Usurping Little Gods: The Scriptures
Do you wonder what life would be like if Jesus Christ were the most important God in your life?  Have you wondered how it might be possible to consider Jesus Christ above all other things and people?  One of the ways in which God works to replace the gods we love with a preeminent love for Jesus is through the spiritual discipline of reading His Word.  

This past Sunday I suggested that in order to silence our idols we must discern our idols, uproot our idols and finally replace our idols. Silencing our idols means that they no longer hold any power over us.  They can no longer accuse us, give us cause to despair, or control us.  That is why God tells Habakkuk that the whole earth will keep silence before Him.  We want to experience joy in this life and in order for us to experience true joy we must silence the gods we love and replace those gods with the only true God - Jesus Christ.  

Once we have identified our idols, how do we replace them with Jesus?  How does this translate into real life?  If you want to replace the gods you love with Jesus you must exercise spiritual discipline.  Simply put, your life must be one of prayer, spending time in God's Word, serving in ministry and serving others.  These are the means that God has given us in which we experience the work of His Spirit in our lives.  I would like to work through each of these areas over the next couple of days and give you some very practical suggestions on how you might exercise these spiritual disciplines in your life - so that you might replace idols with Jesus.  

The first spiritual discipline is simple. You must spend time in God's Word.  The Bible is a big book and to many it is a daunting task to consider spending any amount of real time reading it.  The most prevalent question that I hear from Christians and non-Christians alike is, "Where do I start?"  

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to start working out.  I wanted to begin lifting weights and I wanted to try and get my body into shape so that when my children were older, I would be in good enough condition to play sports with them and keep up with them.  I am proud to say that I can hold my own on the volleyball court and I can surf for hours.  I am not sure I would be able to do these things if I hadn't started disciplining myself years ago. How did I begin?  Where would I start?  

First, I had to carve out the time.  Working out takes time and getting into shape takes even more time.  I set apart the time to work out and committed to that time.  I did not miss a day.  I worked through the days I didn't feel like working out and I enjoyed the days that I was feeling pretty well.  In the same way, the spiritual discipline of reading God's Word begins with carving out time.  Your discipline will not end with a preset time.  Eventually, you will turn to God's Word in every area of life as your understanding of his Word grows. But it begins with setting time apart - which is incredibly important in our lives where we run from commitment to commitment.  

Second, when I began working out I started with a group of people.  Eventually, that group ended up being just one other guy and in a few months I was the only one.  By that time, I had experienced good results and I was disciplined enough to be on my own.  If you want to grow in spiritual discipline, ask some others to begin the journey with you.  Ask them to read along with you.  Begin your journey with a group but don't be discouraged when that group folds or moves on to other things.  

Third, I began with a simple workout and moved on to more difficult routines as my body could handle it.  When you begin the spiritual discipline of reading God's Word don't start in Revelation.  Leave the Old Testament prophets for a later day.  Instead, begin with some of the Old Testament narratives (Genesis, Exodus, Joshua etc), or the Gospel of Mark, or one of Paul's more accessible letters (Galatians, Ephesians or Colossians).  The point is to start with a simple passage and work your way into deeper waters.  I think that you will find that every passage of Scripture allows you to swim in shallow or deep waters - but there are some passages that easier to swim in to be sure.  

Fourth, when I began my workout I sought out advice and tutorials.  I read a few magazines that included some simple workouts.  I watched videos online on how to perform certain exercises.  The point is that I was never on my own and you don't need to be on your own when studying the Scriptures.  If you are going to study a certain book of the Bible I would suggest buying a companion book to go along side of your reading.  For instance, if you are planning on reading through and studying the book of Mark, you may want to purchase The King's Cross by Tim Keller.  This is a book that will help guide your steps as you work through the Scriptures. At Stone's Throw Church we will usually provide an in-house resource to go along with the book of the Bible that we are currently preaching.  When we don't produce our own book we will usually suggest companion books for small groups and personal study.  You can access all of these books and sermon series here for an example of what I am talking about.  

Fifth, when I began working out I recorded my progress.  I would record how much weight I was lifting and how many reps I had completed.  I kept a journal in order to track my progress.  When you read the Scriptures you should open up a journal and write down a few thoughts.  Write down the questions you have or what God is teaching you in His Word.  Some days you will write a lot and other days you won't have much to say - but commit yourself to recording your progress.  

Finally, I shared with others what I was doing.  I would tell them that I was working out and have conversations about my progress.  Share with the world what God is teaching you.  It's great that all of your Facebook friends know what you had for breakfast, but share the Bread of Life with them as well.  Share with the world what you are learning and see how God might impact others with your spiritual discipline.  

I hope that these few tips have helped you in a very practical way.  If you commit to spending time in God's Word you will soon see the transforming power of the Gospel in your life.  Your idols will soon be replaced with the only God that matters - Jesus Christ himself.  
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