God Never Said That: God Wants You To Be Happy

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I John 2:15-17 and Psalm 86:4-5.

This Sunday the Tuskawilla Community begins a new sermon series entitled “God Never Said That.” Throughout this series we will examine four pieces of cultural wisdom that, over time, have been attributed to God, and then explore what God actually says to us in Scripture. The cultural wisdom sayings we will explore include:

  • God wants you to be happy.
  • God will never give you more than you can handle.
  • It does not matter what you do.
  • It  does not matter what you believe.

Many folks believe they have “a corner on the market” of what God says. But how do we really know? This may sound altogether too simple…but look it up! Grab your Bible and dive in. I usually follow this procedure:

  • Read the saying or story that caught your attention two to three times for familiarity and comprehension.
  • Next, read the material immediately surrounding that particular text.
  • Then, get a sense of how that particular Scripture passage fits in the narrative arc of that particular biblical book by skimming the remainder of that biblical book.
  • Finally, ponder how God speaks to God’s people through that particular Scripture – not just then – but also now and for all time.

Other helpful tools for your Scripture exploration may include:

  • Bible Dictionaries – which define terms or concepts mentioned (and sometimes implied) in Scripture.
  • Bible Concordances – which allow you to look up a certain word and report the frequency that word is used and where it is used in Scripture
  • Bible Commentaries – which offer insight and interpretation of the Scripture passage read.
  • Reading and discussing Scripture with others – listen to what your co-readers hear from Scripture and what they say about Scripture; then, consider how that informs your understanding of Scripture.

Reading and studying Scripture for ourselves rather than (1) solely relying on what others say Scripture says or (2) relying on our recollection of what Scripture says guards us from taking Scripture out of context, misappropriating Scripture, and misinterpreting Scripture. God’s Word has been used throughout the course of history to cause harm, such as justifying slavery, genocide, and child abuse. I do not want my use of Scripture to cause, remind, or reinforce harm. Therefore, I am committed to appropriately using and interpreting Scripture, which means I am committed to spending time in and with God’s Word.

Reflect and Respond: How will you spend time in God’s Word this week? Do you have a regular Scripture reading schedule? Is it important to you to be biblically literate? Why or why not?

I look forward to beginning this series with the Tuskawilla Community! I am grateful for my time of “sermon Sabbath” and for the leadership of Vanessa Schuchart, Samantha Aupperlee, and Rev. Kate Ling in offering God’s Word to God’s people at TUMC during my Sabbath. I am excited to share God’s Word with you on Sunday. See you then!

Prayer: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.”* Amen.

*”My Hope Is Built,” The United Methodist Hymnal 368.