As November draws to a close, at Redeemer we’re wrapping up our Community Bible Experience (CBE) and our journey through the New Testament. We’ve had dozens of folks take the challenge of reading through the New Testament in eight weeks; most of these participants have also been in special CBE small groups which have gathered weekly to discuss the week’s readings and to ponder their implications for the Christian life. Rumor has it there were some laughs and pretty good treats along the way as well.
I would like to thank Pastor Seth, who got the ball rolling and organized CBE as a central component of our adult discipleship this fall. Thanks, too, to all of you who opened up your homes to host CBE groups, and to those of you who facilitated the groups in homes and at Redeemer. I also want to thank each one of you who said yes to what may have seemed a somewhat intimidating commitment to read through so much Scripture in two months. The daily pace was at times a bit daunting, but reading longer passages of Scripture at a sitting allowed us to get a sense of the flow of entire New Testament books, to grasp the similarities and distinctives of the four Gospels, and to appreciate the epistles in their original form as letters of personal correspondence.
I would like to encourage each of us to keep at it even now that our time with CBE has come to a close. Keep soaking it in. Set time aside daily to spend in God’s Word, and allow the truth, guidance, correction, inspiration and comfort of Scripture to permeate your life. Perhaps there was a particular book of the New Testament that especially intrigued you, and that you’d like to explore further. Maybe you’re ready to dive into a book of the Old Testament that’s especially meaningful to you, or that you haven’t had much exposure to.
If you’re not sure where to head next in your time in God’s Word, remember that Paul reminds Timothy (and us) that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NIV). In a way, you can’t go wrong. What might be just as important as what Scripture you study is how you study it. Which brings me to my next encouragement:
Keep soaking in Christian community as well. My wife, Christi, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity we had through our CBE group to get to know other Redeemer folks in a way that probably would not have happened outside of a small group gathered around studying God’s Word and applying it to our daily lives. We learned a lot about Scripture, and we also learned about each other’s families, backgrounds, gifts, growing edges, opportunities, work and home lives, and challenges. We got to pray for each other, encourage each other, listen to each other and learn from each other.
Time spent alone with God’s Word and in prayer can be unspeakably precious. Personal devotions can anchor our days and allow God to reset our priorities and perspectives. Time with fellow believers in Bible study, discussion, fellowship and prayer is uniquely valuable as well. Whether or not you participated in CBE, if you’re not currently part of a small group meeting regularly around God’s Word and prayer, I encourage you to make such a group a priority in the early days of 2017. Please feel free to connect with me or with Pastor Seth if you need help getting connected to a group.
Time in God’s Word and time with God’s people: soak them both in and you’ll find your spirit quenched, your life aligned increasingly with God’s will for you, and your journey as a disciple of Jesus leading toward noticeable steps of growth in the coming months. May God bless you as you soak it all in.