This is part of a sermon I spoke on recently in our series on Church Life –The Bible.
We all know the Bible is important at LCC.But I want to make sure we move from importance to experience to our very existence. Here then are some steps to take in order to saturate ourselves with Scripture.
1. Read the Word. We have to start here even though it sounds so simple. Jesus assumes that believers will know the Bible and be reading it regularly. Matthew 21:16: “Have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”
Here are some practical practices to help you read the Word on a regular basis.
• Develop the habit of ‘spending time’ with God. You must plan this in order for it to happen. It might be in the morning or at night or in the middle of the day.
Use a Bible Reading plan. Like Wordlive@scriptureunion.org.uk
Start Small. The more you read, the more you’ll want to read. I met someone this week who told me she started reading Acts and couldn’t stop.
The simple act of reading will do a lot to combat the biblical illiteracy that seems rampant today.
The simple act of reading will do a lot to combat the biblical illiteracy that seems rampant today.
2. Feed from the Word. Firstly we must read the Bible. Secondly we must feed from the Bible. Psalm 119:9-16
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.
I’d like us to follow a simple three step approach to Bible Study as we look at this passage. Observation, interpretation and application. Let’s do it together so that it gets into our heads and ultimately becomes a habit for us.
Observation: What do I see?
Here are some observations that jumped out at me.
• There’s one question asked in the passage; the rest of the verses provide the answer
• The question concerns a young man and his pursuit of purity
• There are six positive action statements that the psalmist makes.
I have hidden
• There is one strong statement that reveals what the psalmist will not do
I will not neglect your word
• There are only two requests made
Do not let me stray from your commands (we will stray on our own)
Teach me your decrees (we need to be taught)
The phrase ‘I delight’ comes after the psalmist is determined to seek, hide, recount, rejoice and meditate.
Interpretation – What does it say?
After making the observations I saw this, where someone said: “In order to live according to God’s Word, we must first love God’s Word.” Look at verse 9 again. Purity comes when we live according to God’s Word. This word “living” means to “keep guard” and was used of a protective hedge of thorns.
While these hedges are healthy and helpful, the number one way to pursue purity is to be in the Word of God on a daily basis. The positive statements of declaration, coupled with the negative determination to not neglect God’s Word, hold the key to purity. We can’t just sit still and do nothing. Let’s take a look at each element.
1. What I will do.
• I will…seek you with all my heart; (10). No half-hearted or slacker spirituality allowed. 2 Chronicles 15:15: “All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.”
• I will…Memorize God’s Word. Look at what happens as a result of hiding God’s Word in our hearts in verse 11: “That I might not sin against you.” John Wesley explains it this way: “I have laid it up in my mind like a choice treasure, to be ready upon all occasions to counsel, quicken or caution me.”
• I will…recount all the laws that come from your mouth. (13). This word means to “enumerate” and “go over repeatedly,” kind of like we do when our favourite sports team wins. We must learn the message, live the message and then give the message. This reminds me of the preaching that parents are to do throughout the day to their children as found in Deuteronomy 6:7: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
• I will…Rejoice in following your statutes (or word) (14). There’s joy that comes from obedience, isn’t there?
• I will…meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. (15). In eastern meditation, the goal is to empty the mind but biblical meditation involves filling the mind with the Word of God. This word was used of a cow chewing its cud. Likewise, we should chew on God’s Word in order to get the sweetness and nutrition out. The word meditate was alsoused of chattering like birds, of mulling it over; or literally, “muttering about it to ourselves.” God’s Word is meant to be chewed upon.
• I will…Delight in God’s decrees (16). If we’re honest sometimes we don’t delight in God’s Word. And honestly, if we wait until we delight in it before we dig in, we might wait a long time. Get this. Dig in first and then you will delight.
2. What I won’t do. After positive exhortations, there is a negative exclamation.
• I will not…neglect your Word (16). This word means to “mislay” or be “oblivious” to. We’re to read and feed but we won’t do any of this until we admit that we need the Word. Look at the last phrase in verse 16: “I will not neglect your word.” Talk about resolution and determination. He knows that his tendency is to take it for granted, to let it collect dust and so he declares that he will not neglect it.
I wonder how many of us would really care if we lost our Bibles or they were all suddenly confiscated. Amos 8:11-12: “The days are coming, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I will send a famine through the land-not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”
3. What I need from God.
Let’s pray these same requests for ourselves and for our family members.
• Keep me from straying. This request is in verse 10. ‘do not let me stray from your commands.’ It’s not only possible; it’s highly probable that we will head south spiritually if the Lord does not keep us on track.
• Teach me from the Scriptures. We see this in verse 12 where adoration leads to asking: “Praise be to you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.” It’s great to talk with people who are really diving into the Word. This is what I read at the end of last year when people had commented on the bible reading plan I use. “It has helped me to dig into the word, and I am memorizing scripture, and choosing to believe what it is saying to me! I think I just wasn’t believing how much God does love me, and that I do matter to Him! I am choosing to believe that He is my Hope, My peace, My Refuge, My strength! My overcomer! He is giving me confidence. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God! I am renewing my mind, washing it with the word, and it feels good! I have given Him my whole heart! Truth is igniting my faith!”
Application: What can I seize?
We read the Word and we feed from the Word but we won’t do either until we know that we need the Word. We also need to heed the Word. Let’s not be like those Jesus referred to in Mark 12:24: “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” What do I see? What does it say? What can I seize?
When applying Scripture it’s helpful to keep the acrostic S.P.E.C.S. in mind by asking these five questions:
Is there a Sin to confess?
Is there a Promise to claim?
Is there an Example to follow?
Is there a Command to obey?
Is there a Stumbling block to avoid?
Listen to these words of Jesus in John 8:37: “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.” Do you have room for the Word? Are you reading it, feeding from it, needing it, and heeding it?
Here are two dangerous statements that I sometimes hear people make:
• “I know what the Bible says, but…” James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
• “I know it’s wrong but God will forgive me so I’ll just do it anyway.” Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
So, what action steps can we take?
1.Find a Bible that is easy for you to understand.Some of us can struggle reading Scripture simply because you don’t have a Bible that is very readable, you don’t understand the language.
2. Guard against ‘familiarity fatigue.’ Read the Bible again as if for the first time. Again use a different version if you need to.
3. Memorize the Word of God.
If you’re serious about seeking purity in your life, one of the best ways to have the victory is through memorizing Scripture. Psalm 119:9 and 11 would be great to memorize: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
4. Meditate on the Word of God.
Billy Graham was interviewed a few months before he went to glory. The renowned evangelist, then 98, said that if he had the opportunity to live his life over again: “I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements…I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer.” Here’s an idea. Slowly read a few verses of Psalm 119 every day and saturate yourself with this psalm.
5. Is there a sin that is keeping you from Scripture?
It has been said that “Sin will keep you from this book and this book will keep you from sin.” Someone else has said, “All the water of the ocean cannot sink even the smallest ship unless it gets inside.” The key to keeping the world out of your boat is by keeping yourself in the Word. Turn these two verses into personal prayers:
• Psalm 19:13: “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
• Psalm 119:133: “Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”
And so everyone, let’s read, let’s feed, let’s need and let’s heed the Bible! And when you approach Scripture, ask these questions: What do you see? What does it say? And, how can you seize it and apply it?
Friday 21st of February 2020
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