Week 2: The word

In this course we’ve been going through the wheel illustration that shows five ways to grow in our faith, last week we focused on understanding the gospel and staying connected to Christ, today we will explore how to  feed ourselves spiritually from the Word.

"People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

The Bible is our spiritual food. It causes us to grow and nourishes us spiritually. You don’t have to tell me to eat food every day, I have a hunger for it. The Word is the same way. Once you develop a taste for Scripture, it won’t be something you feel like you’ve GOT to do but something you realize you GET to do.
10 Benefits of Abiding in God’s Word
1. Life From Jesus - You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.  John 5:39–40
 
Like a compass that always points north, the Bible always points to Jesus. The central story of the Bible climaxes with the cross of Christ and his resurrection. Without the scripture we can’t know Christ, and without Christ we can’t know life.

2. Growth - Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment  1 Peter 2:2
 
We should crave God’s Word like a newborn craves mommy’s milk. Just as a baby needs milk to grow, we need it in order to mature spiritually.

3. Direction - Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105
 
God’s commands give us guard rails for decision making. If it’s clear in scripture, we don’t have to pray it. However, God can use specific verses to guide us by his Holy Spirit.

4. Purity - How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. Ps 119:9
 
The better you know the Word the easier it will be to discern right and wrong and stay pure.

5. Joy, Blessing & Success - But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:2–3

Like a tree next to a flowing river the person who constantly comes back to the Word stays healthy and experiences the ongoing blessing of living how God has intended them to live.

6. Freedom - If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31–32
 
God designed us to live within certain boundaries. A fish is only free in the water, we are only truly free when we are living in God’s truth.

7. Peace - Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

When you realize all God has provided and all we have to look forward to it brings great peace.

8. Prayer - If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  John 15:7
 
Scripture helps us know what to pray for. When we pray according to his Word we can be confident it is in line with God’s will, and those are the prayers God loves to answer.
 
9. Endurance - For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.  Romans 15:4

Learning from the stories of God has done in the past, gives us faith for what God can do today and keeps us going when times get hard.

10. Equipping - All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16–17
 
God’s Word prepares us for the work God has prepared us for.
Which of these benefits do you need most right now? Why?
Prepare For The Word 
Listen HumblyGet rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:21
Like a good gardener we must remove the rocks and weeds in order to prepare our hearts for God’s Word. This involves confessing our sin to God & others, and being willing for God to tell us what we need to change. Surrender is soil that the seed of the Scripture requires to save our souls. Accepting the word humbly means realizing the treasure it is and deciding in advance to obey it.

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.  John 7:17

Those willing to do God’s will, will learn God’s will. We must get under it to understand it. Give God a blank check and sign the bottom and say God whatever you say my answer in advance is yes.

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them. Luke 8:18

It’s not just about WHAT we hear but HOW we hear hear it. Listen humbly and you will learn more, ignore it and what little you know will be taken away. Expect God to teach you every time you come to the Word.

Look Intently- Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24

Too often as soon as we close our Bibles or leave church, we forget everything we just learned. That’s like looking in the mirror and seeing that your hair is messed up but ignoring it.

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25
 
To look intently literally means to “to stoop down” in order to have a good close look. If you lost your car keys you would search high and low, look in seat cushions and all over the house. Just as car keys give you freedom to drive, living out God’s word is the key to life. So we must look closely, keep looking, and not forget what we hear.

Live Obediently- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
 
In Israel there are two major bodies of water joined by the Jordan river. The Sea of Galilee is healthy and supports life, because it has an input and an outlet. The Dead Sea has the same river flowing in but no outlet. It is good for a nice float but not much else.
 
Information without application leads to stagnation, but information with application leads to transformation. The goal of listening humbly and looking intently is so that we can.. be blessed in what we do. James 1:25
 
Blessing belongs to the obedient.  When you come to scripture prepare your heart to apply what you learn.
Why is your attitude so important when approaching the Word?
5 Ways To Abide In The Word 
Hear - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Romans 10:17 
 
This is not simply physically hearing, it’s coming to church expecting to learn, taking notes and seek to apply what you learn. Find a way to talk about what you learned after the service, the drive home or in a group.

Read - He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel. Deut 17:19–20 
 
Interestingly there is no command that we have to read everyday, the only command about reading is written to the King of Israel. A king’s success was based on his ability to stay humble and submit to God. Reading the word everyday kept him from pride, thinking he’s above the law and protected his kingdom spiritually.

You probably are not a King, but reading scripture regularly can have the same effect of helping you fear the Lord, keeping you humble and on track with God.  One reason reading is not a command for everyone is because not everyone can read, especially when the Bible was written, but if you can ready you have a great opportunity many didn’t have!
 
Study - Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  Acts 17:11 
 
The Bereans didn’t just accept everything Paul said at face value, they listened eagerly and then studied the Scriptures for themselves to see if what Paul said was true.

Studying is really just diving deep into what the Bible says. It may sound intimidating, but it’s actually a lot of fun to search what the Bible says about different topics or to dig deep into what a specific passage means. Like looking at the stars on a clear day, the longer you look the more you see and the more beautiful it becomes.
 
Memorize - I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11

Memorizing allows you to think about Scripture all day even when you don’t have your Bible open. It helps you be ready to encourage others and helps you fight temptation.

Meditate - Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Joshua 1:8

Meditating is thinking deeply about how to apply the scripture to your life. It’s similar to rumination. Rumination is the process a cow uses to digest grass through the chewing of the cud. It goes into one stomach, then he chews some, then it goes to another stomach, then he chews again until he’s got all the nutrients out of the grass.

Meditation is using your imagination to discover applications for how the Bible relates to your life. Just as the thumb helps all the other fingers, mediation helps you do all the other ones well.
Which of these practices do you want to start developing a habit of today?
Develop a Daily Habit
Our habits shape our lives more than anything else. Here are 3 ways to success in developing the habit of having a daily time engaging God’s Word.
A Regular Time- Most habits that stick happen same time everyday. Early morning is best for most people, before the day get’s crazy. The first thing I do when I wake up is grab coffee and start reading.

A Restful Place- Find a quiet place that’s comfortable you can look forward to going. I have the same couch in my living room that I read from every morning. You could use a chair outside, a lazy-boy inside, or a desk but I don’t recommend laying down on your bed, because your prayer time could become really deep prayer time.

A Realistic Plan- Choose a plan where you’re not doing too much reading. Also, if you are using the “You Version” app and are not a big reader, you can even listen to it!

Once you have a time, place, and plan it’s time to start your time with God.
  • Start with God with a short prayer asking him to speak to you personally. 
  • As you read, it’s good to have a pen, so you can underline key phrases that jump out at you.
  • Read slowly and allow yourself to visualize what you are reading.
  • Once you have read, it is helpful to use a journal and write down what stood out to you.

Journaling may seem intimidating but, it is not about writing a specific amount. Just writing a few words to remind yourself of what you’re praying for or learning helps.

Why Journal?
  • To remember what God is saying to you. It’s been said that “The dullest pencil is stronger than the sharpest mind.”
  • To wrestle with the material. Howard Hendricks said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the fingertips.” Journaling forces us to process what we are learning by writing it down.
  • To apply what you are learning. Writing it down is a way to do something with what you are learning.
  • To share it with others. You never know who God might want to encourage through what he spoke to you!
H.E.A.R.
Highlight- Choose a verse from your reading that stands out to you. It doesn’t even have to be an entire verse it can just be one phrase that means the most to you. Look through which verses you underlined as you were reading and see if the Holy Spirit highlights something for you. Then write out that verse at the top of your page.
Explain- Explain what the verse means in your own words. In a sentence or two write what the verse is saying as if you were explaining it to someone else. You are looking for the timeless truth or principle in the verse.
Apply- Write down your personal application based on the truth. What are you going to do as a result of the truth? Sometimes the application will be a specific action sometimes it’s just to remember the truth and worship God because of it, or share that truth with others.
Respond- Respond by asking God to help you apply the truth to your life. Ask God to forgive you from not obeying it or give you strength to do it better.

If this reading plan or journal system doesn’t work for you that’s ok. These are tools not rules. The goal is for you to get into God’s Word in whatever way is more helpful for you. Also, have fun! If you don’t enjoy it then you probably won’t end up making it a habit. Find a way to make learning scripture enjoyable for you.
Practice doing a HEAR journal together using Psalm 19.
Based on this lesson what is your plan for getting God’s word into your life?