I want to do a little wrap up and talk about how do I keep on keeping on? How do I maintain a heart for God’s Word? How do I keep on continuing in the skills and the habits that we’ve been developing for the past 6 weeks? Jesus said “If you continue in my word then you’re really my followers...then you’re my disciples.” He didn’t say if you do it for 40 days and stop. So how do you integrate God’s Word into every area of your life? To have integrity means you don’t act one way with a group of people over here and another way with a group over here. You don’t act different at home than you do at church or the way you act at church is different from the way you act at work. To act the same in all areas as a whole life is an integrated or a life of integrity.
To live that kind of life we need to become a man of the Word, a woman of the Word. It isn’t going to happen at all unless you have the desire.
Psalms 119: 20 CEV“What I want most of all [number one priority in my life] and at all times [integrated - at all times] is to honor your laws.” Whether I’m at work or home or a game or playing with my kids or on the golf course, I want to be a man of the Word. I want my life to be led and guided and directed by the Word of God. Every one of the memory verses were chosen because they give a key to keeping on in the Word of God.
1. I must build on it.
I make the Bible the foundation for my life. The foundation will determine how big the structure can be on top of it. “Everyone who hears these words of mine, and puts them into practice, is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24. Opinion changes but truth doesn’t change. When the winds of life come, the storms, the trials, the troubles and temptations - tough times inevitably come, but you’re not blown away. If you build on the shifting sands of opinion or whatever is popular - the foundation will crumble.
4 common foundations you don’t want to build your life on -
A. Popular culture. “I just do what everybody else is doing. If it’s popular I do it and if it’s not I don’t do it.” Problem - what is in style today will be out of style tomorrow - what is cool today will not be cool tomorrow. Exodus 23: 2 “Don’t follow the crowd in doing wrong…” - the crowd is often wrong. Don’t build your life on shifting sand of popular culture.
B. Tradition. “I do it because I’ve always done it.” Circular reasoning - my parents have always done it or my grandparents. We’ve always done it that way! Tradition isn’t all bad. Sometimes it becomes tradition because it works. Truth lasts forever but no tradition lasts forever. Mark 7: 8 “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” A lot of churches are like that - holding on to traditions that aren’t really in the Bible. Putting tradition before truth will get you in trouble.
C. Reason.God gives us the ability to reason. But some times what you think is reasonable is not actually right. “I’ve always thought…” What matters is what’s the right thing to do in this circumstance. Reason is a good thing but it’s not infallible. Proverbs 16: 25 “There’s a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death.” Many times you have made a decision you thought was reasonable – I need to marry this person… get into this business…accept this job offer... make this investment. What seemed like the right thing was an absolute disaster. We make mistakes.
D. Emotion. “If it feels right, I do it. If it feels wrong, I don’t do it.” Problem – feelings lie. Your feelings sometimes tell you things are going great when they aren’t - highly unreliable. If you live by your feelings you will spend your life manipulated by your moods - immaturity. Maturity and wisdom is when you act according to your values, your convictions - what’s right rather than what I feel like doing. Judges 21 – “At that time there was no king in Israel and people did whatever they felt like doing.” Sounds like 2012 to me.
Difference between how Hollywood views marriage and how God views marriage. Hollywood’s formula for relationships. If you want to be happy…1. You find the right person. 2. You fall in love. 3. You fix all your hopes and dreams on that one person for all your future fulfillment. 4. If failure occurs, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. Just repeat it over and over.
God’s prescription for relationships - 1. Become the right person - build character in your life. 2. Walk in love – it’s a choice - other-centered rather than me-centered. 3. Fix your hope on God and honour him through your relationship. 4. If failure occurs repeat steps 1, 2 and 3. That’s the difference. I’m going to build my life on the Bible. It is my final authority.
2. I must feed on it.
The word of God is spiritual food - water, milk, bread and meat. You’ve got to have spiritual food for spiritual strength. Colossians 3: 16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.”
A. I receive it with my ears.“Faith comes through hearing the word of God.” Commit to come to church. Listen to the Word of God being preached to you. But you can’t just let it go in one ear and out the other. You have to do the 2nd thing -
B. I read it with my eyes.You’ve got to have the Bible in your heart. You’ve got to take it in by reading the Word of God. But sometimes I’m distracted - not really paying attention. So the 3rd way -
C. I research it with my hands and with my mouth. Studying the Word of God - writing things down - your thoughts and observations. Also do it by talking to other believers - small groups.
D. I reflect on it with my mind.I spend time meditating on the Word of God. Different ways to meditate - reflect on the Word of God. Talk to yourself about what God has said. Think about it over and over through the day.
E. I remember it with my heart.Talking about memorising Scripture. I want to show you a picture. I receive the Word of God with my ears. Cup of water and a tea bag. Receive it with my ears - like dipping the tea bag in once. Doesn’t do very much to the water? But if I come back and read it, study it, take notes, talk to other people about what the Word of God says. Something starts to happen to my soul just like something is now happening in this water. The water is absorbing the colour, the flavor, the aroma and the character of the tea. That’s what it’s like to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. You begin to absorb what it really is saying when you do these things.
3. I must live by it.
The Word of God is not only food for your soul, it is your standard of living - sets the standard by which you judge everything else of value in your life. You’ve got to base your decisions on something. Psalm 1 “Blessed is the onewho doesn’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, but who meditates on the word of God.” The counsel of the ungodly - that’s the stuff we hear all the time – on television, in movies, in print. It’s the values of the world. If you want your life to be blessed you don’t build it by that kind of counsel; but live your life, build your life, feed your life, on the Word of God.
The Word of God will give you hope when you’re in crisis - comfort when you are in despair -strength when you are weak - wisdom when you’re confused - guidance when you’re looking for direction. The Word of God that will give you strength to resist and fight against temptation.
Psalm 119: 11 “I’ve hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.” Remember in Matthew 4 when Jesus was tempted? 3 times the devil came and tempted him. All 3 times Jesus only used one weapon to defend himself. “It’s written… it’s written…it’s written.” If you want to be like Christ you’ve got to defend yourself the way he did.
Picture of the tea - what’s happened - the water has absorbed the colour, flavor, aroma and character of the tea. It’s taken on a whole new identity. We no longer call this a cup of water. We now call it a mug of tea. When you let the word of Christ dwell in you richly - not only do you know what the Word of God says, you begin to become more and more like the author.
4. I must grow through it.
The Bible is like seed - planted in your heart. If it finds good soil, it grows and it produces fruit. God wants you to be fruitful - you’ve got to have a receptive heart - good soil. Psalm 119: 18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
Luke 8 - Jesus told a story about this - parable of the soils. A famer goes out and sows seed - falls on 4 different kinds of soil and it gets 4 different kinds of results - represents 4 different attitudes that you can have toward the Bible.
A. Hardened soil - represents a closed mind - we don’t even give God a chance to talk to us - our minds are made up. I don’t want to hear what God has to say about my relationships - my debt. I must cultivate an open mind. If I’m going to let God’s truth really change my life I have to be open to it.
B. Shallow soil - represents a superficial mind - we go to church - get excited - react emotionally - but we don’t really let it take the time to sink in. How do I get some depth - some roots in my life? I must make time for God’s Word. Roots take time to develop - no roots, no fruits.
C. Soil with weeds - represents a preoccupied mind. God plants the seed in my mind - I let it sit there and it starts growing. But then I let other things choke it out of my life – worry, busyness, money. I get preoccupied - that’s why I can’t hear God. I must eliminate the distractions. Or biggest sin of you is we’re too busy.
D. Good soil – represents a willing mind - seed of truth gets planted - allowed to grow and develop. Gets roots and then it gets fruit. Action step - cooperate with what God says. Grow through the Word.
5. I must act on it.
James 1: 22 “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” If I go to church and it goes in one ear and out the other - I’m living a life of self-deception. We’ve spent 6 weeks learning how to write personal application - how to be a doer of the Word.
6. I must trust in it.
God is never going to guide you in the wrong direction - other people will. Psalm 119: 105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”Are you ever in the dark? “I don’t have the slightest idea what to do about this relationship…whether I should accept this job offer… where I should invest…what I should do with the next 5 years of my life.” So you go to the Word - “Lord, I’m trusting that your Word will be a lamp to my feet and a light for my path, you’re going to show me the path to walk on, you’re going to lead me in the dark. When I’m confused and I don’t know what to do - you promised to direct me and I am going to trust in your Word.”
I want to challenge you as we get into the last week of 40 Days in the Word to make a commitment to keep on doing what you’ve been doing – not to stop. Keep on being in a small group - keep on reading the Bible every day, having a daily quiet time, a daily devotion. Keep the habit of group study and keep the habit of personal study so that you can become a man of the Word or a woman of the Word.
Prayer: “Father, I want to thank you for the Word of God. I thank you that it calms our fears. It enlightens our mind. It strengthens our will. It grows our maturity. I thank you, Lord, that it calms our worries and it leads us in the dark. We want to commit to being a part of an ongoing process of continuing in your word. In Jesus name. Amen.”