From the Pastors Desk
Aug2FriAugust 2, 2019 Pastor Byron Hand
Approach Your Bible Joyfully
We have been examining “Before you Open Your Bible” by Matt Smethurst in our E-Bulletins. This book is sub-titled “Nine Heart Postures for approaching God’s Word.”
Let’s review the heart postures we have already examined:
- Approach your Bible Prayerfully
- Approach your Bible Humbly
- Approach your Bible Desperately
- Approach your Bible Studiously
- Approach your Bible Obediently
This week let’s look at Approaching Your Bible Joyfully. Acts 2:46 describes for us that the
early church met together with “glad and sincere hearts.” The sixth heart posture looks like that … Approach Your Bible Joyfully. Grudging compliance won’t cut it. God longs to see us approach His word with a “willing spirit and a joyful trust.”
Problem: Joy is an emotion, not a behavior. How can we be instructed to feel a certain way. WE may want to but just … don’t.
Take a moment and think with me about something that may seem strange to think about. God is Happy. His gladness stretches back before the beginning. Infinite joy was contained in the triune God. For all of eternity the triune God lacked nothing and shared eternal joy in that eternal bond. Then “in extravagant generosity, the persons of the Trinity decided to share their boundless gladness with the work of their hands.”
In John Piper’s book “The Pleasures of God: meditations on God’s Delight in Being God” he writes:
“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Jesus does not say, “It is your employer’s pleasure to give you your salary.” He does not say, “It is your slave master’s pleasure to give you your lodging.” He does not even say—which we would have expected him to say—“It is your King’s pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He chooses every word in this sentence to help us get rid of the fear that God is ill-disposed to us—that he is begrudging in his generosity, or constrained in his kindness. So he calls God “your Father.”
It is this God who breathed out His word to us and in whose image we are made. One of the Fruit of the Spirit developed in us is this quality of JOY.
“According to the Bible, joy is not an accessory to the Christian life, a perk for the shiny saints who can turn their frowns upside down. Rather, it is tenacious. It fights. It grips the promises of God and won’t let go. Joy is not a mere good mood; it is the ballast in our boats, an anchor in our storms, an immovable rock to stand on when the waves of life threaten to flatten us. Far from being a peripheral subtheme of Scripture, joy is the heartbeat of God.” Smethurst
Joy is central …
- What is the Gospel?: It is “good news of great JOY.” Luke 2:10
- What is life after death?: “Come and share our master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:21
- What is the goal of prayer?: “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24
- What is the goal of fellowship?: “I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” 2 John 12
What is the Goal of engaging Scripture … Your Bible?
Jeremiah 15:16 - Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.
“Gladness of heart, Jeremiah discovered, is downstream from the feast.”
Psalm 1:2 -but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
“When your happiness is tethered NOT to circumstances but to promises … you can’t get
Enough of your Bible.”
John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy
may be full.”
John 17:13 “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may
have my joy fulfilled in themselves.”
1 John 1:4 “ And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
The purpose of the words of Jesus … the Apostles … Your Bible is to flood your heart with joy.
Don’t get me wrong. Reading and studying the Bible is not one long joy fest. It is work. It takes disciplined effort. Allow me to conclude with Matt Smethurst’s closing words.
But as with so much in life – eating healthy, working out, and otherwise things I struggle to do – it is the nature of discipline to give way to delight. Not every time, not all at once. But steadily and increasingly, until we see our King face to face and behold Him in His beauty – with Joy that never ends. (Isa. 33:17; 1 Cor. 13:12).
See You Sunday,