Tomorrow we are looking at the Armour of God from Ephesians 6, lots of dressing up and making swords… risk assessments at the ready!
The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.
The only offensive weapon in the armour of God, the rest are defensive.
I don’t think we often really appreciate what we have in our Bibles, here is what Ghandi said about the Christians scriptures and our attitude to it.
“You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilisation to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it is nothing more than a piece of literature.”
Do we really believe that within our hands, on our shelves contains the only book ever written which God has breathed into life?
In Communist and Islamic states there are Christians who long for Bibles and risk their lives and liberty to have own one, in fact in our own history men like William Tyndale were martyred for translating the Bible into English, yet sadly I think too many of us own Bibles which are opened less than they should be.
In my Dad’s Church in Southsea their new vicar has given them a 13 week sermon series on reading the Bible, which I think shows you how important he feels it is that the people in Church read it.
I’m a little harsher, I think people will either find a way to read it or they will find an excuse not to.
Reading our Bible shows our priorities.
It shows how important is it to us to know God better, to know his will, to become more like him and to follow where he leads?
True, we can all engage more with scripture, and we have room for improvement in our ‘secret history with the Father’, yet if we forsake scripture we will be living our spiritual life malnourished and too weak to be able to fight the good fight.
Not reading our Bibles is a bit like turning our Sat Nav off when negotiating a new and unknown city, it’s crazy!
Or not reading our beloveds love letters, emails and texts and expecting our relationship to thrive and flourish -which of course it wont.
Yet, the truth is we all know that reading the Bible is a good idea. That’s not normally the problem. The problem is often to do with our priorities, our lack of discipline (when we really don’t feel like bothering, that’s normally when we need it the most).
Bishop Mike once spoke of a ‘poverty of the knowledge of the voice of God’ Christians being isolated from their Bibles, often poorly taught in Churches, on one occasion Sam and I went to a Church the other-side of the city and the Bible wasn’t mentioned or quoted once during the ‘sermon’.
The Bible itself is written with an expectation for it to be read, “all scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking and training in righteousness” Paul says to his mentee Timothy. God councils Joshua to “not let this book of the law depart from you, meditate on it day and night, do not turn from it from the right or to the left”.
The boy king Josiah found the book of the law in the temple and called people to repent of their sinful ways, Ezra read out the book of the law to repentant people.
This book changes lives.
This book is the best way we human beings have to encounter the living God.
My friend Mark Rich said yesterday “if you aren’t in the logos word you won’t hear the rhema word” -in other words if you’re not reading your Bible, you might miss hearing the Holy Spirit speak.
Yet it is easy to big up the Bible in a blog like this, but sometimes we read it and it’s harder going than we’d like, sometimes we struggle to understand what is happening, sometimes our life and the life of those in scripture feels very different. Sometimes we can read the Bible and it doesn’t always feel as helpful as we think it should be.
Yet, I would suggest that discipline is something we have lost in our culture, and to read the Bible even when sometimes we don’t always feel its benefits immediately is always a step of faith.
Sometimes, I have read something and (what feels like) ages later the verse or story comes across the radar later.
Sometimes it is about learning stuff for a future occasion, helps build spiritual muscle, helps create greater expectation, helps us grow and become more mature.
So, my challenge is very simple, take your Bible off the shelf and have a read, if this is something you have got out of the habit of doing, then maybe get back in the habit.
Perhaps find a new time to read it that works for you.
Perhaps you can get an app on your phone, or an email each day?
Maybe whilst you are in the car you could listen to the Bible on MP3 player or a expository sermon.
Whatever we do, I’d urge us all to grasp the Bible afresh and go deeper with it, fall in love with the author, and let God use it to speak into the very core of your being.
I believe that the Church will be at their most fruitful when they open their bibles, when we engage and wrestle with what is there and have the courage not just to believe it, but to live it out in everyone on our front lines -engaging in spiritual warfare with the sword a familiar weapon within our hands.