There is nothing that replaces the hearing or reading of the Word of God. There are a number of important spiritual disciplines, all of which need to be part of our lives, but nothing has a greater impact than a daily encounter with the Bible. The temptations of our flesh are strong, and our own mind keeps trying to lead us astray, so without constant correction, without being confronted again and again by the way God thinks, we unconsciously drift back into unbelief, entertain temptation, and return to loving the world. Someone once said, When we pray, we talk to God, but when we read the Word, He talks to us. Though I admit the Bible isnt the only way God talks to us, it is undoubtedly the most trustworthy way. When I try to hear God directly, my own thoughts can at times deceive me, but the plain truths and commands in the Bible never change, and are never wrong. Whenever I test the Bible by actually doing what it says, it always works.
And the Bible contains within itself a strange authority, one thats hard to explain. If a person will pick it up and read it honestly, sooner or later they sense its speaking to them. How many committed atheists have tried to read it to prove to themselves it is filled with superstitious lies, only to find themselves convicted of their rebellion to a God who loves them and fearing a God who will someday bring them to judgment. It simply isnt a silly, religious book. Thats why every vile form of human government outlaws the Bible. How often has it been labeled a dangerous book? Because it is! Its a force to be dealt with.
I believe the primary reason our society is failing, families are failing, individuals are failing, and many Christians are failing is because people are not interacting daily with the Word of God. They are leaning on their own understanding (Pr 3:5) and therefore God is not guiding them. Today, were going to let Apollos be an example to us once again. Last week we saw his passionate love for God, but this week well see his passionate commitment to study and teach the Word of God.
Apollos example (Ac 18:27, 28)
DBS (Sunday, Monday)
Every human needs to be hearing the Word of God daily because it:
Re-orients our thinking - Theres a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Pr 14:12)
Confronts bad attitudes
Reminds us of the reality of the spiritual world (good and bad)
Reminds us of eternal life (hope)
Warns us of what will happen if we let our flesh have its way (Moses, striking the rock)
Shows us how God wants us to respond to situations so we can obey and receive His blessing
Without this constant correction our flesh quickly takes over, and we return to functioning like an unbeliever and having a life that looks just like an unbelievers life. Doing Gods will for a little while is easy, but doing His will for a long time is hard. Few people seem to be able to persevere day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Our commitment and vision are constantly being tested, and our emotions grow dry, which is why we have to find a daily source that will refresh us.
Apollos was undoubtedly a bright man, but I think the reason he was able to understand the Word and teach it to others wasnt because he was so bright, but because he studied it constantly. You might say he stayed so full of Gods Word it flowed out of him when he talked. As a result, Luke tells us, when he went to Corinth he was able to strengthen the faith of many who were struggling by simply sitting down with them and answering their questions. And he also strengthened the church by confronting those who were trying to sow doubt in peoples minds. He knew the scriptures so well he could answer their challenges accurately.
Regardless of what type of ministry God has called a person to do, the foundation of every ministry is the Word of God. The more we understand His Word, the more effectively we will serve Him, because we are able to give people the gift of truth. The greatest of all human needs is to know God.
Most of us need someone to teach us how to do this. Studying the Word of God takes discipline, and we often need to start a life of discipline by copying someone else. In time we find out what works best for us. Here are some ways to start:
1) Daily Bible Study/Sermon/Life Group Discussion Guide
2) Life Transformation Groups
3 or 4 people, men with men, women with women, everyone reads the same chapters, meet once per week, answer eleven Character Conversation Questions (on the bookmark), pray for the salvation of 2 or 3 people using the prayer guide (on the bookmark).
The goal is to read many chapters per week in order to fill our minds with the Bible, and have honest conversations about our struggles in a confidential meeting.
3) Operation Solid Lives
Using a daily reading guide we learn to journal, pray out loud, experience a media fast, and learn truths upon which to build a solid life.
4) RSVP (Read, Sing, Verse, Pray)
I personally read one chapter a day, and then select a verse which speaks to my heart that day. Then I use the OSL process: I write out the verse(s) in my journal and respond by using the Hear, Do and Pray (Observation, Application and Prayer). What do I hear God saying to me in this verse? How will I respond? And then I write out a prayer asking God to help me obey in that specific area.
I am amazed at how consistently God speaks to me, virtually every morning. He keeps giving me deeper insights into basic truths. I am refreshed and my faith is strengthened day after day.
Apollos focused on explaining the Word so people could understand it, and then he let the authority that automatically comes when Gods truth is spoken, do its work. Whenever the Word is taught clearly, honestly, in an understandable way, people love to listen (or they run away) because it speaks to their heart. Its very practical and the Holy Spirit is always at work applying the truth to each persons need. So the principle we learn from Apollos is simple: If we spend the time to teach ourselves, then God will use us to teach His Word to others.
The next mission field
Over this past year the Lord has spoken to us and guided us in a new direction. Actually, you might say Hes called us to return to an old direction, to do again what we did before. Hes called us to open our eyes and see our own community as a mission field. Hes not asking us to stop caring for the uttermost parts of the earth, but to see afresh the suffering around us, in particular the young who are facing a society that has collapsed, one that has become hostile to the Bible it once honored. Families are being torn apart, children are neglected, youth are left to find their own way in the world, and the elderly are disrespected or forgotten. The only difference between us and a third world nation is we still have more money. Actually, in many third world nations the family is much stronger than here. And thats why the Lord has redirected us to see our community as a mission field. The breakdown of the family has become critical and there is no longer any help coming from the structures of society. The cultural support for godly principles is gone. So, what are we to do? The answer is simple, though it takes a lot of work: The greatest gifts we can give are to help people know God, and to teach them His Word. Then they can obey Him and be blessed. God has called us to show people who are walking in darkness the path that leads to life. And because the need is so great, everyone who is capable of teaching needs to teach. There are many ways to teach and many kinds of people that need to be taught, so the possibilities are endless. If each of us would learn to fill ourselves daily with the Word, and then simply ask, God, where am I needed? Who can I help? we would vastly multiply the number of people we can reach. Thats why God has called all of us to teach His Word (He 5:12-14).
1) Did someone teach you the Bible when you were a child? Who was it? How did that change you?
2) Have you ever taught Gods Word to someone? When and where did you do that? Did you feel God help you at the time?
3) If you have a regular pattern of studying the Bible, tell us how you do it. Where did you learn how to do this? Have you ever taught someone else to do what you do?