Romans 15:4-6 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Does life seem like a seesaw? Good days and bad days. Do you find that the things you want to do are at odds with the things you have to do? Do you ever find yourself with more "to doís" than time to do it? Perhaps you have time, but donít know what to do with it all. Any of these can be discouraging. Many people go to church looking for hope and peace, which is good. But for many that hope and peace just doesnít last the week. And some people looking for what is true, only seem to find opinion, which is ever changing. You cannot live your life based on opinion polls, you need something more steady, something which is true, and will always point in the same direction.
God is true. God is faithful. And God has given us his word, so that we can know the way of salvation and be trained for holy living. Godís Word is true, are useful. Not just some parts, but the whole thing, from cover to cover, the things which have been written, have been written for our instruction, and not only is it an encouraging word, but it will help us to find the right direction and to remain steadfast on the course God has laid out before us.
Of course, while Godís word has been written for our instruction, little of that happens when the book remains closed and unread. And the question is, why do we rebel against learning about Godís plan for our lives? Could it be that we already have our plan, and we donít want anyone telling us that what we have chosen is wrong? Or could it be that we want to learn more about God, but things just keep getting in the way.
In Bible class last week we were talking about the Parable of the Sower. God plants good seed. Some of it grows and bears fruit. Some of it never makes it to the harvest. Some seed is said to fall on hard soil and is eaten by the birds. Some seed falls in shallow soil, and will perish, unless it gets some depth. Some seed falls among thorns, and the cares of life choke it to death. In each case, the hope is not in us, but in the love of God and the power of his word.
Being in the Word can give us deep roots. Being in the Word can soften hardened hearts. Being in the Word can show us how the cares of life, need not choke out our God given faith. The Word was given to give us hope and encouragement that we might remain steadfast in faith. That is why we read, learn, meditate and inwardly digest all that Godís word speaks to us, that we might grow in faith, and overcome the cares of life and find our peace in God through Jesus Christ.
But the word of God does even more, it brings us into a caring community, where we can live in harmony, not by our own effort, but by the grace of God. And that is the thing that when the rest of the world sees it, they say, we too want this peace. We too want this direction. We too want this hope. We too want to overcome the cares of life. God blesses us through his word, so that we might be a blessing to others, who will come to us, wanting to find out where our hope comes from. And how it is that we can live together in peace.
And this living body of believers gives glory to God, for God is the one, who through his Word has shown us his love. And the Love of God has changed us. The love of God has given us hope, for we have seen that God so loved the world, so that he gave his only sin, to suffer and to die for our sins, that we might receive forgiveness and life everlasting. It is the forgiveness that is ours in Christ that enables us to live together in peace and harmony.
All these things come to us through the Word of God, which was written, as has been said, for our encouragement, so that with voices united we might glorify the God who has gone such great things or us.