James 1: 19 - 25
Welcome to the kick off for 40 Days in the Word. We’re going to begin in another week but today I want to give you an introduction to where we’re going. Our goal is that we will learn to love the Word, learn the Word and live out the Word during these next 40 days. The next 6 Sundays we’re going to look at a different aspect of the Bible -
1. The Inspiration of the Bible - How can I trust the Bible? How do I know the Bible is true and that I can trust it for my life?
2. The Foundation of the Bible. What is the purpose of the Bible? What is the overarching theme of the Bible? It’s 66 books in 1 book - really a library - but they all point to the same basic theme.
3. The Illumination of the Bible. How does God illuminate my mind so that I can see what he wants me to see in the Bible?
4. The Interpretation of the Bible. How do I know what this verse means? There are correct ways to interpret the Bible and there are incorrect ways.
5. The Integration of the Bible. How do I put the Bible into every area of my life? How do I use the Bible at work? In my home? My family life? My finances? Every different area – my past, my present and my future.
6. The Application of the Bible. How to use the Bible in specific ways - to make good decisions, to overcome temptation, to counsel or offer advice to a friend, to find comfort for yourself?
It’s going to be a very exciting series on Sundays. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The next element number is the most important part of 40 days - small group studies. Here you will be taught how to study the Bible for yourself. Workbook - love the Word, learn the Word, live the Word - includes the studies but it has other things in it - full of really good material. So if you’re not in a small group you’re going to want to get in one before we start next week. The next element of 40 days are the devotionals - 40ditw.com and you register there.
Jesus ended the Sermon on the Mount by telling a story. There were 2 guys that went out and both built homes. They built them on different foundations. One guy built his house on solid rock, the other guy went out and built his house on sand. Then unexpected winds came – the trials and the storms of life. The winds came and the floods rose. The house that was built on the shifting foundation of sand collapsed, but the house that was built on solid rock was able to withstand the storms of life.
Jesus says in Mathew 7:24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine [that’s the Word of God, the Bible] and puts them into practice [we’re going to teach you how to do that] is like that wise man who built his house on the rock.”
We don’t know what’s going to happen in 2013 but I guarantee you this: you will have storms in your life – emotional storms, health storms, financial storms. If you are not built on solid rock, on the foundation of something that doesn’t shift, you’re going to crumble. You can’t build your life on the opinions of others, popular opinion or on culture. You must build it on unchanging truth.
How do I build my life on the Bible? Look at the way that God wired you and shaped you. God gave you 5 senses – hear, smell, see, taste and touch. Everything you know, everything you experience in life comes through one of those 5 senses. That’s how you encounter life. God wants you to learn to encounter the Bible with every one of your senses. We’re going to look at this today. These are all found in James 1:19-25.
1. I receive it with my ears.
We’re talking about hearing the Word of God. Romans 10:17 “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.” Every time you hear your pastor preach, you’re hearing the Word and your faith is being built. Let’s see what James says – James 1:19 “Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore get rid of all moral filth and evil that is so prevalent, and humbly acceptthe word planted in you which can save you.” It is the Word of God that saves us.
“Accept the word” - welcome the Word - attitude of acceptance. “Planted” - the seed is the Word of God and the soil is our hearts. Receiving the Word is actually the seed being planted in your life. Your heart has to be prepared.
For good reception - you have to have 4 attitudes. In order for you to hear God you’ve got to have good reception - matter of your heart attitude.
I must be quiet – “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” When you’re talking you’re not listening.
I must be calm - “slow to become angry.” You don’t hear much when you’re angry. When you are emotionally upset you’re defensive. When you are emotionally relaxed you’re quiet and you’re calm you can really hear what the other person is saying. You’ve got to be quiet and you’ve got to be calm if you’re going to let God speak to you in the Bible. Not - “God, I’ve got 5 minutes. Talk to me quick. I’ve got to go. See you later.” “Be still and know that I am God”
I must be clean - I can’t have any junk in my life, any sin piled up if I expect to hear God speak to me. “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent.” “Filth” - earwax. I can’t hear God if I’ve got junk in my ear. Get rid of the filth - evil - anything we know in our lives that is wrong. You’re not going to hear God if your mind is filled with pornography or resentment or jealousy or any other junk in your life. Need for confession - simply means to agree with God – “That was wrong, God. You’re right and I was wrong.”
I must be humble - “Humbly accept the Word planted in you which can save you.” Means to be ready to do whatever God tells me from his Word. If I come with pride – “God, you tell me what you want me to do and then I’ll decide whether I’m going to do it or not” – isn’t going to work. I come humbly.
That’s a good way to get the Word of God in your life. But if that’s your only way you’re not growing very much. You forget 95% of what you hear within 72 hours. That’s why I always give you notes. Build my life on the Bible -
2. I read it with my eyes.
You cannot grow without reading the Bible. James 1: 22 - 25 -“Don’t merely listen to the Word, [ought to listen but don’t merely listen to the Word] and so deceive yourselves [you’re going forget it] do what it says. Anyone who listens to the Word [of God] but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirrorand, after looking at himself he goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like! [That’s what happens a lot on Sunday. You hear a message and by the time you get to the car you’ve already forgotten it. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.”
The whole reason why our church is doing 40 Days in the Word - we want you to be blessed. I want God’s blessing on your family, your work, your finances, your health. The Bible says if you will do these things you will be blessed.
The person who looks intently - talking about reading the Bible. But not speed reading it. I must read the Bible and I reflect on it - think about it. It’s like looking in a mirror. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate ourselves. You can glance in mirror or you can gaze in a mirror. Glancing at the mirror of God’s Word isn’t going to help you change. You’ve got to gaze at it intently - look at the details. There are lots of good Bible reading plans - find one that fits you. Say – “I want to receive God’s Word with my ears and I want to read God’s Word with my eyes.” Build my life on the Bible -
3. I research it with my hands and my mouth.
This is Bible study. There are 2 components of study: writing it down and talking about it. That’s why we believe in small groups. You listen and you write and you read and you talk. You use your hands and you use your mouth to study the Word of God. In the small group studies during 40 Days in the Word we’re going to learn how to do this.
John 5: 39 - Jesus - “You search the Scriptures [talking about research] because you believe they will give you eternal life. And the Scriptures point to me!”
Acts 17 - Luke talks about a group of people in Berea - little city in Greece. “The people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scripturesday after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.”
They’re studying - having a small group discussion. Listening to Paul preach, then they’re going over it and having a discussion about it. Build my life on the Bible -
4. I review it and I remember it with my mind.
James 1: 25 “The man who looks intently [reading] into the perfect law and continues to do this, [reviewing] not forgetting what he’s heard… [remembering] he will be blessed in what he does.”
Review – continually do this, you’re thinking about it over and over. During 40 Days in the Word we’re going to try to memorize one simple verse a week. You can’t review it unless you remember it.
The skill of remembering and reviewing is called “meditation.” I’m not talking about when you sit in a lotus position, put your mind in neutral, contemplate your navel and go ommm. I’m talking about learning to remember and review the Bible.
Joshua 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Law [God’s Word] depart from your mouth;[talk about it] meditate on itday and night,so that you will be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will beprosperous and successful.”
This is the only promise of prosperity and success in the Bible - if you meditate God’s Word day and night - remember it and review it - you will be successful in all you do. In our small groups we‘re going to learn ways to meditate on Scripture. Build my life on the Bible –
5. I respond to it with my actions.
James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!” How do we deceive ourselves? We think if we’ve heard something we’ve got it. You only believe the parts of the Bible you actually do. We are to be doers of the Word.
Let’s go back to that story that I started with where Jesus ends the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice [doer of the Word] is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine… [you come to church, you listen to them]and does not put them into practice, is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
I don’t want that to happen to you. We don’t know the storms that are going to come into our lives or into our nation in 2013. But I do know this. You’ll crumble if you don’t have solid foundation for your life. You must build your life on the unchanging Word. If your life is not built on the rock, you’ll be stressed out because the sands are shifting and the house is tilting.
Prayer: Dear God I want to build my life on the rock, not on sand. I want a solid foundation of truth. I want to build my life on the Bible. So I commit the next 40 days to learning how to do these things. I want to receive your Word with my ears. I want to hear God speak to me. I want to read your Word with my eyes. I want to begin a regular habit of Bible reading. I want to research your Word with a small group where I write it down and we discuss it and we talk it over. I want to study your Word. I want to learn to mediate, to remember and review your Word throughout my day. So when I’m starting to get upset you can bring that verse to mind. I want to respond to your Word and do what it says. Amen.