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Listening To God's Word

This month Gifted for Leadership, Leadership Journal, and some of our sister sites are joining to think seriously about Scripture. An exciting foray into this topic begins with an interactive assessment: The Hermeneutics Quiz, by Scot McKnight. This free quiz will give you an insightful perspective into the way in which you interpret Scripture.

For other considerations, read Scot's article on the Leadership website, or dive into Christopher Blumhofer's insightful post below.

A church's ability to minister to people hinges on its confidence in the Word of God. A low-confidence church can't teach or preach or serve with any real sense of expectation. It can't profess assurance that God speaks or that listening for his voice is worthwhile. A high-confidence church lives in another reality: a realm in which God speaks and acts, calls and sends.

The divide here isn't a clear-cut, liberal-conservative issue. It isn't an issue that can be dealt with primarily on an institutional level. Confidence in the Word of God is intensely personal. The question is this: do you believe that God speaks?

How we answer that question determines more about our ministry than almost any other. If the answer is yes, that we are high-confidence believers, then we can ask God to bend, shape, and teach us. If the answer is no, then our low-confidence answer should prompt a question: why is this God worth serving?

For many of us, the short answer is yes, and the long answer is "I wish I were living with more confidence in God's Word, with a greater sense of expectation." Confidence and expectation are nice concepts, but they're too abstract. In an effort to live out our confidence in the God who speaks, we must re-approach the Word:

? Jesus. Since he is the incarnate Word, we need to consider confidence and expectation in terms of faith in Jesus. Did he live and die for us? Was he resurrected from the dead? Does he intercede on our behalf? Will he return to earth and make all things new?

I once heard a great expression for the practice of asking ourselves these questions - "preaching the gospel to ourselves." It is something that we could all use more of. Preach the gospel to yourself today: it will renew your confidence in the one we all seek. Think of Jesus as a person in the narrative of human history. What did God "say" through Jesus? Since Jesus lives today, what is God "saying" through Jesus' life?

? Scripture. The Bible is a book for the family of faith. There are tons of examples of how and why the Bible is true, and anyone with doubts should pursue their questions. Scripture can stand up to doubts. To read the Bible with expectation we need to do at least two things. First, we need to be teachable and pray that the Holy Spirit will make the words new to us. This takes time and humility. Also, and this is the second point, changing our view of the Bible requires community. Put yourself with other people who have confidence in what God has done both generally and, specifically, through this book.

? Proclamation. Because Jesus lives, the Holy Spirit is active, and God has given us the Bible, we need to open our ears to hear what is being said to us today. Preaching and teaching - even devotionals - are occasions for God to move in our hearts and say something. When we meet together in Jesus' name, we need to listen to what God might be saying through a brother or sister. If you've been doing this a long time and find it hard to sustain confidence and expectation, don't get cynical. Listen harder. Strive for humility and pray for "ears to hear."

Another word for confidence and expectation is hope. As you go about serving and leading this week, may you do so with the encouragement of these words:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:15?17)

Post originally featured on BuildingChurchLeaders.com.

March20, 2008 at 3:47 PM

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