I love my church so much. It’s actually the fourth church we’ve attended in twenty or so years. For the longest time, I felt guilty about that, disloyal, then I came to realize: We haven’t left God. We just moved to a different house of his. When I look back, I can see why he had us in each place. I’m grateful for all four congregations and the lessons we learned at each church.
On Sunday mornings in the church we attend now,* after we worship, we read a chapter of the Bible and take five minutes to discuss it with the folks around us. We do this because of Col. 3:16—“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Then, whoever is teaching that day shares their thoughts on the chapter.
One Sunday last fall, a young law student named Jimmy taught on Nehemiah 9. His three application points blew fresh breath on my faith. Based on the text, he encouraged us to:
-Declare who God is.
-Remember what God has done.
-Acknowledge what God will do.
As I reflected on his message the following week, I came up with my own take on these three exhortations. Pick a scripture, any scripture. For instance, I love James 1:17. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Using Jimmy’s technique, here’s what I gleaned from this text.
-God is a giver.
-God gives good gifts.
-God dwells above us, in light.
-God is a father.
-God does not change.
-Because he does not change, he will continue to give good gifts.
I often do this exercise when I walk in the morning. I pick a scripture from the handful that I’ve committed to memory and I hold them up against Jimmy’s three questions. This practice causes me to engage in the Bible in a fresh way, and honestly, it feels as if it increases my confidence in the Lord.
But wait! There’s more. You can also do this exercise with your own life. Ask yourself these questions:
-Who is God to me?
-What has God done in my life?
-In the future, what will God do in my life, in my family?
As I reflect on how God is my father, provider, healer and more, I feel much closer to him. When I think about the incredible things he has accomplished in my life and in my family’s, I am exceedingly grateful. And when I consider I’m only halfway through my life, I get really excited to see what he will do next, in me and in my family.
Hey, Jimmy? If by chance you read this, know that I thank my God every time I remember your message.
*City Church in Morgantown, West Virginia