The following is a special message from Scott Heddleson, a member of Calvary Chapel Mansfield.
THE CLEANSING POWER OF THE WORD
One of the most vital disciplines of the believer in Christ is that of reading and studying the word. Unfortunately this discipline has been greatly neglected by the average believer in our generation.
Many excuses have been offered in an attempt to justify this neglect. Excuses such as a lack of time and interest, as well as the inability to understand the meaning of scripture. In spite of these excuses, we cannot even begin to know our God apart from a working knowledge of His word. This issue is so important to the Lord that He inspired the writer of the Psalms to include a valued teaching concerning this discipline found in Psalm 119:9-16 which reads as follows from the New American Standard Bible.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to thy word. 10 With all my heart I have sought thee; Do not let me wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against thee. 12 Blessed art Thou O Lord; teach me Thy statutes. 13 With my lips I have told of all the ordinances of Thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways. 16 I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word.
Within this passage can be found at least four worthwhile principles which warrant a closer examination. If we’re willing to consider practicing these principles daily I believe we’ll experience great spiritual growth as well as becoming vessels of honor which can be mightily used by the Lord in our present generation. We can also be responsible for leaving a lasting legacy for the generations which will follow in our foot steps.
PURITY OF THE WORD
As Christians we’re faced with the challenges of living in a sin filled world. Although we may not fall prey to these sins, we certainly feel the effects of them. An example of this can be found in the life of Lot recorded in Gen. chapter 19. Peter also wrote of him in 2 Peter 2:7-8 where it says in part, that Lot was oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men and his soul was tormented daily. Although Lot was not partaking of the sins in his community his soul felt the effects of them. This is one reason why it’s so important for us to maintain a daily diet of Gods word. In His word the Lord has provided a means for us to cleanse our souls from the effects of the sinful world in which we live. Paul told the Ephesians that Christ had cleansed them by the washing of water with the word (Eph.5:26). This washing in water of the word comes as we partake of the word by reading it and allowing it to wash over us and cleanse our hearts and minds on a daily basis. While this may seem to be a grueling task it proves to be a rewarding adventure. It simply comes down to a matter of commitment. We must simply ask ourselves, do we want to experience the joy of knowing God? If we do then it simply begins by spending time getting to know Him through His word!
MEDITATE ON THE WORD
The word meditate used in this passage means to moan, growl, utter or speak. In simpler terms it means to reflect upon something for a period of time. I’m sure we can all remember a time, perhaps before we knew Christ, when we thought and thought on a certain situation until we reached what we believed was a pretty wise conclusion to the situation. Even though we may not have realized it at the moment we were meditating on that situation. This principle of meditating on the word is very similar, except now we have something more valuable to reflect upon. Great men of God have applied this principle to their lives with great success. An example of this is found in Joshua 1:8. The Lord instructed Joshua in this scripture to meditate upon the word and apply it to his life. As he followed these instructions he gained great victory in his life. He was used mightily of God to lead the children of Israel into the promised land. There’s no question that as he meditated on the word he had great experiences with God that impacted his life, strengthened his faith, and caused him to have a deeply intimate relationship with the Lord. The good news for us is that Joshua was no different than we are, he simply lived in a different time and had different experiences with God. We too can experience God on a more intimate level if we’re willing to put in the time to meditate upon His word. If we’ll commit to a portion of scripture for meditation each day, with a pen and paper to record our findings, and praying for revelation as we soak in the word, the Holy Spirit will cause the word to come alive and speak to us like never before. If we’ll consistently apply this principle to our lives without giving up, we’ll begin to experience new truth from the word that will totally transform our lives.
TREASURE THE WORD
As a result of time well spent in the word through reading and meditation the Holy Spirit will begin to give us a fondness for the nuggets of truth we’ve received. We might even call these nuggets of truth treasures that have been placed within our hearts for safekeeping. Mary the mother of Jesus had this experience as well, which has been recorded in Luke 2:51. In this scripture Jesus’ parents had accompanied Him to the feast of passover which was customary for Jewish people. However, when the time came to return home Jesus couldn’t be found. After a considerable search He was found in the temple among the teachers of His day discussing spiritual truths. When His parents questioned Him concerning His behavior and His whereabouts His response was astonishing to them. He said “did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”. The text says “Mary treasured these words in her heart”. For Mary this was a day of revelation and awareness of who her son really was. Like Mary, we also need to treasure the nuggets of truth that have been revealed to us through our time of meditation in the word of God. For the Lord has instructed us to treasure His word in our hearts for a purpose, so we won’t sin against Him. You see, the more truth we have stored within our hearts the harder it will become to sin against God. During times of temptation the Holy Spirit can draw from the deposits of God’s word which we’ve stored within our hearts to guide us into the perfect will of God for our lives. The ultimate purpose of the word is meant for our growth in Christ. He wants His word to be so engraved upon our hearts that becomes second nature to obey it. For until we’ve obeyed and applied a truth to our lives we cannot truly say we’ve received it and understood it to the fullest measure for which it was intended. There- fore, it’s imperative that as we approach God’s word we do so with the attitude of obeying what we’re about to receive.
SHARE THE WORD
The Lord never shares a nugget of truth with us without the idea that we’re expected to share His word with others. For after all the main purpose of the gospel is that it must be shared in order to be effective. For an example of this principle let’s consider the parable of the lamp in Luke 8:16-18. In this text Jesus spoke concerning the teachings He’d previously shared with his disciples, and what He expected them to do with these teachings. The implication given here is that it would be ridiculous to light a lamp and then cover it up or put it under a bed. However, it’s just as ridiculous to be entrusted 4
with God’s word and then not share it with the world. It just seems so ludicrous to think that a person would be in possession of something with such value, and know that it could help save a life and then keep it to yourself. Think of it, the lamp that remains covered will in time just fizzle out and die. The same could be said for the word which has been deposited in our hearts, but goes no further. That my friend, is a sin that we will be held accountable for one day if we’re found lacking in this area. Notice verse 18, where Jesus says in part, be careful how you listen, and whoever has to him more will be given. The idea being expressed here is that, as we listen to God’s word and receive the truth He’s given us we must do so with an attitude of sharing these truths with others. I believe there’s more than one reason for this. Of course there’s the obvious reason of sharing the word with those we come into contact with dally. In addition to this, as we share with others what we’ve been given, that truth becomes more real and abiding to us on a personal level. As we talk about the word with others our love for the Lord and our faith in Him will grow. We also put ourselves in a position of being accountable by sharing the word.
In the process of our sharing the word we’re being held to a higher standard, because people will be watching to see if you’re living what you say you believe. I believe God’s plan for us in sharing His word is limitless. Not only does the world we live in hear the gospel, but the body of Christ grows in ways we can hardly imagine.
In conclusion of our study of this passage, we’ve endeavored to make known the importance of maintaining a regular diet of God’s word. As in all of the activities in life our success or failure is largely measured by our attitude. Perhaps we can follow the leading of Job where he stated that he treasured God’s word more than the food he ate (Job 23:12). What about you? Do you consider God’s word to be the most important treasure in your life? It’s a valid question to consider today wouldn’t you agree? When it’s all said and done God asks very little from us. However, those things He does ask are usually for our benefit more than anyone else. He’s asked us to spend time in His word so our lives will be enriched. He wants us to be conformed to the image of His Son. As we’ve learned from our time in this passage this comes about as we spend time in God’s word. Allowing His word to shape and form our lives according to God’s will and plan. As we consider these truths, won’t you commit to spending time in God’s word daily? How about spending 30 minutes a day for one year while applying the principles you’ve learned in this study. If you’ll do this and really mean it, you’ll look back with amazement at how much you’ve learned in one year. Not to mention how much you will have grown in Christ. I believe you’ll also be amazed at the doors of opportunity God will make available to you in reaching out to the body of Christ, as well as reaching the lost in your corner of the world. In addition to the blessings we’ll receive in this life, we’ll be welcomed into our eternal home by Jesus with those sweet words of affirmation well done good and faithful servant!