By Stephen Purpura
With many things in our daily lives, routine encourages repetition. The familiar can numb our senses to the point where we are no longer aware of the things around us; we just go through the motions. This is the mechanical side of the coin.
However, the other side of the coin represents the repetition of knowledge. Hearing, studying, soaking, repeating, asking questions and getting answers. This is the human side of the coin. This type of repetition that needs to be our approach to scripture—welcoming it into our lives to guide and influence us.
In this blog I hope to give practical and encouraging outlooks for why we publicly read scripture at our worship gatherings—that it would no longer simply be another part of church, but rather it would be a blessing we weekly receive.
1. We publically agree with God
The Bible is a collection of different historical events that describes the story of human beings and the pursuit of our Creator to bring us back into right relationship with Him. It outlines the fierce love of God and the beautifully woven tapestry that points everything towards Jesus Christ being the hope for all mankind, in whom all things were created for Him and by Him (Col. 1:16). All scripture is given life by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and is useful for communicating to and teaching us how to live our lives to the fullest riches intended for us by Christ (John 10:10).
Scripture is without error.
When it says that we are worthy of love, we publically agree that we are worthy of love.
When we read that God is faithful, we can trust in that promise! When we read that Jesus wept with those in mourning, we can rest that our God cares deeply about the hurts in our lives.
There is no hurt too small or too silly that He does not sympathize with. The public reading of scripture is an outlet for us to communally agree that the Word of God is true and we believe that it is a gift to benefit us beyond our understanding.
2. It is an Opportunity for Thanksgiving
We see Ezra reading publically from the Law of Moses, which would have been the only access certain people had to the law in those days (Nehemiah 8). We also see Paul’s letters being read out loud so that everyone could benefit from the Holy Spirit inspirited message (1 Thess. 5:27). We have the ability, the access, and the freedom to read and speak scripture where ever we want!
Jon Bloom states that, “the bible is a mine, not a museum. Don’t just come to look and see, but dig, explore and take home some treasure.”
The written word of God is a compass that points us to Christ.
When we read together from God’s Word, it is an opportunity to have our eyes opened to the vastness of blessings in our lives and to give thanksgiving to the giver of every good and perfect gift.
3. It is an Opportunity for Healing
Hebrews 4:12 states that, “…the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” When scripture is read aloud, we are actually allowing God to use our physical voice as a vessel for His truth to be heard. The Holy Spirit partners with us to actively minister to the hearts of everyone listening. There has never been a worship gathering where the Holy Spirit was a guest and was not actively moving. He is our great counselor!
When there is a reference to the word of God being like a sword, I think many of us suddenly have images of Braveheart and a giant sword that crushes enemies with a mighty blow. On the contrary, the sword described here in Hebrews would have been a machair, a small, 18 inch knife used by the Roman army. This small knife would have been used for self-surgeries on the battle field—much like a how a scalpel is used to cut into flesh but only for the sake that healing would result! It’s a tool with a function to bring life, not death.
The word of God serves us in the exact same way. We get injured by the battles of life every week. The poisonous arrows of our enemy are shot into our flesh, bringing a slow destruction. Bitterness, anxiety, shame, fear, comparison, lust; the quiver of Satan is well supplied. God’s word is the power that removes those arrows in our lives, declaring freedom and healing over the areas we were injured in. He is our great physician—we can trust in His loving dissection and spotless experience.
4. Empowerment of the Body
The fear of public speaking is always close to the top of the most common fears. For some, reading scripture before an audience brings insecurities to their mind (I promise you are in good company if you have ever completely butchered a pronunciation while reading out loud!).
God is love and the Bible is inspirited by Him, which means when you read scripture you are giving a voice to love. 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love and the perfect love of the Father exterminates fear. So when you boldly stand before the congregation and speak the word of the Lord, you are actually winning a battle against fear!
The public reading of scripture was strongly encouraged by Paul (1 Tim. 4:13). It is a privilege to hear different people, regardless of gender, race, age, or experience, stand before friends and family at New Circle and declare the powerful truth of scripture. Your voice is powerful and we all need to hear it! You are a valuable part of the body of Christ and this small act of service brings great joy to your heavenly Father. He loves hearing His children agree with His promises. There are no small roles in the body of Christ.
I pray that the often perceived redundancy of scripture reading would be replaced by a holy wonder and thirst for the ceaseless riches it has to offer us!
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