Engage The Scriptures

Description

Engaging the Scriptures is the anchor of a rooted life. When we engage the scriptures, we will be rooted and flourish in life. The Word of God is the owner’s manual to being human, it teaches us how He intended us to live, and Jesus is the Word made flesh. Jesus came to show us what it means to be fully human and fully alive. The Bible is not a book of do’s and don’ts, it is a book of scriptures that live and move in our lives today, not to make us religious or full of fear and striving. Repenting, or changing the way we think, about how we engage the Bible will lead us to a rooted life; strengthened and overflowing with thankfulness.

Clips

Alright. Hey, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. Hey, I’m so glad that you’re here with us today. We want to welcome all of our campuses and whatever campus you maybe at today, can we just welcome each other together for a moment. We are so glad that you’re here with us at the beginning of 2018. We’re believing it’s going to be an incredible year together. And a couple of quick things before we jump in, this Friday is our yearly all in gathering. And so, if you’re part of the all in community, please do everything you can to be here this Friday as we talk about 2018 and what God is saying to us and what it looks like to be in all in this year. And if you’re not a part of the all in community, let me just remind you that here at Valley Creek Church we don’t have traditional membership. We’re building a community of people that are all in. And you say, “What does it mean to be all in?” It’s just all in with Jesus is Lord, all in with Valley Creek as your church family, and all in with advancing our vision. And so, that might be a great next step for you to take on your journey. Go to the pathway classes. They happen at the beginning of every month. During this, or actually right after this service, it starts over every single month. And it’s a great opportunity for you to get planted in one life-giving local church because that’s part of the rooted life that we get in Jesus, okay? Second thing is this, that starting tomorrow is we’re starting our 21 days of prayer and fasting. For the next 21 days, we’re kind of disconnecting from the world and leaning in and connecting with God.

And we talked about last week that we feel like God is inviting us to fast social media. So I gave you a whole week to mourn and to grieve. And to work through all of that stuff to prepare yourself. And so, if you don’t want to fast social media, that’s okay. Maybe you don’t have social media, fast media, technology, a meal, whatever it might be. The whole point of prayer and fasting is turning the affection and the focus of our heart to God. And every day for the next 21 days, as a church, we’re just praying this one simple prayer. Jesus, give my heart the desire to seek you. And then we’re reading through the simple bible reading plan, grab a hold of one of this. If you didn’t get one, read a chapter a day. Listen to what God says because prayer and fasting is not just about what you’re giving up, it’s also about what you’re adding in and I believe God has something amazing in store for you. Listen to me, you can do it. No, really. You can do it.

And what might God say to you about your destiny and your life over the next three weeks, okay? And then the last thing is this, that last week we started and we have said that our theme for 2018 is Rooted in Jesus. We said that the big idea that we’re going to build everything around in 2018 is Rooted in Jesus so we can flourish in life. That here in Valley Creek this year, it’s a year of going back to the basic. It’s a year of going back to a relationship in Jesus and having our lives be built up in Him resting on receiving from and trusting in Jesus. We said we want to move past just identifying with Jesus to actually connecting with Him. And one of the theme verses for the year is Colossians 2:6 and 7, that says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” And we said how — we feel like a lot of us if we’re honest, our hearts have kind of drifted from Jesus and we’ve gotten rooted in other things.

And the problem with being rooted in anything except Jesus is that thing never delivers on what it promises so it leaves you feeling dry and weary and barren. And so, in a sense what I feel like Jesus is doing is I feel like he’s inviting us home. He’s inviting us to get rooted in love. To rest on to receive from and to trust in Him, because when you lose connection with the source of life, you lose your life. And so, we talked about how there’s five roots, our five pathways of connection that we’re going to focus on this year that help us get rooted in Jesus. Engage the scriptures, talk with God, build godly relationships, meet the needs you see and invest your time. And as we get rooted in Jesus through those things, we will flourish in life. And I want to start today by talking about the first root in a sense is, is engage the scriptures. And I know for a lot of us who are like, “Oh, like, here we go, like the guilt trip.” No, no, no. Like let’s have a different perspective of what this actually means. Psalm 1, “What a delight comes to those who follow God’s ways.” “They won’t walk in step with the wicked, nor share in the sinner’s way nor be found sitting in the scorner’s seat.” Their pleasure and passion is remaining true to the Word of “I Am” engaging the scriptures, meditating day and night in his true revelation of light. They will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of their life. They are never dry, never faint, ever blessed, ever prosperous.”

It says those who engage the scriptures will get rooted in Jesus and they will flourish in life. And it’s not just a recommendation or a good idea, it’s actually a promise. You see, the scriptures are the anchor of a rooted life. In fact, it’s impossible to get rooted in Jesus without the scriptures because the scriptures are a source of wisdom, and strength, and security, and understanding. They’re our hope. In fact, what I would say to you is this. The word of God is the owner’s manual on what it means to be human. I want you to think about this for a sec. The word of God is the owner’s manual on what it looks like to be fully human. And I am convinced that our neglect of the scriptures has caused us to dehumanize ourselves and to dehumanize others. The neglect of engaging the owner’s manual of humanity has caused us to dehumanize ourselves and dehumanize others because you see we’ve lost the story of us. We’ve lost the story of creation. That we were made in the image and likeness of God, that God made us with a plan and a purpose with a divine destiny that he wanted us and chose us. That he set the whole thing in motion and yeah, Adam messed everything up. But before Adam even messed everything up, God already had a plan to restore and redeem everything in Jesus and bring it back to life. We’ve lost the truth that we have a divine destiny, a kingdom authority. And when you lose sight of where you came from, where you’re going and what you were created to do, you will always lose sight of who you are.

We’ve dehumanized ourselves. So much of the brokenness we see in the world around us and the brokenness we experience in our own lives is because we have lost the value of what it means to be human. And in fact, I would take it even one step further. We’ve lost what it means to be normal and healthy. We have allowed the world, and social media, and the news, and all those things to tell us what’s normal and healthy. And we just kind of go along with it like bubble head doll like, “Yeah. It’s normal to be stressed. It’s healthy to strive. It’s normal to have sin in my life and be full of anxiety and depression.” Like, “Really?” Because when I read the owner’s manual, the owner’s manual tells me it’s normal and healthy to have a life full of rest and purpose and the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control, that’s normal. That’s healthy. And so, the word of God has showed us what it looks like to be fully human. And the word of God is not just a static book, it’s a person and His name is Jesus.

You see John 1:14 tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us to show us the grace and truth of the Father.” The Word became flesh. In other words, Jesus is the final and complete word of God. Everything the Father ever wanted to say to us was said to us through the life of Jesus. Everything He wanted to tell us about who we were, who He is and what we were created to do He declared through the life of Jesus when the word became flesh. Which means it’s the life of Jesus that shows us what it really is to be fully human and to be fully alive. And so, the more we engage the scriptures, the more we discover the depths of the grace and truth that are available to us. And the more we start to understand what a privilege it is to be human and what a privilege it is to be alive. And so, the question then that I would ask you is this, then why do we resist the scriptures? Because let’s just be honest, we do right?

I mean pretty much if I just like, if we took a poll and we said, “Hey, do we think it’s important to engage the scriptures?” We’d all say, “Yeah.” Do we think it’s wise to engage the scriptures? We all say, “Yeah.” Do we think it’s good for our lives? We’d all say, “Yeah.” Like, we think it’s good. We think it’s important. We want everyone else to do it, but if we’re honest, it’s not really a part of our lives. Like, why? Like if you are here with us in the fall, we took a spiritual growth survey across all campuses, everybody to get together and one of the questions we ask, was how often do you read your bible? And the answer to that question came back incredibly low. Why? I mean, I can remember being in seminary, a graduate school where I’m preparing to be a pastor and if I’m honest with you, I never really engage the scriptures for myself. Is that okay to confess that to you? Do you think less of me now that I’m being honest? Yes, I use the bible as an academic textbook, it was — I had to write papers and homework and do all kinds of different things, but I didn’t engage it from myself. Why?

Because I think we say things like this, like I don’t understand it and it doesn’t really make sense. And I don’t really get it, this one. I don’t really have the time and — okay, all of those are great, but I don’t think that’s the reason. I think the reason we don’t engage the scriptures is because we read it wrong. I think we don’t engage the scriptures because we look at it as a book of dos and don’ts and it makes us feel worse than we already do. So we lean away from it instead of leaning into it. So I want to give you a couple of thoughts. And what is it look like to engage the scriptures from a life giving perspective so you can get rooted in Jesus so you can flourish in life, okay? So if you got a bible, turn with me on Luke 24. Luke Chapter 24, and the first thing you got to catch is this, if you want to learn to engage the scriptures from a life giving perspective, we got to engage the scriptures from a Jesus-focus perspective. Luke Chapter 24, as you’re turning there, I think this is probably the most important passage in the entire bible that teaches us how to engage the scriptures. Jesus has just been crucified.

He’s dead. He’s buried. Three days have gone by and the disciples are defeated. Like they think the whole thing is over and they’re like blown away because they thought Jesus was the one. They thought he was the Messiah. They thought he was the savior. They gave up everything in their life to follow him and now, he’s dead and he’s gone and they think the whole thing is over. And after three days, two of the disciples decided to leave Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. And they’re walking down to the road to Emmaus. It’s a seven mile journey. And as they’re walking, they’re defeated, they’re kicking rocks, and kicking dirt, and talking to one another saying, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. All my hope was in Him and it’s gone.” And as they’re walking it says, the resurrected Jesus because it’s three days later, the resurrected Jesus shows up starts walking with them, but they don’t realized its Jesus. They just think it’s some guy. And Jesus to says to them like, “Hey guys, like what’s going on? What’s with the frowny faces?” Like, “Man, what happened to you?” And they’re like, “Are you kidding me bro?” Like, “Did you just show up and town, did you not hear what happened? They killed Jesus and we thought he was going to change everything and he’s gone.”

And so, the resurrected Jesus has a conversation with them, but they don’t realize it’s Him. So look at verse 25, the resurrected Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. And did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going further. But they urged him strongly, stay with us, for its nearly evening, for the day is almost over. So He went in to stay with them. When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. And they’re eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other were our hearts not burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? They got up and return to Jerusalem at once.” Okay. We have to let the word of God teach us how to read the word of God.

We have to let Jesus, the word made flesh teach us how to read or engage the written word of God. And what I want you to do if you have your bible is highlight verse 27 and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. Okay. Can you even imagine this? This is the best bible study sermon of all time. Jesus is walking with them and it says, He explains the scriptures to them concerning Himself. In other words he starts with Moses, the first five books of the bible and He goes through the rest of the Old Testament and everything He does is He shows them how the whole bible is about prophetic. The whole Old Testament is prophetic pictures of who Jesus is and what He came to do. And so, I was thinking about it and I was thinking about it, “Okay, I’m in this journey like what would he have said?” I think he would have started in creation.

And remember they don’t realize its Jesus. They’re just walking with this guy and he’s explaining it to them. I think he would have started in creation. And he would have said, “Hey, in the beginning, Jesus was there where all things are created by Him and for Him and through Him and He holds all things together. And then I think He would have come to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned and God showed up and He spoke to the serpent and He says, “Hey, I know you think you won in this round, but just so you know, one will rise up and he will crash your head with his heel.” And he just told the disciples in that moment, “Hey, that’s just what happened on the cross. Jesus just crashed the head of Satan. He’s defeated and victory has been won.” And then I think he would have gone to Noah, Noah’s Ark where Noah built his wooden boat and his family got inside of it to save themselves from the coming destruction. And he will say, “Hey, that’s a prophetic picture of the wooden cross of Jesus that all who grabbed ahold of it will be saved from the coming destruction.” And then I think he would have gone to Abraham and Isaac. And he would have said, “Yes, Abraham offered his one and only son just like the Father offered his one and only son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” And then I think he would have gone to Joseph.

And Joseph wasn’t just a guy, he was a prophetic picture of Jesus, the one who is to come because Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and tossed into a pit, just like Jesus. And yet, even in the midst of that pit, Joseph didn’t lose his character or his integrity, and he was risen up to rule, and reign, and feed the word the bread of life. And he was telling them that was a picture of Jesus that he wasn’t going to lose his integrity. No matter how bad it gotten, he was going to be raised up to offer the world the bread of life. He would have then gone on to Moses and said, “Moses was a prophetic picture of the deliverer, the one who is to come to lead people out of slavery into the Promised Land through mighty signs and wonders. I mean, this is a long sermon people, its seven miles of walking. So he would have kept going and he would have gotten to the Exodus and he would have said, remember when the people are thirsty and Moses struck the rock with this staff and water came out, he would have said on the cross, Jesus the rock of salvation was struck and rivers of living water came out of him. And then he would gone on to Manna from heaven, the bread that fell every day and he would have said that was a prophetic picture that the life of Jesus was going to supernaturally satisfy and sustain his people.

He would have gone on to the promise land and said it wasn’t just a destination to get to. It was a land flowing with milk and honey and he said that’s a prophetic picture of the life of Jesus, the narrow gate that leads us to a wild life that would be abundant and overflowing with goodness. He would have gone into the sacrificial system and set all those animals that had to be killed and nobody ever really understood why. They were a prophetic picture that blood had to be spilled for this forgiveness of the sins of people, but then Jesus came to be the Lamb of God, the final perfect spotless lamb once and for all to take away the sins of mankind. He would have gone to the prophecies in Isaiah. In Isaiah 53, talking about the man of sorrow, suffering, serving, crushed for our inequities, pierced for our transgressions, would have talked about what happened to Jesus on the cross. And then he would have got to Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, the last verse that says I will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, the hearts of the children to the fathers. He would have said I have come to turn the heart. Show you the heart of the Father and turn your heart back to Him. Jesus got seven miles. I got like less than seven minutes to do all this. Listen, the whole Bible is about Jesus. The Old Testament is Jesus concealed. The New Testament is Jesus revealed.

The Old Testament is Jesus hidden in mysteries to discover the prophetic pictures of who He is. The New Testament is the word made flesh on display for all to see. He is the word of God and the entire narrative of scripture is about Jesus and what he has done, not a list of expectations of what you have to do. The biggest problem we have is that we engage the scriptures based on what we have to do instead of what Jesus has done. We read it and read it and look for what’s wrong with us instead of what’s right for him. It’s a me-focus perspective instead of a Jesus-focus perspective. And if that’s not bad enough, if you’ve been in church for years, the church often uses the bible as a tool to shame people into behavior modification instead of a life raft to offer people salvation. No wonder we lean away from the thing. But we’re not supposed to read it concerning ourselves. We’re supposed to read it concerning Him. That’s why look at in verse 31, when it says, “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. And they asked each other, where our hearts not burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us? And they got up and return at once to Jerusalem.” When you engage the scriptures from a Jesus-focus perspective, your eyes will be open and you will see him. Your hearts will be filled with life because if eyes just went through that little thing sharing with you the prophetic pictures of Jesus, did you not feel your heart burning within you?

Do you not feel something raising up, something lifting up inside you? Why? Because it’s not about you, it’s about Him and as you hear that, it burns within, it raises you to life and then it gives you supernatural strength. They had just walked seven miles and the moment they realize it’s Jesus they turn around and they run the seven miles back. When we engaged the scriptures from a Jesus-focus perspective, we feel alive. Fully human. Romans 10:17, faith comes by hearing. Hearing by the word of God. When we hear about Jesus, the word of God, our faith begins to grow. Does that make sense to you? So listen to these couple of verses then and think about what this means for you in engaging the scriptures from a different perspective. John 5, Jesus says, “You diligently study the scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These scriptures testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. So Jesus says, “Hey, this whole thing testifies about me.” He says it’s all about me. From the beginning, the middle, the end, the whole thing is about me and its meant to draw you to me and it’s meant to show you who I am. And the more clearly you see Jesus, the more clearly you will see everything else in your life.

2 Corinthians 3:18, “As we behold him with unveiled faces we’re transformed more into His image and likeness.” 1 John 4:17, “As He is so, we are,” which means, what’s true of Jesus is now true of you and you believe in Him. We’re included in Christ which all that basically means that the more you see Jesus, the more you discover who you now are. In fact, let me say it to you like this, the bible is a declaration of your identity and an explanation of your inheritance. It’s a declaration of your identity and an explanation of your inheritance. It tells you who you are and what now belongs to you. The bible is telling you that your boundary lines, the limits, the scope of your life have fallen in pleasant places. You say, “Well, what does that mean?” Well, if you’re included in Christ, then your boundary lines have no limits because there is no limit to how wide, deep, long, high is the love and the life of Christ.

That’s your inheritance. And so, when we don’t engage the scriptures, we live drastically inferior lives to the life that God offers us. We don’t receive the forgiveness, and the provision, and the healing, and the empowerment that already belongs to us, which is why so many of us live a defeated life. You see, the more you see what Jesus has done, the more it changes what you do. Identity determines behavior. Who you are determines what you do. I’m trying to say it to you like this. When you finally figure out that your father is the king, you start living a royal life. I’m glad you’re with me. I’m glad you like that. I like it too. So let me give you an illustration. Think about it like this. Think of the worst third world country that you can think of, the one that in your mind, it that just pops up is the one you would have least like to live in, okay? Think of a third world nation. Someone grows up, they spend their entire life in this third world nation, it’s a hard life, full of brokenness and pain. And for whatever reason, someday, let’s just say they got rescued from that and they got brought and they become a citizen of the US.

Now, they have no idea what kind of benefits and responsibilities now belong to them as a citizen of the US. They’ve spent their entire lives in brokenness and bondage and so when they get here, they’re now a citizen and everything that’s true and available to the citizens of the US is available to them, but they don’t have any idea. They can’t even speak the language yet. So what has to happen? People have to explain it to them. They have to go on a journey of discovering what kind of inheritance now belongs to them. And you can just picture those moments of revelation like wait a second, you’re telling me my kids get free education? Yeah, everybody gets educated. Really? Yeah. Wait, wait a second, you’re telling me that there’s healthcare available or me and my family and we can actually go to the doctor when we’re hurting? Like, yeah. Like, we’re going to take care of you. And wait a second, you’re telling me I’m free to pursue any opportunity that comes in my way. I’m not stuck in a cast system. No, you’re free to pursue whatever you want. And wait a second, you’re telling me the police are here to protect me and help me? Not hurt me and take advantage of me? Yeah.

They would have no idea. The benefits and the responsibilities of the new citizenship they have just experience or just received until they went on a journey of exploring that. Do you understand that when you live in this world, the bible says that you start in the kingdom of darkness? You’re in a kingdom that the whole goal is to hide, hoard and hate. And then when you have an encounter with Jesus, it says, you’ve been rescued out of the kingdom of darkness brought into the kingdom of God. And you have no idea the benefits and the responsibilities that now belong to you as part of that kingdom. So you have to discover them. How? By looking at your identity and your inheritance, by looking and realizing, wait a second, in that kingdom, we hided, we hid, we hoarded and we hate. In this kingdom, we’re free to love, we’re free to be. Our father will protect us, we don’t have to be worried about tomorrow because he says, he’s going to take care of us today, like everything changes.

And if the whole bible is about the king and when you read it, you’re learning the culture of the kingdom. The benefits of the citizenship that you now have. This is why we live inferior lives. That’s why we’ve lost watt means to be human because this is what it means to be human. You are never meant to live in that kingdom. And so, God made a way for you to get out of it. Now, he wants you to live in the fullness of it. Does that make sense to you? Ephesians 4:1, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” You’re like, “See, there it is, the bible is always telling me what to do.” I don’t know. Jesus did this for you. You got to do this for him, get your act together. Yeah, okay. I guess if you want to read it that way. That’s a self-focus perspective. That’s how religion has thought you to read the bible. How would you read it in Jesus’ perspective? Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Hey, stop living down to who you were, start living up to who now are. You don’t want to go back to that way of life. You want the fullness of the benefits, and the blessings, and the inheritance that now belongs to you. It’s not that sin is so bad. It’s just so inferior to the life that God offers you in Jesus.

That’s why 2 Timothy 3 says, “All scriptures God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.” Righteousness is your inheritance and your identity. And so, the bible is just trying to help you live according to the fullness of who now are; the culture of the kingdom. Does that make sense? Okay. How about another one, Joshua 1:8, “Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so you’d be careful to do everything written in it. Then, you’ll be prosperous and successful wherever you go.” This is written to Joshua, the Old Testament. And so, it’s talking about the book of the Law, the Scriptures and it says, “Hey, Joshua, you got to think about this all the time and you got to actually speak it out and you got to be careful to do everything that’s written in it because if you do it and only then, then you’ll be prosperous and successful.”

So think of Joshua on any given day. He’s the guy that succeeded Moses. Joshua had to walk around and meditate and speak out the book of the law so he could do it. Like he’d walk around and he’d say, “Okay. Today, do not commit adultery. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not lie. Okay. Today, do not covet. Okay. Don’t have any other gods today. Don’t make any idols. Okay. Got to make sure I honor my parents today and I got to keep the Sabbath.” I mean that’s why he have to say it to himself over and over and over again. And as long as he kept it, then he would be blessed. Okay. We’re no longer in the Old Testament. We’re no longer in the old covenant. We’re in the New Testament and the new covenant. So here’s my question for you. Are you blessed because you behave or because you believe? It’s a really important question for you to be able to deeply answer in your own soul. Are you blessed because you behave or because you believe?

Are you prosperous and successful because of what you do or because of what Jesus has done? Galatians 3:5, Paul riding to a church that got off track says this, “Did God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, behaved or because you believed what you have heard?” He says you’re blessed because you believe. And so, you got to remember that Jesus came and everything changed. Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law on the Prophets. No, I have come to fulfill them.” So see if you can catch this. Now, under the new covenant with Jesus, everything has changed because he has come to fulfill the Law on the Prophets, the Old Testament, which means Jesus is the book of the law, but he is the book of the law fulfilled. If he’s the word made flesh, then he is the book of the law. But he is the book of the law fulfilled, which means everything that ever has been or will be required from you has been paid in full by Jesus. When the word became flesh, in other words, all the standards, the expectations, the laws the commandments that the word gave us were filled in the life of Jesus so that now when we believe in Him, we are free to live.

So change that verse. That verse would say do not let the finished work of Jesus depart from your mouth. Meditate on the day and night. Be careful to do everything written in it. What is written in it now? To believe, to believe that Jesus is who he says he is and did what he said he did. Then, you will be prosperous and successful. It’s no longer behavior that makes you prosperous and successful. It’s the belief that Jesus already behaved on our behalf that makes us prosperous and successful that allows us to walk in victory wherever we go. Totally changes the dynamic, doesn’t it? When you start to see what Jesus has done it changes what you do. Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus, then why would we read the book that’s about Him from a condemning point of view? That’s why we lean away instead of leaning in. Are you with me on that? Okay. Can I give you the second point? You’re like, “That was only the first point?” Yeah.

Ask the Holy Spirit what is this teaching me about who I am, who he is and what I’m created to do? If you’ve been at Valley Creek for any given period of time, you’ve seen these three circles. We believe this is the gospel. That as you receive God’s grace, you’ll experience His presence and you’ll release His Kingdom. It’s the fullness of the grace and truth Jesus came to bring us. He changes our identity, draws us into relationship and empowers us with purpose. So circle one tells us who I am. Circle two is who He is. And circle three, what I am created to do. If you guys can change that image there. So recently, a served team member in our church, he posted online that when she reds he bible, she applies the bible through these three circles. That whatever passage she’s reading, she just ask herself, what is this teaching me about who I am, who He is and what I’m created to do? And when someone showed me her Facebook post, I thought, “Oh my goodness, that’s genius.” It’s an absolutely genius way of reading the scriptures and I’m like so proud of her. And I want to pause for a second and say, here is a great reminder that you are a kingdom leader in this world.

She’s a served team member walking with Jesus, loving Jesus, doing everything she can in this life to just have a relationship with Him. She doesn’t have a special training, special education. What she does is she walks in the fullness of the freedom that God offers her and she releases it into the world around her and it blesses all of us. And you’re designed to do the same thing. You’re called to pioneer and innovate. You have the keys of the kingdom. You’ve been empowered with the Holy Spirit. We the need the divine grace that God wants to release through your life into our world. So she’s taught me a different way, a better way of engaging the scriptures. So just look at this, imagine if you just took some passages and started doing this. Let me show you this. Psalm 23, you know this. Maybe you’ve heard it before. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Okay. If we’re honest, if we woke up tomorrow morning, open our bibles and read that, we’d kind of finish that and we would be like, what does that mean? I don’t really know. We would say well, hopefully that did something in my soul, close it and we would leave, right? You laugh because it’s true.

So what if you just read that and then stopped and say, “I’m not really sure what all that means, I don’t know the context. I don’t know the history.” Great, just ask yourself. What is this teaching me about who I am, who He is, what I’m created to do? Just the first line, the Lord is my shepherd. All right. So he’s a shepherd. Shepherds are kind. Shepherds are gentle. Shepherds protect their sheep. Shepherds never leave their sheep in a deep valley. Shepherds are always leading their sheep to the best pastures. Shepherds make sure the sheep have a great life. If there’s ever the wolf, the shepherd will lay down his life. If there’s ever a problem, the shepherd will show up. If a sheep is ever hurting, the shepherd will pick it up and carry it. He is my shepherd and that means, he does all of that for me. Do you see how that opens it up? Let me show you another one, Ephesians. This was some of our theme verses from last year. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and have himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Same thing, we read that and when we probably read it is like, “Oh man, that sounds really hard, like I got to do all that today, so that I could have God’s favor in my job, so I can close that deal or pass that test.” That’s bad theology.

Just ask yourselves a question, what is this teaching me about who I am? Dearly loved children. I’m a loved child. And a good father loves his children no matter what and takes care of his children and wants his children and names his children and leads his children and loves his children. And oh, by the way, I’ve been forgiven in Christ. So I’m forgiven. I’m free, there’s nothing left on my ledger. I don’t owe anybody anything anymore and because he has forgiven me, I’m now free to forgive other people. So I’m created to release the same forgiveness that God put in my life and, oh, by the way, he’s kind and compassionate, so that changes everything about who I am and how I started to live. Do you see how it opens it up even if you don’t understand the context or the history? One more, but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. We read that and we think, I don’t know, it’s got something to do with priest and killing animals and stuff. I’m not sure.

Okay. What does this tell you about who you are? That I am chosen. I am royal. I’m holy and I belong to God. He picked me. I’m now part of the kingdom and a family. I’m set apart. I’m made other and God wanted me so He chose me and I belong to Him and no one can ever take me out of His hands. And because that’s who I am, I am now anointed and created to declare praises to worship God with the breath and my lungs because he took me out of that deep dark valley and brought me into great green pastures. Do you see how it changes? The Holy Spirit will lead you and guide through all that stuff and so my encouragement to you this year is every month, get the bible reading plan and just ask yourselves those three questions. Get one of the rooted journals that really, in the cover it has those three circles that you can ask yourself. Keep a journal all year to go through those reading plans. You’ll be amazed at what God wants to say to you. If you say I still don’t know how to do it, every Monday morning, we’re having the rooted experience right here at 7:00 and at 9:00. Come and hang out. Thirty to 45 minutes, we’ll read the passage. We’ll go through those things.

And you sit here and you say, “Bro, I know how to walk with Jesus and I do it better about myself.” Great. If you’re so mature, you got to come and hang out with us and make disciples. Because you’re that mature, we need more people helping us make disciples. Okay? So here’s what I’m trying to tell you. We don’t work on the scriptures, the scriptures work on us. If you noticed, this root doesn’t say read the bible because you can read the bible and completely miss Jesus. It’s the Pharisees. They read the bible from a religious perspective looking for religious rules to live a religious life. They missed the whole thing. That’s why in John 5, Jesus says, “You diligently study the scriptures.” You read the bible, but you didn’t come to me so you missed the whole point. We don’t work on the scriptures. The scriptures work on us. And as we engage them, it starts to change us from the inside out. We get rooted in Jesus and we start to flourish in life. That’s why Hebrews 4:12, tells us the word of God is living and active.

Like in other words, if you just put it inside of you, it starts to work. It will cut off the things that need to be cut off. It will heal the things that need to be healed. It will encourage the places that are defeated. It will give you wisdom and revelation when you need an answer from God. It starts to change everything. And it’s alive, which is why you can read the same passage 10 years ago, 10 days ago, 10 minutes ago, and 10 minutes from now and get something fresh and relevant every single time. It’s multifaceted and it’s alive. And as we engage the scriptures, not read the bible, engage the scriptures with our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our spirits and our lives, it changes us from the inside out. That’s why Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conform to the pattern of this world. Don’t let the world tell you what it looks like to be human.” Be transformed. Be changed by the renewing of your mind, change the way you think and it will change the way you live. Stop allowing the lies of the kingdom of darkness to define you and start aligning with the truth of what the kingdom of God says about who you are, who He is and what you are created to do — because of what has Jesus has done. Okay. And the last thing to wrap it all up real quick is this, just ask God to give you a desire to engage the scriptures. Like just flat out start there because a lot of us will look at it, we’re like, I know I should, but not so much. Matthew 26, Jesus says, “The Spirit it willing, the flesh is weak.” In other words, He says the Spirit within you is drawing you to the scriptures. The life giving word of God, but your flesh, your flesh wants sleep, Netflix and Sports Center.

Just call it what it is. It’s okay. Tell him that. God I know I should and I — there’s even a part of that wants to, but I just don’t know. Great. That’s the beginning of breakthrough, honesty and humility. And watch what He’ll do. Mark 4, talking about the parable, the soils and the heart, the word of God says, “Still others like seed.” The word of God sown among thorns. “Hear the word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke it out making it unfruitful.” In other words, our spirit craves the word of God, but our flesh fills our life so full of other things that it chokes it out, so just tell Him. God help me create some space so I can learn what it looks like to be alive. And I think it’s so interesting that the bible calls the word of God a seed, why? Because it’s the first root. And when the seed of the word of God gets in you, that root begins to grow and all of a sudden you get rooted in Jesus and you’ll flourish in life, which is why it says the seed that falls on good soil, the heart that engages the scripture produces a 30, 60, a hundredfold return. You can’t get rooted in Jesus without the scriptures.

Trying to get rooted in Jesus without engaging the scriptures is like trying to grow a giant oak tree without an acorn. It’s not possible. And hear me, God doesn’t want you to read the bible so you can become religious and everybody gave a good hearty, amen for that. Because ain’t nobody wants to be religious, God wants you to engage the scriptures so you can discover who Jesus is and what he has done so you can be free. If you don’t engage in the scriptures, you don’t have to feel bad. You don’t have to feel guilty. You don’t have to feel ashamed or condemned. God doesn’t bless you because you behave. But you probably feel weary and dry and hungry and like you’re suffocating in this world. So let me close it with this. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scriptures is God-breathe.” That means when we engage the scriptures were breathing in the very breath of God. And if you think about where the breath of God is used predominantly in the bible, it was when He took Adam and scraped the dust together and breathed into Adam and raised him to life. And then Adam fell and so Jesus came and when Jesus rose again from the grave, the very first thing He does with His disciples is just He breathes on them and they received the Holy Spirit and He raises them to new life. So when we breathe in the breath of God, it fills us and raises us to life.

John 6:63, Jesus says, “The words I speak to you are spirit and they are truth.” The words I speak to you are spirit and they are truth. In Jesus, the word became flesh. In us, the word becomes spirit. In Jesus, the word became flesh. The word of God became flesh, but in us, when we breathe in the word of God, it becomes spirit and fills us with a fresh feeling of the spirit of the living God. I have no idea where you are or what’s going on in your life. But I know this, if you need some fresh air, he offers you the breath of life. If you need encouragement, breathe in encouragement. If you’re in despair, breathe in hope. If you’re in bondage, breathe in freedom. If things feel stale, breathe in freshness. Let the breath of God fill you and raise you to life. Maybe it’s time to stop breathing in the smug of the world and start breathing in the fresh air of heaven. Okay. So will you close your eyes with me? And let, let me just ask you what do you feel like the Holy Spirit is saying to you today? Like in what — of what we’ve talked about, were you like the guys on the road where your heart burned within you? Maybe it’s time to breath in some fresh air.

And discover what it means to be normal and healthy, to be whole and healed. You see the challenge with wrapping up a message like this by telling you to do something is it very easily falls back into a rout of religion. And so, I feel like today, what God is inviting us to do is maybe just repent of our perspective of scripture. And when you hear the word repent, it probably went and brought up a feeling in you like, weep, cry, raise your hand, come to the alter or repent just means change your mind. So what if we just repented and changed our mind and said, Jesus I used to look at the word of God as a religious book to make my life harder. And so, today, I choose to repent to that. And I now open my eyes to the truth that it is a book that’s alive and active that tells me who you are and what you have done.

And so, I chose from this day forward with the help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to engage the scriptures from a Jesus-focus perspective, not a self-focus perspective. I choose to believe that every passage has something to teach me about who I am, who you are and what I’m created to do and no longer do I want to live the inferior life and the brokenness of the kingdom of darkness. I want to discover my identity and my inheritance in you. So Jesus, thank you for fresh air. Thank you for the breath of life and may we receive that what you offer us that we may get rooted in Jesus and flourish in life. We love you, Jesus. In your name, we pray, amen.

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