A study was conducted years ago to determine what religious activity had the greatest impact on a persons Christian life. In other words, what noticeably changed people from being nominal Christians into people who act like Jesus? Would it be their consistency in church attendance or tithing or frequency of prayer or service in some area of ministry or regular reading of the Bible? Well, when the results came in, it wasnt even close. One category, by far, made the greatest difference in the people who practiced it, and that was daily reading of the Bible. Something about reading of the Word and letting our minds and hearts be transformed by it changes people like nothing else does. Theres no substitute and no shortcuts. Just having the Bible in four versions on our computer doesnt mean were putting it into our hearts. In order to prepare the apostle John to prophesy God handed him a portion of scripture and told him to eat it. Of course, this was a vision and not literal, but the image of him eating the Word is a strong example to us. It tells us how important Gods Word is and how intensely each of us is to interact with it. Its not enough to read it occasionally or have a few favorite verses memorized. Were to chew it and digest it and let it transform us inside until we too can speak the Word of the Lord to others.
A. John and Ezekiel
When dealing with a stubborn and rebellious generation Gods Word needs to be worked deep into our hearts. This implanting of the Word of God will:
1) Make us as stubborn as those we speak to (2:4; 3:7-9).
2) Give us authority when we speak because were speaking His word not ours (2:7).
3) Leave people knowing God has spoken to them, not someone full of their own opinions.
B. Knowledge vs. Wisdom
Da 12:4 But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.
- Knowledge: information, data
- Human wisdom: opinions based on our own five senses (common sense)
- Gods wisdom: those vital essential truths which are absolutely necessary to the proper function of human beings on this earth. It is the truth about God and humanity without which people will fumble and falter and go off at loose ends, unable to handle life at all . . . (paraphrased from Ray Stedman, June 1980)
- The counsel of a heavenly Father Pr 2:1-13; 3:1-4
Every Christian must allow the Word of God to so change their mind-set that they handle life in a totally different way from the world around them. They must think like God thinks about their life, their home, their marriage, their children, their business, as well as the economic and political life of our city, state, nation and world we live in.
We need to think differently about:
- Our sexuality; our speech; our money; our promises; our goals; our enemies; our death
- Ps 1: It is Gods wisdom that leads to true success in life. If we want our lives blessed we must earnestly seek to have our thinking changed to be like Gods.
- Nominal Christians claim to be Christian but still think like unbelievers.
C. Attitudes I Bring to the Study
Though Ive been called to preach the Word, I believe every Christian has been called to preach the Word (He 5:12).
1) This is one of the two most important things I do.
- Bread and wine/Word and Spirit
- The new wine of worship, the prophetic Word of God
2) Without the truths of the Bible people are doomed to failure. Only it holds the secrets of life.
- Worldly knowledge vs. godly wisdom
3) The entire Bible is Gods Word. If parts seem dead to me its because I dont yet understand.
- God wants to reveal His Word.
- Jigsaw puzzle - the more I learn the more previously hidden portions open up to me.
4) Were called to preach the Bible, not our opinions.
- The pulpit is a place for Gods Word to be spoken, not mine.
5) The authority resides in His Word, not me.
- People dont care what I think, they care what God thinks.
- When I present His Word accurately, the Holy Spirit will confirm it.
6) Until the Word burns in me, it wont burn in them.
- Ask: does this speak to me? Am I moved by it?
- Pray until the passion, the sense of urgency, comes (event by event). Change subjects until you find this. There will come a flow of divine help when youre on track.
D. Where do I begin?
1) I force myself to keep learning by preaching through books of the Bible
- Dont skip the hard passages
2) I watch for the life - changing truths the Bible raises as I study.
3) I schedule sufficient uninterrupted time to do this.
- A teacher must first be a student.
4) I write down the insights God gives me so they are not forgotten.
5) I consider that God is first of all speaking to me, and that I must obey what Hes shown me.
6) I consider it a great privilege to teach His Word to others.
1) Have you developed a pattern of studying Gods Word that works for you? Tell us how and when you do this.
2) When we study the Bible there come moments when the Holy Spirit reveals to us truths weve never seen before. Has this happened to you? Give an example of a verse or story thats come alive to you.