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Best Sermon on the Bible

… that I’ve heard, at least, and in my opinion!

It’s by Dr. Wesley Wachob. Let me give you the link first: The Strange New World within the Bible. Those of you who are acquainted with Karl Barth will recognize the title. (You can subscribe to the First UMC Pensacola podcast here, or via iTunes.) As Dr. Wachob takes some jabs at seminary professors remember that he himself is no slouch in the academic sense. One could note, for example, his book The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series), though I suggest you learn Greek first!

One of the great difficulties of my life comes from the distinction between my devotional reading and study that is aimed at data. I’m quite fond of both activities, but I believe they are very different. It’s very nice to know the history and background of a text as I read. To do so, I must have looked for data at some time. But if I stop with the data, while I get intellectual satisfaction, I don’t truly experience the scriptures as the word of God.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my morning Bible study time is both an essential of my life, one that I will notice both mentally and physically should I neglect it, and also my greatest temptation toward neglect. It’s so easy to tell myself that I will be reading a very good spiritual book today as an editor, and thus I will be doing my Bible study. But searching a book for stylistic problems is not the same as letting God speak to you directly from the scriptures.

It is difficult for me to describe the experience of reading the scriptures in such a way that prayer, worship, reading, listening, and enjoying God’s presence merge. I suppose there are spiritual disciplines involved, though I’m not that good at those things. I think it truly is a gift of grace brought by the Holy Spirit. Dr. Wachob described what I feel.

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