Years ago, one of my favorite professors
told me an incredible story that makes me love the Bible more than ever. The story was about a youth pastor who
wanted to take the church youth group to a deeper spiritual level. Now, they were used to playing paint ball
and having fun, and doing games and having pizza and too much caffeine and sugar. But he really wanted them
to get closer to God. And he wanted them to get closer
to God through this book. The Bible. So, before the youth group arrived,
he went into the church basement and he set up a circle of folding chairs and put one single chair
in the middle of the circle. Then on the outside of all the chairs, he wrote on little note cards
different Bible passages that offered forgiveness and grace
and hope and comfort. When all the students arrived, he asked them
to find a chair on the outside of the circle. And then he was hoping that one student would
be brave enough to sit in the center chair. And the plan was to blindfold the student
sitting in the center chair and have them just openly confess the things
they were struggling with. What kind of sins were they battling? What kind of embarrassment did they feel spiritually? What shame were they carrying with them? What fears did they have for the future? And then, as the students on the outside of
the circle listened to that confession, they could read those Bible
passages and remind them of the comfort, forgiveness
and peace we find in Jesus. It was an amazing plan
according to the youth pastor but it didn’t exactly work. Apparently, none of the teenage boys
were really excited about sitting there in front of their buddies and the
girls they were trying to impress and confessing their greatest fears. There was a couple that joked off. They acted like little clowns. And the pastor thought this
was going to crash and burn and he should probably just find
a movie and order some pizza. But before he kiboshed the idea there was a girl who raised her hand. It was the brand new
girl to the Bible study and she said, “I’ll go.” And so the pastor put the blindfold on and before he had barely tied
the knot she started to weep. She confessed that her
home life was a mess. That her father was abusive. In fact, that very day, he said that he wished that she had never been born
and she shouldn’t even come home. And as the students on the outside
of the circle sat there in shock, the youth pastor nodded. “Read the passage,”
he gestured to them. And so one of the kids looked
at the note card in his hands and read the words of Jesus. “But I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” “You don’t understand”,
the girl kept going, “My own father doesn’t even love me.” And the youth pastor pointed at another kid
sitting on the outside of the circle. And he read a passage about the
everlasting, unfailing, gracious love of God our Heavenly Father. And the girl broke down, she was crying and
she took the blindfold off her face and she looked at the
youth pastor and she said, “Pastor, why doesn’t God speak to me like that?” And the pastor smiled. And can you guess what he said? “Honey, he just did.” I love thinking of the Bible that way. In this book, when we read these verses, it’s not just some person speaking to us. It’s God. This passage from 2 Timothy 3:16 says, All the pages, all the chapters, all the verses. Its like breathed out from God. It comes from inside God, himself. From his very heart. And it is so useful for us
as we go through life. Now, if you’re more logical, I know
that sounds like a circular argument. Well the Bible is God’s Word because the Bible says it’s God’s Word. That’s a fair objection and tomorrow
I’m going to try to answer it. But just for today, let’s imagine if that was true. That God was speaking to us in this book. I think two incredible things
would happen in our spiritual lives. First, we would be confronted. And second, we would be comforted. When we open this book and we read
its teachings, we would be confronted. Because if this isn’t like Peter or James
or John or Moses or David, but God, himself, speaking to us, then when he tells us to stop it, to change, to turn around, to be different, we can’t just shrug and say,
“Well, that was Peter’s opinion.” If this is God speaking, it’s not smart to talk back
to the Word of God because we talk back to God himself. It confronts the things we love too much. The habits that we don’t want to change. It will be foolish for us to rebel
against the words of this book because they come from God. And yet at the same time, this book
would offer us such incredible comfort. If the Bible says that
God so loved the world, and that just wasn’t John’s opinion, that came from God, it means you’re loved. If the Apostle Paul would say,
“It’s by grace that you have been saved and it’s not by works, then even if you’ve struggled
to do enough good works you could still believe you’re saved. Because that wasn’t Paul, that was God. When Jeremiah would write that God has made
this deal with us that he doesn’t just forgive our sins but he will remember them no more. That’s not just some Jewish dude
from 3,000 years ago, that’s God, himself. And so like that young woman,
you can pour out your heart, your struggles, your embarrassment, your shame, your sin and
you never have to wonder, “Why doesn’t God ever speak to me?” Pastor Jesus, the Apostle Paul, the
Prophet Moses would say, “Son, daughter, God, he just did.” Let’s pray. Father, thank you for such a clear word. Because of this book, we don’t
have to guess what’s in your heart. Instead we can know how
seriously you take our sin and yet how much you desired our salvation. Thank you for words of comfort, for words of clarity, words that give us direction and, more than anything, words
that give us peace. Without this book, we’d always have to wonder
if people like us could see your face. But you give us this book
that centers on Jesus. So that we know, through
his forgiveness, we always can. And, in fact, right now, through
faith, we know that we will. Thank you for this comfort. We pray that you would help us to grow in
our faith today as we read this book. And we ask this all boldly in Jesus’ name. Amen. How has God’s word comforted you? Today we learned that God speaks directly
to us through this book. So, I’m curious, what passage, what truth really got to your heart? We’d love for you to comment below and
share how God has spoken personally and so powerfully to your heart. Thanks, and have a great day.