Week 21 – The Love of God’s Word
Prayer- Our Father, we thank You for inspiring the Bible. If we only knew all that You did to preserve it- it would leave us with a deeper amazement of Your power. So today we ask that Your Word would encourage us, reshape attitudes, and lead our decisions. In Jesus Name. Amen
I have $1440 in my pocket that I would like to give to one person. And not only that but I want to give that amount every day for years to come. I think I can afford that because I am a pastor. J Now before you raise your hand to volunteer I have to share the one and only condition. You have to spend a minimum of $20 everyday on me. I hope that is not a lot to ask. You can spend it on such things as beef jerky, guacamole, hummus, red licorice but if it want to buy me clothes talk to Amber first. JSome days you might say, “Travis go golfing today.” Now as I share this I hope it is not a burden. And as you think about this offer did you know that our wonderful Maker gives you 1440 minutes every day? Every minute is in His control. So I ask you is giving 20 minutes to reflect upon the life God has for you a burden? I ask the question because as I shared with you last year there was a national survey a few years ago that found only 1/3 of professing Christians said they read their Bible consistently. And since the study was based on self-reporting that percentage is probably lower due to self-deception. Now there are a number of reasons why professing Christians do not read the Bible consistently but one common reason is I don’t have the time which takes me back to my offer of $1440. What advice would you give me if the recipient of the $1440 kept telling me on a regular basis, “Travis, I’m sorry but something came up again and I needed to spend your $20 elsewhere. What would you say? Thanks be to God that He does not stop the time He gives to us even though we find time for other things and people.
Now this past week we read Psalm 119
, the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. It is basically a love letter to God’s Word as the psalmist understands God’s primary way to speak with His people is through His Word. I remember when I was a new Christian all the times I told God, “Please just speak to me audibly. I know You can do it.” After all, I had questions and decisions to make, like you do. I even went so far to tell God before bed that I was not getting up until I heard him audibly. I would eventually fall asleep on my knees. Today I do not demand that God speak to me audibly. I am not saying God cannot do this because the Bible has examples. Some of you may have stories but I have stopped because 1) (show slide 2) if God did speak audibly He probably would want to talk about subjects other than what I wanted an answer for. Perhaps it is God’s mercy that He rarely speaks audibly and 2) God has already spoken much and wants us to apply the timeless truths we learn from the Bible to our situations. This is called wisdom.
Now the great thing about Psalm 119
is that nobody can miss how the psalmist’s love for Gods’ Word and to be specific God’s Word at this point was the first 5 books of the O.T. (that’s Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The psalmist loved them all and get this he lived hundred of years after they were written. I think that is important because some people open up the Bible and wonder what can I learn from something written so long ago? I’d rather read something written in my lifetime. So if you have your Bible turn to Psalm 119
. I encourage you to follow along. If you forgot your Bibles make a note to bring it with you next week. Until then Psalm 119
is on pg. 540 and we are going to begin reading in v. 97. And let’s read and learn from something written almost 3,000 years ago. Read.
I wonder how many of you are thinking, “Who has the time to think about God’s commandments all day? Does this guy have a job? Well, this psalmist does have a job and he happens to be the king. The person God used to inspire this psalm was King David, the most powerful person in the known world during his time. I remember years ago when I was reading this verse and the question I sensed the text asking me was: (show slide 3) Travis, what do you think about all day? Let’s continue to read. vv. 98-100. Did you know that if you absorb this book into your life then you will have more wisdom, insight, and understanding than most people? If you have heard that before then do you believe it? If so you would invest your time in what you believe to be valuable. Most people believe wisdom is quite valuable and therefore something to have, protect, pursue. And not only wisdom but v. 99 mentions insight which is the ability to see things that most people do not see. To describe insight visually do you remember those 3-D stereograms? There will be one up on the screen (show slide 4) These were really popular a decade ago. You have an image that initially seems to be nothing but if you train your eyes then you could see the object, in this case 3 crosses, that most people can not see. Now don’t worry if you cannot see it. It takes some time and practice. You have to relax your eyes to the point where they go blurry and then you pull your head back and you may be able to see it.
God’s Word brings wisdom, insight, and as v. 100 says understanding as well. How do you get these valuable things? Read and study the Bible? Yes but it appears David is implying they come from obeying God’s Word. I imagine, at one point or another have said or thought, “I am not going to obey God or some other authority unless I understand why.” I certainly have more than once. But in the Bible we see God wants obedience even if we don’t have the answers or a clear picture. I once heard one of my mentors say: (show slide 5) To understand why, submit, and then apply. I haven’t forgotten that. In other words, the best way to understand why God is asking you to do something is to do it. Obedience brings insight, wisdom and understanding. Otherwise if we wait to obey, which is the natural tendency, then wisdom and understanding will come from other sources and leads people to say things like: I think God is so loving that in the end He will just overlook sin. I just feel it to be true. Or I don’t think God is going to have an eternal place of punishment. Or I think God just wants everyone to be happy. Whatever makes one happy will in turn make God happy. These are popular statements, voiced even by Christians, but none of them come from the Bible. Let’s continue to read vv. 101 -105. How can something written so long ago be a light to someone’s path? To say and believe something like that implies a belief that God knows what the psalmist is going through, He knows exactly what we need to hear which makes God’s Word timeless for everyone and extraordinarily personal like God is speaking right to me.
Now in way of application, I wanted to share 2 things. The first is what happens to me personally when I don’t mediate on God’s Word. Every year since becoming a Christian at 18 I have read the whole Bible in a year. Now if my goal was to gain information then certainly I could take off a few years and rely on my past knowledge. This knowledge would help me be a decent husband, father, and citizen. This knowledge would allow me to answer people’s questions but I need the Bible to be absorbed into my life. So several years ago I did this exercise of what happens to me when I do not absorb the Bible into my life and yes, reading the Bible does not guarantee its Truths will be absorbed into my life. Here is what I wrote down. One, I find myself (show slide 6) magnifying the weaknesses and sins of others and minimizing my own. Suddenly more and more of my problems are somebody else’s fault. Yet being in God’s Word I walk away knowing my problems have more to do with me than with others. Two, I find myself (show slide 7) elevating happiness (mine and my family’s) higher on God’s priority list than where it really is. The Bible reminds me that the number one priority on Gods’ list is His glory and greatness. And when it does come to my well-being then God is much more concerned with my holiness than my happiness.
Three I find myself (show slide 8) evaluating decisions more on my own understanding and feelings than God’s. Personally, this reason frightens me because God has given me responsibility as a husband, father, and pastor and people will either be blessed or hurt by my decisions. And the fourth reason I wrote down of what happens to me when I do not absorb the Bible in my life is I find myself (show slide 9) closing my hands on what I think are my possessions. Without God's Word having its way in my life I will listen to all the what if's in life that tell me I don’t have enough which hinders my generosity. Those are 4 things that are for me. I would encourage you to reflect on what you discover when you do not absorb the Bible into your life. Your list might and probable will be different than mine but whatever is on our list is significant which is why we need to create space to allow the Bible to continually be worked into our lives.
The 2nd thing in way of application is for any parent or grandparent here. You may already know this but one of the most valuable things you can do for your children/grandchildren is to (show slide 10) associate your decisions with God’s Word. I cannot overemphasize this that the more you associate God’s Word with your decisions the more it will impact their view of the Bible. This goes beyond just memorizing verses which is good but we need to help the next generation understand how God’s Truth lead our decisions. Some of you already do this. Some of you desire this but wonder what that looks like because it was not modeled for you. If that’s you, first ask God for wisdom. Two, talk to parents who practice this. Let me share a few examples. A few months ago my son, Roman, said: “I don’t want to go to church today” and I asked him why but he didn’t say. Now I could have ignored it as he has said that about other activities. But instead I told him I have felt that way before but I still went to church and I asked him, “do you want to know why? I used Hebrews 10:25
to explain that people who love God need to be with each other. I went on to use the analogy that following God is a team sport like soccer or basketball. If you want to play you got to be with your team even if you want to stay at home. They need you and you need them. His response was “Daddy, I changed my mind – I want to go to church so I can be with my team.”
Second example is when Roman comes to me to ask forgiveness I could just say “of course Roman. I forgive you. I love you” and give him a big hug. That’s great but I want to associate my decisions as much as possible with God’s Word so I connect Ephesians 4:32
which says “be kind and compassionate, forgive one another as Christ has forgiven you.” I tell Roman “of course I will forgive you because Christ has forgiven me” and then give him a hug and say I love him. Or when I have to go to Roman to ask his forgiveness I connect my decision to James 5:16
about confessing your sins to each other. In fact, Roman sometimes will come to me first and say, “Daddy, you need to say sorry to me because I want to play with you.” Roman, who is only 4, is beginning to make the connection that giving and receiving forgiveness is essential for healthy relationships.
My final example is how Amber and I created some family rules, such as being honest, being respectful in how you talk, being obedient, and being a giver of forgiveness. We came up with 8 and posted them in our living room and we refer Roman to them quite often. Each of the 8 rules are linked to a verse because we want God’s Word to be their light for their every day decisions. So like David in v. 97 he thinks about God’s truth throughout the day. Now as I shared those few examples with you would you remember to pray for us? We need it. Pray that we would continue to find ways to connect God’s Word with our decisions. That God would grant us remembrance of the verses Amber and I have attempted to work into our lives. We would appreciate that. Now for those of you that feel like you did not do this or haven’t done it well with your kids or you think it is too late now as they have moved out. Let me encourage you that it is not too late. Tell them of your desire to begin. You are still their parent and probably still have a key voice in their lives. If necessary, ask them to forgive you for not associating your decisions with God’s Word if that applies to you. Who knows you may be surprised at their response even if they do not currently follow Jesus. So people of Sandy Ridge let’s grow in our obedience and love for God’s Word and let’s also anticipate the wisdom, insight, and understanding that awaits us as we absorb God’s Word into our lives. At this time I invite the music team to come up as we continue to worship God.