For the Word of God
Sunday, November 19, 2023
Call to Worship: Psalm 19: 7-14
I saw an image on Facebook this past week showing people covered in snow, all bundled up, watching a football game-sounds like our Packer fans- and the caption was “Imagine if our church members showed this much passion how different our world might be.”
This should give us pause. We go to great lengths and sometimes do crazy things to experience the things we love most.
And that is the key to why we do what we do the experience. If you are a fan who has endured some awful weather to watch your favorite team play it is most assuredly because of the experience you would have with the team and all the other fans around you. It is the experience we take in with any of our favorite hobbies-that have us getting up at the crack of dawn or before, staying up to the wee hours of the night, driving for hours to get somewhere, taking time off work, studying and practicing to better improve our experience, spending copious amounts of money-all to enjoy the experience, right?
Experience changes everything. It’s one thing to read about something and it’s quite another to personally experience it.
This past week Jon and I went to the Ark Encounter in KY. I highly recommend this experience if you can go at some point! The entire place is built to help attendees experience what life was like then, what life was like on the Ark, and instead of just reading about something in a book, we were experiencing it from every possible perspective. They had sounds of the weather, the animals, movement to simulate the stormy waters, knowledge of building materials, measurements, culture, engineering design, and the sheer massiveness of the size. Now when I read about Noah and this entire time in the Bible it will take on a whole new meaning and understanding because of this experience we had. I love it when this happens!
God wants us to experience Him. He is alive. He is relational. He is not just some story in a book and some far-off God who gives us a list of rules to follow. He is spirit and He gave us a spirit to join with His. He wants us to encounter Him in nature, in our daily living, and in relating to those we read about in His Word.
There was a time in my life when I had no experience with God, no connection to Him. I knew of some of the main characters as I would have thought of them in the Bible, but certainly didn’t know anything about them; didn’t know about their lives or what their relationship was with God. I was ignorant of His Word and there was no draw to it for me because I wasn’t experiencing anything with it.
Then one day, God grabbed hold of my heart and made Himself known to me. I had an experience with the Living God that was undeniable. This encounter changed my path and my heart forever. Out of nowhere, I had a great desire to read His Word and to my surprise, it was making sense to me. I wanted to know this God, my God, whom I never took time to know before. I wanted to understand Him and I wanted to know why He called out to me; what He wanted to make known to me, and what was so enthralling about His Word that so many go on about.
Well as I pressed in, God revealed all of this and so much more. Turns out the Bible is not some dry book of rules and old irrelevant stories; but to those who seek to understand and find, it is a great adventure of experiencing the trinity in infinite ways. It is the greatest love story you’ll ever encounter. It is living hope and comfort from My Father who cares for me. It is a connection to my ancestors who have gone before me, teaching me the way to go, and giving me the courage and strength to live with boldness in this age; it shows me how to have mercy and extend forgiveness to others. It shows me how to love as Jesus loves different love that isn’t self-serving or self-glorifying. All through the living experiences of those in the Bible.
When you let yourself be immersed in His Word, like our experience at the Ark, you are in the stories with them; you are there feeling what they were feeling; you are hearing from God Almighty as He is speaking and through the Spirit who enlightens you, you encounter God in a whole new way-in a personal way. It’s no longer just about someone else from ancient days; it’s about you. His Word is alive and active and judges the heart. His Word cuts through soul and spirit.
I believe from my own experience, that when you enter His Word expecting to encounter our Living God, it will become a great passion within you to seek Him all the more. It will compel you to get out of bed on the coldest of days to be with Him and to be with His church. Without the experience, it’s just a great big book that can seem daunting to begin reading, and even boring because it seems irrelevant to our modern lives. When we open ourselves to experience God through His Word, it is a never-ending adventure! It becomes our greatest treasure!
So today, we give thanks for the Word of God that is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Let’s look at what happens when we make storing up His Word our greatest treasure. We give thanks that our God is an experiential God who makes His Word come alive in us as we seek to know Him.
Before we get too far in-I want to remind you all to download our app if you want to take notes throughout the sermon and do so on an app. It’s easy to go to your app store and search for Living Gospel Church or go to our church page on Facebook and search for the post with the link. Once you have it-click on notes and then click on today’s message, The Word. Easily record points to remember, thoughts to ponder, and questions you have to explore further.
Proverbs 2: 1-11, 21 NIV
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds success in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
21 For the upright will live in the land,
and the blameless will remain in it;”
What are we instructed and encouraged to do with God’s Word? Keep it closed on a shelf or tucked away in a drawer. No, we are to store it up within us, within our hearts. We are to call out for insight and understanding to make it known to God, we want to learn! We want to know Him! We want to know His ways!
With what level of passion? Searching for it as we would for a hidden treasure; like we would for silver-which was worth a great deal in the time this was written. Sitting on the bleachers in the frozen tundra waiting to experience Him!
We have more access to God’s Word today than ever before. We can have it with us literally everywhere in print, audio, and digital-endless ways it is now available and still, it goes unread by so many. Why? Because we don’t understand or seek the experience we can have with our Living God and we miss the great treasure that His Word is. We don’t come with the right heart posture. We don’t come hungry to know Him.
But to those who do, look at what God promises us: He gives wisdom to the seeking. The entire book of Proverbs is set on gaining wisdom in all aspects of our lives what we gain with wisdom and also what happens when we lack it. Wisdom is precious and life-saving. God said He is a shield to those who walk in His ways; He guards the course of the just. We don’t know this or appreciate this precious gift unless we both read His Word and encounter Him as our protector and shield in our lives when we apply His Word. Once we begin to do that, we start to understand what a gift His Word is-and we want to experience more of that gift.
- Reveals the Knowledge and Wisdom of God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
As I shared in the beginning I had very little knowledge of God and would say any wisdom I had came through a tainted perspective of the world. It was not pure and it was not always peace-loving. Praise be to God, He called me out and called me by name and as I was awakened to a great reverence for our Holy and awesome God, that was the beginning of my journey to gaining understanding of God’s Kingdom and my place in it. We must start there if we want to come to know God more and understand His Word-we must hold Him with great reverence in our hearts; for He is holy. There is no one like Him.
One way to determine this is to evaluate where God fits into your days. Is He the first one you think of and the last one you connect with before you go to sleep? Is He in your thoughts throughout your day? Do you do what you do to honor Him and be of service to Him? Because if He’s not in your thoughts and not the main one you are connecting to and mindful of in your days, you need to start there. Ask Him for a living encounter with Him so you might experience the awesomeness of who He is as God Almighty. Genuinely seek this. Start there.
Proverbs 2:6 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Any wisdom you have comes from the Lord; however, that can be greatly tainted with worldly views and selfish motives. So if you truly want to grow in the wisdom of the Lord, you must seek the wisdom that comes directly from the Lord, in His Word. Wisdom from God is distinctly different and this is why it is to be treasured.
James 3:17 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is, first of all, pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Maybe you wonder from time to time if His Word is really true. Is it really that powerful? Will His promises hold up? Listen to what God tells us about His Word.
Isaiah 55: 10-11 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
I love this Scripture. Every Word God has spoken has accomplished its purpose. That means when we speak it over our lives, it will accomplish the purpose for which it has been sent out. It will. It will never return empty. Praise be to God for His Word that is true! This is why we must know it and then speak it!
2. Protects the Way of the Faithful.
Proverbs 2: 8, 11 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.
Why does God say His Word protects, guards, and shields those who walk in His ways? Because as we gain wisdom that is pure and peace-loving, merciful and sincere…. Think about all the ways this has and can protect you from doing or saying something that is not operating out of that heart posture. Wisdom is a guard and shield to us from our fleshly nature that reacts, is self-seeking and gratifies our every pleasure.
Folly and foolishness opposite of wisdom- lead us into much trouble, destruction, and heartache-not only for ourselves but also for those closest to us. When we want to react in the flesh-we can choose to go to God’s Word and find wisdom in how we respond so we remain guarded in His love and keep from hurting others.
God’s great desire is for each of us to live under the shelter of His wings, to walk in His wisdom that is pure, to seek understanding of who He is, how His Kingdom operates, and who we are as His chosen and beloved children. He wants us safe in His care and overflowing with joy in our hearts as we walk with Him.
Psalm 121: 7-8 NLT 7 The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
8 The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
Isaiah 54:17 NASB No weapon that is formed against you will succeed; And you will condemn every tongue that accuses you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.
We learn and experience all of this when we read His Word and then apply His truths in our lives. When we speak His Word over our fears, our situations, and our hopes, and stand in His promises when we cannot see how things will turn around- we experience the goodness of God again and again. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord! Amen!
3. Shines the Light to the Promised Land.
This entire year we have been focusing on learning to take hold of the promised land. It is our inheritance as a child of God. It has already been given to us the moment we believed in Christ our Savior and Lord. But there is much to learn in how we truly take hold of all the promises God has blessed us with. This is a journey of discovery.
Reading His Word shines the light and shows us the way to walk in every blessing He intends for us to have.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
What is the promise for the one who seeks the wisdom of the Lord? Joy!
Proverbs 3: 13-15 NLT 13 Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.
14 For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold.
15 Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.
Proverbs 2:21 21 For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it;”
Nothing we can desire will compare with the wisdom and understanding we gain from the Lord. It is our greatest gift-for let us remember the Word is Christ Himself!
Conclusion: Let us give thanks for His Word that is not only a lamp unto our feet, but also a shelter and refuge; a powerful weapon against evil forces; a comfort in troubled times; and a promise of His everlasting love. There is no greater treasure to store up, than His Word.
Let’s pray. Lord help us to live in a spirit of gratitude to You and generosity to our neighbor. Let our words reflect Your wisdom and heart. Loving God, in this season and all year long, grant us the gift of a thankful heart, so that we may acknowledge You as the giver of all that is good in our lives. Grant us understanding and knowledge of Your goodness and righteous ways with increasing measure. Awaken in us a hunger and deep passion to seek Your Word in truth and Spirit and as we open our hearts to Your Gracious Father, let us encounter You in new and profound ways. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
Additional new members- Mary, Joshua and Quinn-welcome them!
Offering: We give thanks for all we have received, O God: gifts of love and time, money and abilities. Into these offering plates and into this place, we return a portion of these gifts. Bless those who receive them through this ministry, just as we are blessed in the act of sharing them. In Your name Jesus we pray. Amen.
Announcements: Wed Thanksgiving Eve service-Redeemer Lutheran. 6:30. Please join us as we gather as a larger community and let us give thanks for the many blessings God showers upon us. There is a short children’s message too so kids are welcome. Love offering to RACA to help those in need in this coming year. No small group this week. Please take time to go through the study questions in your insert throughout your week and dig deeper into the message with God.
Final Blessing: May the Lord bless you and hold you close; May the Lord fill your heart with an overwhelming sense of peace and an abundance of gratitude. May you rest in the assurance that God loves you completely, uniquely, and beyond measure. Have a blessed and thankFILLED Thanksgiving holiday.