God Speaks to Me by His Word

GodReflection: Is Worship for God or for Me?
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).

gary portraitI see a huge disconnect.

Those who have followed this blog through the years have heard my declaration of arrival on the church pew shortly after departure from the maternity ward. Over seven decades I’ve made some blessed as well as some rather anemic attempts at congregational worship.

There have been times when I exited the assembly confident God was worshipped and I was blessed. Other times not so much.

speak1However, I’ve always been perplexed about one aspect of my group worship experience.

If Scripture is indeed inspired by the Holy, why doesn’t oral Bible reading play a more significant role in the assembly of God’s people?

I remember far too many times when entrusted with the organization of the assembly I arrived and passed out paper slips to those who entered the door. “Will you lead a hymn or prayer?” Will you assist with the Lord’s Supper?” “Will you read a Scripture?”

Wow, what planning on my part. Hopefully, church worship has progressed beyond that.

At the same time, I still wonder if we’ve progressed to the point of a more prominent place in our assembly time to hear the written Word of God?

speak7Group worship provides a wonderful opportunity to set the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily grind as richer people.

Three passages from Scripture seem relevant:

The Hebrew preacher reminds discouraged Jesus followers of an important role Scripture serves as an alive and active word from The Holy. It is the voice from Scripture that works on my thoughts and attitude. It is the voice of Scripture that convicts. As I listen my eyes and heart move toward Jesus.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

speak15After Jesus’ resurrection Luke recounts the stealth encounter of the Risen Lord with two disciples. When they arrived at their destination in Emmaus Jesus revealed his identity over shared bread.

Upon his abrupt departure the disciples make a powerful observation about Scripture recorded in Luke 24:32.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Doesn’t the potential exist to have my heart moved in the assembly by the oral reading of Scripture? I want my heart to burn more.

A third passage that seems relevant for a worship assembly reminds me of Paul’s instruction to Timothy.

speak21All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

If Paul’s statement is indeed true don’t I need a steady diet from Scripture? Isn’t this a God designed way for public Bible reading within the worship of congregated disciples to bless each participant?

Here is what I think.

speak18Not everyone is gifted as a reader. I see why little kids might fall asleep as they listen to a bedtime story from a tired parent. Surely, God cringes when His inspired word is read to the congregation like it was a dose of sleep medication.

What if in our worship assemblies, we were to substitute more capable reading of Holy Scripture in the place of a portion of our sermon time or in place of one or two of our ten to twelve songs?

Might that be a game changer that sets the stage for God to speak and send us back into our daily walk as richer disciples?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection: God Speaks to Me by His Word.



Let’s Honor Scripture

GodReflection – Let’s Honor Scripture

aboutOver the past eight months my purpose within GodReflection has been to look at ways I contribute to the lack of unity in Christ’s church and to make corrections in my daily walk.

I have attempted to dig into my own church traditions, the manner in which I interpret Scripture, my soul, my cultural context, my attitude, my prejudices, and Scripture itself, to look for insight that might open my own heart to closer alignment to Jesus prayer for unity of believers.

I discovered a thing or two along the way that will help me grow in my walk with Jesus as I move toward the finish line of time spent in the body I inherited from Adam.

Beginning today and continuing through the next five posts I will move toward a wrap on my unity exploration. This post will be the first of six summations that will conclude for now my written unity journey.

I want to honor Scripture.scripture2

Doesn’t that sound lofty?

Really, I want to honor Scripture. Frankly, the thought of honest honor of Scripture is more than a little intimidating.

Each time I read from Scripture I want to see it with fresh eyes. I want to be aware that I am hearing God’s Word through the lens of my entire life experience.  To be fair, there is no other way I can hear.

My dad’s work as a general contractor caused me to grow up around building sites. The majority of jobs included the mixing of cement. Depending on the needed outcome, we mixed cement with sand of different amounts and textures.

screenbox1A tool for a good outcome was a simple window screen nailed to a wooden frame. To reach a smooth mixture of concrete we shoveled coarse sand into the framed screen box.  Fine sand rained down through the screen as it separated out unwanted particles. This fine sand mixed with correct amounts of cement and water made the perfect product.

I am learning to read scripture in a similar manner. As the Holy Spirit guides me into truth, I try to sift out the pebbles attached to me by all the influences that make me who I am.

It is in the process of screening Holy words through my life that helps me grow toward giving greater honor to Scripture. Scripture is not to be worshipped it is to be honored.

When I mix Scripture with generous grace and the Holy, daily living becomes a much better product.

Here is what I believe.

The more I operate from a humble spirit to separate the grains of my environment from the fine sand of God’s Holy Will, the greater will be the possibility I can find points of unity with God’s children.

I want to honor the entirety of Scripture for what it says as well as honor its silence. This one act will increase my harmony with the body.

I will not demand that others Christian siblings see their walk with Jesus as identical to my place on the road. I seek unity not uniformity. If I am to honor Scripture, I must trust there is power within to grow each of us at the pace of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, as I proceed down the path of my attempt to live in unity with the Godhead and with fellow believers, I drive a stake into my life here and now to honor Scripture and let the Holy Spirit used it as my guide to help me learn to live in unity.

I look forward to a time when all of God’s children will clasp hands as one church formed by seeds from the cross.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells – Reflecting on Cross Church.