Sunday, December 31, 2006

Letting God Reveal Himself to My Heart in 2007

From John 1...

verse 1: In the beginning was the Word and the word was God.

verse 4: In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.

verse 9: That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and then He created light. For God knew that the world would be useless without light. We all enjoy light and without it, what would we do? In our scripture lesson for this morning we find that Jesus is the spiritual Word, He is the spiritual Life and He is the spiritual Light. Without the Word we have no Life and without Life we have no Light.

I want to break these words down for us this morning so that we can see how God can reveal Himself to us in greater way this coming year.

1. The Word of God.

The written word of God is ordained by the Word of God [Jesus]. We need the Word both in our heads and our hearts.

John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God is quick (alive), and powerful (active), and sharper (decisive, to the point) than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

Psalm 18:30. As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

2. The Life from the Word.

I Peter 1:23 - Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

John 3:1-7. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, "Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him."
Jesus answered and said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Nicodemus saith unto him, "How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Jesus answered, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, 'Ye must be born again.'"

I John 5:1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

I John 5:12. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

I Peter 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten ( to bear) us again unto a lively (living ) hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

What happens when we are born again?

1. Being born again quickens the sentiments (emotions) toward God.
2. It vitalizes the thoughts toward God.
3. It energies the will toward God.

The word conveys the suggestion of super abundant life, exuberant energy, an overflowing vitality.

John 1:14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

"Life" as a noun occurs no less than thirty -six times in this Gospel, and eleven of these are in conjunction with the adjective "eternal". Jesus is eternal and this super abundant life that we receive from Him when we are born again is eternal!

3. The Light of the world!

This thought brings us to the last part of verse four. The Life of the Word in its manifestation brings illumination from God!

A. "The life was the light of men." John was in a figurative sense referring to the clear manifestation of the righteousness of God.

John 3:19-21. "And this is the condemnation, that light [Jesus] is come into the world, and men loved darkness [Satan] rather than light [Jesus], because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light [Jesus], neither cometh to the light [Jesus], lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light [Jesus], that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God."

  • There is rejecting the Light.
  • There is accepting the Light.
  • There is reflecting the Light.

B. Walking in the Light.

John 12: 35-36. Then Jesus said unto them, "Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light."

Haldor Lillenas wrote a beautiful song that I love:

What a blessed peace we know as we travel here below,
While we’re walking in the beautiful light of God.
Brighter fairer grows the way as we journey day by day,
While we’re walking in the beautiful light of God.

Like the sunlight from above God reveals His wondrous love,
While we’re walking in the beautiful light of God.
Here redemption’s crimson flow make us whiter than snow,
While we are walking in the beautiful light of God.

Holding sweet communion here with our blessed Lord so dear,
While we're walking in the beautiful light of God.
From all condemnation free, having perfect victory,
While we're walking in the beautiful light of God.

Over mountains rough and steep, thro’ the valleys long and deep,
We are walking in the beautiful light of God.
To the mansions of delight, to the land where comes no night,
We are walking in the beautiful light of God!

While this song is so true, many people do not walk in the light of the Word.

John 1:5. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

C. We are not the light but we are to reflect the Light.

Ephesians 5:8-14. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

God by His word (Jesus) brings us out of darkness into His Light and by that light we reflect His Word by His light in our lives!

Look at Galatians 5:22-25:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

4. What will I do with the Light of His word when I receive it?

The big question I have this morning is what will we do with the light of the Word we have received and what will we do with the Light we will receive this coming year? There is no question about if we will receive new light of the Word this year if we are walking in the light but when we receive it, what will we do with it?

Let me make some suggestions about this Word that brings light!

  • Apply the light of the Word to your Life. Saturate yourself!
  • Live in the Light of the Word in your life. Make it a way of life!
  • Reflect the Light of the Word in your Life. Let your light shine!
  • Enjoy the Light of the Word in your Life! Be blessed!

A Psalm for the new year:

Psalm 119:1-18
You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him.
That’s right- you don’t go off on your own;
you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from the heart;
I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
don’t ever walk off and leave me.
How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
All the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
Than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.
Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
W hat you show me of your miracle-wonders.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

But You Shall Meditate

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. ~ Joshua 1:8

Have you ever gotten a song in your head and you couldn’t get it out? Especially a song that you don’t like? No matter what you do you can’t get that song out of your head. Wouldn’t it be great if that thing that got stuck in our heads was God’s word? It is pleasant and encouraging. It strengthens us and keeps us from sin. Reading His word is good! Memorizing His word is fantastic! But we also need to meditate on God’s word.

Meditate: To focus one’s thoughts, (ponder), to plan or project in the mind (intend), to engage in contemplation (reflect)" ~ Webster
God has commanded us to meditate on His word.
The Psalms are full of accounts of meditation and commands to meditate
Psalm 1:2 - [Blessed is the one] whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night.

Psalm 77:12 - I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.

Psalm 119:48 - I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.
Jesus calls his disciples to consider the ravens and the lilies in Luke 12. The word "consider" means "take a long, feasting look at," or even "meditate on."

I. What is meditation?

A. Definition
The Hebrew word translated "meditate" literally means, "mutter." When one continually mutters God’s word to himself, he is constantly thinking about it. To meditate on God’s word is to slowly and reverently repeat God’s word to yourself. Meditation "involves reflecting on God’s word and ways and applying them to every area of your life." God tells us in Joshua, "you shall meditate…" This doesn’t sound like an option to me! God commands us to meditate on His word. He also tells us the word of God "shall not depart from your mouth."

B. Application
It is not enough to read the word and then forget about it the rest of the day. In order for God’s word to take root in our lives we must make it a part of our entire lives.

James 1:22-25 – "But if you keep looking into God ’s perfect law—the law that sets you free—and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you in doing it."
One of the best ways to be a doer of God’s word is to be a meditator of God’s word. If we are obsessed with a particular hobby we think about it constantly.

How to meditate on Scripture: Meditate on small passages – a couple of verses, one story, or one Psalm. You may want to read it in context first, and the concentrate on a bite-sized piece. Meditation is not about getting through a book in the fastest way possible, it is about stopping to smell the flowers and letting God speak to you through his word.

We need to become obsessed with God’s word!

II. Meditation brings obedience.

A. "...that you may observe to do all that is written in it..."
One of the benefits of meditation is that it helps us to be obedient to God’s word. If you are meditating in the Word, and the Word is constantly on your mind and in your mouth it will keep you from sin.

B. Helps us live right.

Psalm 119:9, 15-16 – How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to your word. I will meditate on your precepts, and contemplate your ways. I will delight myself in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
We can keep ourselves from stumbling into sin by meditating on the Word. If we are meditating on the Word then the lies of the enemy will not have an affect on us.

III. Meditation brings blessing.

...for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous...
"Those who know and obey God’s word and law will be prosperous and successful in that they possess the wisdom to live righteously and to achieve God’s goal for their lives." Being prosperous and successful in life is often times dependent upon knowing the right thing to do. Nowhere do we get more practical advice than God’s word.

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

"Those who seek to live under God’s blessing meditate on God’s word in order to shape their thinking, attitudes, and actions"

  • A tree planted by the water always has everything that it needs.
  • A tree that is planted by the water never dries up.
  • A tree that is planted by the water never worries about the hot sun.

If you want to be like that tree you need to meditate on the word of God. You may not always be successful in the world’s eyes, but you will always be successful in God’s eyes!

C. To be successful in spiritual warfare

Ephesians 6:10-18 - Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

The St. John Factor: Thinking on the Cross

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." (I John 3:1)
1. To think deeply on how much God loves you. "God’s love was manifested by sending His Son" (I John 4:9 ELT).
2. To consider the quality of God’s love. Agape love is "self sacrificing" love.
3. To focus on the source of that love. "The Father " loves us as His children.
4. The focus on the act of love. "While we were sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
5. Considering the recipient of God’s love. John thought of himself "As the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23).
6. The results of God’s love. Jesus was called a Nazarene, we are called "children of God."
7. The outcome of God’s love. "That we should be called the children of God, and we are" (I John 3:1).

Do you meditate on the word of God? Can you remember what you read this morning? Can you remember what you read yesterday morning? Have you considered how what you read applies to your life? Meditating on God’s word just makes God sense.