|Dr. Charles Stanley (well-known Teacher for In Touch Ministries and former First Baptist Atlanta Pastor) who went to heaven this week would often in his messages use phrases such as "God's Word says" or "the Bible says" because he believed so much in the Bible. We feel the same way at Celebration Church. We believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God and that it's God's guidebook for our lives.In a recent Staff meeting, I shared with our Staff 7 primary beliefs Christians must have if we are to live victorious lives and make a difference in our world. I said that the first belief we must have is that God Is All Powerful And He Really Cares About Us, and the second belief we must have is that Jesus Is The Only Son Of God And Savior Of The World. I wrote about both of those beliefs in previous Connecting Points (Click here to view previous Connecting Points). But another essential belief that Christians must embrace is that the Bible Is God's Word And Authority And Guide For Our Lives.Lots of people in our day question the inerrancy, reliability, and authority of the Bible. They believe that it was good back in the "old days," but that it's not applicable or relevant to people in our day. But the truth is that the Bible is more in vogue than ever before. It's still the #1 best-seller in all of the world by far every year, even though many people throughout history have tried to discredit the Bible, has its teachings removed from the public sector, or in some countries ban the reading or distribution of Bibles. The Bible is still the #1 best-seller every year because people want to find truths that can transform their lives - which is what the Bible does when its principles and practices are read, heard, meditated on, embraced, and lived out.|
|"People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God"|
|The Bible is actually not one book, but a library of books written over a period of 1400 years by over 40 different authors as they were inspired by God's Spirit to write what they experienced or heard from the Lord (2 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus and Paul both emphasized the need for people to learn and live out the truths of God's Word. Jesus said, "People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). And the Apostle Paul wrote, "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" (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus and Paul's words remind us why we make the teaching of God's Word so central in our ministry here at Celebration. The teaching and explanation of God's Word and the exhortation for people to live out the principles of God's Word is one of the primary focuses of our worship services, Life Group gatherings, and leadership training, and it's why we encourage our people to daily read or listen to portions of the Bible. Many people in our congregation will testify to the fact that learning and living out God's Word has transformed their lives, circumstances, and relationships.|
|At Celebration we tell people they can learn and benefit from the teachings of the Bible by: Hearing the Bible taught by gifted teachers (2 Timothy 1:13) - We encourage people to hear the Word by participating in worship services, Life Groups, discipleship classes, and by listening to devotions, podcasts, etc. Reading the Bible (1 Timothy 4:13) - Reading God's Word daily helps us stay spiritually strong, helps us to hear from the Lord, and keeps us on the right path in our lives. There are many daily Bible reading plans that are available to help us. Studying the Bible (Acts 17:11). The difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible is the difference between water skiing and scuba diving. When you are water skiing you're only seeing the beauty of the landscape above the water. But when you go scuba diving you get to see the beauty and animal and plant life that is below the surface. When we study God's Word (there are plans to help us do that), we find ourselves growing stronger in our faith and ability to live for the Lord. Meditating on Bible Principles and Practices (Psalm 1:1-3). The Greek word for "meditate" literally means "to attend." It means that we are to hear, read, and study God's Word with much attention and intention, regularly reflecting on the principles and practices found in the Bible that are designed to help us live godly lives. And meditation on the truths of God's Word is what helps us to really learn how to apply it to our lives. Living Out God's Word in our Daily Lives (James 1:22, John 8:31). It is not just enough to hear, read, study, and meditate on God's Word. The principles and practices found in God's Word must be lived out in our lives on a daily basis. A person would be foolish to go to a physician, receive a diagnosis, and then think just because they have heard from the doctor they will get well. What someone must do is take the prescribed medication or go through the prescribed surgery in order to get well. Likewise, just hearing or being exposed to God's truths won't make us mature, strong, and healthy. We must do what the Bible tells us to do and live like it tells us to live if we are to become the mighty men and women of God that God has called us to be, and that we and others need us to be. The Lord said to Joshua, "Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed in life" (Joshua 1:8). If we want to really live strong, successful Christian lives, we must regularly hear, read, study, meditate on and live out God's Word in our lives on a daily basis.I saw a commercial one time for The Simpson's television program. In that commercial, Homer Simpson was holding a Bible and saying, "This book doesn't have any answers." From my personal experience and from observing the lives of thousands of others, I have to disagree with Homer Simpson. The Bible, God's Word, has all of the answers that we are looking for - if we want to live healthy, holy, and happy lives. So, I encourage you to "get into the Bible" as never before. God's Spirit will use God's Word to transform us into mighty men and women who make a difference for good and God in the world around us.|
|This past Sunday I preached at the newly renovated Celebration River Parishes Campus. It was a great blessing for me to see the joy on people's faces as they worshiped in their facility that had been virtually destroyed by Hurricane Ida. One reason they were able to worship in this newly renovated facility was because of the generosity of our people from all of our Congregations. We still need to raise the money to pay for the renovation costs of that facility as well as for the renovation costs of our Kenner and Westbank facilities, and we're raising those monies through our 52 CHALLENGE initiative. If you've not yet given generously or made a commitment to our 52 CHALLENGE initiative, I want you to do so this week. If you would have been with me this past Sunday at Celebration River Parishes you would understand why all of our people at all of our Campuses need to give generously to our 52 CHALLENGE initiative. Doing so will bring lots of joy to people's lives, and lots of transformation to other people's lives, circumstances, and relationships in the months and years ahead. You can find out more about the 52 CHALLENGE initiative and how you can support it by going to www.celebrationchurch.org/the52/.|
Our Pastors and I look forward to seeing you and your friends and family members that you bring with you this coming Sunday because Jesus Changes Everything.
Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church