) Let’s commit to God and each other to be faithful readers (and doers) of His word here at Hope. Thank God for how easy it is for us to get his word into our hands, or ear buds, or screens. Many people have died trying to obtain or distribute his word. And now with the pandemic there has never been so much preaching of God’s Word available online. Who knows how much time we have before the bridegroom comes to take his bride, the church, to be with him forever. Let’s maintain our first love with him and fuel up on his word!
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the blessing of your word. We confess that we sometimes lose our focus on you, our first love. We get busy with the urgent but neglect the important. Help us individually and as a church to choose what is needful: to sit at your feet and feed on your words like Mary did instead of getting caught up in stuff like Martha did. We trust in your mighty power to finish the good work you have begun in each of us and in your church here and throughout the world. In Jesus name, Amen.
Thy Strong Word Performed by Concordia University, Irvine