Biblical Foundations 41: The Word of God 4
Last post we talked about a fish being in one inch of water;
It is alive but not free—all it can do is flop and gasp.
But the free fish, the fish that is truly alive, is the one in deep water, not shallow water, the deep end that allows it to swim and dive and live.
Thus it is the depth of the Bible—all of it, all of Jesus’ teaching, the specific doctrine of Scripture not just the general themes—that makes us alive and, as the Lord Jesus said, it is the Truth that sets us free.
Romans 11:33 NIV:
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
As I thought of that this past week, another thought hit me:
This shortness of breath that we face by trying to survive in one inch of the Bible each week at church and one inch of the Bible (if that!) each week at home, this shortness of breath leads us to reach out and grasp whatever the culture offers us—whether sinful beliefs or sinful actions—whatever sin may tempt us; we reach out for it as a temporary solution for our shortness of breath. Our GASPING leads to our GRASPING.
Shortness of breath is a terrible and difficult way to physically live…
The same is true spiritually since the Bible is literally the breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16); we were created to live on His breath, His Word; just as the lungs take oxygen and spread it to the rest of the body so that the organs can do what they were made to do, as we take in God’s breath through the Bible we are able to do what He made us to do.
The fuel of Christian work isn’t good intentions but Truth, doctrine, the Bible
and the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are spiritual asthmatics walking around carrying,
but not taking in and breathing,
the purest oxygen to give life to our bodies and souls. Lord have mercy on us…
“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years…
…Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.”
This passage consistently references our need to trust God’s understanding, which is revealed throughout the Bible; to submit to God, which means to submit to what He has said; to not be wise in our own eyes (e.g. our own opinions and perspectives and ideas and understanding) but to be wise in God’s Truth. As one 20th century author wrote, it does no good to say you trust someone but not do what they say. Same is true with God.
Again, this attack on doctrine, this undermining of Truth, this attempt to get God’s people to separate following Him and knowing Him from believing & agreeing with & living out what He has said, this has been the devil’s strategy since the garden of Eden. Look at the tempter using it against the Son of God in the desert:
Matthew 4:3-4 NIV:
3 The tempter came to him and said,
“If you are the Son of God [IF it is true what God the Father just said about You at Your baptism],
tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: [NOT “I just had a thought, here’s what I THINK, have you considered?”]
‘Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The devil tempted Jesus to survive on the work of His hand,
But Jesus lived on the Word of His Father.
We don’t feed our mouths by the work of our hands;
We feed our hands by the Word of God’s mouth.
Loved ones, isn’t this enough to get us to dig into the Bible each day?
Jesus said we are to LIVE on EVERY Word that comes from God’s mouth.
We aren’t really alive—just existing—without feeding consistently on the Bible.
We are spiritually emaciated and malnourished and we wonder why our joy is so low…
Last Sunday I started to share with you some Bible passages that the LORD has used in my life over the years to keep me alive, to help me get up off the cold bathroom floor early in the morning and enable me to stand and face the giants banging on the door of my life.
We talked about not just knowing the specific Truth of God in the Bible but wearing it; not thinking that by reading the Bible it will cause our seasons of winter to turn into summer, but by reading & trusting in the Bible it will be like wearing a down coat & other winter gear to go OUT into the cold seasons of winter, those frigid challenges, that we face, and follow the Lord Jesus wherever He leads us, fulfilling His mission for us no matter the cost.
This post we will look at some more of these powerful passages, but we must ask God to see Him, and His Truth, as BIGGER than whatever we are facing. It isn’t enough to just read the Word of God, we must see it as it is…
- If you won some fantastic prize, some week-long all expenses paid trip, the little things in life that normally drive you crazy, those would not bother you today…why? You haven’t changed, but you are now focusing on that bigger prize, that bigger event, that has happened to you, and so you are not irritated by the little things, you are able to even laugh them off and disregard them.
We need God’s help to see the Gospel, His character, what He has done through Christ and what He promises to do because of Christ, as bigger than anything we can face or are facing. Our problems will eventually pass away, but His promises will NOT…
Let’s continue with some more of those Bible passages…
Isaiah 46:3-4,8-10 NIV:
“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
[Oh the encouraging Truth that the LORD has been carrying me since birth, He Personally has been caring for me and taking care of me and keeping me going, even before I believed in Him, even before I repented to Him, even before I had the smallest mustard seed of faith in Him, that He was caring for me and drawing me to Himself, that I was on His radar before He was on mine…oh what an amazing God!]
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you…
[remembering what God has done in the past and what He promises to do in the future will give us the strength to stand TODAY and face whatever may come; that is the “secret” that is no secret! We survive & thrive not by constantly focusing on ourselves and our feelings and our needs and the current moment but by focusing on the unchanging character and promises of God—that can ONLY be done through His Word, the written record of Who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.]
“Remember this, keep it in mind,
take it to heart, you rebels. [Mind AND heart! Both are important! And yes, He just called us rebels!]
9 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
[may we read less the latest books on Christian living and read more the living Word of Christ!]
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
[Nothing surprises God! He is never caught off guard! Finding myself on the cold bathroom floor may have surprised me but it didn’t surprise God. Oh the comfort of that glorious Truth. He has no blind spots!!!]
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
[NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS! His purpose is to glorify Himself and bring us close to Him and to make us holy and He will put us through whatever it takes temporarily in order to have that eternal result! God’s children through faith in Jesus Christ never suffer in vain, never suffer for nothing! Now THAT is some spiritual caffeine in the morning!]
Psalm 23 NIV:
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
[or “there’s nothing I want.” I have everything I need to be satisfied and joyful. Why? Because the LORD is my shepherd, He is in charge of me. My sinfulness is discontent and believes the lie that if I just had x y or z I would be happy! No—remembering that the Lord is my shepherd & living as if it’s true—His presence and promises—that brings joy!]
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake. [for His GLORY!]
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley, [or the valley of the shadow of death!]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; [His presence is the key to surviving & thriving, not His presents!]
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
[in the middle of suffering we can taste & see that theLord is good (not just AFTER the suffering is over)!
Often when we look back on our earthly lives, we have grown closest to Christ Jesus during our times of suffering.]
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
[Our comfort in our pain today on earth is His promise of our pleasure tomorrow in heaven—
living with Him in His house forever!]
Still down on the mat today? Here are some more glorious spiritual smelling salts…
Romans 5:1-8 NIV:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
[since our spiritual rap-sheets are clean, legally spotless, since we have no record of crimes because by receiving the Lord Jesus as our Savior He has taken all of our spiritual felonies and given us all of His perfect deeds of righteousness!]
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
[though we go through many situations where our earthly peace is threatened, we fall back on the unchanging Truth that our heavenly/eternal peace with God can never be shaken. Our lack of peace with earthly situations doesn’t matter when compared to our legal peace with God the Father—our earthly situations will eventually pass away (and our lack of peace with it!), but the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will never pass away, and so our peace with Him will remain forever!]
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
[Though life brings us to our knees the AUTHOR OF LIFE makes us stand up in His grace & Truth & love! We Christians are to be a people who stand in all of the storms of life!]
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
[Seeing Him face to face someday!!! Not “pie in the sky” but faith with our eye! Seeing by sight Him Who we have trusted through the darkest night! And this hope for tomorrow gives us courage to face all our trials today! And just survive in our sufferings, but to glory in them, to celebrate and praise God for them…why? Look below!]
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame [or will not disappoint], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
[Oh isn’t that our deepest struggle as we follow Jesus in difficult times? That terrible thought deep down, “What if it’s all untrue, what if we are suffering for nothing, what if the atheists are right and we should eat and drink and live it up today, for tomorrow we die?
But that is what people were saying 2,000 years ago, and that is why God addresses this—the hopes we have in the things of this world often disappoint us, we work so hard for something, actually get it, and feel let down and disappointed often once we do. The bubble gum of this world loses its flavor fast–we quickly need a new piece of gum.
But the hope we have in Christ, ANXIOUSLY awaiting His return, constantly looking ahead to His return with one eye and focusing the other eye on the plow of our mission, that will never disappoint or put us to shame—no eye has seen no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, who hold firm to Him to the end!
If you find yourself having those doubts as you take up your cross and follow the Lord Jesus, be encouraged—only soldiers who are living in His victory get shot at, only soldiers who are advancing where the enemy doesn’t want them get opposed. Soldiers in the middle of Antarctica are safe–they aren’t going anywhere that threatens the enemy. The very fact that you have those terrible doubts shows that the LORD is leading you; you certainly don’t have those thoughts/doubts about the tooth fairy…
Remember how many times the devil tempted Jesus to doubt His identity, to doubt the Word of His Father—“IF you are the Son of God…” The devil tempted Christ like this because Christ was marching toward Jerusalem, living His mission and being about His Father’s business; if you are tempted to doubt the identity of Christ and the Truth of God’s Word, if you are tempted to find another mission or try some other set of beliefs, be encouraged—you are likely following the Savior and truly marching in His footsteps…
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
[Oh He saved us before we did ANYTHING to deserve it, He pursued us when we were running away from Him; how much more will He care for us as we imperfectly seek to follow Him through the valleys and waves of life!? He started this great work of salvation and sanctification in us and HE WILL FINISH IT…let us simply trust Him by getting up off the floor and following Him, no matter what…]
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
[Amen. What a glorious Truth to pull us off the floor. God’s Word is not only a firm handhold on the mountain of life, it is a handhold that grips us back and pulls us up as we climb!!!]
Would you design your own pacemaker according to your opinions?
Let Jesus—the Author of Life—define Truth thru the Bible: eternal life’s pacemaker!
Would you fly in an airplane of your design,
trusting your earthly & eternal life to your engineering opinions?
Same for eternal life—trust Jesus alone via the Bible alone.
One last thing: on your way out, please stop up here or at the Connections desk and grab one or two invitations.
Pray and ask God to help you think of one or two people you know who don’t go to church anywhere; then pray & ask God to give you the courage to give them one of these invites. We don’t want to steal people from other churches but reach out to those who don’t attend anywhere.
While folks are welcome at any worship service, the two on November 6th and 13th will be specifically helpful to give newcomers a big picture idea of what God is doing at Elevate, and the five leading up to Christmas will help them understand what a Biblical church is supposed to look like as we close out our Foundation Series by looking at Elevating community.
Some of you may feel right now; of course this isn’t easy! But some won’t know what they are missing here until they come and see what God is doing here. And we who by the grace of God are growing in this soil are the best people to encourage others to plant themselves in this soil to grow closer to God themselves. Have a great Sunday–He is risen!