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For the Bible Tells Me So

From the series Jesus Loves Me

According to Jesus, your relationship with God’s Word is a good indicator of your relationship with God. In this message, guest teacher John Dickerson wraps up his series, Jesus Loves Me, by challenging us to consider how connected we are to the Bible day in and day out. Hear how it can guide, protect, and give you reliable hope in life’s most demanding moments.

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Message Transcript

What can you do when your world shifts or shakes? I don’t know where in life you have had something unexpected, unwanted, something that didn’t go the way you planned.

I have learned that change always leads to one of two things in our lives. We either grow or we have a setback. And change is inevitable, and so, the question is how do we make sure when change does come into our lives that we actually grow, that we actually move forward. How do we stay focused on what matters and keep moving forward?

Well, we are going to look into God’s Word to answer this. And it’s a really interesting answer to this question, because the context of this is written to a young Christian, a guy named Timothy, who was leading a church in a city called Ephesus. And his mentor, Paul the apostle, is writing to him. And this is Paul’s final letter. Paul knows he’s about to go to heaven. And Paul warns Timothy. He says, “Timothy, as you try to follow Jesus, there’s going to be difficult times. And here’s what you can do when your world shifts and shakes.”

The passages starts this way. “Mark this: There will be terrible times.” Okay, good news, everyone! There will be terrible times, alright? “There will be terrible times in the last day. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, people will be boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful for what they have been given, unholy in their relationship to God, they will be without love, they will be unforgiving, they will be slanderous, they will be without self-control.” Thank you, Paul, this is super encouraging.

The list goes on. It says this, “…people will be brutal, not lovers of what is good, they will be treacherous, they will be rash,” or impulsive, “they will be conceited,” not humble or teachable, “they will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” and some of these people will even pretend to be Christians or followers of Jesus. “They will have a form of godliness, but they won’t have the power of Jesus.” Obviously, this is the negative part of the text, okay?

And this relates to when our world shifts or shakes. And Paul says to Timothy, “Timothy, as you try to follow Jesus, there’s going to be times when people who are all these negative things interrupt the work of God, when they discourage you, when they actually come in and even destroy the work of God. There will be times when some of them even pretend to be a Christian and they come in and they just do spiritual damage and emotional damage.”

And the list goes on and it says this in verse 13, “Some of these will be evildoers and even imposters. They will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” So, here’s the problem. Now, what is the solution?

Paul is going to say, “Here’s how you, as a follower of Jesus can stay stable and secure when your world shakes because of the people around you.” And here’s the answer, starting in verse 14, “But as for you,” and we often point out here that, you know, we can’t control what the people around us do, whether it’s national level of politicians or the neighbor across the street. We can’t control what people around us do, but we always can control what we do.

And God doesn’t expect us to be responsible for other people’s choices, but He does tell us we are responsible for ours. And Paul says to Timothy, “Timothy, when your world shakes because of evil people around you, you won’t be able to control them, but as for you, focus on yourself in that sense. And here’s what you can do. You “continue in what you have learned.”

In other words, in the teachings of Jesus, continue in that. So, the more your world shifts or shakes, the more you say, “Okay, how does Jesus call me to live?” That’s my center, that’s my stability, that’s what will keep me secure when everything around me shakes.

“Continue in what you have learned and what you have become convinced of.” And in Timothy’s case, Paul says, “You have known these things for a long time.” In fact, from infancy, Timothy was raised by a mom and a grandma who loved Jesus. In fact, if you’re a single mom or a single grandma, Timothy is a great inspiration, because Timothy, apparently his dad either was out of the picture or was not a follower of Jesus, but his mom and grandma raised him to love the Lord.

And Paul says, “Don’t forget all the things you have learned and that you have known from the Holy Scriptures.” That is the Word of God, or the Bible. “These things the Holy Scriptures, are able to make you wise for salvation through your faith in Jesus Christ.”

And now Paul is going to add a little more onto what keeps you stable when the world shakes around you? And Paul says this in verse 16. He says that “All Scripture is God-breathed,” in other words, the words in this book, the Bible, they are not just ancient words. They are historically valid, but they are even more than that. They are supernatural.

They are living and they are breathing and when you breathe in the words of God into your soul, they bring life, and they can bring you power and stability. When you don’t know what to do, they will bring you direction. When you know what to do, but you don’t have the power to do it, the Word of God will bring you power. These words are actually breathed of God. And they are kind of mystical and supernatural in that sense, but they are also really practical.

They are useful for your very real decisions of: What do I do in this job? What do I do in this dating relationship? How do I parent this child? How do I be a better spouse? How do I deal with my shame? How do I deal with my guilt? How do I forgive that person who wronged me? Well, there are God-breathed words in this book that if you will take them in, they will practically help you in all those situations and in any situation you can face.

“They are useful for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in right living,” or, “righteousness, so that the servant of God,” that’s you, “may be thoroughly equipped,” have every tool you need, “to do the work of God in your life.”

So, what is the answer to our question of: What can you do when your life is shifting or shaking? Here’s the answer, according to this passage. Scripture will stabilize you and Scripture will strengthen you when your world shifts or shakes.

Now, some of you are in here and you have experienced that and so, you’re like, “Oh yeah. I remember when I was in the hospital, and I thought I was going to die, and God gave me a verse and I just clung to that verse and that’s what got me through it.”

Some of you are like, “Oh, yeah, I get this.” Others of you, and you’re not unspiritual if you feel this way, you’re like, “Okay, I get the idea, but I have never experienced that before,” and if that’s you, I just want to encourage you to stay engaged with this message, because you can start to experience this.

There was a time in my life, if you’re thinking, Okay, that’s just like a big old book of old stories and I don’t understand it. How is that going to stabilize me? How is that going to help me in a time of crisis? If that’s what you’re feeling, I have felt that way too.

There was a time in my life where this idea didn’t make sense to me. But as I stepped out in faith and said, “Okay, God, if You say this is what will stabilize me and help me, I’m going to look into Your Word, I’m going to seek Your Word, give me the wisdom I need in these crisis decisions and in these difficulties.” And I have now experienced this, and I want to share it with you today in a way that you can experience it too.

We talked at the beginning of this series about these core essentials of the Christian faith and how they plug us into God’s power. You might remember if you were here on week one, I told you a story of a time when I was traveling to Europe when I was journalist and I had an American power plug and I was trying to plug it into the wall but in Europe, the outlets are shaped differently.

And I learned this, that plugging into power is not complicated. You don’t have to have a PhD, you don’t have to know a bunch, but it is precise. There are these two or three prongs; they have got to be in the right place.

And we learned that when it comes to connecting into the power of God to change our lives through Jesus, it also is not complicated. You don’t have to go to seminary, you don’t have to memorize the Bible, you don’t have to learn a whole bunch of things, but there are a few really important things that do need to be in the right place.

And so, to learn those few things, we have used this very simple kid’s song, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And what we are learning in this series is that you can kind of carry around the core beliefs of Christianity just by knowing this song.

Whether you’re tucking in your grandchild at night, and they say, “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” Or you’re sitting on an airplane next to a coworker. Whether they are in their mother’s womb or an old, old person at a retirement home. Every person of every tribe and tongue and nation, of every nationality, of every religious belief system – every person with disabilities – all people are made in the image of God and inherently valuable because God says so.

And yet all of us are also broken by sin. And so, that’s why we need this good news of Jesus. That’s why we need His work on the cross. So, we are glorious ruins, but we are being restored. Jesus loves me.

And then we talked about those words, “This I know.” And the importance, just like that guy when he said, “I have been in church for ten years. I have heard all this stuff. But today is my day where I believe it for me.” And when we say, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” it means this isn’t just some belief system for other people, this is my identity. This is my belief. And believed in Jesus as my Lord to give me my identity and my forgiveness from my mistakes.

And today, we are wrapping up with this final phrase of the short little song, “For the Bible tells me so.” For the Bible tells me so. It doesn’t mean that we believe all these things just because the Bible tells us so. Now, the Bible does tell us all these things and the Bible is always true in what it says.

But we believe these things because we have experienced them in our lives. We have seen the power. We have seen the change in ourselves and in others. But, “For the Bible tells me so,” it affirms these things, and it tells us: Here’s what we need to believe about Jesus, here’s what we need to believe about His love. And then the Bible, as a follower of Jesus, we make it the authority or the standard for what we do and believe.

In other words, every time we hit a fork in the road of decision in life, what do I do with my sexuality? What do I do with my finances? What do I do with my past hurts? What do I do with my time? What do I do with my life? Every time we reach a fork in the road of decision or of crisis, we look to the Word of God, and we say, “God, You have revealed Your heart here.” And we learned in “me” that my heart is often deceitful. I can’t trust my own heart. But I can trust that heart of God.

So, any time there is a crisis or a moment of decision, I will look to the Word of God and say, “God, You tell me what to do, because Your Word leads to life and freedom.” And very often, what I think is best actually leads to death or to destruction.

So, that’s what we mean when we say, “For the Bible tells me so.” And my heart for you as a brother in Christ is I want you to grow in this life changing power. There’s so much power in this book to introduce change and growth into every area of your life.

But if it’s closed, and on a shelf, you’re not going to be plugging into that power. You’re not going to see the radical change and growth that God wants to bring into every area of your life.

And what we are learning today is that as we look to the Word of God, it keeps us kind of in His repair shop. It keeps us growing and learning and becoming refurbished in different areas of our lives.

Here's an example. Here’s the kind of repair manual that you might use if you were restoring a classic car. What is great about a manual like this is it’s going to tell you how to remove each and every part, how to clean it, how to refurbish it, and then how to put it back together. In fact, I love this little line. This is an old book, but at the bottom it says here, “Thousands of crisp, clear illustrations.” And I love that, because it’s just, it’s practical. If you have this book and the tools and enough time, you could restore one of the cars that are described in the book.

And Scripture really is the same for us. If we will stay in the Word of God, it will restore our thoughts. If we will renew our minds in God’s living, breathing words here, it will rebuild our relationships. It will refurbish our finances and our habits, our legacy, all the different areas of our lives that have kind of gotten decayed or in disrepair can be repaired ultimately by the power of God. He’s the one who does the work, but He has a guidebook, a repair manual, a love letter called the Bible.

And let me share with you three things about it today. First is this. The same Scriptures that led me to salvation, those Scriptures will continue reshaping me and guiding me as I follow Jesus the Christ. So, you know, whether you realize it or not, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, there was some Scripture along the way that God used to go down into your heart and bring about spiritual new life in you. Maybe it was the Scripture where it says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Maybe it was the Scripture where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Maybe it was the Scripture where God says that He so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have the gift of eternal life.

Maybe it was the Scripture that says we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own works, that salvation is a gift of God.

I don’t know exactly which Scripture it was, and you might not either and that’s okay, but there was some Scripture, some eternal word of God from the Bible that you heard that went down into your heart that prompted you to say, “Yes, I need Jesus,” and you reached out to Him.

And what we learned in the passage we read today is that the same Scriptures that lead us to salvation, we have experienced their power in that way, they will continue to reshape us and to give power for our lives as we follow Christ.
The same Scriptures that led me to salvation, those Scriptures will continue reshaping me and guiding me as I follow Jesus the Christ.

So, let’s look at where this comes from in our text. And here’s really, again, Paul is talking to Timothy as a young leader, but these verses just capture so much my heart for you as a brother in Christ and as a pastor and a shepherd.

Look at verse 14 where it says this, “But as for you,” you know, when your world shifts and shakes, God sees it and He is compassionate, and He understands life is hard. And when your world shifts and shakes, it’s hard. And he says: When that happens, “continue in what you have learned. Continue in what you have become convinced of. You have known these Holy Scriptures in a way that led you to salvation. So now, keep knowing them.”

And then look at verse 16, it says this, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful,” for a number of things here. You know God describes in another passage Scripture as a meal that we actually eat. And God talks about this, that when each of us first place our faith in Christ, we are like a spiritual newborn baby. And just like a baby is very hungry, we need to start eating right away.

But babies can’t eat steak, can they? Babies have to start because they don’t have teeth yet, with milk. And there are parts of Scripture that are like the milk. They are just rich, and they are full of life, and we start there. And every time you gather here, we are feeding you the Word of God.

And what we are learning today is that as you keep gathering here, and then throughout the week as you start to feed yourself, you will grow stronger and stronger in this new way of life. And a few things will happen. One, it’s practical for teaching. Teaching is really about knowing the basics, kind of like we are doing in this series.

So, when someone says, “Well, who is Jesus?” you kind of know, “Well, He’s – I don’t remember all the words, but I know He’s God and man, and He had to be that to be the Messiah.

Teaching is knowing the basics. And there is teaching when it comes to being a spouse in a healthy way, forgiving the people around you, living a life of love, overcoming your past shame and guilt and bitterness. There’s basic teaching for all these different areas of our lives.

The Word of God, we are told, also can rebuke us. That’s not a really popular words these days – rebuke. What is the idea of that? Is that a negative thing? It’s actually a very positive thing.

Very often, a rebuke is an expression of love. There’s actually a passage in the book of Proverbs that says this, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Maybe lately you have had a good friend come to you and they told you something you didn’t want to hear about yourself – they rebuked you and you’ve got this decision.

Because people who don’t love you will never tell you the hard things about you, because they don’t want to deal with the conflict of working through it. But sometimes, a person who really loves you will rebuke you.

And the Word of God, as we read it, it teaches us the basics, but it also, as we are going through life, there’s times where the Word of God grabs us with a strong arm and yanks us and raises its voice and says, “Don’t do that. That will hurt you. That will harm you. That will hurt others.” And so, it’s not always comfortable, but it is good, and it leads to life. It's also the idea of correcting.

And then it says, “The Word of God can train us in righteousness or right living.”

And the idea is this, as you keep feeding on the Word of God, it teaches you the basics, it corrects you and keeps you out of trouble, and then it trains you. And eventually, you will come up to a difficulty or a challenge in life and you’ll realize, you know what? Three years ago, that challenge would have taken me out. Either that temptation or that difficulty, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through that.

But now, I have been training in the Word of God and it doesn’t mean it’s easy, but I was able to kind of jump over that hurdle. I was able to do that. And so, just like the physical body can be trained and strengthened, your spiritual disciplines, your soul, your spiritual muscles can be trained, and the Word of God is a guidebook to train you in your thoughts and in your decisions and even in your emotions and your relationships.

Just as the restoration of a classic car is a process, learning this new life in Christ, being refurbished in every area of our lives, it’s a process. But if we’ll stay submitted to the Word of God, to the repair manual, it keeps us in that restoration process.

And all this works together so that every domain, every dimension of your life gets restored one at a time.

Well, many of you know I grew up in Michigan, and I love walking outside, especially by creeks, by rivers, by lakes, just something about the water. And there’s something I have noticed when I do that. I have noticed that there are often really big trees right at the edge of the water.

Here’s a picture of one such big tree. What does it take for a tree to get huge and healthy like this? Well, we know it takes sunlight. That’s why the branches are reaching up to the sky and the leaves are doing their thing of absorbing the sunlight. We know it takes sunlight, but if you go to the desert where there’s a lot of sunlight, you won’t find these big trees. Why not? Because it takes a second ingredient, and that is water.

And I love this picture because you can see the roots of this tree, they are almost like reaching down drinking that water and that’s why this tree is so strong and so big is because it’s in a place where it’s getting sunlight and it’s getting water.

There’s a verse in Psalm chapter 1. It says, “Blessed is the person who delights in the Law of the Lord,” or the Bible. The person who says, “Whenever I have a decision, this is where I’m going to look.” God says that person will be blessed, and God says that person, their leaves will be green in life. It doesn’t mean they won’t go through storms, but their leaves will be green.

And God says that person who delights in the Law of the Lord, they will bear fruit in their season. And it’s so interesting to me, I mentioned that this book we are reading, 2 Timothy today, was written by Paul the apostle.

Now, Paul started out as a skeptic, which I love, because I started out as a skeptic. His name was Saul and he hated Christians. He knew Jesus had lived, but he didn’t believe Jesus was God. And then God appeared to him, and he had this dramatic moment, and he became a Christian and then he actually became a servant of the Church. And Paul started churches all over the ancient world.

But this 2 Timothy, what we read today, it’s his very final letter, written to kind of his favorite spiritual son, Timothy, a protégé. And he says, “Timothy, I’m about to go to heaven. My race is nearly done. God is about to call me home. My body is going to wear out and I’m going to go be with God for eternity. And, Timothy, here’s my final advice. Here's the most important things for you to know.”

And within those most important things, Paul more or less says, “When life gets crazy, when people around you discourage you, look to the Word of God. It will nourish you; it will be water to your soul, it will keep your leaves green, it will allow you to bear fruit, even in the storms of life.

So, with that in mind, I’ll share with you this second thing. When I choose to submit to it, when I choose to look to it and say, “God, You tell me what to do in my marriage. I don’t feel like loving my wife right now, but You tell me what to do and that’s what I will do.”

“God, I don’t know what to do in this dating relationship. I’m really attracted to this person, but they don’t seem to care about You at all. You tell me what to do in that situation and I will obey You whether I feel like it or not.” When we follow the Word of God, it protects us from evil. It guides us into life. It transforms us for the better. Any area of life where you submit that area of life to the Word of God, you will grow to be a better version of yourself. And it restores us to be what God desires. Restores us to be what God desires.

I showed you that picture of the car repair manual. And to me, it was such an interesting idea, because when you restore a car, you have to take off the old part, restore it, and then put on the new part.

And there are actually passages of Scripture where God says that. He’ll say, “Take off lying. Take off sexual immorality. Take off greed. Take off drunkenness and put on love, compassion, gentleness, patience, self-control.” He tells us what to take off and what to put on so that we can be restored.

Really, the way that you stay engaged with God’s Word so that it keeps restoring you, first and foremost, you keep gathering here like this.

And secondly, when you get a copy of God’s Word for yourself, you can start feeding yourself meals throughout the week and you can start whether it’s if you’re a night owl, you can do this at nighttime before you go to bed. If you’re a morning person, you can do this with your coffee. If you’re neither, if you’re neither a night owl or a morning person, I guess you could read it on your lunch break, okay?

But the point is this: You can start to feed yourself the Word of God. This is called the Life Application Study Bible. And for me, the reason that I love this particular layout of Scripture is there is a topical index in the back, meaning you can look up any topic. So, if you’re wondering, What do I do with my shame? What do I do with my lust? What do I do with my money? What do I do with my marriage? What do I do with my pain?

You can look up that word alphabetically in the back and then it will take you to passages where God speaks about that and then you can choose to apply what we are learning today. If you feel like, Man, that is just a big old book. I’m really intimidated by it. Know that I felt that way for a long time too.

One of the reasons the book is so big is there are actually sixty-six books in there. They are just all compiled in one place. And I remember when I first started really trying to read the Bible for myself, I kind of choked on it, because I started with the steak area, and I didn’t have my spiritual teeth yet.

And I got a little discouraged. And maybe you have done that before. Maybe you have tried to read the Bible and you kind of choked on it.

And so, if that has been you, I want to give you a little guidance of where to start. I would encourage you to start with the Gospel of John. And I’m biased toward that because it’s my name, John. So, but there’s actually a strategic reason for it as well. The Gospel of John is just a great summary of Jesus’ life. And Jesus is really, when you’re restoring a car, you put a picture up on the wall of what it’ll look like when it’s done. And Jesus is that picture. He shows us: Here’s what it looks like to be completely free from sin, free from shame, free from guilt, to find all of your identity in your relationship with God. Jesus models that.

And His Words are so full of life. So, I would encourage you to just get one of these if you don’t have one yet, start in the Gospel of John. And the other thing that really helped me is a friend told me, “You don’t have to read a whole chapter. You don’t have to read a whole bunch. Just read until something makes sense.”

In my case, because I like to write, I got a little spiral-bound journal at, like, a Walmart and I just put it with my Bible and I would just write the date and I would write, “John 1” and I would read until something made sense and then I would write that verse down and I’d just pray a short little prayer in writing. You know, “God help me to do this today.” And then the next day I would pick up, for me I’m kind of a night owl, so I love to do this right before I go to bed at night. Again, if you’re a morning person, have it with your coffee. It doesn’t matter when you do it, but if you’ll do it consistently, you’ll find yourself growing.

Well, here’s the third thing I want to share with you and the final thing. Because we love our God, we love His words to us. You know, a lot of us, we associate the Bible with this, like, you know, ancient, harsh, just kind of list of rules. It doesn’t really affect our lives. But where I want to encourage you is as a follower of Jesus, if you will look to the Word of God as a love letter that guides you, I mean, Jesus said, after He died on the cross, He rose from the grave, He told His followers, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And I’m going to give you everything you need to continue My work on earth.”

And really, the primary things we need are each other, who keep us encouraged; His Word, which is our guide; and His Spirit, which lives in us and gives us power. And with those three things, you have everything you need to follow Jesus. And so, look to it as a love letter. Love it because it expresses the heart of God.

So, three very simple applications. I have kind of covered them. But just think, I’ll list them here. Which one could you commit to? Application one, keep doing what you did today. Wake up on Sunday and come to church. Or on Saturday night, join us. Keep doing what you did today. That is the easiest, simplest application.

Second application, when you get a copy of God’s Word for yourself, you can start feeding yourself meals throughout the week. There’s a great app called the YouVersion Bible, which has reading plans. You can listen to it on audio, it’s a great way to read Scripture as well.

And I’ll give you a third application and that is getting around other believers like you’re doing today, but throughout the week and other times. For example, I love working on old Toyota Land Cruisers. That’s like a 4x4 Jeep kind of SUV thing. And there’s this forum online for Land Cruiser enthusiasts. And so, there have been times in the past where I was stuck on a repair, I didn’t know how to get that part off, and so I would go onto the forum, and I’d have my laptop out there in the garage and I’d figure out what I needed to do based on the experience of other people who had the same passion.

And that’s what our small groups are about here is you get in a small group with some other believers, and you say, “I’m a little stuck. I’m trying to follow Jesus, but I don’t know what to do with this area.” You get in a small group, and they say, “Oh, yeah, we have been there, man. We have been there and here’s the passages of Scripture that helped us. Here’s the practical things that helped us.”

Another way you can get around a community of believers is by starting to serve. And when you do that, you get on a team with those other enthusiasts who will walk with you and say, “Here’s what I did when I was facing that difficulty.”

Well, I just want to close by encouraging you guys, I could tell you so many stories of my life after I found Jesus, or I should say, He found me, that the Word of God met me when I was in a moment of crisis, a fork in the road where I needed help and direction, and the Word of God was there for me.

I mean, I can go back and it’s just story after story in my career, in dating relationships before I was married, in finding my purpose, in finding my identity, in dealing with injustice and what other people had done wrong to me, in my marriage once I got married, in my parenting when I realized parenting is really hard and I have no idea what to do, in my wounds from other broken people, when I have been in the hospital with health struggles.

All these different crises and forks in the road and moments of decision, the Word of God has guided me. And it has never led me wrong. It always leads me to be a better version of myself. So, that’s my heart for you. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. It’s a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, even when the world shakes and shifts around.