For many of us, the Bible is merely something on our Christian to-do-list. Our time in the Word is lackluster and before long it is easier to just leave reading it all together. In this message, Derek teaches on how to fall in love with God’s Word by living IN the Word, living OUT the Word, and living FOR the Word.
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Good Friday 2016
Resolve to Be Faithful
Without introduction, there's really no pressure on me at all. Welcome. My name is Derek Mathews. As Kyle said, I will be jumping into Men's Equipping and Frontlines up here. I'm thrilled to be here. When I'm not here, outside of moving through my decade-long plan through seminary, you can typically find my wife and me engrossed in some level of story.
Whether that's watching a movie, watching a TV show, reading a book, binge watching Netflix… There's some story in which we're engrossed. I've always been that way. I remember when I was growing up. My dad and brother would be watching sports downstairs, my mom, my sister, and I were watching Dawson's Creek upstairs.
I've always loved stories, so whenever I grew up and realized there was this thing called The NeverEnding Story that was coming out, I was like, "There's a story that's never-ending? I'm going to go watch this." I went and watched it, and I was a little bit let down, because this "never-ending story" was only about two hours long.
In the story, you see this young boy walk into a bookstore. He sees this old man reading a really ancient book, so the boy asks, "What book do you have there?" The old man says, "Oh, you wouldn't be interested in this book." The young boy goes, "What are you talking about? I love books. What do you mean, 'I wouldn't be interested in this book?'"
The old man goes, "Well, what type of books do you like? Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Robin Hood, things like that? Those books are safe. This book right here… This book isn't safe." Right when that happens, the old man gets a call, and he goes into the back. All of a sudden, this young boy is alone in a bookstore with a magical book that is unsafe for him to touch.
He does what every boy, wrongfully, would do in that moment. He jacks the book and runs. He goes and reads about this world that's covered in darkness. In fact, there's this great nothing, this darkness, that's moving throughout the world, and it corrupts everything it touches. It's destroying everything around it, and everyone knows the only way to stop this great nothing is if somebody would speak a specific name.
If someone would speak this name, it had this intrinsic power to bring light into this darkness, to bring hope into this hurt, and to recreate what was broken by this great darkness, yet the tragedy of the story is nobody knows the name. Throughout the story, all the characters are running around, trying to find someone who knows the name.
At the very end of the story, as the great nothing, the great darkness, is covering the entire world, all the people are crying out, "Somebody has to know the name!" In that moment, they look up at the little boy who's reading the book, and they cry out to him to speak the name.
He realizes in that moment this book isn't safe, but rather, it's calling out to him to take part in the story, to speak the name, to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope into the hurting, and to recreate what was broken. He realizes this book is not safe, yet, in courage, he calls out the name only he knows, the world is restored, and he becomes a part of the story.
The Book many of you have in your lap right now, at your home, or on your phone is not safe. It's not safe, because as you read through the Scriptures, it's calling out to you to take part in the story. In the Scriptures, we're given a name that says it's above every other name, and at the name, every knee will bow. This name has the power to bring light into the darkness, to bring hope into the hurting, and to recreate what's been broken, in this world, yes, but in your world as well.
The tragedy is most of us don't interact with the Bible that way. We don't see it as this Book that's engaging us to take part in the story, to live in it, yes, but also to live it out. Most of us don't see it that way. Maybe you have a desire to sit with the Word of God and love the Word of God, but something doesn't click when you do it, yet you know you're supposed to.
Where you desire this love for the Word of God, it turns into just putting studying the Word of God on some list. After a while, after it's on the list next to grocery shop, run errands, and take care of this and that, it's not long until it becomes lackluster, dull, and disengaging. After it's been on the list and it becomes lackluster, it doesn't take you long to leave it and buy into some silly lie that says people like Todd or JP can teach you better than God himself.
Some of you might have come in here on a different level of that spectrum. Some of you still have a love for it, but for many of us, it's just on some list we know we're supposed to do because that's what good Christians do. For some of you, it's lackluster, and some of you still have just left it altogether, because it's confusing and you don't know where it makes sense.
Wherever you are on that spectrum, my hope for us, this morning, is we would fall back in love with the Word of God, that we would begin to realize this Book, this Word, is calling out to us to take part in its story, to be a part of its mission of the primary Author. In order to do that, we're going to be jumping around a whole lot throughout the Scriptures.
You can do one of two things. You can either follow us, as the verses are going to be up on the screen, or you can kind of Bible drill it and try to get there really fast, but we're going all over the Scriptures this morning, because (guess what) the whole Scriptures talk a whole lot about the Scriptures.
As we do this, the hope is you would leave here falling more in love with the Word of God. The way we're going to get there is in three different categories. For you type A people in here, get ready. These are the three categories we're going with this morning. To love the Word of God begins by living in the Word of God. Then, loving the Word of God grows by living out the Word of God. Finally, loving the Word of God is completed by living for the Word of God. Those three ideas are where we're going this morning.
1._ Loving the Word of God begins by living in the Word of God._ Here, we call that Devote Daily. I love that idea of Devote Daily, and I love the word. That word is a Scriptural word. Many of us, as we think through our time spent in the Word of God, living in the Word of God, and studying the Word of God, we don't think of it as a devotion. We think of it as something that just happens, that there's some magical quiet time, right?
If all these things happen, at that point, then, when everything happens, the stars align, and the kids are quiet… Once every decade, we're going to spend time in the Word of God. For me, when I think of that perfect quiet time, the same image pops into my mind. I'm sitting under a patio on a porch in front of some type of body of water, like a lake.
It's early in the morning, yet somehow, I'm not tired. It's warm, but not too warm. It's cold, but not too cold. There's a breeze that's coming in. It's not a hard breeze that's going to ruffle my papers, but a soft breeze that kind of feels like God saying, "Good morning, Derek." In that moment right there, whenever I open up the Word of God, literally, the shekinah glory comes out. It's like an angelic song, and I'm like, "Yes, Lord." Then I hear the audible voice of God that says, "Hey, you're doing great, buddy. Keep it up." The end.
That has never happened for me. I don't even have a lake to sit in front of, yet it's easy for me to keep looking and waiting for that moment to happen. I don't know what moment it is for you that you go, "When all this happens, then I can sit down with the Word of God." The Scriptures don't say to do that, because (spoiler alert) there's no perfect quiet time. There's a reason for that.
There's no perfect quiet time because we live in an imperfect world. There's no perfect quiet time because we're imperfect, and we have imperfect people around us. Some of you have kids, all right? It's really hard to have that perfect quiet time when they're running around. It's hard to have a perfect quiet time when you're involved with it, because you're not perfect.
With all that, we try to think through, "There's this perfect moment that's going to happen," and when it doesn't happen, do you know what we say? "We'll do it tomorrow." Then the next day happens. "We'll do it tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow…" The Bible says, "I want you to devote yourselves to this." It's a conscious effort and commitment that I'm going to sit down with the Word of God, yet what's so beautiful is from this discipline and devotion comes delight. That's what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:6. He says,
"If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus…" Notice these words. "…being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
Watch what Paul is saying here. He's saying when you sit down with the Word of God, it's a training element. Twice in that verse he says, "I want you to train yourself to this," because he knows when you discipline yourself to the Word of God, it produces a delight. That's why he says in verse 8 that training is valuable in every way, in this life, and also in the life to come.
Paul understands that training and disciplining yourself in the Word of God produces in us a delight. We know this, because as we think through various elements in our lives, many of the things we find a lot of delight in began because we were disciplined. For you in here who play music, say you play a guitar, what happened the first time you sat down with a guitar?
Did you just pick it up, and you were wailing Van Halen on day one? No, right? You were probably sitting in your room with a little chord chart in front of you, and you, probably physically, like I did, moved your fingers on the fret like, "Okay, I think that's a G, G, G…" Then you physically moved your fingers down, like "C, C, C…"
You had to devote yourself to this activity. You had to discipline yourself to learn the chords, but guess what happened after a while. This discipline became a delight, because all of a sudden, you were able to take the G chord, and the C chord, and maybe even the D, and you threw an A minor in there, and you were able to play a song and start a band, right?
All of a sudden, that discipline, that thing you focused on day in and day out, became a delight, because you disciplined yourself. Spending time with the Word of God acts the same way. As you discipline yourself to living in the Word, it produces a delight in the Word. How do you discipline yourself to live in the Word of God? There are a lot of things we could say, but let me give you three pillars to go off.
A. Make it consistent. Find a consistent time, place, and plan to spend time in the Word of God.
First, find a consistent time. For some of you, it's going to be early in the morning. For others, that sounds awful. You don't like the mornings. You're not really cognitive until about 10:00 a.m. You take the fact that 6:00 a.m. exists on faith, because you've never seen it. Mornings might not work great for you.
Sometimes we hear about somebody who wakes up at 5:00 a.m., and they have a 4-hour-long devotional, and you're like, "Oh, my gosh. How?" You try to do that, and it becomes stressful and legalistic, and it goes back to the whole list idea. You find a time of day when you are the most alert.
Second, find a consistent place. For some of you, it's going to be inside. For some of you, it's going to be outside. Find a place that has the fewest distractions. Sometimes that means getting out of your normal area.
Third, find a consistent plan. So many of us do this, and I used to do this all the time. I'd say, "Okay, God, what are we reading today? Leviticus? Okay. Here we go…" What happens is you just jump around, and you have no strategy or plan as you open up God's Word.
I would tell you to get a consistent time and place, but also get a consistent plan. Say, "I'm going to walk through certain books of the Bible," or, "I'm going to join The Journey," if you haven't already, or, "I'm going to get a good devotional." Find those consistent things in your life. Make it consistent.
B. Make it creative. For me, if I were going to take Mikaela, my wife, out every week, on the same day, at the same time, to the same restaurant, order the same things, and have an agenda of the exact same things we were going to talk about every single week, that would get dull. It works the same with our relationship with the Lord.
Make it consistent, yes, but throw in some creativity into that. Find things that stir your affections for God, and pursue those things. I remember, for me, in college, I used to go on runs. At the end of the run, I would pull out my Bible, and I would sit with God with it, because all of a sudden, the blood was pumping. My focus was more engaged. Don't feel like there has to be this checklist of what you have to do, but rather, make it creative.
You can do a lot of different things in the creativity category. You can pray throughout the Scriptures. You can draw out the text. You can journal out your thoughts. You can do things you've never tried before. You can talk to your community group this week and say, "How do you engage with the Word of God?" Someone might say, "I put it into a song every time I read it." You go, "Okay, I'm going to give that a try and see how that plays out." Make it creative.
C. Make it communal. The Word of God is designed to be read on your own, but the majority of the yous in the New Testament are actually plural. It's designed to be read on your own, but also within the context of community. If you're married, maybe grab your spouse and say, "What if we both read through this book this summer?" If you're in a community group, maybe y'all collectively decide to go through a certain passage, book, devotional, or study together, so as you devote daily on your own, you can come together and devote together in community.
If you don't know where to start, again, we're doing the Summer in the Psalms co-ed studies right here on Thursday nights. You can jump in, and that study is uniquely designed to show you not just how to read the Psalms, but how to read the entire Bible. Make it consistent, make it creative, and make it communal. That's how you live in the Word, and that's the first step of loving the Word.
2._ Loving the Word of God requires living out the Word of God._ You have to live in it, yet as you read the Word of God, you see over and over that it's not just about living in it. You're supposed to live out it. You're not just living in the Word. You're also called to live out the Word. If living in the Word is where loving the Word of God begins, then living out the Word is where loving the Word of God grows.
That's where we're going next, that we are called to live out the Word. You can say a lot of different categories of how you're supposed to do that, but we're going to focus in with our time this morning talking about how we live out the Word within the context of community. We're going to see that playing out five different ways.
A. Pursuing relationally. First up, because you're living in the Word, you are able to live out the Word by pursuing one another relationally. You're living in the Word and spending time in the Word, but you're allowed, now to live out the Word by pursuing relationally. It doesn't take long as you're reading throughout the Scriptures to notice there's this phrase that keeps coming up. It's the phrase one another.
In fact, 59 times in the New Testament does it say the phrase one another. It says things like, "Love one another," "Care for one another," "Be kind to one another," "Pray for one another," and, "Seek one another's interests above your own." There are all these things that say, "Yes, I want you to live in the Word," but by living in the Word, it actually says, "I want you to now live out the Word in front of the world, in front of a community."
I remember in college, I was soaking in the Scriptures like I never had before. I was reading it, thinking about it, meditating on it, and listening to sermons and podcasts. I was living in the Word, but Paul warns us, "If you're just living in the Word, you can become spiritually fat, and I don't want you to do that. When you live in the Word, and then live out the Word, you become spiritually fit."
I started thinking about how I could do that, and I stumbled across all these different one anothers of Scripture. I began to realize, "The Scriptures are calling me to live these things out, so how can I do that?" I typed into this new invention called Google the words one another, and I found 59 times the New Testament talks about how we're supposed to love one another.
I started asking myself, "Okay, who can I live these out toward?" The person who came to my mind was the person who was on my mind a lot. She was a girl who I thought was super cute, super awesome, and super creative, and I was super awkward around her. I tried everything. Do you know, gentlemen, whenever you try to treat a girl the same way as everyone else, because you kind of like her? How does that go? Not well, all right? You treat her objectively different than everyone else by trying to treat her like everyone else.
I remember going up to her, and I couldn't control the volume of my voice around her. It was the weirdest thing. I would walk up and be like, "Hey! How are you doing? I'm fine…" Those little characters from Inside Out would pop up in my head like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. No human boy should ever talk to a human girl at that volume. Let's level it out there, champ."
I would make her mix CDs. I was like, "Hey, here's a mix CD. I don't care if you like it or not. Do you like music? I like music. Maybe we can listen together sometime." I would accidentally bump into her after class. It's not stalking if she's okay with it. I was just super awkward around her.
It was the same time I was looking up all these one anothers in Scripture and going, "Okay, God, my way isn't working; therefore, let's try it your way." I began to live out the one anothers of Scripture. I'd go, "Okay, I want to make her my object of this." I grabbed this other new invention called the cell phone, and I set an alarm for every 15 minutes. Every time it buzzed in my pocket, it was a reminder for me to live out whichever of the one anothers of Scripture was on tap for that day.
If it said, "Encourage one another," I sought ways to encourage her. If it said, "Care for one another," I sought ways to care for her. If it said, "Greet one another with a holy kiss," I said, "Yes, Lord, I am your servant." Here's the thing. Living in the Word propelled me to live out the Word to a sister in Christ who became a girlfriend in Christ, a fiancée in Christ, and a wife in Christ of now 6 years. So it worked, all right? I got the ring.
Husbands, when you go home and turn that knob right before you walk in, I know you had a long day, but your primary job is about to happen. Ephesians 5:25 should be running through your head, which says, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…" You should be thinking, in your mind and in your heart, "How can I, as I walk into these doors, sacrifice for my wife?"
Workers, I know it's not always exciting, but as you walk into work you should have Colossians 3:22 in your head, which says, "Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord." In every one of your relationships, you should be pursuing one another relationally. As you live in the Word, it propels you to live out the Word by pursuing relationally.
B. Counseling biblically. Then, as you live in the Word, it propels you to live out the Word by counseling biblically. There's this scene in 2 Samuel 16 and 17 where this guy named Absalom has this moment in which he needs advice. He goes to this guy named Ahithophel. Say that a lot of times fast. All of you are doing it right now in your mouth. We can call him Phil for short.
He goes to Phil and says, "Hey, I have this struggle that's going on in my life. What would you say?" It says in the text that Phil counsels as one who counsels from the Word of God. He gives him advice, but Absalom does what we all do, right? He heard the advice, and he goes, "That's not exactly what I was hoping for. What do you think?" He shops around for advice.
He goes to, essentially, a college buddy of his, and he says, "What do you think?" The college buddy goes, "Oh, you should do this and that, because I did this and that, and it worked out okay for me. Clearly, that's the best route." So Absalom has these two individuals in front of him: one who counsels as one from the Word of God, and one who's just giving his advice. He follows the one who just gives him advice, because that's the one he likes. Guess how that went. Not well.
In that story, you have these two different individuals. There's one who is literally described as one who counsels from the Word of God, and then there's one who counsels because it worked for him, and here are some ideas. Who do you sound like in that story? As people come up to you and say, "There's a trajectory in my life, and I can see it going one or two ways right now," How do you respond?
Are you that person who says, "I don't know all the answers, but let's consult the Word of God and see if it counsels us and speaks into your situation," or are you the type of person who says, "Oh, let me tell you, I did this one time and it worked, and…" and you're just spewing out what has been effective for you?
God's Word said, "There's a way that seems right to man, and it leads us to destruction." Second Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…" Why? "…that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
Why would you want to counsel someone in the Word of God? Because you love them, and you desire for them to be complete and equipped for every good work. Living in the Word of God allows you to love those around you by counseling them biblically as you live out the Word of God. That's the second way.
C. Living authentically. The third way is you live in the Word of God in order to live out the Word of God by living authentically. James 1:22 says it this way:
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
What James is saying here is the Word of God is like a mirror. As you look into the mirror of the Word of God, you should be walking into that moment, anticipating the Word of God is not going to quite add up to your life. You should be anticipating changing something about yourself.
I love the way James says it, because he basically says, "As you approach the Word of God, don't do it the way a man looks in a mirror. As you walk into the Word of God, don't do it the way a man does it." In the Mathews household, my wife and I approach the mirrors very differently. I approach the mirror and basically go, "All right. It feels good to be the king," and I walk away. That's kind of it.
This is a true story. The day I took my staff picture, the picture that was going to show up in my emails, on the website, every time anyone would electronically meet me… I didn't even take a shower that morning. Why? Because my hair naturally falls this way. I don't need to take a shower. I don't really need to interact with the mirror, because once I wake up, it's about as good as it's going to be for the rest of the day.
My wife, on the other hand, approaches the mirror differently. As she approaches the mirror, she's anticipating changing something about her. As she approaches the mirror, she's approaching it like we're supposed to approach the Word of God. That's what James says. That's how you should be interacting with the mirror of God's Word.
You see it play out in the apostle Paul's life in Romans 7. In this passage in Romans 7, you see the apostle Paul, this guy who, if we think of him, we think of the varsity of our faith. He's done it. He's the apostle Paul. He's written a good chunk of the New Testament. He has a lot of stuff to say. What he says is that as he approaches God's Word, it's like a mirror to him.
As he begins to analyze himself against the perfect Word of God, he doesn't like what he sees. He sees all his deficiencies and brokenness. He sees everything about himself he knows isn't right, and he says in verse 24, "What a wretched man am I. Who will deliver me from this body of sin and death?"
If that verse were to end there, it would be a really depressing verse, but it doesn't. God's Word isn't just a mirror to show us our faults. It's a mirror to show us the solution to our faults: namely, Jesus Christ. As Paul looks into the perfect mirror of God, he sees all his deficiencies, and he goes, "There is nothing in me that's good. I can't fix me. What a wretched man am I. Who will save me from this body of sin and death?"
Then it says in verse 25, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" It gives us the problem that we don't quite add up, but it gives us the solution of Christ. How does all that add up to living authentically? As you look into God's perfect mirror, you begin to see there are certain things that don't add up. There are certain things I'm not doing the way God's Word tells me how I should move throughout this world and throughout my life.
First John says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." You look into God's perfect mirror, and you go, "God, there are certain things that don't add up. Forgive me for these things, because I desire fellowship, to walk with you, and to be cleansed from all unrighteousness."
You do that, but then you take those very same sins you confessed to God, and James 5 says, "…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." As you look into the mirror of God's Word, things don't add up. You bring it before God, and you go, "God, it's not adding up, but thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, because now I can have fellowship and be forgiven because of Jesus Christ."
You confess it to him to be forgiven and to be brought back into fellowship, but then it says you confess it to one another that you might be healed. That's why we need us. We need one another. If you don't have someone like that, jump into a Community Group. We keep saying it. It's literally our middle name at Watermark. Watermark Community Church.
We talk about it a lot, because that's what the Scriptures call us to do. If you don't have that, jump into ReGen on Tuesday nights. It's a safe place here that you can jump into and live out what it means to live authentically. That's the third way.
D. Admonishing faithfully. The fourth way about living in the Word and living out the Word is that you would admonish faithfully. I asked my Community Group, "What of these Community Group core values are the hardest to do?" I agreed with them, so I don't know which one it is for you so far, but this one was the hardest for us.
I asked why, and I agreed with their assessment in my own life. They said things like we have a fear of man, a fear of being wrong, and a fear of not being loving. There are a lot of fears that hold us back from admonishing someone else faithfully. It's one thing to look in the mirror of your life, but it's another thing to look into the mirror of someone else's life, look them in the eye, and say, "Hey, something isn't adding up here."
The reality is all of us have grown up in a culture that has redefined the greatest commandment. The greatest commandment is to love God and love others, and we live in a culture that simply says, "I want you to be nice. I want you to play nicely, and don't you dare admonish someone for what they're doing."
As you spend time in the Word of God, it creates in you a courage to call people out when they're not living in the light of the Word. You see this playing out in the book of Galatians with the apostle Paul. Paul has to faithfully admonish Peter. Early on, in the book of Acts, you see Christianity blows up in a place called Jerusalem, but then it's not long before the Word of God spreads throughout the world, and the next place it takes root is this place called Antioch.
Antioch was largely non-Jewish people, or Gentiles. Paul says, "I am the minister to that type of people. That's my primary focus. I want everyone to love God, but that's my primary focus." Peter says, "I want everyone to love God, but my primary focus is the Jews. I'm hearing there are things happening in Antioch, so I'm going to go up there and see what's going on."
He goes up there and celebrates. All these people are coming to Christ, but all of a sudden, these other people come in and start mocking the fact that these Gentiles aren't Jews, and Peter, in fear, shrinks back. He starts making fun of these people who just gave their lives to Christ. Paul comes in and does not like what he sees. In Galatians 2:11, Paul says,
"But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas [this pillar of faith in the New Testament] was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'"
Notice what Paul is saying here. He says, "When I saw my friend, someone I love, someone I know is pursuing Christ and wants to live a life for Christ… When I saw his life (according to verse 14) was not in step with the truth of the gospel…" What did he do? It says he looked at him, and he posted mean things on Facebook. Right? Wait, no. That's not what it says.
Oh, so he talked to his other Community Group members and made fun of him, right? "Oh, look at Peter again. Oh, my gosh. He's supposed to be the rock." Did he do that? No. He says, "I looked him in the eye, I opposed him to his face, and said, 'What you're doing is not in step with the truth you hold.'"
That's not nice, unless it's actually the most loving thing you could do. When you see someone who's moving away from the gospel they hold dear, when they're acting contrary to the Word of God and, therefore, making a horrible witness of who Jesus is to everyone else, all these new believers…
He goes, "I'm going to look at you, bro. I'm going to look you in the eye, and maybe it's awkward, and maybe it doesn't feel nice in the moment, but it's the most loving thing I can do to look you dead in the eye and say, 'What you're doing is not in line with the Word of God.'" We all need people like this. We all need people to slap us in the face with grace sometimes. I need this.
A few weeks ago, I was catching up with a member here. He was asking me how my week was going, and I reverted to spewing out everything that was stressful about my week. That's my default. I know I'm the only one, but that's my default. He heard it all, and then he said, "I just want to encourage you with something." By encourage, he meant convict.
He said, "I just want to encourage you with something. I'm reading James 1, and it says to consider it all joy when you face trials of various kinds. I just want to encourage you to consider this a joy in a trial, to think about it as a joy." He saw the truth I held and the life I was currently living was not adding up, so he admonished me faithfully.
After I told him to get the log out of his own eye, so that he could help me with my speck, it changed the trajectory of my day. He was living in the Word; therefore, when it came time to live out the Word, he was able to admonish me faithfully.
E. Engaging missionally. The last way it works is living in the Word allows you to live out the Word by engaging missionally. There was a time when I was a youth pastor, and I had this moment in which I was sitting in the front of this bus. We were going to camp, and it was a 14-hour drive, so my stress level was at a high.
All the kids had fallen asleep, and I was going over my notes. In that time, I saw this woman in front of me, the bus driver, and I felt, in that moment, that God was saying, "I think you need to reach out to her and share Christ with her." In that moment, it was like, "Derek, she's physically strapped in three feet away from you, and, by law, she cannot unbuckle. This is your time. You have 14 hours. You can go through a lot of stuff."
I remember thinking in that moment, "No, God. I'm reviewing my notes, because I'm sharing the gospel with these people." I wasn't ready to share the gospel with her, and all of a sudden, I'm sitting there going, "Okay, Sovereign Deity of the universe, I think you got it wrong," which is not a great way to start a prayer.
Over time, words came to my mind from God that said, "There is a God, and he loves us. He sent his Son to die for us, and he rose for us. At some point, all of us are going to stand before him. Some of us are going to go into eternal bliss, and some of us are going to go into eternal torment." I was sitting there thinking, "I don't know where she's going." It turned from, "I should tell her," to, "I have to." I opened up my mouth and I had a conversation that led to us talking about Christ, and it was such a beautiful moment.
God was teaching me in that moment, "Derek, you get so turned in on yourself. I don't want you in your head. I want you in the Word, because when you're in the Word, you can live out the Word by engaging those around you missionally." We just told you of a bunch of different ways you can do that. There's Significant Summer, there's Give & Go… There are so many ways you as a family and a Community Group can jump in and live out the Word by pursuing and engaging missionally.
3._ Loving the Word of God is completed when we live for the Word. We're called to live _in the Word. That's where loving the Word of God begins. Then we're called to live out the Word. That's where loving the Word of God grows, but the love of the Word of God is finally completed when we live for the Word. At this point, I'm no longer talking about the Bible. That word Word is the word logos, which means the logic of God, the full expression of God. We believe the full expression of God became man in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, John 1 says,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus] was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
Verse 14 says, "And the Word [the fullest expression of God] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Living in the Word and living out the Word is only life-giving if we're living for the Word, Jesus Christ.
In fact, Jesus would say to a group of people, "You're doing great living in the Word and living out the Word, but you're not living for the Word, Jesus." He says in John 5:39, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…" The Bible points to the Word, Christ. It's about him. The more you live in the Word, the more you'll be propelled to live out the Word, so you can live for the Word, but when you don't live in the Word, everything else falls.
This is my last story. Mikaela and I got engaged about seven years ago. Before our engagement, we had a lot of time apart. She was living in a different state, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I was preparing her proposal, and during that time, there were certain things I couldn't share with her the day of. "What did you do today?" "I bought a ring…pop. A ring pop, like the little candy."
There were certain things I couldn't share with her, but I wanted her to know these things. I grabbed a journal and started writing out these different moments she wasn't able to be at but I wanted her to know about one day. I wrote these things about getting the ring and talking to her parents, and even my own thoughts and heart about living together, loving one another, and doing life together.
When I proposed, I gave her this. What do you think she did? "Hey, thanks…" No. She read it cover to cover, not because I'm a great author or because she likes to read, but rather, because she knew the words on this page pointed to someone who deeply loved her and was willing to lay down his life for her.
She read it, and then she went one step further. She responded to it. On the morning of our wedding day, I found this on my car. My last entry was her first. She wrote a love letter back to me. God has written you a love letter, and it has stories in it you weren't around for, but he wanted you to know it, because it led to the moment when you and he met.
It has what he desires in your life and what he desires for your life to come, because the story you're being invited into is the never-ending story, and this Book is not safe. It's calling out to you to live in it by being consistent, creative, and communal, to live it out in community, and to live for it for Christ. Let me pray for us.
Father, we thank you for you. Thank you for who you are. Father, as we live in the Word, live out the Word, and live for the Word, stir in our affections a love for the Word, both for your Scriptures, yes, but also for your Son. Father, would you help us? All of us are on the spectrum in here this morning. Would you allow all of us to leave here today falling more in love with you?
Father, thank you for your Son. Thank you for the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us, that we might behold him. Lord, I pray, right now, we would have a moment to celebrate what you've taught us in your Word, and what you've taught us by your Word. Father, let us spend this moment celebrating Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.