Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesdays with Jesus #188

#188 "Living the Word"
February 22, 2011
"Every word you give me is a miracle word-how could I help but obey? Break open your words; let the light shine out, let ordinary people see the meaning. Mouth open and panting, I wanted your commands more than anything."  (Psalm 119: 129-131 The Message)
Good Tuesday to you! I see a few feet of snow piled up outside my window here in Michigan. Out of its tent in the heavens, the sun is shining brilliantly in the sky like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion. Each day of its rising and its setting brings us another day closer to spring, because God is so faithful, dear ones. He is SO, SO faithful!   
Everything that I read in my quiet time this morning pointed to the same theme. I think when that happens, God is truly trying to make a point with us on that particular day. Maybe I just needed a reminder. Maybe you need the reminder too and that's why God laid this one theme on my heart today. Everything pointed to His Word.
If you've followed my writing over the last six years, or been present in any number of my Bible studies, you know that I am a woman of the Word. I love God's Word. It is life to me. My Jesus, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, literally saved my life. The Word of God is everything to me and that's why I even named my ministry, "Living the Word Ministries". Not that I have already attained it, my deepest desire is to know, love and walk in God's Word every day of my life. I pray that my passion is contagious and that I can disciple believers, particularly women, in the same love and walk of victory that God's Word accomplished for me.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we begin a journey that can be certifiably amazing. Our sins are forgiven and we have the certain hope of eternity spent in the presence of God. That would be completely enough if it weren't for the fact that there is so much more. When we put our faith in Christ we know that we are Heaven bound and for some that is quite enough. But I believe and I know that I know, that I know, there is so much more victory to be had on this side of the grass, in the land of the living. However, I don't believe it can truly be had without the truth of God's Word front and center in our lives. I started to ponder why in the world believing folks wouldn't want some of that? What makes us just settle for a life of defeat? What contributes to a life of defeat? Why are so many believing guys and gals not reaping the victory over situations and circumstances that are sent by the enemy to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life that Jesus died to give us? I came up with three reasons.
We don't know what God has to say in His Word. Some people believe that knowledge and study of the Word is the job of preachers and priests, but not the common folk.  It's for someone else to exposit, and to explain to us what it says, and what it means. This could not be further from the truth. Paul and Silas preached in a place called Berea. The Bible tells us that the Bereans received their message with eagerness and ... watch this... "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11) If you don't know for yourself what God says in His Word, you run the risk of falling for just about anything. You also run the risk of living a life of defeat, despair and believing the lies of the devil.
The preacher or priest can't be with you every minute of every day and certainly not every time situations come and give you a punch square in the gut. You need to know just who God says that He is. You need to know just what God says He can do. You need to know just who God says that you are. And you need to know that for yourself. Without study and knowledge of God's Word, you will be defeated every time. I see it happen over and over and over again, sadly among believing men and women. The Word is called the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6. It is the only offensive weapon listed in the whole armor of God. Without the Word, you are left on the battlefield empty handed and defenseless against the onslaughts and strategies of the enemy. You have nothing to fight back with. You are at the mercy of your enemy.
Just the other day, someone very close to me who is very skilled in the subtleties of making me feel inferior and not a good person, threw some of that strategy in my direction. If I did not know who God says that I am in His Word, and who I am in Christ, I would have fallen hook, line and sinker for the whole thing. Believe you me; I used to fall for it every time. It would send me into weeks of second-guessing myself, self-condemnation and days of trying to figure out how I could make it all better by doing just what this person wanted. But because I know truth, for myself, and it is hidden in my heart, I can speak, OUT LOUD, what God says about me. I can take the double-edged sword of His Word and annihilate the enemy and his tactics. It works every single time. We must know what God has to say in His Word to live any kind of victorious life. Read it. Memorize it. Speak it out loud. "Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me." (Psalm 119: 98 NIV)
We hear the Word but don't heed the Word. James, the brother of Jesus says this: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1: 22) All over your Bible are promises from the mouth of God about how your obedience to His Word brings success, prosperity, safety and protection. Proverbs 1: 33 says, "But everyone who listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm." Every precept, command and word of God is for our own good. We often think we know a better way. We don't like to give up control. Sometimes what God is telling us to do can seem so contrary to what would make more sense. We say, "Oh, you just don't understand MY situation!" Or, "It's too hard!"  Just as a good parent only gives their child sound advice, for their good, never to harm, so our Heavenly Father knows the perfect way to guide us in every and any situation that we may face on planet Earth. It's not enough to just sit in church every Sunday and hear the preacher preach. We have to take what we hear, and read, and study and put it into practice in our daily lives. We won't ever be able to fix our broken car if we just read the manual, or watch the instructional video, and never take the tools out of the toolbox and use them. So it goes for our broken lives. So it goes.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Matthew 7: 24-27. It's the story of the wise and foolish builders. It's the story of two people who built two houses. A vicious storm came and blew and beat on both of those structures. One house stood and one house fell with a great crash. The people are the same...human. The houses seem to be the same. The storms were identical. So what was the difference in the final outcome? It was all in the foundation that the houses were built upon. Jesus said that the house that stood had its foundation on the rock of obedience to the words they heard him speak. He said that the house that fell did not put his words into practice and the house was destroyed. What is your desired final outcome for the house that is your life? We need to hear the Word and HEED the Word.
We don't believe the Word. So perhaps we know the Word. Perhaps we do our best to obey the Word. But do we really believe the Word of God? Do we believe that God is just who He says that He is? Do we really believe that He can do what He says He can do? Do we believe what God says about us?  Do we believe that His promises are for us? Aah, that's an important question! Maybe we think those promises were for the saints of long ago, the Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs. The Ruths, the Esthers, the Marys. "But not for me." Do you ever think that way? "It always happens for someone else, but not for me. That may be true in YOUR situation, but it's just not ever going to happen for me." Be honest, dear one. Do you ever say those words?   
How that must grieve the heart of God! What if you had everything in the universe to offer your child and you told them repeatedly what you would do for them, and they didn't believe you? Wouldn't you know that they  just plain out didn't trust you? That's what it boils down to, my friend. When we don't believe God, we simply don't trust Him enough. Look at this verse with me: ""You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He."" (Isaiah 43:10)  Those words are boldly speaking to you right now where ever you're sitting. God is saying, "Believe me....believe me."
Sometimes, despite your unbelief, God will deliver you and answer your prayer just to show you that He can be trusted and that His words are trust-worthy and true. But beware of repeated unbelief.  Israel wandered in the desert for forty years due to their unbelief. They were not able to enter the Promised Land, "because of their unbelief." (Hebrews 3: 16-19) If you're anything like me, you long for the Promised Land, overflowing with milk and honey. You long to live in the promised spacious place, whose boundaries have been hand-laid by the Lord God Himself. You long to live in your God-ordained purpose and destiny. You long for His delightful inheritance. It can be yours. Just believe.
I just got an e-mail a few minutes ago that ended with these words: "Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps, if you are not willing to move your feet." Start today, right now, if you can, to walk in the wonderful Word of God. Take a stroll that begins in a garden called Eden and walk all the way to a new Heaven and a new Earth where Christ is King and nothing but perfection surrounds you. God will give you directions all along your way. He will never lead you down a path that will harm you. He will never make you walk the journey alone. When He directs your path, go in that exact direction. But even if you stray once in a while, know that He will leave the others and search you out and carry you on His shoulders back to the path once more. As if you were the only one. He loves you that much.
Know the Word. Heed the Word. And by all means, BELIEVE the Word.
"Don't ever deprive me of truth, not ever-your commandments are what I depend on. Oh, I'll guard with my life what you've revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever; And I'll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom; Then I'll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed. I cherish your commandments-oh, how I love them!-relishing every fragment of your counsel." (Psalm 119: 41-48 The Message)
Living the Word along with you,  
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