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How to Relate to God: The Bible

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On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series "How to Relate to God," which focuses on the Habit we cultivate at Gateway:  Practice creative devotion.

And this week, he talked about the Most Important Thing in relating to God:  The Bible.  It applies to every single day of our lives.

We read I Peter 1:19-21.

First, Pastor Ed Defended the Bible.

Do we even have what the authors originally wrote?

1)  The documents on which the New Testament is based are authentic and reliable -- without question.

In the last 5 years, 7 manuscripts were discovered from the 2nd and even the 1st Century.  And not a single discovered manuscript has substantially changed our reading of the New Testament.

2)  There is abundant documentary evidence.

We have far more manuscripts than other ancient writings, and far closer to the original date written.

Can we believe what it says?

1)  The documents were written too close to the events to allow for the encroachment of mythology.

Luke in particular was writing History, not Myth.

Many of the letters of Paul were written about 20 years after Jesus' death.

In I Corinthians 15, Paul says that more than 500 saw Jesus after his resurrection -- and that most of those are still alive!

The writers believed that what they wrote was literally true.  (And died for that belief.)

2)  There is extensive historical and archaeological research and it has not disproved the Bible, but has in many cases confirmed it.

More than one distinguished archaeologist has become a believer after being a skeptic but seeing the evidence.

What is the Bible to us?

1)  The Bible is our standard.

This is how we measure all things.  Important in our decision-making and in our thinking.

2)  The Bible is our inspiration.

We don't believe it's God's dictation.  (Some passages are like that, and they're highlighted.)  Most of the Bible was given through the agency of human personalities, carried along by the Holy Spirit.

We'll not be connected to God without this book.

How do we use the Bible?

1)  It's useful for personal growth and growth in doing good. (I Timothy 3:16-17)

To be the kind of person we want to be, we need this book.

2)  It's useful for finding guidance.  (Psalm 119)

3)  It's useful for avoiding mistakes and sin.  (Psalm 119)

4)  It's useful for helping us live a successful life.  (Joshua 1:8)

How do I apply this to my life?

Do what the Bible says:

Hide it in our hearts.

Read it.

Meditate on it.

Every Day!

We need it.

Don't neglect the Bible!

How to Relate to God: Prayer

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Pastor Ed Allen is preaching a series going through the seven habits for building balanced spiritual lives.  Today he began focusing on the second habit in the "Up" direction:

Practice creative devotion.

This week, we're starting at the beginning, with Prayer, the language of our connection with God.

We looked at Matthew 6:5-15.

Jesus isn't pointing out the difference between irreligious people and religious people; he's pointing out the difference between religious people and Christians.

The Right Motivation for Prayer

Religious people approach God as merchants, in a business-like relationship with God, to earn social capital or benefits.

Christ-followers approach God as lovers.

The almost awkward language of lovers is all over Jesus' teachings.  It's not a negotiation or exchange.  Lovers like to approach in secret.  Merchants almost never burst into praise!  They don't throw their hearts open with trust.

A merchant's relationship depends on what they have (goodness, knowledge, the right words, good deeds).

As a lover, my relationship depends on who God is.

The Right Basis for Prayer

Every interaction has rules or engagement.  What will cause my prayer to be heard?  Getting everything right?  Being good?

Religious people approach God as a boarder.  They're looking to present a fair and even exchange.  They think getting what they want from God depends on their performance.

Christ-followers approach God as a child.

It's based on commitment.  Jesus using "Our Father" was profoundly intimate language.

Being a Christian is not a change of behavior; it's a change of status.

You can tell if you have a boarder's mentality by how you respond when your prayers aren't answered right away.  If you get angry or anxious, you may be approaching God like a boarder.

We may wonder, "What am I doing wrong, that God didn't answer?"

Or we may say, "I did everything right!  How dare God not answer?"

"Give us this day our daily bread" doesn't sit well with Boarders or Merchants.  They need to plan way ahead and control things.

Praise and trust come naturally to Lovers and Children.

Things to try this week:

1)  Try some new practice in prayer. 

Find the time to draw near to God -- like a lover, like a child.

2)  A prayer exercise we're going to try corporately:

At 1:00, pray for 1 minute about our $1 million challenge.

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Does anything strike you after thinking about this sermon this week?  Tell us about it in the comments.

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