I want to start today with a story that John T. Spach tells in Reader's Digest …
When their son left for his freshman year at
The truth is this… The Bible contains what we need for life.
We can’t grow spiritually if we don’t read God’s word regularly. We can’t know the truth if we don’t ever read God’s Word.
I want to talk to you today about one of the main ways to see amazing growth in your spiritual life. It’s comes from God’s word. It comes from reading, studying, knowing and living it.
It’s one of the most simple and basic ways to grow as a Christ-follower and it’s one of the things so many people leave out of their lives!
Show a table full of food. What is the one simple thing we need to do with this food in order for it help nourish us? (Let people answer.) Eat it! This food can’t help us by just sitting hear on the table or just being in our cupboards or in our fridges. Right? No! This food is no good unless we eat it and digest it.
The truth is: you can starve in a room full of food if you don’t eat it.
I’m been thinking about this lately and I’ve realized that many Christ-followers have spiritual anorexia. They’re starving themselves from God’s word and they’re in total denial about it.
They go for weeks, months – some even for years without ever feeding on God’s Word, themselves. The only time they ever “taste it” is on Sundays when someone else feeds them.
What I’m about to tell you might sound strange, but it’s true…
It’s good to have your own a Bible. But God’s goal isn’t to have his truth in a book.
He wants it in our heads, in our hearts and lived out in our lives! If it’s just locked in some book form it’s useless. It has to be lived out!
Some of you might not know this, but…
Most people in the Bible days didn’t own a Bible! They had to memorize it – “store it up in their hearts” – if they wanted to take it with them.
Actually, most people, even in later times, didn’t have their own copy of the Bible.
It wasn’t until Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400’s that people later started being able to have their own personal copy.
TWO COOL FACTS ABOUT THIS I THOUGHT YOU’D WANT TO KNOW:
- The Gutenberg Bible was the first book to ever be printed.
- In the time of King Edward I, in 1250, it took the earnings of a day laborer for fifteen years to purchase a manuscript copy of the entire Bible.
Now you can get a copy of the full Bible for $4.49 from Christian Book Distributors!
Not only that, but the good thing nowadays is you can not only have a personal copy of the Bible, but can have the Bible in many different formats…
For people who are readers you can have it in a book like this, or on your computer, or on a website (Studylight.org).
If you don’t like to read you can have it an audio version - on your Ipod or on a CD.
Since the Bible comes in many different formats, none of us have any excuse to not read or listen to it!
If we want to grow as Christ-followers we need to read and know God’s word.
- It’s our Spiritual Food
Just like physical food feeds the physical body, the Bible is the spiritual food that feeds the spirit. We all know it’s not healthy to just live off of snacks. We need to have full meals. It’s the same with God’s word. We can’t be spiritually healthy by just tasting a little bit here and there. Reading Christians books is a good thing to do, but it’s not the same as reading the Bible.
Amy Carmichael said it like this, “Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from the streams that flow from the Well.”
We need to learn to feed ourselves just like a kid needs to. Leroy Eims, tells this story The Lost Art of Disciple Making.
One spring our family was driving from
to Fort Lauderdale . As far as the eye could see, orange trees were loaded with fruit. When we stopped for breakfast, I ordered orange juice with my eggs. "I'm sorry," the waitress said. "I can't bring you orange juice. Our machine is broken." At first I was dumbfounded. We were surrounded by millions of oranges, and I knew they had oranges in the kitchen--orange slices garnished our plates. What was the problem? No juice? Hardly. We were surrounded by thousands of gallons of juice. The problem was they had become dependent on a machine to get it. Christians are sometimes like that. They may be surrounded by Bibles in their homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday morning preaching service, they would have no nourishment for their souls. The problem is not a lack of spiritual food--but that many Christians haven't grown enough to know how to get it for themselves. Tampa, Florida
If we don’t learn how to feed ourselves from God’s Word, we’ll never know how to survive and grow as a believer! The Bible’s not only our Spiritual food….
- It’s our Spiritual Weapon
That’s why we need to read large amounts of it In Eph. Paul is talking about spiritual warfare and he says, “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” God’s word is the main thing we can use to fight back from spiritual attack.
I’m a pretty positive person. I don’t really get down or depresssed very much and when I do I don’t stay that way long. Yesterday morning, for some reason, I noticed that out of nowhere that I felt down, impatient and angry.
It was supposed to be my day to hang out with Jack and Will and I didn’t want to stay like this, so I started reminding myself of some truth from God’s word. It didn’t happen right away, but later I noticed the change - I didn’t feel down or mad anymore.
We’ve got to load up our minds with God’s word so we have ammo to fight back and defend ourselves! There’s another reason we need to feed on large amounts of God’s Word that closely connected to this one…
- It’s our Truth Detector
The Bible helps us to know what’s true and real if life. It gives us God’s view and His opinion of life. It gives us a behind the scenes view of things. It’s a mirror. It shows us the end – where this world is eventually heading.
Revelation 12:9 it says, “9This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.”
The devil is the deceiver of the world. When we all see him one day we’ll be shocked at who and what he is and how he fooled us and all the world with his lies and deceptions.
Not knowing the truth is one of the things that can cause the most damage in our lives! It can cause us to settle for less in life, cause us to fall into sin and could even cause us to give up in walk with God.
That’s why we need to know the Truth from God’s Word. Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Jesus used the word to defend against the devils lies. To everything the devil said Jesus kept answering, “It is written…” We can’t defend ourselves if we don’t even know when we’re being lied to.
There’s no way to grow, defend ourselves from spiritual attack or really know the truth about life without feeding regularly on God’s word!
When we begin to feed on regular amounts of God’s word it will literally change who we are, how we think and how we live.…
There’s a story from a magazine called, Signs of the Times that shows this that I want you to hear it... One of the most dramatic examples of the Bible's divine ability to transform men and women involved the famous mutiny on the "Bounty." Following their rebellion against the notorious Captain Bligh, nine mutineers, along with the Tahatian men and women who accompanied them, found their way to
But the rest of the story is even more remarkable. About this time,
The peace and love that
This simple change in our lives, of feeding more on God’s Word, WILL have a powerful affect!
You’ll be a stronger Christ-follower and we’ll be a stronger church. Our discussions will be more powerful in our smaller gatherings. The advice you give to your friends will be more life-giving. You’ll be wiser. You’ll know God more.
In Psalm 119: 97-104 it says…
” 97 Oh, how I love your law! I think about it all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for your commands are my constant guide.
99 Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your decrees.
100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.
101 I have refused to walk on any path of evil, that I may remain obedient to your word.
102 I haven't turned away from your laws, for you have taught me well.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste; they are sweeter than honey.
104 Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.
God’s word is such an amazing gift. I want us to really realize this. I want us to fall in love with God’s word again – or for the first time. When we do, no one will have to convince us to read it and no one will be able to stop us from reading it.
Robert L. Sumner, tells a story of someone with this type of love for God’s word in his book The Wonders of the Work of God. He says…
A man in
That’s how much I want to love God’s Word. That’s how much I want you to love God’s word! No matter where you’re at in your daily intake of God’s Word, from not reading it at all to reading it daily, I want to encourage you to go to the next level.
If you’re not reading the Bible I want to encourage you to make it your goal to read 1 chapter a day. If when you’re reading you really get into a section of scripture you can always read more. If it’s really deep you can always read less, but make it your goal to usually read a chapter a day. Start in the New Testament and keep reading until you get to the end. Do the same with the Old Testament
If you’re already reading the Bible, I want to encourage you to start memorizing it. This gives you God’s Word it in a “to go” format. It gives you instant access to it whenever you want!
Noted Bible teacher E. Schuyler English told of Michael Billester, a Bible distributor who visited a small town in
shortly before World War II. Billester gave a Bible to a villager, who was converted by reading it. The new believer then passed the Book on to others. The cycle of conversions and sharing continued until 200 people had become believers through that one Bible. Poland
When Billesetr returned in 1940, this group of Christians met together for a worship service in which he was to preach the Word. He normally asked for testimonies, but this time he suggested that several in the audience recite verses of Scripture.
One man stood and said, "Perhaps we have misunderstood. Did you mean verses or chapters?" These villagers had not memorized a few select verses of the Bible but whole chapters and books. Thirteen people knew Matthew, Luke, and half of Genesis. Another person had committed to memory the Psalms. That single copy of the Bible given by Billester had done its work. Transformed lives bore witness to the power of the Word.
Memorizing God’s word is getting into your head. It’ll begin to get you thinking about God’s Word. It will influence your thoughts. But there’s the next level…
MEDITATE ON IT
If you’ve already memorized some of God’s word, then I want to encourage you to start meditating on it. In Psalm 119:148 the psalmist says, “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”
Bible meditation is not the same as Eastern Meditation. It doesn’t mean to empty our minds, but fill them with God’s word, his truth, his qualities. Doing this really helps you to really digest and get the most out of a passage of scripture.
The word for “meditation” actually has the same meaning as a cow “ruminating” or chewing it’s cud.
A cow has one stomach with four compartments. They swallow the food into the first compartment which starts digesting it, then they regurgitate their food, and “chew the cud”. Then they swallow it into the next compartment which digests it more. Then they spit it up and do it again until it goes through all 4 compartments.
This helps them get the most out of hard to digest foods like grass. A cow spends a lot of time eating – up to 8 hours per day.
When you meditate on God’s word you chew up and think about different parts of a verse or passage. Ex. Luke 1:37- For nothing is impossible with God… For nothing is impossible with God… For nothing is impossible with God.
When I was in my early 20’s I heard a guy named Bill Gothard challenge people to meditate on large portions on scripture. I have a pretty good memory and it’s
not hard for me to memorize things, so I decided to try it.
But I needed someone to keep me accountable and to check to see how I was doing. I couldn’t think of any friend of mine who was Christ-follower to help me with this, so I asked my friend Harlan, who was Jewish, if he’d help me. I asked him if he check regularly and make sure I was doing it and also listen to me say the verses to make sure I memorized them the right way.
Surprisingly, he said, “Yes!” We’d drive 4 nights a week to
Harlan would have my Bible open on his lap and I’d start quoting the verses I was memorizing. I’d always start at the beginning each time, so by the time I memorized all of chapter 5, Harlan would have sat through hearing the chapter over and over.
The funny thing was that Harlan heard the verses so much that he’d noticed if I left out a part! He’d say something like, “Didn’t you leave out the part, ‘unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the
Meditating on scripture really changed how I knew “The Sermon on the Mount”. It caused me to see the thought patterns in what Jesus was teaching! It will help you to know God and his truth in deeper ways.
If you read God’s word regularly, and already have memorized God’s word, then I’d really encourage you to begin meditating on God’s Word.
Start by just meditating on a verse or two, then try some other verse or two. After that, start to meditate on large passages of scripture. Tell me what happens when you do it!
There’s one last level that actually any of us can start doing right away.
I want to encourage all of us to apply what we’re reading in our lives. Pick one thing you’re learning from God’s word and decide to apply it for the next week. That’s it! See what happens.
God wants us to read his Word, know it, memorize it, and live it!
Close: This is an amazing book. There’s no other book like it in the world. One unknown person described it like this…
An unknown writer said, "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to
God made sure that the Bible has survived through history, so we could have it in our hands today. We need to make sure we have it in our hearts and apply it in our lives.
My old pastor used to say, “Sin will keep you from this book and this book will keep you from sin.”
The last few Sundays, I’ve encouraged us to do just two simple things:
1. Make a list of friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, or classmates who don’t know Jesus and begin praying for them regularly.
2. And today, I’ve encouraged you read, know, memorize, meditate and live God’s word.
I know these are simple things, but don’t be fooled by how simple they are.
Everyone wants some complicated secret to success, but if there were any – most people we wouldn’t do them, cause they’d be too hard or too complicated.
The fact is that it’s the simple truths when they’re actually applied that cause massive, explosive results! I believe these two simple things can cause HUGE change in us individually and as a church. But we’ll only see these results if we DO them.
That’s why I want to challenge to do this:
Find someone who can keep you accountable and who will ask you about whether you’re reading God’s Word and praying for your list of 3-4 friends.
It can be someone who’s a part of the smaller gathering you’re part of, a sibling, or a spouse or any friend (even a non-believer).
All I ask is that they’re someone who will check with you weekly about how you’re doing. You could do this in person, by phone or email. (in person is best, but on the phone or by email works too).
We’ll check in about this in our next smaller gathering in two Sundays and see how everybody’s doing with this. Let’s pray…