Connect: God’s Word

This morning, we continue our message series entitled ‘Connect’. We’re going to learn a bit more about who God is, what He is like, and how we connect with Him.

Today, we’re going to get practical about the Bible.  The Bible, or God’s word, contains the answers and direction that we need for our lives.  It contains God’s wisdom that brings peace, life, and blessings.
First, let’s take a quick look at what the Bible in itself is and how we came to receive it.  The Bible isn’t just a book, but rather a collection of 66 books.  These books are divided up between the Old and New Testaments.  The Old Testament (the first 39 books) lays the foundation for God’s plan of salvation and why it was necessary.  It is a foreshadowing of the things to come and contains the history of the Jews and prophecy about God’s savior for all people who would come from them.  The New Testament documents this plan of salvation coming to pass as well as letters to the churches established following it instructing us on how to accept this salvation and all that we need to know about how to live a life pleasing to God.  The New Testament also includes prophetic revelation about the end times.  The central focus of the Bible, from beginning to end, is that of the person of Jesus; who is indeed the Alpha and the Omega; the beginning and the end.
Within these books are documented historical events from be beginning of creation to the end, it honestly reflects the good and bad decisions made by men and women that God created and how He lovingly and patiently dealt with them.  It reveals to us much about who God is and what He is like.  It reveals to us where sin and separation from Him began and where it ended.  It contains not only historical facts, but also poetry, governmental law, books of wisdom, songs, prayers, letters, prophecy, and apocalyptic literature.
These books were written by ~44 men over the course of 1,500 years.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Although scripture was written by individuals with their unique writing styles and personality, scripture itself is God-breathed or God-inspired.  It is God Himself speaking through His people as inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit.
How can something written by someone from as long ago as 1400 BC and at most recent times 100 AD still apply today?
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Although the individuals writing the words of scripture knew nothing of the world that we live in today, the God who authored it knew it completely.  The same author that personally gave the words to write thousands of years ago is the same author that personally uses it to speak to us today; God Himself.  The same God who worked miracles to deliver, heal, and restore those who call on Him as written thousands of years ago still desires to deliver, heal, and restore those who call on Him today!
We live on God’s word alone.  Our very existence itself is a manifestation of His word coming to pass.  Everything around us exists because it was spoken into existence by Him.
Deuteronomy 8:3
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
I think that we all could use a healthy dose of this same humility.  We all need to maintain a healthy hunger and craving, not for sweets or food or drink, but for the word of God.
We live in a unique situation today where the word of God is very easily attainable.  The Bible can be purchased from Wal-Mart, dollar stores, and any store that sells books.  It can be accessed online through great resources like blueletterbible, biblegateway, and youversion.  You can download it free of charge through e-Sword.  You can download it via free apps on your phone such as youversion, CBN, olive tree, and logos.  With these tools available, anyone can have instant access to the wealth of knowledge complied from scholars.  With just a quick search and click, you can dig through the word of God to see what it has to say about situations that you are facing, answers to questions that you might have, and direction for life.  With a click, you can view concordance and lexicon entries which contain the full meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words that have been translated into our English language, hear the correct pronunciations of those words, and see where else they are found throughout the Bible.
If you aren’t sure where to start in studying the Bible, there are free reading plans that can guide you through the Bible in just about any way that you desire to.  You can go through it regarding certain topics, read through in chronological order, read through it in a year, just about any way that you can think of.
God is calling to each of us with this beckoning:

Isaiah 55
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

You don’t have to have money, or be anybody in the eyes of the world, to come and receive the riches granted to us by God’s word.  He’ll give us everything that we need.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
So many things that we crave and hunger for in life, the things that we long for and work for, simply do not satisfy in the end.  These things make us awesome promises that they never keep.  The word of God, however, always satisfies and delivers exactly what is promised because it is backed by God Himself.
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
If only we took the time to listen to God.  Many of us spend the time praying and selfishly sending up our requests to God, however, do we take the time to just listen and eat the goodness richness of God’s word?  It has the power to bring life to our bodies, to our lives, and to our circumstances!
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
Indeed, God has made a love covenant with us today through the lineage of David.  Through it, we have direct access to the riches of God’s kingdom and have inherited it through our adoption of sons and daughters of the most High.
A bit of a sidetrack here…  It’s interesting because every time that I read this verse, I think of the United States.  Because since the beginning of this great nation, back when the Lord was our God, He endowed us with splendor.  Nations that we didn’t even know have come running into our borders for many years.  They are so desperate for the freedom and wealth that we have been blessed with that we can’t even stop them from invading this great nation!
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
I’ve heard many people put off committing to the Lord for many reasons.  However, there’s no need to wait.  Nothing better will ever come along and no way of life will ever begin to compare.  Seek Him and call on Him now.  Turn from unrighteous ways and thoughts to the Lord.  He will have mercy on us, pardon our sins, and lead us into His righteous ways that lead to life abundantly!
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We have to remind ourselves of this from time to time.  We’ll never completely understand and figure out God nor His ways.  After all, the creation will never be greater nor wiser than the Creator.  However, we do crave the thoughts and ways of God and make every attempt to conform our thoughts and ways to His.
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.
What an awesome promise!  God’s word will never return to Him void.  What He has promised, He will keep.  What He has declared will come to pass.  If we plow up the hardness of our hearts and prepare the way, His word will water our lives and make them bud and flourish with life and be very fruitful.  We will see the word of God manifest itself in and through our lives.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

Going out in joy and being lead by peace, things that can only come from the hand of the Lord.  They cannot with any amount of money be purchased and cannot be stolen by anyone or anything unless we permit them to.  The word of God can bring them both into our lives.  I love this visual picture that God painted in Isaiah as well about the one who has them: the mountains and hills bursting into song and the trees clapping their hands.  What an awesome picture of what life is like when you possess His joy and peace.
This morning, in closing, we’re going to pray and ask God to give us a hunger and craving for His word.  The Bible is easily accessible, searchable, and understandable.  The same author that wrote it will reveal it’s true meaning to us.  If you don’t have a Bible, see myself or one of the elders and we’ll get one to you.  Dig in and allow God to speak to you and reveal Himself to you.  Read it and listen to Him, let Him fill your life with the richness that is contained within it.  Read His plans for your life and His promises that He made to you.  Allow His word to be the rock solid foundation on which the rest of your life is built.