Examine the Scripture

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

This Sunday begins an exciting journey for our church in the area of teaching. It is the beginning of a return to the Scriptures (even though we never really left them). We are starting a more direct approach into understanding the Scriptures. We start Sunday with the Book of James, and then continue into 2018-2019 by preaching from Genesis to Revelation.

The question is, why is this so important? There was a presentation at church about these series, a video email, and now this email, why so much emphasis? A recent study by the Lifeway Research Group shows that Bible reading and knowledge is decreasing within the church. Only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—roughly the same number who read it every day.

We cannot affect those numbers across America, but we can change those numbers here at Faith. It is leadership’s desire to see our church grow closer to God’s Word: to read it, understand it, grow from it, and draw closer to God through it. We want to be a Church body that seeks God’s Word above everything else. Attendance at the 9 am class can play a part in changing the Biblical literacy at Faith, the preaching series can help, the small groups can help, and hopefully all these together develop a desire to read God’s Word daily within our homes. The studies also show that the biggest stated hindrance to reading is busyness. We need to be purposeful about finding the time to set aside for God.

The verse above is a great example of how we should handle the Scriptures. The Bereans did not just take whatever Paul said as the truth, but instead they examined their Scriptures every day to find the truth. There is a phrase within many Christian circles for believers to “Be like the Bereans,” to be people that seek out and not only read but also examine and understand the Scriptures.

I hope that we see the possibilities that all of these opportunities give us as a church to dig deeper into God’s Word. I pray that we would all take advantage of these opportunities and not let the busyness of life get in the way of drawing closer to God through His Word. Church is not just a place to attend, it is a place to grow.

Many Parts, One Body

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12: 2-7

This summer at our daycare, KidZone, the School Age Summer Program has been offering a drama club for some of the students. I would often walk past them practicing in the Church Auditorium and one of the teachers would ask, “Does everybody know their roles?” This is a very important question for any play that the students will be performing. If nobody knows their role it would be an unorganized mess of a play, and it wouldn’t make much sense to anybody watching. If nobody knows their role there is no play at all; everybody will be watching an empty stage. Also, one student can’t play all the roles. It takes a whole team: some behind stage, and some on stage, but all are part of the play.

In a similar way believers within the church have specific roles given to them by the Spirit in the form of Spiritual Gifts. In chapter twelve of First Corinthians, Paul presents how the church should operate with everyone using their own gifts for their role within the church. Paul says the church is many parts operating as one. No one is called to just attend a church; believers are called to take part in the mission of the church. God has uniquely designed each believer for a role in the mission He is carrying out in the world. In Ephesians Paul talks about the giving of gifts, “for the building up of the body.” Some have an up front gifting, some have gifting that is in the background and maybe unseen, yet both are equally important in what God is trying to accomplish.

We need to be seeking out how God has gifted us and what role He has for us in His great plan. On the internet are various questionnaires that try and help identify what our Spiritual Gifts might be. While they are not perfect, they can be useful tools. Also, seeking answers through prayer and fellowship with other believers is very useful. Often God can use those around us to help us see where we are gifted.

All believers have gifts, and God wants us to use them for His glory. What is our gift, and are we bringing glory to God? Are we active in our local body? Nobody is called to be a spectator.

Further Reading – Romans 12: 3-8; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11