Meditate on His Word
July 26, 2009
1 Thessalonians 2:13
Henry Blackaby says we are to be, Trembling at God's Word. He quotes Isaiah 66:2 which says,
I will look favorably on this kind of person:
one who is humble, submissive in spirit,
and who trembles at My word
Do you tremble when God speaks? When was the last time you were physically affected by the reality that almighty God just spoke directly to you? John lost all physical strength when God spoke to him (Rev. 1:17); Paul fell to the ground when Christ met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4); Moses trembled when God spoke to him (Acts 7:32); and Peter, when he realized who Jesus was, “fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'”(Luke 5:8).
Have you lost your sense of awe that the Creator still chooses to speak to you, His creation? Do you approach the reading of your Bible with a holy expectation, listening for the life-changing words that God has for you that day? Scripture says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). There are things you will see and hear out of your fear and reverence for God that you will not experience in any other way.
As you study your Bible, you may sense that God has something to say directly to you through the verses you are reading. Take a moment to consider the awesome reality that the God who spoke and created a universe is now speaking to you. If Jesus could speak and raise the dead, calm a storm, cast out demons, and heal the incurable, then what effect might a word from Him have upon your life? The possibilities should cause you to tremble! The next time you open God's Word, do so with a sense of holy expectation
My mission this morning is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples, and I am here to recruit people to share that mission and that passion with me.
Where does faith come from? Or: How do you become a person who treasures all that God is for you in Jesus? If faith works through love (Galatians 5:6), and love causes people to magnify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16), then the great question in life is, how shall we have this faith? How shall we come to treasure God like this?
One answer is given in Romans 10:14–17.
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? . . . So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
There is Paul's answer: "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." This is why our Spiritual Dynamic includes the phrase, "meditating on all his Word." Prayer has a crucial role to play too, which is why we say, "praying for all his purposes." For example, in Psalm 119:18 the psalmist prays like this: Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Thy law.
In other words the Word of God contains wonderful things, but we will not see them without God's help—his illumination (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6); his opening our hearts like he did for Lydia (Acts 16:14); his opening our minds like he did for the apostles (Luke 24:45). And if we miss what is in the Word of God without his help, then prayer becomes the natural partner to hearing the Word. We pray, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things from your law."
I want us to focus this morning on "meditating on all his Word." "We join God in magnifying the supremacy of his glory by . . . meditating on all his Word." This is the way faith begins and the way faith grows—by hearing and meditating on the Word of God. And as faith grows—as we come to treasure more and more what God is for us in Jesus—we have more and more freedom and strength to love as we ought. And when we love as we ought, people will see our good deeds and give glory to our Father in heaven. And our mission will be fulfilled.
So let's ponder these simple words this morning: " . . . by meditating on all his Word." When we say "his" we mean God's. And by "God's Word" we mean the Bible—the 66 books of the Old and New Testament. Why do we believe that the Bible is the Word of God?
The answer to that question is very important, and it's not exactly the same for every person. All of us don't get persuaded in the very same way. But at the heart of the answer for all of us, I believe, is this: Jesus Christ, as he is presented in the New Testament, has won our trust and we have embraced his view of the Bible as we have his view of everything else he talks about.
In other words we are persuaded that Jesus is such a powerful historical figure that nothing has been able to conceal him in his true glory. He has broken through every human limitation and revealed himself as so authentic, and so loving, and so penetratingly wise, and so uniquely authoritative, and so devoted to God, and so powerful in words and deeds that there is none like him. In this way he has won our trust. And this we embrace in view of the Scriptures.
From time to time we allow ourselves to ask: Is the portrait of Jesus that we have in the New Testament a result of fanatical delusion? Did some religious zealots hallucinate and create the teachings and deeds and deity and atoning death and resurrection of Jesus? Is this magnificent Christ just the froth of unstable minds?
Or we ask: is this portrait an intentional deception and fraud that some group shrewdly conceived and foisted onto the world? Was it a kind of plot? One they were willing die for, strangely.
Or we ask: is there only a tiny kernel of truth in this portrait of Jesus, which within a few years, had been so overgrown with exaggerated tales that no one could ever get back to the real Jesus of history? Which would mean that the magnificence of this person that we meet in the New Testament is really the magnificence of some people's imagination with no valid cause greater than an ordinary man?
And when we let ourselves ask these questions, we come back again and again to this: these witnesses do not have the flavor of hallucination or fraud or indifference to truth. And the portrait of Jesus that comes through is gloriously authentic and filled with insight that illuminates all of reality that I know. And therefore I believe him. And when he teaches that He is the fulfillment and center of the Scriptures, I believe that too, and conclude that they are indeed, as he says, the Word of God (Matthew 5:17–18; 19:4–5; Mark 12:36; John 10:35).
We need to pause here so you can make this personal. It is not academic. Your life hangs on this. Does Jesus stand forth from the New Testament witness as an authentic and glorious person worthy of your trust and worship, or doesn't he? If He does, believe Him; treasure him above all things; bow and worship Him. If He does not (yet!), don't play games with Christianity. Don't call yourself a Christian for convenience, or because you don't want to scare your wife, or because you are afraid of hell. Instead give yourself to prayer that God would help you see what is really there.
Believing that the Bible is the Word of God is a gigantic event in the soul. Therefore God does not leave it merely to man. He himself is involved every time someone comes to believe in the Word of God.
Let me illustrate this from one of Paul's letters, 1 Thessalonians 2:13,
We also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
The main thing to see here is that Paul thanks God constantly that the Thessalonians received the teaching of the apostles as the Word of God, and not merely the word of man. What this shows is that if we are left to ourselves, we will not see Jesus in this Word as self-authenticating and trustworthy and glorious. We will just hear religious opinion—the way some people stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and just see a big ditch.
Most of us are acquainted with the playground rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It is patently wrong. Words do have power.
Bruises and broken bones will heal, but words sink deep within our minds and souls. We carry their joy or poison with us wherever we go, and they can affect us for a lifetime. They can heal or wound, inspire or devastate.
Perhaps that is why Jesus warned that “men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:36-37). Why? Because “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34).
If our words hold that kind of power, carrying our hearts upon their breath, what about God's words? God's revealed words also come from the overflow of his heart: "the word of the LORD is flawless" (2 Sam. 22:31). God is perfect, complete, the source of all truth and reality. His Word carries the dynamic of his nature; it speaks with the power of eternal reality. That is why he could speak the world into existence.
The Word of God, the Bible, is more than an interesting book to study, more than good ideas, beautiful prose or poetry. The Thessalonians recognized the implication of hearing the speech of God. We need to recapture that same awe and reverential dread at being given the thoughts of the eternal God.
God's Word has inherent power because it is the carrier of undisputed truth. Nothing can withstand it, succeed against it, overcome it, or disprove it. In fact, God's Word "is living and active. 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" (Heb. 4:12).
Because God is timeless, living in the continual present, his Word is always immediate. These are not mere ideas we read and study in the Bible; they are the contemporary thoughts and expressions of the boundless God who is always now That is why they are living, used by the Holy Spirit to penetrate and effect change where mere words or ideas could not.
Even so, for the power of God's Word to explode in regenerative change it must be connected to faith. As James writes, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says" (Jas. 1:22). That is faith — believing and then acting on that belief. It is then that the energy of God is unleashed within us.
Weymouth's translation says the Thessalonians "embraced and welcomed" the Word of God. They brought it into their hearts recognizing it as truth. Anyone who trivializes, ignores, or mishandles God's Word is in danger of God's wrath. As Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned" (Gal. 1:8).
This should cause us to take seriously the words of God, revealed by his mercy, to us who depend upon his grace.
So our answer to the question, "Why do we believe that the Bible is the Word of God?" is this: through the witness of the New Testament Jesus Christ stands forth as an authentic and glorious person worthy of our trust and worship—He breaks through every human limitation and commends himself to our mind and our conscience. What He is and what He does and what He says illumines reality—it helps make sense out of the world. But the bottom line answer to why we believe the Bible is the Word of God is the same one Paul gave in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 — God revealed himself to us in the Word. God opened our eyes. God took away our blindness and overcame our resistance. To God belongs all the glory even for our seeing his glory.
Now we believe that the Bible is the Word of We will base our values on it and saturate our values with it and make it the authoritative litmus test for all things that we think and do. That is, we will be a people of the Book.
We value . . .
1. Personal Bible reading, reflection and memorization among all our people.
2. The indispensable role of teachers and parents to impart biblical truth to the mind, and the indispensable role of the Holy Spirit to awaken love for truth in the heart.
3. Keeping the main things the main things. Maintaining biblical proportion between the importance of a truth and the attention and energy devoted to it.
4. The study of sound biblical theology so that we will not be children in our thinking.
5. Being people who are humble and teachable before the Word of God, always growing and being refined in our grasp of God's truth and grace.
6. All services, committees, small groups, and relationships permeated with the Word of God.
7. Biblical self-denial as we take thought for the good of others.
8. Efficient administrative structures shaped by the Word and sustained by prayer.
This should be our aim as a church. What does it mean for each of us as individuals? It means that we will want to be like the psalmist in Psalm 1.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
We want to be a people who meditate on the Word of God day and night. We want to be like Charles Spurgeon who said,
It is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible, until at last you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your very blood is Biblical and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.
And, we’ll close with that old favorite, The Roman Road to Salvation. I don’t want to beat you over the head with this, but you need to know it if you are going to lead someone to salvation. What are you going to do if God touches someone’s heart and they come to you looking for the way to Jesus? If you don’t take advantage of this God-given opportunity to lead someone to Christ, you will stand accountable before God. Jesus has told us that the Bible is an offense to the unbeliever – except for those who’s hearts God has already prepared. Has God prepared the heart of someone you know or love? You may never know unless you share Jesus with them. Are you willing to take the risk of rejection or ridicule? It takes a lot of love; it takes courage, but think about what is at stake – their eternity! Perhaps they’re wondering why you haven’t shared the gospel with them already. We all know the eternal plight of those who choose not to come to Christ, right? But we can give them a choice! Whether they take it or not is entirely their decision. Our job is to give them this option; it’s a step of obedience on our part. But, we cannot make this decision for them. A little discomfort on our part for a few minutes is a small price to pay when we consider our loved ones spending eternity in hell. Have you considered what that would be like? Turn in your Bible to Luke, chapter 16 and I’ll begin reading at verse 19: "There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried,
and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'
But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.'
And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—
for I have five brothers —so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'
And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.' "
Would you want to see anyone live in such a place? Are you willing to act to prevent your loved ones spending eternity there? We are accountable for giving them the opportunity to receive God’s free gift of salvation. The choice then is theirs. We have done our part; we have obeyed Jesus’ instructions. For all believers, this is the main reason God keeps us here! It’s more important than working at Bible camp, going on mission’s trips, or serving in any Christian organization. Sharing God’s plan of salvation is not an optional activity; it is something God has commanded us to do! To not do it is sin! (separation from God). When you look at how Christians are persecuted around the world it sounds absolutely ridiculous that Christians here would not share the gospel because they are uncomfortable, or might be rejected, or might offend somebody. Well, Jesus plainly told us that the gospel would be an offense. He clearly told us that many would reject us. So what? Do it anyway! So, listen closely, memorize it, and look for opportunities to use it. I gave you all a printed copy last year, but if you’ve lost it, let me know – I’ll print you as many copies as you need
The ROMANS ROAD....is a pathway you can walk.
It is a group of Bible verses from the book of Romans in the New Testament. If you walk down this road you will end up understanding how to be saved.
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We all have sin in our hearts. We all were born with sin.
We were born under the power of sin's control.
- Admit that you are a sinner.
Romans 6:23a "...The wages of sin is death..."
Sin has an ending. It results in death. We all face physical death, which is a result of sin. But a worse death is spiritual death that alienates us from God, and will last for all eternity. The Bible teaches that there is a place called the Lake of Fire where lost people will be in torment forever. It is the place where people who are spiritually dead will remain.
- Understand that you deserve death for your sin.
Romans 6:23b "...But the gift of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Salvation is a free gift from God to you! You can't
earn this gift, but you must reach out and receive it.
- Ask God to forgive you and save you.
Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates His own love for us, in
that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!"
When Jesus died on the cross He paid sin's penalty. He paid the price for all sin, and when He took all the sins of the world on Himself on the cross, He bought us out of slavery to sin and death! The only condition is that we believe in Him and what He has done for us, understanding that we are now joined with Him, and that He is our life. He did all this because He loved us and gave Himself for us!
- Give your life to God... His love poured out in Jesus on the cross is your only hope to have forgiveness and change. His love bought you out of being a slave to sin. His love is what saves you -- not religion, or church membership. God loves you!
Romans 10:13 "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!"
- Call out to God in the name of Jesus!
Romans 10:9,10 "...If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
- If you know that God is knocking on your heart's door,
ask Him to come into your heart.
Revelation 3:20a "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him..."
- Is Jesus knocking on your heart's door?
Believe in Him.
Ask Him to come in to your heart by faith,
and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.
Open the Bible to the Gospel of John and read what God says about Jesus,
about you, and about being born again.
God will help you. He loves you.
"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name!"
Now, it’s up to you to use it! When you do use it, God will be pleased with your obedience, your family members will have the opportunity to receive eternal life, and you will rejoice!