This Book Can Change Your Life | The Bible Is Alive

This Book Can Change Your Life | The Bible Is Alive

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Today, we're preparing to celebrate a historic moment in the history of the global church, and the Word of God. All right. Yeah. (congregation applauds) If you wouldn't mind today, at all of our Life.Church locations, if you're watching on your sofa even, would you mind just standing to your feet in honor of the reading of the Word of God? From both John chapter 1, and Hebrews chapter 4. "In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

That Word became flesh, his name was Jesus, and he dwelt among us. What do we know about the Word? Hebrews chapter 4 tells us, "For the Word of God is alive and is active." We're not talking about the word of people, we're talking about the Word of God, because the word of people may inform us, but the Word of God transforms us. "For the Word of God is alive, it's active. It's sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.

It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." And that's why the title of today's message is, "The Bible is Alive." (congregation cheers) "The Bible is Alive," would you join me today wherever you are, in prayer. Father, we thank you for your living Word.

We thank you for the truth that sets us free. We thank you that Jesus is the Word. And we open our hearts, God, to what you would say to us in your Word, through your Word, for your glory. Speak to us, we pray. In Jesus' name, and everybody said? Amen.

Amen, if you wanna lean to the person next to you, tell him God's got a word for you. God's got a word for you. Tell 'em God's got a word for you. Go ahead and have a seat if you'd like. This is indescribably emotional for me to talk about, because my journey to becoming a Christian was different than a lot of people. I didn't become a Christian by going into a church service.

It wasn't by listing to a great Christian song. I didn't become a Christian by hearing a sermon, although I hope some of you might, and maybe this one. I didn't become a Christian by hearing about the grace of Jesus through a friend. I was hurting and lost in college, in the middle of a lot of sin. Didn't know which way was up, feeling guilty.

Has anybody ever been there before in their life? And I was hurting and desperate, and feeling very, very broken and alone. And a gentleman in a suit and tie was on our campus, handing out free Bibles and he handed me a free green Gideon New Testament. And I started reading in it, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, I read all the way over a period of weeks to Ephesians chapter 2. And when I read about the grace of Jesus, I was completely transformed, completely transformed.

This is a photo of the man that most likely gave me the New Testament Bible, I met him years later. It's hard to tell who's more excited, if he was, or I was. We were both incredibly touched, because the Word of God transforms lives. We tend to take it for granted a lot of times, that we just have access to Scripture, but that wasn't always the case.

And I wanna tell you a brief journey of the breakthroughs of how we got more and more access to the Word of God. Go back thousands of years ago, when the Bible used to be chiseled into a slab rock. That was before the progression, when you could make a temporary copy, by using a stylus on beeswax.

It got better with technology, with the invention of dye, if we can call that a technology. It allowed the early scribes to write on animal hides. Then there was huge progress when the Egyptians started using papyrus, and they could sew two pieces of wood for a version of a book called codex. The bigger breakthrough came in 1455, with the invention of the printing press, when it was finally possible to get the Bible into the hands of the masses. The next biggest breakthrough happened in Edmond, Oklahoma. (congregation cheers) (congregation applauds) In the year 2005, when pastor Bobby Gruenewald walked into my office and said, "I've got an idea."

And that's why today I wanna invite one of my best friends in the world, a member of the Directional Leadership Team, a staff member for over 20 years, Bobby is one of the most innovative minds on planet Earth. He created and sold, get this, two businesses before he ever graduated from college. He's an accomplished pilot. He has two honorary doctorates. He was named in the 100 most innovative minds by, "Fast Company," magazine.

He is a legend in the tech world. The dude has met the Pope, he's met Billy Graham, but most importantly, he can bench press 335 pounds. I was there when it happened. Could you please help me welcome Pastor Bobby Gruenewald.

(congregation applauds) (congregation cheers) (both grunting) Thank you. Thank you, guys. Just for the record, it was 345 pounds, not 35. (congregation laughs) And you guys should ask how much Pastor Craig can bench press, that's the real question.

You have any guesses? No? As he would say, you could type it in the chat. (congregation laughs) What does Pastor Craig bench press? No, I will maybe save that one for later. It's a different story for a different time. That idea that Pastor Craig was talking about actually started as a question that I was asking myself in the O'Hare Airport, over 15 years ago, in a long TSA security line. It was one of those lines that kinda wrapped around the building, and you'd normally hate being in those kinda lines.

But that particular day, I was asking, "I wonder if there's a way that we could use technology to help me read the Bible more consistently?" You see, I was a below average Bible reader, and I thought, "Maybe, maybe there's a way that we could use technology to help me," and I know there was a lot of people that were like me that wanted to read the Bible more, but simply struggled to. And so there in the security line that day, this idea came for YouVersion. And I came up with the name between the security line and the gate, and I registered the domain name, before I got on the airplane that day. Wow.

Activator, I like to move fast. We had a name, and we had an idea, but that's about all we had. Many of the things that you thought you would need to do such a thing we didn't have.

We didn't have a budget. We had no kind of extra resources that we could use to kind of pay for this to be done. We didn't have a team, a team that could develop such a thing, engineers and designers and all of that, that would be required.

And we didn't have any relationships or partners in the Bible space. We didn't have, we didn't know Bible publishers, or any of those groups. All the things you would think you need to have, we didn't have. We just simply had an idea, and we had the passion to engage in God's Word, and to help other people do the same.

But God consistently in my life, and in our church, has always brought his resource to his vision. And when we step into his vision, we don't have to worry about those resources. The very next month after I stood in that security line, I'm at a conference, and I meet a friend of mine there, who I'd known for several years, Terry Storch, and at that conference, I began to share with him this idea, along with this bigger vision, of what Life.Church was talking about doing

to leverage technology to reach people. And I could tell, as I was talking to him, that it was impacting him in a real different way than I anticipated, 'cause I wasn't trying to recruit Terry. But he went home that night to his wife, Robin, and he shared what he heard. And Robin said, "I think we're supposed to move to Oklahoma, move our family to Oklahoma."

And so within two months of standing in a security line, God had already moved a family away from their family and friends, from Texas to Oklahoma, to be the first of what now is over 100 families that have made the same decision, to come be a part of what God's doing here. (congregation cheers) (congregation applauds) As we started to build YouVersion, we ran into an obstacle really quick. The first really significant obstacle was that we actually had to have a license to a Bible translation to be able to build this. You see, I was so ignorant at the time, that I actually didn't realize that people owned the Bible, and that you had to have a license to use it. But it made sense when you think about it, people spend millions of dollars translating the Bible, and some are for-profit companies, and some are not for profit companies that have these translations. And their way of sustaining their ministry, or their business at that time, was to receive royalties from licensing it to people that publish the Bible, it made sense.

The problem was we didn't have a license. Not only did we not have a license, we didn't know a single person to call to get a license. And if you can imagine calling the front desk of a publisher and saying, "Hey, we've got this idea, we'd like to have a free license to be able to give your Bible away for free to everyone else," you don't really get a lot of callbacks on that. (congregation laughs) But God knew that. And I received a call from someone named Mart Green.

Mart's a close friend of mine today, but I had never met Mart before, never talked to him before. And he called and he said, "I had a friend that told me you're working on a Bible project. Could you tell me more about it?" And so I began to describe it to him, and I don't actually think he understood what we were trying to do, to be honest, at the time. But he just knew we wanted to connect people with Scripture. And he said, "Hey, I've got this chain of Christian bookstores, and we sell lots of Bibles. And I actually know all of these publishers.

So could I just make an introduction to them? I can't guarantee anything, but make an introduction?" So he made an email introduction to the CEO of every one of these companies that we didn't have a relationship with. And we had meeting after meeting. And I would love to tell you that they all said yes. They didn't all say yes, but one said yes, and that's all we needed to start. And so we launched an app, or excuse me, we launched a website, YouVersion started as a website. It looked like this.

Probably don't remember that, because very few people went to that website, (congregation laughs) when we launched it, it actually failed. But that failure led us to try to put it on a Blackberry device, which was a smartphone back in that time, just real simple website, and that did work. And that same time, Steve Jobs announced that he was gonna make it possible to develop apps for the iPhone, and to develop something called an App Store, something we all are familiar with today, but at that time, no one had any idea what he was talking about. And we thought, "What if we built a Bible app, and tried to put it in that App Store?" So we had about two months time to do that. We had no idea how to do it, but we found a 19 year old on our team that loved Apple, and that was about all we needed.

(congregation laughs) And so we built this app and submitted it to Apple. And to our surprise, the day that the App Store launched our app, the Bible app, was in the first 200 apps that were available that very first day that the store launched. (congregation applauds) We had no idea what to expect. We were just surprised it made it in, quite frankly. But in the first three days, we saw 83,000 people install that app and put it on their iPhone, and it blew, it blew our minds.

(congregation applauds) And not only did they put it on their phone, but they were using it, they were opening it multiple times a day. And so we quickly realized God was up to something. This is only something he could do. I mean, all of the hurdles that we went through to get here, were all things that God helped us overcome. And then here this remarkable result was something only God could do.

So we pushed every bit of resource we had available, anything we could, and you all, our church, stepped up to give, and you gived above your normal giving. And God provided everything we've needed, because of you all. And then he didn't just give us one partner to start with, but he's now given us 2,500 different partners that provide Bible text, that provide devotional content. (congregation applauds) And several, many of those partners are actually here with us today, to kinda celebrate this moment.

And we're very, very grateful for those partners. We went from just a handful of Bible translations that were available there at the very beginning, in two languages, to now we have 2,600 versions of the Bible available in almost 1,800 languages, all completely for free. (congregation applauds) And the unity that God's brought across this church to get behind this and make this possible, even though our church stewards this, it's something that belongs to the Church, the capital C Church, and we see God pulling together people from all different parts of the Church to make it possible. And the best part is that it's reaching every single country and territory on this Earth, including countries like North Korea, including places like Antarctica.

And based on a conversation I had recently, on the International Space Station, which I guess isn't even on this Earth, people are using the Bible app to engage in God's Word. (congregation cheers) (congregation applauds) And you may not appreciate this fully, because you use the app probably most likely in English, but we have over 2,000 volunteers that actively work to support the Bible app in many different languages. So for example, when you open the app, you see it in English, everything's in English, the emails you get from us are in English. But if you open that app, and your phone was set to Arabic, you would see all the things are right to left, all the menus, all the languages, all the Bible versions in Arabic, the emails you get from us are in Arabic. The tech support you get is in Arabic, and the same thing with simplified Chinese, and 67 other languages that our volunteer teams help support. These are the parts of the app that you'll never see, or likely never see, but it's what God's doing to change lives all around this Earth.

And those 83,000 people that downloaded and installed the app the first weekend, they've grown a little bit, just a little bit. In just a few short days, we're gonna celebrate a key milestone. We're gonna celebrate, in just a few short days, the first half a billion devices that have installed the Bible app. (congregation cheers) (congregation applauds) It's gonna happen this week, here in just a few days. And I say the first half billion, 'cause we're just getting started. (congregation cheers) The second half billion's gonna come a lot faster.

And the billion after that's gonna come even faster, because there's serious momentum going on. The Bible is alive. (congregation cheers) Don't let anybody tell you that people don't read the Bible anymore.

Don't let them tell you that the Bible somehow is less relevant, or this generation is turning away from the Bible, because that is simply not true at all, and we have 500 million reasons to tell you why it's not true. (congregation applauds) God's Word is alive, and it's active. And they're not just downloading it, they're using it. We'll see in an average day, 100 million chapters of text read in the Bible app, in just an average day. 25 million chapters of audio listened to in an average day, billions of minutes spent every month.

In fact, last month, there was a billion more chapters of text read last month than in the same month in 2020. That should show you the momentum of what God's doing. (congregation applauds) But what I wanna do is I wanna help get a picture of this, because I can say big numbers, and the truth is, I can't even get my head wrapped around the size of these numbers. So what I try, I'm gonna try to do is break down what is happening in the Bible app, just to show you how the Bible's alive, in just an average second. It's the smallest increment of time I can get to that we can comprehend, just a second, an average second. So in an average second, we have two new people, two new devices that install the Bible app in an average second, all right.

In that same second, someone likes Sebastian from Argentina, and 227 other people, tap on the icon and open the app. In that same second, not a different second, Greia, from the Netherlands, and 1,178 other people load a chapter of Bible text. In that same second, Jerry from Taiwan, and 226 other people start playing a chapter of audio. Gershom, from India, and three other people start a new daily Bible plan. And Laina, from Russia, and 35 other people, finish all of their reading for their Bible plan for that day.

Badma, from Mongolia, and 64 people highlight a passage. Babatunde, from Nigeria, and 14 people start watching a video. Magid, from Egypt, adds a prayer, and then five other people pray for someone's prayer, in that very same second.

And Kieral, from Ukraine, and 10 people, share a verse on social media, or post it on a messaging app to one of their friends. And in that same second, approximately 135,000 other people are in the middle of doing one of those things that I just mentioned, but they started the second before that, or the second before that, or the second before that. I mean, we can't fit enough pins to show you that on the screen, it's ridiculous.

That's what happens in an average second, just a second, every second of every day. And so, if for just a moment you think that the Bible's not alive, that perhaps it's outdated, that maybe people don't read it anymore, maybe if you think that what you're a part of doesn't matter, maybe the contribution you're making in serving, or giving, maybe just doesn't have an impact, if that thought or that doubt crosses your mind, even for a second, I want you to remember what God has done, and is already doing in that very same second. He's transforming lives all over the world, and he's doing it every single second of every single day. (congregation cheers) I don't even know where to begin. This is how the Word of God changed my life. I was struggling to find my way through life, and my identity.

I thought that God had forgotten about me. Sitting on a rack in Fresno County Jail, I decided to pick up a Bible. I needed hope, I needed comfort, I needed rescuing. It spoke to me, it showed me who I was, and who I could be.

God was changing me. It's completely changed my life, broke those chains of addiction. I have been cut by God's Word, and it is sharp. I tell you, it's sharper than a two-edged sword. My whole goals have changed, my motives. There is no substitute for learning God's Word.

It's the same living Word of life that ministers directly to us, in whatever circumstance or situation we find ourselves in. I've met God, I've fallen in love with the Bible. And there's really no going back for me. (gentle music) Hey, I'm not sure, but I'm guessing there's somebody about right now that cannot contain it any longer, and needs to give God some praise and thanksgiving, that we get to be a part of giving out the Word of God to people all over the world.

Get your mind around it, get your mind around it. Can you show me that slide again? So that's one second, from the time that little video started, until I stood back up there, that happened 60 times over in that amount of time, 60 times over, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, year after year, lives being transformed by the living Word of God. (congregation cheers) (congregation applauds) And as...

And God has... Trusted you, us, to steward this gift of his Word to the world, funded 100% by donors, given away completely for free. And people say it all the time, "Well, you should sell ads, and you should sell it for 99 cents."

And we say, "I got a free Bible years ago that changed my life, our Bible is not for sale. Our Bible is always a gift." (congregation applauds) And so if you have not yet had the honor and the privilege to be a part of giving anything toward it, you might wanna be.

We love to say we'll lead the way with irrational generosity, because we truly believe it's more blessed to give than receive. And so ever year, we faithfully and aggressively reach to raise the money for the budget. But if you'd ever like to give more than that in this year, that's gonna be a stretch. But if you'd ever like to accelerate it, let me show you what is possible, in case you would like to be a part of the first half a billion, or the second half a billion, or the third million, or whatever God has in store. Our team has experimented on and off for years running ads, to see who we could impact that might not have heard of the YouVersion Bible App before.

And to give you a little idea of what any size gift could do, our data shows very clearly that for someone who gives $20 toward this, when we run ads for $20, approximately 100 people will install the YouVersion Bible App. That's the way a very small gift can make a very big difference. You can do the math, if you go $200, 1,000 people on average or so will install the YouVersion Bible App. And if you're feeling ridiculously generous, and give $2,000, that will enable, empower us to accelerate about 10,000 or so people that would download the YouVersion Bible App, and have access to the Word of God. And if you are considering getting excited about being generous, I wanna illustrate it with this story. Have any of you ever seen one of those YouTube videos, or any type of a video, where there's someone that's deaf, and has never heard any type of sound before, that with the help of medicine and doctors and science, they hear for the first time, has anybody ever seen a video like that? It's mind-blowingly emotional.

One in particular got me, because it was a father who had a little daughter, who had never heard before. And they were in the office with the audiologist, the doctor who put the little devices in this little girl's ear, and she sat there in her dad's lap, and for the very first time, the doctor rang a little bell that she heard in her ear, and she just. (serene music) She heard something, and she started to smile, and get teary-eyed, and then he put another noise. And she heard something.

And then he played a little bit of a song, and she just smiled and smiled and smiled. And then this little girl, who had never heard a voice, heard for the very first time the voice of her father saying, "I love you, baby. I love you so much." And she burst into tears, and turned and hugged and embraced her father.

As she heard the words of her father for the very first time. Question, who was most excited, and most moved in that moment? And the answer is everybody, everybody, the dad, the daughter, it's kinda like that photo of Mike and me, who's smiling bigger? Both of us. Who's the most excited? It's impossible to tell. But who was most fulfilled in that moment? And that answer is easy and obvious. It was the doctor. It was the audiologist who had created an environment where a child could hear the words of her father for the very first time.

And so when you give, you can make it possible for someone, somewhere in the world, to hear the Word of God, the Word of our heavenly Father, for the very first time. When we, the body of Christ, stewards the Word of God and makes this possible, what will happen? Somewhere in the world, someone who's hurting will open up their YouVersion Bible App. And because of what you do, God will give hope maybe to a suicidal teen in Pakistan. Because of your faithfulness, God may use the YouVersion Bible App to encourage a discouraged pastor to keep going on in Haiti.

God may comfort a victim of abuse through his Word, in Afghanistan. This Word, the living Word that is alive, it could give hope to someone who's in a Louisiana State Penitentiary. The Word of God might convict a person in Canada to get help for their porn problem.

The Bible, the living Word of God, the truth, the voice of the Father, could help a sinful college student find life in Christ. What could it do in your world? The Word of God could save a marriage in your LifeGroup. It could build the faith of a doubting teenager in your own home.

The Bible, the Word of God, which is alive, could speak to you exactly where you are. What is the Word? The Word is a light to your path. It's a voice to comfort you in your pain.

It's spiritual food to nourish you when you're weak. It's a sword to protect you against the attacks of the evil one. It's a truth to convict you, a power to correct you. It's wisdom to direct you.

The Bible is alive, "In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh," God became flesh in the person of Jesus. "And he dwelt among us full of grace and truth. The grass may wither and the flowers may fade, but the Word of God lives forever." (congregation applauds) And together, by the grace of God, by the grace of God, he is trusting us this little portion of his body, this church, to steward the greatest Bible engagement tool in the history of the world.

So Father, help us go into all the world, take the whole living Word, into every language, to every corner of every continent, to make disciples. We thank you for your Word. God, thank you for giving that idea to Pastor Bobby, thank you for every partner united to spread your Word. Thank you for every person in this church that makes it possible. And thank you for every life touched, in every second, by the Word that is alive. As you're praying today, wherever you're watching, online, at a Life.Church location,

if you've taken the Word for granted, (laughs) and you wanna reconnect, your Father wants to speak to you, and you're gonna hear his voice, anywhere you are, every single day. Or if you're already a student of the Word, and you wanna continue on in your commitment and say yes, wherever you are, I am committed, I wanna feed on the Word of God. I recommit, I continue my commitment, whatever it is, God, your Word is living, it's active.

It's available to me. I don't wanna take it for granted. I wanna be in your word daily. It's on your phone, or it's gonna be on your phone. It's there, let's do it, all of our churches, wherever you're watching saying, "Yes, I commit, or I recommit to the Word of God," would you lift up your hands right now? Just do it in the presence of God.

Thank you, Father, we thank you, that through Bible plans through your Word, you'll speak to us. God, use your Word, not just to inform, but to transform, that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus, and make him known, the living Word, all over this world. As you keep praying today, wherever you are, let me just tell you a little bit about what's in the Word of God. You might think, "Hey, I might read it, I tried to read, I didn't understand it.

I don't really feel close to God. I've got so many questions, I've done so many things wrong. I don't know where I really stand with God." Let me just tell you what the Bible says. The Bible tells us that every single one of us, we have all messed up, and the Bible doesn't pull punches. The Bible calls it what it is, it's sin, we've all sinned.

Every single one of us, we've fallen short of God's standards. And the Bible tells us that, "The wages of sin is death." But the good news is the Bible tells us that, "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Who is Jesus? He is the Son of God. He is the Lamb of God, he is the Door.

He is the Righteous One, he is the Savior. He is the Alpha, he is the Omega. He is the Beginning, he is the End. He is the First, he is the Last. He is a Lion, he is a Lamb. Jesus didn't come for the healthy, but he came for the sick.

He didn't come for the righteous, the Bible says, but he came for the messed up ones like me, and the messed up ones like you, he came for sinners. And the Bible says that Jesus didn't come to be served, but he came to actually serve you, to serve me, to give his life, to pay for the forgiveness of our sins. How is it that we're made right with God? Well, the Bible says it, and this is the verse that saved me, that, "We are saved by grace, and not by works, so no one can boast." It's only by putting our faith in the perfect work of Jesus, and Scripture says this, here's what the Bible says, doesn't matter who you are, doesn't matter where you've been (laughs), but anyone, and this includes you, who calls on the name of the Lord, the Lord Jesus, your sins will be forgiven, and you'll be made new. Today, wherever you're watching, those of you who know, maybe you're far from God, or the weight of your sin has held you down, or held you back.

When you call on Jesus, he hears your prayers. He forgives you. He makes you new, wherever you're watching from, those who say, "I want his grace.

I wanna know him, I wanna let go of my past," today, just call on him, call on Jesus. When you do, he hears your prayers. He makes you new, you're not just a better version of you, you're new, the old is gone, and everything becomes new. Wherever you are, those who say, "Yes, I want Jesus. I want his grace, I surrender my life to him," that's your prayer, would you lift your hands high right now, just lift them up and say, "Yes." Right here, I see you.

Others of you today saying, "Yes, that's my prayer," call on him today, say, "Yes Jesus, I surrender." Those of you watching online, just type it in the chat, "I'm giving my life to Jesus." Just type that into the chat, and wherever you're watching from, would you just pray aloud with those around you? Nobody prays alone, pray heavenly Father. Heavenly Father. Forgive my sins. Forgive my sins. Jesus, make me new. Jesus, make me new. Fill me with your Spirit.

Fill me with your Spirit. So I could know you. So I could know you. And serve you. And serve you. And follow you.

And follow you. For my whole life. For my whole life. My life is not my own. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine.

Now you have mine. In Jesus' name I pray. In Jesus' name I pray. Hey could somebody worship right now, celebrate the goodness and the grace of God. (congregation applauds) (congregation cheers)

2021-11-12 11:28

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