Receive the Word of God – Sermon by Marshal Blessing

The Word of God! It’s good for you.

Receive the Word of God – Sermon by Marshal Blessing

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Word of GodThe Bible is the inspired word of God.  It reveals Christ, instructs our faith, and shines the light of truth into our lives.  But many Christians have gotten away from regularly reading the Bible.  God’s Word should come first in our lives.  We should read and study the Bible as if our spiritual life depended on it.  Every day we need to receive the Word of God.

 

Receive the Word of God – Sermon by Marshal Blessing from Redemption Church on Vimeo.

 

Receive the Word of God

Sermon Notes by Marshall Blessing

Redemption Church Plano Tx

Everyone is an expert in something.  It may be cars, it may be crafts, it may be sports statistics.

What are you an expert in?  What is the most important thing in your life?  Do those two match up?

Welcome

I have an important message for you today.  I’ve been thinking about it for 2 ½ years.

It could be a little challenging, but we’ll try to keep it fun with some congregation participation.

Let’s practice.  Complete this sentence:  IN THE BEGINNING_________

***********************Tech team, wait for me to say the answer***************************

John 1:1 NIV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So far this year we’ve been talking about putting first things first.

Today, I want to talk about something else that we should put first; something else that needs to be a priority in our lives:  Reading the Bible

Read the Bible

Hopefully it is not an issue for the members of Redemption Church, but across America many people who identify as Christians have gotten away from regularly reading the Bible.

Quick show of hands: How many of you have a Bible at home?  How many of you have access to a computer or a phone with internet access, and can read Bible passages online?

Okay, no more hands; just answer to yourself.  How many of you read anything out of the Bible before you arrived for church here today.  Anyone watching online, have you read anything out of the Bible today?

We need to be reading the Bible regularly, but more and more Christians don’t.

In a recent issue of News Week the cover article was about “Biblical Literacy.”  The article was actually terrible, but it referenced a poll by the Pew Research Center from 2010 that found that Atheists, Agnostics, and Christians demonstrated the same level of Biblical knowledge when asked questions about the Bible and Christianity.

But it gets worse.  A report released last year by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society found that while around 75% of Americans consider themselves Christian, only 37% read the Bible once a week!

That’s terrible.  We need to do better than that.  So this year I am calling on this congregation, and anyone watching online, if you can hear my voice, make it a priority to read the Bible.  Read the Bible regularly.  Make it a part of your daily routine.  Turn to someone and tell them, “Read the Bible.” Amen.

This is God’s Word, and it is for you.

2 Timothy 3:16 NIV All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness,

And yet we often ignore it or neglect it.  This is a gift from God and we leave it collecting dust.

The truth is We Need God’s Word

Turn to someone and tell them, “We need God’s Word.”

Why?

We need it because it instructs our faith.

Have you ever tried to play a board game without reading the instructions?  It’s possible, you can try to copy what everyone else is doing, but you’re probably not going to do very well.  What is the objective? What are the rules?  What are you supposed to do?

That won’t work for our faith life.  You can’t be a Christian by mimicking what other Christians do.  You need to understand why we do things.  You need to have a relationship with God.  You need to get to know Him.  And this is His Word.  These are His instructions to us on how to live out our faith.

Psalm 119:9 NIV How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.

Psalm 119:11 NIV I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105 NIV Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path.

If you don’t know the Bible, you’re walking around in the dark.

Do you need direction?  Have you ever wanted to hear from God?  Well, this is His Word!  You can hear from God today.  Open it up and start reading.

Now, the Bible is not a magic crystal ball, where you ask a question, open it up, and the first verse you read will be the answer.  It doesn’t work like that.  But there is a lot of wisdom in the Bible, and it can give you direction in your life if you will familiarize yourself with it.

How many of us feel we need wisdom?  How many of us could use more wisdom?  I know I could.
There are wisdom books in the Bible.  There is a whole book of advice from the wisest man who ever lived.  Read Proverbs.

We live in a broken world.  We live in a battle zone.  We were born into enemy territory.
But God has equipped us.  He has given us a powerful weapon.

Ephesians 6:17 NIV Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

This is your weapon against the enemy.

At the beginning we watched the video of the soldier assembling and disassembling his rifle.  That is his weapon.  He knows it.  He has studied it inside and out because in combat his life depends on it.

Do you know God’s word that well?  Why not?  This is God’s Word.  Your spiritual life may depend on what is in here.  We need to take it apart and put it back together.  We need to work and study and become an expert.

And as with any weapon, we need to handle it appropriately.
Remember our memory verse from last November?

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Do your best.  How can you say you are appropriately handling the Word if you don’t spend time reading it?

We need to handle it correctly.  This is a weapon for use against the enemy.  Other people are not your enemy.  Sometimes Christians use the Bible to beat other people over the head.  That is not handling it appropriately.

We need to be careful with it.  It’s powerful, and it can be dangerous.

Hebrews 4:12 NIV For the Word of God is active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

You have to be careful with a double-edged sword, because it cuts both ways.  It’s easy to cut yourself.

And sometimes the enemy can try to use it against you.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan tempted him by quoting scripture.

Matthew 4:6 NIV “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus knew what that passage meant in context, and that Satan was twisting it.  And Jesus was able to respond by quoting scripture.

Matthew 4:7 NIV Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The world loves to twist scripture to try to throw us off course.  If we don’t know God’s Word, how will we respond when someone throws a verse at us out of context?

Psalm 137:9 NIV Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

How do you know that what I’m preaching is correct?  You need to know what you believe.  You need to know what the Bible says, so that you will not be tossed back and forth by every wind of new teaching.

The Bible is a sword to cut through the nonsense.
We live in the information age.  Moment by moment we are swimming in information.  Not all of it is good or accurate or beneficial.  God’s word provides a lamp through it all.

Jesus said a time is coming when even the elect might be deceived.
If you don’t want to be deceived, then you need to know what God’s Word says.

You need to keep it with you.  You need to have it on your heart.

The Bible is easier to access than ever.  Most of us have a computer or a smart phone.  But how often do we pause in conversation to look up a Bible verse?  It should be part of our conversation, and we need to be able to draw upon it faster than we can look it up.

Having it in your pocket does no good if you never look at it.  And what will you do in a situation where you don’t have access to your phone or a Bible?  There are parts of the world where the Bible is illegal.  It may seem unlikely, but one day you could find yourself in a place where you don’t have access to a Bible.  We take our Bibles for granted, but what if we didn’t have them?  What would you do then?

There are stories about the POW’s in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  They weren’t allowed to have a Bible, but they assembled almost an entire Bible by putting together the parts and the passages that each soldier could remember.  If you were there, how much would you contribute?

We Need God’s Word because our knowledge is lacking.

How much do we know?

The polls I talked about earlier asked people basic Bible questions to measure their level of Biblical knowledge.

Of the people who consider themselves knowledgeable about the Bible, less than half could name the first five books of the Bible.

How is our Biblical knowledge?  Let’s try a pop quiz.  Just shout out the answer.  Last month our scripture memory verse was from 2 Chronicles, is that in the Old or the New Testament?

Okay.  You don’t shout it out, but can you name the first five books of the Bible?  Can you list the Ten Commandment? How about the fruits of the Spirit?

Years ago this would have been considered common knowledge.        – Bible Lotto –

These things may seem like trivia, but they can all benefit your life.  When I was a child I memorized the books of the Bible for a Boy Scout project.  That may seem like complete trivia, but it has been very helpful when I’m trying to look up a passage in Ezra, or Titus, or Habakuk.  Every word is useful…

Again, everyone is an expert in something.  What are you an expert in?  Sports?  Celebrity gossip?  Politics?  What is most important to you?  Is God important enough in your life that you are willing to spend some time and effort reading and learning the Bible?

Now, let me clarify.  I’m not saying you need to become a Bible expert or a Bible scholar.  I don’t consider myself an expert on the Bible.  But we do need to be making an effort to learn it, to internalize it, to receive God’s Word.

How do we do that?

The first step is to Read the Bible

This was where the Israelites began to have a problem.  They received the Law.  When they went into the Promised Land they were supposed to set up giant stones and write it in plaster on the stones.  They were supposed to read it to each other every year.  The king was supposed to hand copy it himself.

Instead, they put the tablets in a box that no one was allowed to touch.  They fell into idolatry.
Then, decades later, they found a copy of the Law in the temple.  They read it, and they freaked out.
“If this is what we are supposed to be doing then we are in big trouble!”

It doesn’t matter that you carry it with you if you don’t read it.

If you don’t like reading, or you don’t have time, then take a cue from Pastor Fluitt and listen to it.
How much time do you spend in your car?  Get the Bible on CD or download audio files.

You need to read the Bible.  If you have never read the Bible all the way through, then I encourage you to do so.

Daily devotions and select passages are alright, but they can be incomplete.

In the same way, don’t count on us, the Pastoral staff, to give you all the Biblical knowledge you need.  We only get an hour on Sundays, and maybe an hour on Wednesdays if you come to Connect Group.  We try to give you useful Biblical knowledge, we’ll meet with you for Bible studies if you want, but even at that, there just isn’t enough time.  You need to read it and study it for yourself.

Does the version matter?  People have different opinions on the best version.  We don’t advocate a specific version.  No version is perfect.  Among the most common translations, you are better off reading any of them than not reading the Bible at all.  Find one you can understand.  Read multiple translations.  You’re not done when you have read the Bible.  We need to keep reading it and keep studying it.

The Bible can be challenging to understand.  But there are study aides.  There are things to help you understand, just don’t think that reading study guides and paraphrased versions are a replacement for reading the actual text.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit will help us understand.  Pray to receive the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help you understand.

We would be glad to help you, if we can.  If you need a reading plan, or you have questions, we would love to help you read and learn the Bible.

One of the best ways to learn something is to share it with others.

Share God’s Word                                                                ***MUSIC***

Find someone and read it together.  Discuss what you’re reading.  Iron sharpens iron.

Read it with your family.  Especially with your children.  Jessica read to Lazarus before he was born.

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

One of the most correct ways to handle the word of truth is to pass it on to other.  It is not meant for us to keep to ourselves.

You have to pass it on to your children, make it a part of their lives.  I remember my mom reading Bible stories to me when I was little.

Share God’s Word with others.  Share it with you families, with your relatives, with your friends, with your co-workers.

It is your responsibility to Share God’s Word with others.  You don’t have to evangelize; hand out Bibles.

But you can’t effectively share what you haven’t received.  So, first things first, I encourage you all to put God’s Word first in your life.  Make an effort, starting now, to read God’s Word regularly.  We’re going to make a point to encourage you in this throughout the year.

We do three things when we gather.  We worship.  We receive the Word of God.  I encourage you to continue to receive God’s Word throughout your week, throughout this month, throughout the rest of your life.

And the third thing we do is we talk to God.  These altars are open.

 

Author: Marshal Blessing

Marshal Blessing serves Redemption as Care Pastor.

He is blessed to be married to Jessica Blessing and father to Lazarus.