I don’t know if you’re the same but we’ve got one of those kitchen drawers where we tend to shove all those small instructions manuals that come with stuff we’ve bought! There’s a huge wealth of information all crunched up together and shoved in the back there, everything from setting up a new tv remote to safely disposing of your mirco-wave is crammed in the pile! And it’s all in every available language you could ever need – just sat right there. It’s like someone printed Wikipedia and then hurriedly jammed it into the drawer with all of our old batteries and keys just waiting to be accessed…

Except we don’t. At least, not until something goes wrong… and usually it has to go very wrong before we go routing out the instruction manual.

 

The Unread Guide to Life

When you stop and think about it, the Bible is amazing. Written by over 40 authors, over hundreds of years and in 3 different languages – and yet is just one unified story. One author (the Holy Spirit) telling the story of God’s rescue plan unfolding through the centuries. Everything from the creation of the cosmos to the climax of history is contained within it’s pages. We have history, law, poetry, songs, stories, letters, prophecy… just sat right there waiting to be read.

Except we don’t. At least, not until something goes wrong.

 

Well, this year – something did go wrong, and it seems like one response from a lot of people was to go looking from some instructions, some higher guidance, some deeper wisdom.

The two biggest Bible apps (ways of accessing scripture on your mobile phones/tablets), have reported a huge surge in their downloads and usage.

One of them, YouVersion, saw a rise in overall searches by 80 percent, totaling nearly 600 million searches worldwide, the highest level of global Bible engagement in the app’s history. The other one, Biblegateway.com, reported an unprecedented searches for “healing”, “peace” and “love”; on the whole, they received an 90% increase on the average number of visitors to their site.

 

The Bible has the Answer

It’s true in life that if we didn’t feel pain in our bodies, we wouldn’t be aware of issues that required some form of medical treatment – we’d never visit the doctor and get the help we need. Suffering shows us that something is very wrong with the world, and makes us search out the answer.

 

The Bible tells us that what is fundamentally wrong with the world is that creation is out sync with it’s creator – we are born into a fallen world, a toxic environment where sin reigns. We are created by Loving God, to know Him and His love – but our very nature rebels against and rejects Him; living life without that core life-giving love in which and for which we were created. No wonder we suffer. That’s what’s wrong.

But that is not the end of the story.

This God of love does not leave us in this condition – his plan for us is far from over.

Christmas cards of cute babies lying in cozy and colourful mangers miss the point that Jesus’ arrival marks the beginning of God’s costly rescue plan:

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

JOHN 3.16 (AMPLIFIED VERSION)

 

The Bible is not just about diagnosing the problem – but it’s real purpose is to introduce us to the cure: Jesus Himself, the antidote to our sin problem and the sacrifice that absorbs it’s punishment. Nothing less than the rescue and redemption of the entire human race is what began that night in Bethlehem, and is what is still going on as people come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Him and Him alone. Everlasting life! What a gift!

Don’t leave the guide unread:The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul!” (Psalm 19:7) If you’d like to know more about The Bible, and get a bigger picture of the whole story – why not come along to Andrew Ollerton’s “The Bible Course” which we’re running on zoom in January? Watch this space for more details.

 

The most read bible verse of 2020…?

So, where in the Bible, did people turn most last year. Well, according to YouVersion the most searched, read, shared and bookmarked verse was Isaiah 41.10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

ISAIAH 41.10

Reasons not to fear, and reasons to trust. Words of hope, and words of promise. Things we desperately need right now, things we ignore at our peril.

 

On the YouVersion app alone, 43.6 billion chapters of the Bible were read, 7.5 billion audio chapters played, and 1.4 billion Bible Plan days completed. Furthermore, half a billion verses were shared. As impressive as those number are – it’s pretty clear we read the Word more often than we share the Word. But at a time when more people than ever are routing around for hope in the face of fear – how might we share what we’ve got with a world in need?

Be bold. Write a Bible verse in a Christmas card, text a verse to a friend, share a verse on social media, give a gospel away, invite people to online services this Christmas… the more we plant the seed, the more harvest we’d bound to see.

 

For details of how you watch and share Saltmine new Christmas show, please see here.

Or more details of what we are planning to do over Christmas, please see here.

For details of how you can book to come to watch our Sunday morning live-stream service in person, please see here.

 

Ps – you can listen to this blog, and others like it, together with all of our sermons here:

https://bit.ly/Bethel-Podcast 

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