The Story - Overview - Three reason why we should read the Story
The Story Overview! “Read the story, experience the Bible.”
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How many of you are familiar with Instagram? How many actually use Instagram? It’s my understanding that there are more than 100 million people using Instagram. Generally Instagram is described as fast, beautiful photo sharing. Specifically Instagram is “an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos and share them on a variety of social networking services.”[i] Here are a few examples. People also make comments about God or the Bible on Instagram. Some of those comments are extremely positive and others are over-the-top negative. Here’s one comment I thought was intriguing. “The Bible is 100% accurate. It says so in the Bible.”
It appears this comment is positive. But when you read between the lines this person is insinuating “the only reason the Bible is accurate is because the Bible tells us it’s accurate.” Well, may I make a comment? Would you want the Bible to say anything less? Would you want the Bible to say – “the contents of this book are fabricated; the stuff of legends and folklore. One would do well to keep away from this book.”
Now whoever posted this on Instagram did all of us a great favor. Over the centuries the Bible has passed rigorous tests to determine whether or not it’s authentic. One test is the Internal Evidence Test.[ii] Just what is that? Dr. John Montgomery tells us. It makes no difference what the document is – “One must listen to the claims of the document under analysis, and not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualifies himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.”[iii] Josh McDowell wrote a book called, “Is the Bible true…?” McDowell said, “Luke wrote the book of Acts. Luke confirms 84 historical details.”[iv] Luke does not contradict himself ever.
What I want you to see is that the book you hold in your hand is not just any book. This is the Bible. The word Bible means “Books.” These books record history. Better than that these books created history. And even better than that these books are HIS STORY! This week we officially begin a church wide journey called The Story. The $64,000 question to ask has to be WHY? Why do I want YOU to read the Story? Allow me to provide three reasons why? The first reason is very practical. Some people have never read the Bible. So here’s Reason #1: Read the Story, encounter God! Some people have never encountered God. On your chair is a gray card stock schedule outlining every chapter of the story! By reading these 31 chapters you will encounter God just like Adam did in the garden, Noah did on the ark and Moses did in the desert. You will pray with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and walk on water like Peter did in the Sea of Galilee. You will walk the known world with Paul and see Jesus on a rock island called Patmos. May I ask you? Is there anyone here who wants to encounter God? I do! You can’t do that apart from the Bible!
The second reason is very personal. Read the story, grow your faith! The Apostle Paul said this in Rom 10:17: Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Faith is taking God at his word. Faith means – God made a promise and he’s going to keep his promises. I have found that when I read the Bible my faith fans into flame and when I don’t my faith tends to flame out. I literally forget the promises of God. I made you. I am with you. I redeemed you through my son. I start focusing on the bad news instead of the good news. Like... death is not the end! Fred Stobaugh is from East Peoria, Illinois. Fred is 96 and his wife Lorraine died recently. They spent 75 years together. Fred said, "After she passed away, I was just setting in the front room one evening by myself. The song just come right to me almost, I just kept humming it … it seemed like it just fit her." So Fred wrote a song to his wife. The woman he fell in love with at an A&W stand in 1938. A local musician took his words and created this song. Watch this.[v]
I also thought it was wonderful, but there’s one line I would change. Did you catch it? “Life only goes around once but never again.” Not according to the Bible. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” I was sad to hear Bob Shonkwiler tell me this past Thursday that his wife Carolyn had died. Are you sad? (PRAY) I am sad but filled with hope. Because death may separate us for a while, but not forever. Why not forever? It’s all because of Jesus. Carolyn put her faith in what Christ did on the cross. So many people don’t know what that means. And that’s what makes Reason #3 so crucial. Here’s a third reason why I want you to read the story. This reason is purpose driven. #3: Read the story, share your faith. Find ways to weave Jesus into your daily conversations. That sounds kinda good, I guess Greg, but how? Be natural. Just look for opportunities. (SUNSET, I AM BLESSED AND WEEKEND RESPONSE) But here’s the catcher. If you’ve never read the story of God – you won’t share the story of God. Why would you? I need you to open your Bibles to Matthew 1:1. Do you need a Bible? Also fill out your connect card. If you are a guest today – fill out this connect card and take it to the Welcome Center and you will receive a free copy of The Story! Matthew‘s audience is Jewish. He has great news to share. Jesus is the long awaited Jewish Messiah and he will become the King of the Jews. Look at verse 1. This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:
I must show you a picture. I told you months ago not to go see a hideous movie called Lawless. Lawless was all about the infamous Bondurant brothers. Well, there were others. A man named Ben Bondurant called my brother Bill and said I found a picture you ought to see. Let me introduce a few people. This little guy right here is Ben’s Dad. Howard. Seated in the center is Alfred Bondurant, my Great, Great Grandfather. This picture was taken in 1915 and he was born during the Civil War. His wife is Nancy and they had four sons. L/R – Martin, Paul, Robert and Gray. Robert is my great grandfather. He had a son. Robert Jr. Now my Grandfather Ralph Bondurant is 7 at the time but he’s not in the picture and neither is his Mom. This picture does two things. It proves these people existed. This is my family tree. Plus, times were tough back then. Have you noticed that not one person is smiling![vi] Took to long for the exposure to develop. Matthew does something wonderful! Let me introduce you to a few other people. Go back to verse 1. Here’s the beginning of Jesus’ family tree. The Story will show you that Jesus wasn’t just anyone. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. The Bible has an Upper Story and a Lower Story. Matthew shows us both! The Upper Story is the grand over all story of the Bible: “God is real, he is present and he is working on our behalf.”[vii] Heaven has broken into this world through Jesus. The Upper story is that God sent Jesus to save the world. Now why should a Jew believe that? Go back to verse 1. Drop to verse 17. Matthew’s answer. Jesus came from David’s family tree. David was the greatest King ever. We all know that a royal baby was born in 2013. Meet Prince George of Cambridge. Prince George was born in royalty. Jesus was born into obscurity, but he has royal blood flowing through his veins. Prophecy tells us that the Messiah would come from the line and lineage of David. That’s Jesus and that’s why Matthew declares Jesus to be the King of Jews.
But it gets even better. Go to verse 16. Matthew wants us all to know that Jesus came from Mary but not from Joseph. Jesus did not come from an egg and a sperm. Egg yes, sperm no. He was not born of an earthly father. He is a man but more than that he’s the Son of God. But why should you and I believe that?
Matthew shows us. We have major “mamma drama” going on in Matthew 1. Genealogies are not always exhaustive. Sometimes people are left out. There’s no real reason to bring up their name or more likely what the person did was naughty and not nice. These four ladies should have been left out. Find verse 3, 5 & 6. We have Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Tamar and Rahab are guilty of prostitution. Ruth and Bathsheba were foreigners with Bathsheba committing adultery with David. They shouldn’t be in this list. Why are they? It’s the lower story of the Bible. We each live in this world and we make mistakes. We run away from God. We resist his love. We all share the same story. We are sinners in need of God’s grace. That’s why God sent Jesus and that’s why Jesus shed his blood on the cross. Servers, would you go now and prepare for communion? In just a few moments you can take a piece of bread which represents Jesus’ body. Juice which represents his blood. His suffering pays the price for all of MANY sins. (BB’s Illustration) I pray you will think about this first though. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba don’t deserve to be in this list. Neither would any of us. These ladies are a “neon reminder of God’s grace.[viii]” (PRAY)
In light of Jesus’ sacrifice. Here’s what I’m asking you to sacrifice. Sacrifice #1: TIME/PRIORITY: Read the Story. Chapter 1 this next week. Why? You’ll encounter God. You’ll encounter the God who created you. Sacrifice #2: Money & Pride. Buy one book for you and buy another one for someone else. Invite them to journey with you. Help them see what you already know. God won’t stop pursuing them.
[ii] McDowell & Sterrett, Is the Bible Really True, 85
[iii] McDowell & Sterrett, Is the Bible Really True, 86
[iv] McDowell & Sterrett, Is the Bible Really True, 86
[v] www.preachingtoday.com News That Illustrates, September 2, 2013
[vii] Randy Frazee, The Story Participant Guide, 7
[viii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 28