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Captioned Sermon ( National Community Church - From Garden To City)

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Welcome to National Community Church, everyone tuning in via webcast or podcast and those of you at our four locations, thank you for being part of what God is doing here at National Community Church. I don’t know about you but the adrenaline is still pumping in my veins after Tuesday night. What an amazing All Church Celebration at the Lincoln Theater! Lora and I went home afterwards, after a short stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and we couldn’t go to sleep until 1:00 a.m. We just layed there talking about what a joyful night it was. For us, we reflected back on 14 years, and most of it has been pure joy. There have been a few sacrifices along the way, a little bit of blood, sweat and tears here and there, but we said a night like tonight is such a reminder of why we are doing what we are doing. What a privilege it is to be part of this thing. I am so grateful for that. We also kicked off our ‘From Garden to City’ Bible reading challenge. Lent, Ash Wednesday, we began that challenge, and I’m so excited about where God is taking us. I realize that a couple weeks ago, some of you were snowed in, and then last weekend, President’s Day weekend, some of you were traveling, and you missed it, and we’ve already started our challenge, and I want you to know that it’s too late – ha ha! Ok we are going to make an official decision. We've changed our minds, it's not too late! On the way in, you got a couple of things a Bible reading plan, that looks like this, and you also got a commitment card, that looks like this. I’m going to ask you to hang on to those because that’s something that you are going to be utilizing. Let me just say that we realize that this challenge is challenging, in part because over the next year, we will have hundreds of people who start attending National Community Church and they weren’t here for the kick-off of this imitative. But what we are believing is that when people jump in mid-stream, they are going to get in the current of what God is doing and where God is taking us. I want you to know this is not a perfect plan and we are not going to execute it perfectly, but I absolutely believe we are in the current of where God is taking us and already, this week, it has been a joy to hear about the way this Bible reading has been affecting people. Can I share a couple of brief observations up front before we dive in? I’m hearing and seeing a few things in my own life that I’m loving. First of all, I’m loving it with my family. Keeping it real, its not easy discipling my family. There are challenges in that. I think we try strategies and techniques and what works and what doesn’t and our family sometimes is going good and sometimes not, but you know what’s great? Parker and Summer have taken the challenge. Our youth group is challenging our kids to do this and I love that! Even my 8-year-old, Josiah, here’s how I’m approaching it as a dad, I said, “Josiah, we’re not going to read the whole thing, but every night, I’m going to find a verse and there’s going to be a story that we’re going to talk about that night.” So the first night, we kicked off with Psalm 119 and that’s what I’m going to talk about this weekend, and I said, “Josiah, this is one of the first verses that your dad memorized, and it says Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Then I pulled out the 8-year-old version. He loves flashlights, kids just love flashlights in part because they are afraid of the dark. So if you ask Josiah, what is the bible? You know what, I’m pretty sure Josiah would tell you it’s a flashlight. Your Word is a flashlight unto my path, because I knew he would get that. It was just a meaningful conversation before bed. Parents, this is going to be so good for us and for our families. Again, its not going to be perfect, but I’ve seen that in my own family & I'm exited I think it is giving us talking points as a church. I heard so many people say that it’s so neat that we are thinking about reading the same things. It’s like, we’re all watching the Olympics, or we all watch a sitcom, it gives you talking points, reading through the Bible together. We do not have enough conversation just about the Bible, and this is going to give us some talking points to do that, and I’m seeing that. When I read the Bible in the mornings, here what it does, it sanctifies my expectations, it gives me a little bit more confidence, a little bit of a sense of destiny, like I’m beginning the day hearing God’s voice. And when I begin that way, it sets the tone for the whole day. My last observation, this one’s fun. After our Tuesday night All Church Celebration, I got up for this killer early morning flight to Nashville, I spoke to some pastors down there, and I’m doing the Primal book tour that is taking me to a few different places. So, at 6:00 a.m. I'm taking off, I open my Bible because we are beginning the plan, and it was so neat for me to actually begin the reading taking off. At 30,000 feet, I’m reading Psalm 119 and I’m like, I think I’m experiencing exactly why we are doing this because most of us live our lives on the ground, and when you are on the ground, you have no perspective. But when you get up at 30,000 feet, it gives you a different perspective. I’m already beginning to sense that, that reading through the Bible is giving me that 30,000-foot perspective. I’m excited for a lot of other reasons, but this is awesome. Quickly, I just want to let you know, if you missed last weekend, please go to and watch the webcast, or you can find the transcript; we have a transcript for every message. I talked about our 2020 vision and our 2010 vision and we want you on board. So I want to encourage you to; that's your homework do a little make up work if you were out last weekend. By the way, you should have gotten an annual report on the way in too, so in written form, you are going to see our 2020 vision in one of the folds. I encourage you to check that out because listen we all need to be on the same page. Last weekend was pretty significant in terms of this is where we are going as a church. By the way, next weekend, we might survey you, because I told you that I don’t know where we are going to launch the next location. It could be as soon as Easter or as late as next fall, but I want to ask you to do something, amazing celebration at the Lincoln. Would you simply pray for favor. Its complicated. They have productions. They are different complicating factors that we are not sure if that’s a place where we could potentially launch a location, but I like the Theater and I think there are some possibilities there. So I’m going to ask us collectively, all of our locations, let’s pray, ‘God if You want us there, You open that door and give us favor.’ We are also looking at Mazza Gallerie as well as a few other places, so we might survey you as soon as next week. So keep your seat belt on and we’ll see where this takes us. Ok, turn in your Bibles to Psalm 119. It is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is 176 verses and it is also an ancient acrostic. It is broken in to 22 stanzas with 8 verses in each stanza and each stanza begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There is actually a mathematical complexity to it. Nine words are repeated exactly 22 times, and we will look at a couple of those words, but we are going to focus this weekend on one stanza, so Psalm 119, verse 8 is where we are going to begin. First, a little bit more back-story. For Valentines Day, Lora and I caught a concert at the Kennedy Center. It was awesome. It was such a fun date. We hadn’t been there in years and I found out that Bill Conti, Academy Award Winning music producer was going to be doing a show. By the way, when I got there, I found out he couldn’t get here for the show because he got snowed-out, i guess. he couldn’t get into D.C. but they still did musical scores from Academy Award Winning movies, which is my kind of music, and it was so cool. E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars,you know, and I loved it! It was amazing the way those musical scores began to produce these feelings of when I saw those movies, I was like whats happening to me. So it was really great. So I was thinking to myself, can you imagine watching a movie without any background music? It would be such a weird experience. I think movies move then would actually be kinda boring because it would lack that punch. So here’s the thing, you need to know that the Psalm is a songbook. We don’t have the melodies now but we still have the lyrics. So I want you to know that it was originally songs, and I think this is significant and I think this background information will help you appreciate it. The Jewish Rabbis devised rhythms and melodies and alliterations and repetition to help in the memorization of Scripture. Why? Because it was an oral culture. Not everybody had the written Word, so it was more of an oral experience, so at the age of 5, children would start reading the Scripture and at the age of 10, they started studying the Mishna, at 15 they started studying the Talmud, and at 18, they could get married. I just thought this was really neat, that the study of Scripture was actually seen as preparation for marriage. So, ‘Garden to City’ singles, we are hooking you up! We are getting you ready! Not, but! Together we are going to make this thing happen! Psalm 119, it’s part of Book Five of the Psalms, and it comprises Psalm 107 to Psalm 150 and it is situated between two collections of Pilgrim Psalms. There were Psalms that were sung as Jewish Pilgrims from all around the ancient world would journey to Jerusalem for three Pilgrim festivals and they would sing these songs as they would go. So we sing 99 bottles of beer on the wall and they sang the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever! A little different genre of song, but we have our traveling songs too, and these were their traveling songs. I think I want to remind us again that we are on a journey, this is a pilgrimage from the Garden of Eden to New Jerusalem and the Lord is taking us on this journey. Kinda situated right here in Psalm 119,lets do this thing, verse 8. Verse 9. How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word. So I’m flying back from Nashville this week and I have an experience I’ve never had before on an airplane. I’m on an American Eagle flight, and about 30,000 feet, I open up the newspaper and I kid you not, the title of the article that I’m reading on this American Eagle flight is ‘American Eagle faces 2.9 million dollar maintenance fine.’ (Laughter from the Audience) I’m just warm fuzzies all over! Are you serious! Are you not screening the newspaper? American Eagle might want to keep that particular issue off the plane. I’m dying! I don’t know but I have this thing about flying, I would rather that you fixed the problems before we take off! That’s just my thing. Ok. Fixing it after really doesn’t help me much, so please do the maintenance. So, I’m reading this and thinking that maybe some of us turn to the Word when we have a tragedy or problem or to do some repair work, and listen, the Bible works for that. Right? But you want to talk about some good preventive medicine, you want to talk about something that will keep you on the straight and narrow, ok let me come right out and say it, I believe that the Bible is the single greatest deterrent to sin. There is no substitute, no supplement, no other way by which you can really live in purity without a daily dose and steady diet of Scripture. In a sense, I would suggest that the Bible is the means to just about every spiritual end. If you are reading the Bible, I’m not worried about your prayer life. I’m not, because as you are reading it, you are finding plenty of things you need to be praying about. And if you aren’t, then you need to be reading the Bible that way. When we started in Job, we read Job 1, 2 and 3 on Day 2, verse 10 in Chapter 1 talked about this hedge of protection and I talked about it to our kids that night. I said, “Kids, I want you to know what your dad is praying for.” One of things I’m doing in my Bible is keeping track of little prayers that I’m praying for my kids throughout this year. Its kinda one of the caveats I'm trying to do so you'll see some of those prayers. One of them is Job 1:10, I pray a hedge of protection around my kids Listen, I know they are going to need to suffer some, and we’ll talk about that next week. You can’t read the Book of Job and come to any other conclusion! (laughter from the congregation) But I'm praying a hedge of protection around them and when I am. What am I doing? I’m praying the Word into their life. So I’m not concerned about that. If you are reading the Bible, your prayer life is going to be fine. You know what, if some of you read the Song of Solomon, it might help your love life a little bit too! (Laughter from the congregation) I think the quality of how we are doing spiritually is directly proportional to how much time and the quality of time that we are spending in his Word. It is so critical. How can a man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word. I'm not sure why you read the Bible? Have you ever examinded your motives. Like "why am I reading the bible?" I think most of us approach it like what’s in it for me? Or some of us or like what promise am I going to claim? There’s nothing wrong with that, ok. Its kinda funny like the big thing for me, I went through a season where that’s why I read the Bible. When I was running track, Psalm 40:31, you will mount up with wing of eagle, you will run and not grow weary. It was my track verse, you know. There’s nothing wrong with claiming promises, but I think throughout this whole thing, I’m going to challenge us to check our motives. The motive of the Psalmist here is how can I live a pure life before God. Stay in the Word and it helps you do that. You gotta examine your motives. When I was a little kid, I went to Sunday School, and my first motivation for reading the Bible was stickers and suckers. (laughter from the congregation) I still remember going on a road trip with my family and I remember going after Psalm 23 because it was a big, gold star. I remember going after it. I was so excited because I got all the stars on my Bible memorization sheet. That’s great on one level, but what I’m getting at is what is the heart behind it. Here’s the deal, if the Bible becomes an end in itself, it is not good enough. Satan knows the Word, the Pharisees were experts in the Word, it’s about living the Word. We’ll talk about that in just a few minutes, but here’s the deal, the Bible is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end, to knowing God and living a pure life before Him, to cultivating a prayer life and having faith and claiming the promises of God. The Bible is a means to all these different things. Let’s keep going. Do not let me stray from your commands. The word ‘stray’ is wander in some translations and it means committing sin but it means committing sin unintentionally. That’s interesting to me because I think what happens is this, when we stop reading the Word, we stray and we wander, then unintentionally, sinful patterns and thoughts and attitudes begin to creep into our lives and before we know it, we’re not living a pure life before the Lord. So we’ve got to be consistent in the Word. The Hebrew word ‘command’ expresses that the Word of God is designed for practical application. In other words, you can’t just read it, you have got to do it. This is interesting, please get this, in your paradigm. In the Hebrew language, there is no distinction between knowing and doing. There weren’t different words for it. There was one word. To know it is to do it and if you’re not doing it, guess what? You don’t know it! The Bible, it’s not so much that we don’t understand it, it’s that we haven’t done it. What I want to suggest, please hear me, if you want a greater understanding of the Word, what you need to do is obey the Word. Obedience, putting it into practice will give you more insight into the Word than concordances and commentaries. You can study until you are blue in the face, but until you begin to put it into practice, that’s when you begin to experience it and Word begins to come alive in your life. Verse 11, I have hidden your Word in my heart. Verse 12, Praise be the You O Lord, teach my your decrees. Verse 15, I will meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I just want to make one little observation here. Do you ever notice how often in this Psalm that this Psalmist says things like delights in the law and loves the law? Did that kinda like make you go, Huh? I always thought the law was a negative thing, but the Psalmist is like, "I love the law." It’s so weird but I had a little bit of an insight last night. Josiah had one of his friends for a sleepover and they decided to play a game of Twister. So they pulled out the Twister box, put the mat out and then pulled out the board, but the spinner was missing. So they couldn't spin. And so they started like, lets do this and that. It was like two moves and the next thing I know they folded it back up and put it back in the box. Lora said, “Should we throw it away?” Why? Because if there aren’t any rules, even Twister isn’t fun! You know what I'm saying, it' like lets just contort our body into weird shapes. But thats not the game, theres no rules! See, we think of the law and we think of rules in a negative fashion, but if you’ve ever played a board game or played any sport, right this down, no rules equals no fun! It is no fun if there are no rules. And see, without thinking about it, we think that rules are no fun. But no, no rules equals no fun. I think the Psalmist understands that. As we got to the word, I'm so grateful. I’ve thought about this so many times with my kids, if all else fails, I want them to grow up to love the Word of God, to lay the foundation of their life on his Word, and I want them to know that whatever questions they have and whatever problems they encounter, whatever mistakes they make, that there is a place they can turn. The inspired Word of God is going to help them and put a fence around the playground of their lives. No rules equals no fun. Now, he talks about decrees here, so let me talk about this. It is one of the words that is repeated 22 times. It derives from the verb ‘to engrave.’ It actually references something that is engraved on stone for perpetuity. Do you remember a few weeks ago when I talked about Dr. Wilder, a neurosurgeon who did all kinds of open brain surgery, and I talked about how when you hear something or read something that a memory trace literally is traced on the surface of the cerebral cortex? Do you remember that? It was only two weeks ago so help me out here. When we read the Word, when we read his decrees, we are engraving it on the surface of our brain. And I would also suggest that reading isn’t enough. You've got to meditate on it. If you just read it, it’s like a light pencil, but with repetitions the brain is designed in such a way that that engraving gets deeper and deeper and deeper. So we have got to learn to meditate on the Word. And as we meditate on the Word, it changes everything. So in some Eastern traditions, meditation is about emptying your mind, but in the Biblical tradition, it is about filling your mind with Scripture. You meditate on it. The Jewish Rabbis said that every word of Scripture has 70 faces and 600,000 meanings. I love that! I think what it suggests is for us not to settle for a one-dimensional understanding of his Word, Let’s turn the kaleidoscope to reveal different patterns of light. How do you do that? Meditate on the Word. This is so cool. I"ll let you listen, but this is for my son Josiah. We call him Siah for short. Probably 90 percent of the time, its Siah. The Hebrew word for mediate is Siah! I love that! I can’t wait, maybe tonight our conversation at bed time will be, ‘Josiah, did you know that the Hebrew word for meditate is Siah? I want you to grow up meditate on the word.' I’ll talk to him about what that means and what that looks like. We have got to meditate on the Word. Let me give you a picture of it. This is really the heartbeat; because what I’m trying to do is from this coming year as we take this challenge. Jacques Réda, French Writer Poet, 20th Century had this peculiar habit of walking the streets of Paris with the intention of seeing one new thing every day. It was the way he renewed his love for the city. I think we renew our love for God the same way. Our love grows as we discover new dimensions of his personality, and where is his personality revealed? In Scripture; so what if we approached Scripture the way Jacques Réda walked the streets of Paris? What if we approach it, ‘God, what is something that I can delight in today? What is something You want to reveal to me?’ Don’t be overwhelmed by the quantity of what you are reading but is there one word or one promise or one passage or one challenge that this day you should meditate on? Turn it over and think about it and contemplate what it is that God is trying to say. The word ‘delight’ at the end of the verse, I delight in your decrees, is used 10 times in this Psalm. And it is the Hebrew word, Sha`a` and here is whats so interesting: it is a word that is used infrequently in the Old Testament only 70 times, and 10 of them are in this Psalm, and the Greeks equivalent is only used one time in the entire New Testament in Romans 7:22 where Paul says he delights in the law, isn’t that interesting? I think what that hints at is this. I think there is a special or rare form of delight that comes from this Book; a rare special form of delight that you can only find in one place, here, when God begins to reveal Himself. And when something from this Book comes alive in your spirit and there’s a promise to claim and there’s a little skip in your step because you have more confidence because you know that God is working in your life. Why? Because you are part of his-story and your life becomes a sub-plot to this grand narrative that God is writing. It lifts you out of your little universe and into something, his grand scheme of redemption for humankind and your life becomes part of something wow! I'm apart of this story. You begin to delight in it. You are going to here me say this so many times over the coming weeks, do not take my word for it, take God’s Word for it. You need a first-hand experience with God. The Bible was unchained from the pulpit in the Middle Ages, ok. Everybody can have a copy, but we’ve got to study it for ourselves. I’d rather you have one word from the Lord than hear 52 of my sermons, because as we read the Word, it’s this rare delight, this special delight as God begins to speak to us. That is just so exciting to me. This week, a U.S. downhill skier, Lindsay Vonn won a gold medal, anybody see that? Afterwards, she lost it with a totally out of control emotional response and I was loving that. She was crying and then Lora was crying, I didn’t cry but my eyes were sweating. (Laughter from the Audience) It was like you could tell that there was four years of pent up pressure and stress and sacrifice and hard work and it all culminated in this one moment on one ski run where she wins the gold medal, and she went nuts. The USA Today, the same news paper about American Airlines, I read another article. It said she fell backwards into the snow in delight. That really kind a captures what happened. Here’s what I would suggest, the delight was a by-product of all the sacrifices and all the disciplines. See, here’s the thing, this is not going to be easy. It is not going to be easy. You are going to miss days and have to make up days, and there will be weeks where you don’t feel it, and there will be seasons where you are in a little bit of a spiritual slump because that is reality, thats human life. But we are going to delight in the Word. This last statement, I will not neglect your Word, what a statement of resolve. I may not feel like it but I will not neglect your Word. Do you think there were some days that Lindsay Vaughn didn’t feel like training? When she injured her shin, she didn’t feel like being out there, but through the pain, and the reason there was so much delight is because there was so much discipline. This reading challenge is going to take discipline. It is going to be hard, but the end result, I believe is going to be a rare delight. Forget all of that, here’s what I’m trying to say, ‘Lord help us delight in your Word, give us a hunger for your Word, it is an acquired taste, but give us a hunger for your Word, let us fall in love with your Word all over again. And in the days that we are not super motivated, help us discipline ourselves to continue to not neglect your Word so we can have some of those moments where we begin to delight in the Word of God.’ Let me move toward a close. I think one of the reasons why many of us don’t delight in the Word is because it is so acceptable and so available. Most people have several Bibles, and it’s just so easy to get the Bible. Is what I'm trying to say. Let me try for a moment to put it in perspective. In 301 A.D. an edict by Emperor Diocletian set the wages of scribe at 25 denarii for 100 lines of first quality writing and 20 denarii for the 100 lines of second quality writing. So we know how much scribes made. According to the computation of Randall Harris, the cost of producing one Bible was approximately 30,000 denarii. One denari equates to about $10, so one copy of Scripture in the day before the printing press costs in the neighborhood of $300,000, and that’s just for labor, not parts or parchment. That's labor. $300,000. You might appreciate your Bible a little bit more if it cost that much right! This weekend, at all of our locations, if you don’t have a Bible, if you can’t afford a Bible, we want to give you a Bible. We have Bibles at all of our locations, and I want you to know that that’s a $300,000 value, you are welcome! (Laughter from the congregation) I think another reason we don’t appreciate it is because it’s so easy to get it. We can order it off and UPS will deliver it to our door. But scribes would spend years in a scriptorium, a small room, listening to a lector read the exemplar text so that they could make copies of the Scripture. It was mentally and physically exhausting. We know that because we still have records, called Caliphones, at the end of their Scriptures, they would write these little notes, their way of putting their signature on it. One of my favorites, in light of our recent weather,I think you are going to like this, is an Armenian manuscript of the gospel, he complains about the fact that this scribe had to make this copy during a heavy snowstorm and his ink literally froze and he wrote that his hand become numb and the pen fell from his frozen fingers. Another common one was this, as travelers rejoiced to see their home countries, so also is the end of a book for those who toil in writing. Another one is simply the end of the book, thanks be to God! That’s what they would write at the end. You’ve got to understand that it took about a year for a scribe to make a copy of Scripture, and some scribes took longer. One group of scribes were so meticulous and diligent in copying standards that they would go back and count every single letter, every word, every verse in the Old Testament to insure it’s absolute integrity and accuracy. Do you appreciate your Bible a little bit more? I hope so. Say this last verse with me, I will not neglect your Word. " I WILL NOT NEGLECT YOUR WORD " There is a resolve, a tenacity, read this thing cover to cover. Here’s my last thought, reading it cover to cover isn’t the goal. This is about us cultivating a daily habit in our lives that I believe that your destiny as a person, it’s a by-product of the little daily decisions that you make. Right ? So this is about something so much bigger than that, it is about this daily habit of reading the Word. It is not about getting through the Word, it is about the Word getting through us. Let’s start our day that way. I had a weird thought, I was rejoicing about how when I start my day with the Word, how it just frames the day and sets the tone and I don’t know if you had any start-of-the-day routines as a kid, I'm not sure why I'm sharing this, I thought about it this week. But my mom would always come in my room when I was a kid, almost every morning, she would sing a song. Would you like to hear it? I told myself I would never sing again in a sermon. ♪ ‘Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going your way.’ ♪ (Applause from the congregation) ( DJ Disc Jockey Turntable Sound ) I remember my mom coming in and she would just sing that. Part of me hated that because I wanted to sleep, but part of me was like, it’s going to be a great day and things are going to go my way. When you read the Bible, it’s like I hear that in my head. It’s the way you set the tone for the rest of the day. I believe God has a way of honoring that and blessing that. I will not neglect your Word. Let’s pray. Father, we come to You and thank You for your Word. Lord I want to thank You for those that made tremendous sacrifices, Lord, I think about these scribes that devoted their lives, and I’m sure many of them had arthritic fingers at the end of their lives and hands that were shriveled up, maybe a little carpal tunnel syndrome going on. they made sacrifices to copy the Word so that the Word would continue from generation to generation, from language to language. Lord thank You for the scholars who have taken those Scriptures and translated them into new languages. Lord I think about the martyrs who have literally given their lives to Scripture and to copying Scripture and to putting it into new languages and here we are today with so many Bibles, slimline, metal, you name it. All kinds of translations. Lord I just think there ought to be a sense of gratitude in our hearts because a lot of sacrifices made it possible for us to have a copy of the Bible in our hands for less than $300,000. We thank You for your Word. Lord I pray that we would delight in your Word. I pray that we would hunger for your Word, that Lord the love that the Psalmist had for your Word that is so evident is Psalm 119, that it would be contagious and viral. Just as we started this year in that Psalm, God, may that set the tone for this year. May we delight in the law of the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen.

Video Details

Duration: 41 minutes and 7 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 140
Posted by: oneeyeth on Feb 28, 2010

Garden to City
From the Series: From Garden to City
Speaker: Mark Batterson
Date: February 21, 2010
Run Time: 41:07

This message kicks off our read long Bible reading challenge: From Garden to City. Pastor Marks takes an indepth look at Psalm 119.

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