Message by Michael Hearn
January 13, 2019
Practicing the way of Jesus replaces the old destructive habit of thought with new life-giving habits.
Each spiritual discipline gently moves us towards Christ – to look more and more like Christ. The transformation in our lives is God’s work of grace in us.
The Word of God
According to research…most Christians say they realize the Bible has values that would help us in our spiritual health, but they just don’t read it.
- 57% read their Bibles less than four times a year.
- 26% of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week).
- To convince people the importance of studying the word of God: No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the study of God’s word.
- The most common push back is I do not have the time…I find this to be untrue…they do have the time…this is more of an excuse. The issue is “do they think this is important enough to set aside the time?”
- Insecurity of not knowing how.
- Fear of what they might find.
When we look at the life of Christ, we see that Jesus practiced the discipline of knowing the Word of God.
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Jesus quotes the Old Testament all the time – Deuteronomy 10; Psalms 11; Isaiah 8; Exodus 7 – He referenced Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and most the of prophets.
Two ways to think about the Bible:
- As a textbook – impersonal
- As a love letter – personal
How do we look at the Bible? A textbook or love letter? How you view it will impact your desire to read it and how you read it.
No matter how busy we are in life, we must remember that the most transforming practice available to us is the practice of the intake of the Word of God.
The Study of God’s Word is the primary vehicle to help us become more like Christ.
Three major reasons that we should spend time in the Word of God:
- To Know God. We learn and understand God through His creation and His Word.
- To be transformed, to grow in how we reflect Christ, to be renewed in thought and action into the image and likeness of Christ.
Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. I Timothy 4:7 The Word is primarily God talking to us
- To hear from God. God’s primary way of speaking to us is through His Word.
Many of us are asking God to speak to us in prayer. We are seeking answers in how to live, forgive, raise children, etc.
Perhaps the reason you don’t have the answer you are looking for is that you are not going the place where He has already given the answer to you.
- Prayer is primarily us talking to God.
- The Word is primarily God talking to us.
How do we begin to study?
- Hearing the Word of God.
This is simple… just to hear it… to listen to it.
Jesus taught: But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28
- This happens regularly when we attend church and hear the word of God sung, read, and taught.
- Hearing, even if not believed, changes the mind… this is like media today… or being exposed to violence in games.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. I Timothy 4:13
18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, Deuteronomy 11:18-20
They heard the word all the time…in a world of thousands of voices; we need to hear God’s more…
- Reading the Word of God.
Jesus had an expectation for people to have read the Scriptures.
He assumed those who claimed to be the people of God would read the Word of God.
Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone. Mark 12:10
He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, Matthew 19:4
Jesus taught the Word of God is essential for all of life.
The Bible is the literal word of God and is sufficient for all of life.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
There is nothing else you need beside the Word of God to know how to live the Christians life.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
You do not need a “new word” from God to live life; the Word of God that you already have is sufficient.
A few ideas to start making Bible reading into a rhythm of life
You can read the Bible through in 72 hours…
Perspective – this is less time than the average American spends watching tv each month. Teenagers spend up to 9 hours a day with their cell phones in their hands.
- You can read through the Bible in a month if you fasted TV and media
- You can read the Bible through in a year in 15 minutes a day for a year
- You can read the Bible through in 3 years at 5 minutes a day
It takes discipline to find the time and commit the time.
- Read the Bible daily. Through in a year.
- Read a book a day for a month.
AVERAGE READING TIME
- Ruth – 15m
- Song of Solomon 20 min
- Lamentations – 20m
- Joel – 12m
- Obadiah – 4m
- Jonah – 8m
- Micah – 20m
- Nahum – 8m
- Habakkuk – 9m
- Zephaniah – 10m
- Haggai – 7m
- Malachi – 11
- Galatians – 20m
- Ephesians – 20m
- Philippians – 14m
- Colossians – 13m
- 1 Thessalonians – 12m
- 2 Thessalonians – 7m
- 1 Timothy – 16m
- 2 Timothy – 11m
- Titus – 7m
- Philemon – 3m
- James – 16m
- 1 Peter – 16m
- 2 Peter – 10m
- 1 John – 16m
- 2 John – 2m
- 3 John – 2m
- Jude – 4m
Reading to Learn 101:
- The first time you read to understand the book
- The second time you read the same content to interpret the book
- The third time to evaluate the book
- Each time you engage the material, a layer is pulled back and exposed
The best time to read the Bible is when it can help you the most.
- In the morning before the day begins.
- Or the evening to mediate as you go to bed and wake up reviewing it
- Studying the word of God
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. Ezra 7:10
- Set his heart
- To study the word of God
- To do it! OBEY
- Submit to Scripture
- Not make it what he wanted it to say, but submit to what it said
- Teach it… everyone is called to teach the Bible…to children, new converts, etc.
Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments 2 Timothy 4:13
Paul asks Timothy for his cloak so his body can be warmed and the word of God so his mind and heart could be warmed.
The basic difference between reading and study a smaller section of reading is focused time and a pen and paper.
A few ideas to start making this a Bible Study into a rhythm of life
- Study the Bible daily. Give yourself a 30–minute minimum to have enough time to get deeper in thought.
- Study the Bible weekly. Read the Bible daily but set 2 hours a week aside the same time to study one section of Scripture. This reduces ramp up time that is required each day and allows for more in–depth study.
How to begin to study the Bible:
- Right Now Media
- Our Bible studies
- Life Groups
- Write down observations about the text.
- Record questions – writing them down releases your mind and allows you to make sure you come back to them.
- Use cross-references if your Bible has them. If not, get a Bible that does. Look up the references that may relate to the section you have questions about.
- Write down what you learn.
- Look up key words in a concordance to understand.
- Do a word study for Greek and Hebrew words.
- Do a character study or a topical study (looking up all words on subject/topic, i.e. all passages with “forgiveness” or “love”)
- Book studies
- Grammar, history, context, culture, and geography
- Surround the text in context of original audience and setting
- Theology and Doctrine
- How does this section of scripture correlate with the rest of Scripture.
- Connect the dots on doctrine and theology
The deeper you mine, the richer the experience.
The biggest difference between reading and study is the amount of time you engage with a single piece of content.
The longer you interact with something the more you will understand it. The more you understand, it the more the subject shapes you. The more you are shaped, the more transformation takes place.
It would be like doing one rep of a weight that is good, but doing 15 reps and 3 sets of the same weight breaks you down and transforms you at the cellular level.
We come to Scripture to be changed, not to amass information.
The central purpose of studying the Word of God is not doctrinal purity (though it is essential) but inner transformation.
Our goal is to find out what the author is saying under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and submit and focus our lives to that truth.
- We must not be determined to see what we want to see, or make it say what we want it to say, but read it how God intended for it to be read.
The ultimate goal of reading the Bible:
That God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation. John Piper
Reading the Bible toward the understanding that all creation was made for the ultimate purpose of glorifying God.
…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Reading the Bible toward the understanding that the intense worship of God’s worth and beauty is the ultimate aim of all his work and word.
“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16
Reading the Bible to see the supreme worth and beauty of Christ…to see Christ.
…how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, Ephesians 3:3-4
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:8-10
- To see the glory of Christ without seeing His body!
- Christ is the center of everything
- What is revealed to us we revel to others! Christ and Christ crucified!!!
- Riches of Christ
To see Christ…When your eyes see!
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5
- Reading the Bible to savor Christ’s excellence above all things.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalms 34:8
Evil is forsaking happiness in God
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13
Reading the Bible for the goal of being transformed by the seeing and savoring the likeness of the beauty of Christ.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Reading the Bible toward the consummation of all things …so that through the power of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification, more and more people would be drawn into the worshipping family of God until the bride of Christ – across all centuries and cultures is complete in number and beauty.
And they sang a new song, saying, worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 5:9
We study to see…
“That God’s infinite worth and beauty would be exalted in the everlasting, white-hot worship of the blood bought bride of Christ from every people, language, tribe, and nation.” John Piper
If your growth in godliness were measured by the quality of your Bible intake, what would be the result?
Many Christians today are stunted in their spiritual growth as a result of ignorance of the truth of the Word of God.
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. John 17:14-17
God’s plan for sanctifying us and transforming our lives is through the truth of His Word.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrew 4:12
Do not be overwhelmed or feel like it is too late or your failure is too much…
Where can you start?
Remember God’s love for you is not based on anything you have done or will do.
Remember – Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13
Remember today can be the beginning
- You will not always have some emotionally charged experience
- You will not always understand what you are reading
- You are not alone if it feels difficult
LET the word of God crash over your soul, heart, and mind …
You will probably be the last to realize its effects… others will see the change before you do.