Really. There are lots of things that promise to change your life. Some actually deliver. Choosing a college, a spouse, or a career will certainly change your life. But it won’t change it… forever. Yea, literally forever, eternally, perpetually, without end. This can. And it actually has the potential to change the lives of the people around you forever too. What is it? GodSpeak. When a Christian simply listens to what God says in the Bible and allows those words to pass through them to other people. We’ll be doing this as a congregation for two years beginning in September. I would like to urge you to be a part of this. Why? Because it will change your life… forever.
Make a commitment…
Two years of Bible reading sounds intimidating… even to your pastor. So I know it could be easy to say, “Yea, I’ll get around to it.” That’s why we want everybody to make a commitment to do this together. It’s not a commitment that locks you into a rigid, legalistic contract, but is instead a declaration of your intent to take the journey together with you church family. We’ll all miss a reading here or there. Maybe even a week or a month here or there! We just don’t want anybody to feel like they can’t jump right back in at any time, or even to join us anytime if they didn’t start with us. Think of it like making a commitment to do something you might never have done otherwise, and knowing you have the support to help you every step of the way.
The Elders of Bethel have set a goal that we achieve 85% participation of the regularly worshipping adult/youth membership of our congregation. That’s around 110 people! But what if we did it? What if we exceeded it? Think of what that does for us as God’s people as we all listen to Him speak to us and through us! I get giddy just thinking about it. I’ve heard rumblings that others outside of our congregation want to join in. Why not? Why not challenge a friend or a family member to read with you! They’ll be able to get all the same information on our website that you receive every week in the bulletin. They’ll even be able to hear the same sermon from Sunday on our website or our podcast! And best of all you can watch each other grow in faith as God speaks through each of you to each other!
God is clear that He doesn’t want his Christian people to be just a bunch of individuals. He desires for us to meet together and to sharpen each other in His word. So, we’re going to meet together. For three periods of time each year, we’ll have formal GodSpeak groups meeting to discuss the readings together. This is where God speaks through you to other Christians. You’ll be able to discuss the issues that the readings bring up, listen to insights from other Christians and build your confidence to have spiritual discussions with others who may not believe in Jesus. We want everybody who agrees to read with us to complete the experience and join a GodSpeak group. You guessed it, it will change your life… forever.
How to Read the Bible
In the weeks leading up to GodSpeak, I’m going to present a sermon series on “How to Read the Bible.” This will help you to know what you’re looking at and what to look for as you read each chapter. I know that the Bible can get confusing, but with some basic knowledge and guidance, even the most difficult passages come clear and you can see more easily the depth and richness of God’s holy word. Just to wet your appetite, here’s the line-up for the series. We’ll start by learning how to read the bible in context, the story of the Bible. We’ll acknowledge the importance of God’s authorship of the Bible and then learn about the different literary genres He used to carry the message. We’ll see God’s Law and Gospel at work in the word and find Jesus on every page. We’ll learn how not to read the Bible like the devil and learn how to read the Bible like a Lutheran. Interested? I hope so. I can’t wait to dive in!
I just want to reprint an important passage of scripture that has influenced this whole initiative. Please read it and take it to heart… and mouth.
“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:8-17