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Devotional - The Keys To The Power Of The Word Of God

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. – Joshua 1: 8 (NLT)

    Have you ever wondered what statement Jesus said the most during His ministry? Fourteen times, seven alone in the account of Revelation, Jesus says – “he who has ears to hear should listen and understand (or some variation thereof). When God goes out of His way to repeat Himself 14 times I think we might want to take notice and see what He is trying to convey to us. The obvious thing is that God is showing us that there is a clear difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a physical function. He who has ears to hear shows that hearing is biological process. Jesus however takes it a step further and says if you have the physical capacity to hear then you ought to also listen and understand.

    The sad truth is that listening is a dying art in our society. Listening implies more than hearing. It implies a consideration that does not exist in mere hearing. In most discussions we are formulating our next response while the other person is talking, making it impossible to truly listen. One of the forerunners of modern Psychology, Carl Rogers, incorporated “reflective listening” into his therapy strategies. This is where the therapist truly listens and “reflects back” to the patient what they said. Not only validating what the patient has to say but essentially assuring them they are being listened to! And this was in the 1950’s! Things have devolved much further since then. Today’s generations are brought up on computers, texting, and Facebook. This further erodes a social skill set that wasn’t that good to begin with. We have the physical capacity to hear but listening is but a dying art form.

    The interesting thing in the New Living Translation is the addition of “and understand.” Hearing someone does not mean you are going to understand what it is that they are trying to convey. It is only through an active listening process that we can truly consider and then understand. The sad thing is that listening is not much better in the church. Sure we attend church regularly but how often are we distracted? How often are we thinking about what we have to do later that day? How often do we engage in ministry and therefore cannot even hear the Word let alone try to listen and understand? We get so enamored with the busyness and business of church that we do not even listen anymore for what God might want to say. I say all the time that I simply do not understand how someone goes to church without a profound sense of expectancy to hear from God.

    The reality is that there is too much “playing church” going on today. Dressing in our Sunday best, appearing as spiritual as possible. Saying amen and hallelujah at all the right times but denying the true power of God in our own lives because we fail to understand what it is God is trying to say to us. We have ears, and hear just fine – but are we listening? In most cases the answer is probably no. Not only at church but also at home. Maybe we have an active prayer life but is it a one way conversation? Do we allow God to speak into our lives? Do we listen for what God wants to say? Are we reading His Word in the manner that understands that the Bible is God talking to us?

    Our key verse comes from the point in Israel’s history where Joshua is assuming control after Moses had died. There are five considerations for us today to glean from this text. First of all, you don’t see the words “read” or “hear” anywhere in this verse. I think sometimes we get into bad lazy habits that are reinforced by the world we live in. I hear people constantly speak about “reading the Bible.” There are plans they can incorporate regarding reading the Bible. Read the Bible in one year! Read the Bible in three years! It is not that a disciplined approach is unwarranted it is that the goal is wrong. We are supposed to first of all – study the Word of God. That means we approach it from a scholarly perspective. That indicates that we should expect to learn something from it. When Paul was on his missionary journeys he came across many peoples who did not take the Word of God so seriously – then he came to Berea.

    That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. – Acts 17: 10-12 (NLT)

    What did the Bereans do? First the listened eagerly! We treat church sometimes as if it is a chore and the Bible as if it is a nuisance. Secondly they searched the Scriptures to make sure what they were being taught was correct! Oh beloved, that we would treat what we are taught as the Bereans did! One of the most recurring themes throughout the New Testament is false teaching. We are warned repeatedly that in the end times in which we now live we would see many false teachers who would lead many away from the true faith. Yet so often we simply accept whatever we hear from the pulpit or in the classroom as if it is the Gospel itself. I have seen many in the faith today lost and astray without even realizing it because they follow poor teaching. There are many who sit in pews weekly that simply do not know any better and believe they have obtained salvation when they have not. There is a real danger in blind acceptance of what man says. It is only Scripture that is infallible.

    Secondly we must study the Word continually. Remember, God does not waste a single word in His Bible. The word continually is here for a reason. Our time after salvation is called a walk with God for a reason. It is not a sprint. We have traded in our old lives for the new creation Christ has made us but that requires the rest of our lives beloved. We cannot approach the Bible hot and cold. We cannot study it this week and read it next week. We cannot be actively seeking to listen this month and only try and hear next month. It doesn’t work that way. When the Israelites were in the wilderness after being delivered from slavery in Egypt they began to grumble about food. God supernaturally provided them with sustenance from heaven in what was called “manna.” Every morning when they got up they would go and pick up enough manna from what supernaturally formed on the ground overnight. God had specific instructions however:

    Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.”But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. – Exodus 16: 19-20 (NLT)

    The Bible is our chief source for spiritual nourishment. It is our chief source for spiritual sustenance. A Christian who does not pursue the Bible is malnourished and sorely lacking what they need to walk in the power God intended for them. Yet like the Israelites we too can develop lazy habits and try to gather our spiritual food in bunches. Beloved, God has fresh manna for us every single day if we would just take the time to open the book. Instead, so many try and live on yesterday’s manna, despite the fact that God has a fresh Word for them today. I have written 2-4 pages per day for over five years now and every time I think I don’t know what to write – God gives me ten more things to consider. His blessings do not run out. His Word has no end. What He wants to show us and teach us lives forever. We cannot just study the Word; we must do so continually.

    Thirdly from the key verse we see that we are to meditate on it! This now really cuts to the heart of listening versus hearing. The biological process of hearing does not require any further consideration. How many times have you been in an argument and known your spouse is not listening to a word you say. When you accuse them however their response is usually a defiant – “I am listening – you said…” That of course only means they heard you. It does not mean they have considered what you are saying. They have not listened. Meditation is thoughtful consideration. It is trying to understand what it is that you have heard and how it applies to your life. THAT is how we are supposed to divide the Word of Truth. Let’s look at a practical example. Let’s say we are new to the faith and we read the following:

    Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. – John 14: 6 (NLT)

    You study it and see there are no contextual concerns. If you merely heard it then it wields no power in your life. It’s just a nice saying. But if you meditate on it and let God speak into your heart you will discover that this eradicates the worldly arguments about us all serving the same God. You now have to make a choice about who you are going to believe – Jesus or the world. Jesus says the only way to God is through Him and the world says there are many paths. Because you have placed your faith in the infallibility of the Word of God – you correctly choose to believe Jesus. Because you chose to listen and not just hear – you have been set free from one of the common lies of the devil the world always falls for. Because you approached the Word and considered it, meditated on it, the power of the Word of God has destroyed a trap the enemy sets for you!

    The fourth consideration for us today is that we are to obey the Word according to the key verse. What a novel concept! In fact the key verse says that we meditate on it specifically to be able to obey it properly! While we approach the Word of God as a scholar, this is not an academic endeavor. God doesn’t want our opinion on His Word. He is not looking for a debate. He wants us to follow it – period. The most misunderstood point is that somehow God’s desires for us are born out of some sense of control, anger or disappointment. The reality is that it is through obeying His Word that we can be assured of having less drama and trauma in our lives. It is when we are willfully disobedient that we see our lives start to fall apart. Recently we have seen the growth of heretical teachings that solely focus on grace. Now, the grace of God is endless and thank the Lord for that because I need His grace every single day! But grace only takes care of the eternal consequences of sin. The temporal consequences will still apply. When Moses sinned he was still denied access to the Promised Land. When King Saul sinned he still lost his kingdom. When David sinned he still lost two children. There is a real life consequence for sin that grace does not cover. Jesus Himself taught how important obedience to His Word is:

    “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built.But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” – Luke 6: 46-49 (NLT)

    Ouch – why do you keep calling me “Lord Lord” when you don’t do as I say? Let that one sink in for a minute. You show me a life built upon the listening and understanding of the Word followed by obedience and I will show you a life that weathers the storms this world throws at it. You show me a life that is based on superficiality when it comes to the Word of God and I will show you a disaster waiting to happen.

    The fifth consideration from the key verse today is the payoff! God does not reward as the world does beloved – with fleeting happiness based upon circumstance. He provides real joy that resides deep inside of us and a peace that transcends all human understanding. The payoff is prosperity and success. Two things we all seem to desperately search for in this world. One of the greatest forms of heresy in the modern church is prosperity preaching, which equates prosperity to the material wealth of this world. God however measures prosperity differently. There may be some temporal benefits but true prosperity is when we have our health, our family, and are serving the purposes of God providing the meaning in our life we all pursue. The God we serve isn’t short of cash beloved. Do not fall for the forced and guilt ridden tithing churches. Do not fall for the “plant your seed” nonsense. Do not be bullied by the very people who are supposed to be shepherds unto you. Prosperity is in the Lord – not the wallet. We are supposed to be pilgrims passing through this world not seeking to make a habitation in it. One day the Bible shows us that Lot was merely looking upon Sodom but the next time we see him he is living there. Do not mess with the things of this world. There is no true prosperity there.

    But in God there is not only prosperity and success but the key verse promises it will be in everything we do! Think about this for a second. The prosperity the world sells is always material in nature and carnal to its core. But how many rich people do we see dying every year miserable and beaten down in other areas of their lives. How much money did Whitney Houston have? How much fame did Heath Ledger have? Amy Winehouse, Mindy McCready, Junior Seau – and the list just goes on and on. Worldly prosperity is fleeting and empty. But when we live our lives according to the Word of God, obeying it after understanding it, after really listening to it, we can be assured of prosperity in everything we do – not money – prosperity and success. Fourteen times Jesus said “he who has ears to hear, let him listen and understand.” He obviously was trying to get our attention. The Words and instructions from God should be approached with reverence and diligence. There is so much truth for us to learn in His Word beloved. This one key verse gave us five teachable points alone and there is more if we keep digging. Don’t approach it haphazardly. Study it continually. Meditate on it so you understand how to obey it. Then you will see true prosperity and success in everything you put your hands to. He/she who has ears to hear – let them listen and understand.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – April 2, 2013

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