I am not sure what I did yesterday when I put my blog on Facebook, but it ended up being published 3 times!😖 I will try and do it right tonight.
Psalms 119:72 says, “The law of Your mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
And Psalms 119:127 repeats the principle, “Therefore I love Your commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold.”
Several different Pastors whose books I read have said that the love of the world and the stuff in it is the most difficult barrier for those in our churches to becoming faithful, committed, growing, and serving disciples. They have to work lots of hours to earn the money to buy the toys, and then they have to miss worship services often so the can play with it. It is a very easy path to get started on, and it seems to be very easy to justify being gone from church weekend after weekend.
Reading the Word of God each and every day is a powerful inoculate against the disease of worldliness. God’s Word gives wisdom to think right about life but it also is the nutrition of many character traits including contentment.
Those in our church who are committed to reading th Bible every day every day at a pace that gets them through the Bible in in year.
I have identified 26 different character traits that I can work on growing in my soul. They are all important but several are super important because without them none of the others would exist in us let alone grow. Endurance as I wrote about several weeks ago is numero uno as far as I understand the Bible and right next to endurance is Self-Control, though at times I will switch them around. They are very related and one without the other is impossible. Our three enemies are Satan and his demons, the world and all the stuff that is in it, and our own flesh. Without self-Control those three enemies will win every time. We need self-control to control what we speak out of our mouth, the New Testament book of James says if we can control our tongue we are a perfect person. We need to control our thinking and grow to the place that we are consistently taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We need to control our emotions, especially our anger. There are a dozen more things that each of us needs to grow in exercising self control over, but it is very difficult and so slow.
Self-control is like a muscle, it can be very strong or it can be very flabby. We grow strong in self-control by exercising that muscle until we are strong enough to whip all of our enemies at once! One of the most effective weight training regimens to becoming super strong as a disciple of Jesus is reading your Bible everyday. Our flesh hates reading the Bible, and when we choose to keep our goal and commitment of reading the Bible everyday even when we are sleepy, tired, busy, whatever self- control grows rapidly.
One of the biggest complaints that I get from people as I try and motivate them to read the Bible daily with some significant time given to it is that they don’t understand most of what they read. One of the obvious solutions is to have some commentaries and Bible Dictionaries identified and available that are written so farmers, mechanics, and construction workers can understand them that I can loan, give, or recommend to them. That does help with much of the geographical, cultural, and historical background information that is part of any passage of scripture. But the most important thing needed is to be taught, led, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit as they read.
Psalms 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.
Psalms 119:27 Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.
Psalms 119:34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart.
So, who does the Holy Spirit teach? Anybody? Everybody? My answer to that question is those who read the Bible faithfully, with a high level of commitment demonstrated by time, and a strong desire to understand in order to grow, obey, and serve.
I tell people to read faithfully and they will understand a little bit, and the next time through it they will get a little bit more, and then a little bit more. Every bit of understanding lays a foundation to help understand more that is deeper. There comes a time after faithfully reading that an insight, understanding, and wisdom of the Word comes and then the person not only reads with understanding but teaches what they learn with power and clarity. It takes time, faithfulness, diligence, and patience that most don’t have, but those who do will be like the Psalmist in chapter 1, “his delight is in the law of the Lord”.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say, rejoice”. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing”. Those verses are commands, not just good suggestions, but very few people keep them or even try.
In our culture most people grumble and complain just about everything, it is the basis and content of most discussions. If a person can be super positive and rejoice all the time and never complain, grumble or be negative about anything they will be very attractive, and everyone will notice them. To maintain that discipline of speaking and acting will be very difficult in light of everyone around us.
A very positive blessing that comes from faithfully reading the Bible, God’s Word, is that we will become more and more this kind of person. Being a person who rejoices always and never grumbles is more than a discipline, though it starts there, it is a character quality that we have become on the inside, that is who we are, that is how we think, and that is what we feel.
The molding and shaping of our soul, and becoming a genuine positive person is a process that takes some time as we follow the training regimen that is required to become this kind of person. A key discipline in the training is reading the Bible faithfully, and memorizing and meditating on the truths in it. The power of the living, active and supernatural Word of God moves and shapes us on the inside gradually, and it isn’t that long of a time until we begin to notice this change in our heart. It is so much more enjoyable being a positive person instead of a negative and critical person.
Psalms 119:7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments.
Psalms 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.
Psalms 119:62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You Because of Your righteous ordinances.
I am preaching this weekend at JBC, Saturday night and both Sunday morning sermons, and I am so nervous. Preaching the Bible is way more than just giving a speech or a motivational talk. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, and God’s will and plan is that it is taught. It is also His will and desire that it is taught well, and that the one doing the teaching has worked very hard in the preparation to speak to people about the truth revealed in His Word.
Colossians 1:25 and 28-29; Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, ….We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
1 Timothy 4:13 and 16, Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching……Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
The world, even believers tend to have a low view of preaching, but it is God’s will and method, it is what He uses to cause growth in those in His family. If we are the preacher/teacher we have a huge responsibility put on us by God, and if we are the one being preached to we need to humbly acknowledge that God is in charge, and that He has chosen to use the “foolishness of preaching” to grow people into the character of Christ.
God is sovereign, all wise, and He loves me. He has a plan for my life, and in fact has those plans written in His book for my life. I know that if I live my life in the center of His will things will go much better than if I don’t. I also realize that as a father, grandfather and as a pastor that what I do and how I live my life has an impact on others. I lead a church family, and God has a plan for our church. If as the leader, I make choices that are at the center of His will JBC will be a blessed church, but if I don’t things won’t go well.
I have often wished that knowing God’s will for my life was as simple as receiving an email each morning with clear instructions, then the challenge would be simply obeying or disobeying. But discovering what God’s will is for my life, my family, and my church is not easy, but obviously possible. A major key in knowing God’s plan is faithfully reading the Bible.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalms 25:4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
Psalms 25:9 He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.
Psalms 27:11 Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a level path Because of my foes.
Psalms 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Often people come to me for counsel and advice on a decision that they are faced with. My question to them is “Are you asking because you want to be where a God wants you, or simply so life goes well”? I then ask about their Bible Reading discipline, and encourage them to establish this discipline in their life because many more significant choices will come up in their life, and they will want to know what to do. When we are spending time with Him in His Word we will know what His perfect plan for our lives is.
I restored a 1949 Ford pickup, and recently sold it to a fellow in Indiana. It had a V8 Flathead in it which came stock at 100 hp. When I was rebuilding it I put a Mercury crank in it, which added a quarter inch to the stroke. I had it bored out .015 of an inch over so the cubic inches went from 239 to 285. I replaced the stock cam with an Isky high lift racing cam, I put in electronic ignition, and 2 Stromberg carburetors. The result of all that kid stuff and masterful mechanic work is that the horsepower doubled.
One of the truths of life is that some people’s prayer life is terrible, when they pray nothing happens. God doesn’t answer their prayers, and in fact, the Bible says that some people’s prayers He doesn’t even listen to, their prayer is an abomination to Him. There are reasons that our prayer power goes up or goes down. One of the key reasons is how we are doing in our Bible Reading time. John 15:7 says “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” That is an amazing promise, but the verse starts with “If” meaning there is a condition that we must meet before God does His part. “If my Words abide in you, I wonder how much I would be in the Word beforeI am considered by God to be abiding in His Word. More than most is my guess. I want to be a “high horsepower ” prayer. I put it this way in farmer lingo, in my journal, “If I listen to God, He listens to me, and the more I listen to Him, the more He listens to me”.