We’ve been asking this question during our ‘winter’ series at The Village,

What can we do to deepen our relationship with God and the life Jesus compels us to live?

We’ve looked at a number of things so far: our desire to change, the importance of prayer, and how essential it is for us to disengage from our busy lives with the purpose of engaging God’s presence.

This week we revisited what it means for us to immerse ourselves in God’s Story- Scripture. If we want to move forward in our relationship with God, reading the scripture has to become as routine as anything else in our lives. John Ortberg said, “I have never known someone leading a spiritually transformed life who had not been deeply saturated in Scripture.” For early followers of Jesus, scripture was a life line, it was the story they based their lives on, what they chose to be rooted in. For them it wasn’t just words or information, but God speaking to them through the lives of people who had gone before them and discovered what it meant to follow God. The Desert Fathers said reading the scriptures were like coming into contact with fire that burns, disturbs, and calls violently to conversion and change. Reading the Scripture isn’t just like reading the newspaper. It can’t be, for one main reason – the scriptures are ‘inspired’.

As soon as we say something like this we bring in some critiques, and rightfully so. Since when are words on a page more than…well…words on a page? But the early church believed so deeply that the Scriptures were more than words (insert old Extreme Song here:) they were God-Breathed – Inspired. We get this from 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

Rob Bell illustrates this well…

Take a song, for example. Certain pieces of music move us in
unique and powerful ways, and the word we often use is inspiring. What do we
mean by this? We mean that the song is chords and notes and sounds and harmony
and volume and all those physical, tangible elements, and yet there is
something else to the song, something beyond its material essence that speaks
to us.
It breathed into you something good, hopeful, true, comforting, healing or

The Bible is full of books, written by people trying to figure
it out, wrestling with their demons, doubting, struggling, doing what they
could to bring a little light to their world, and yet these books have been
breathed in to, showing us what redemption looks like, giving us hope,
insisting that people like you and me can actually do our part to heal, repair
and restore this world.

When Paul says scripture is God-Breathed, he means that, yes, it’s words, yes, it’s information, but it’s more…there’s life in it…God’s breath is in it! Because of that, many have come to see that these words do more than inform us, they transform us. God’s story does something to us. It changes us and starts us on a journey towards relationship with God. We are transformed in the way we relate to God and the way we relate to others. (Loving God & Love Others was Jesus’ #1 command) And here’s why we are transformed? The scriptures lead us to Jesus. A quick glance at John 5:39-40 will tell you. The words don’t change you, the person the words lead you to do.
As we continue to dive into what it means to follow Jesus, be inspired to read what’s inspired. Be drawn to a story that’s more than words on page, that is mysteriously bigger than any story we can know or imagine. Take time to read it and then allow it to read you.
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A few simple tips to engage God’s Story:
Read it (simple, I know)
Reflect on it
Pray (before and after you read it)
Engage it in community (i.e. gathering together on Sunday at The Village)
Engage it alone (i.e. early mornings, before bed, etc)
Here are some tools to help you along the way:
biblegateway.com (a wonderful online bible with different translations and tools)
youversion.com (reading plans and more)
sacredspace.ie (an online daily devotional/prayer guide)
one year bible (a plan to read the bible in one year)
– esvbible.org 

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small(er) group questions:

The bible is one of the only books that tells us to read itself: What do you think about that? Do you take it’s advice to heart?
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on
it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful. (
Joshua 1:8)
Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.

Give me understanding, so that I may keep your
law and obey it with all my heart.

Direct me in the path of your commands,  for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. (Psalm 119:33-36)

The Bible Informs / Inspires / Transforms. Which of those excites you most? Which one do you think is most important?

Let’s read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What would you like to say about this verse? 
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

In John 5 Jesus challenges the religious leader’s to see the scriptures as a lens that leads to him? Do you find people get side tracked and to often see is primarily as something else? If so what?
study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you
have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet
you refuse to come to me to have life.

Why is it important to read the bible on your own? 
Why do you think it’s equally or more important to read the bible in community?