Summary: God has called us to be constantly fanning the spiritual flames inside us, and it is up to us to train ourselves to make the Spiritual Disciplines part of our routine, or lifestyle.
Feeding on the Word of God
“The Purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. They aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits.”
Today we continue our series on Spiritual Disciplines with “Feeding on the Word of God.”
Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV)
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers 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.
Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Now obviously when I say the scriptures feed us, I don’t mean they give us the fiber supplement we need in a literal sense, but I mean that these words feed our souls. They supply the nourishment necessary to maintain spiritual growth.
I read a statistic a few years ago that was eye opening for me:
Percentage of American’s who own running shoes but don’t run: 87%
Source: What Counts: The Complete Harper’s Index, edited by Charis Conn
What does that have to do with feeding on God’s Word? I’m sure if we were to poll the number of Americans that own a bible, but don’t read it we’d get a similar result. I’d even go as far to say that we could replace the word “Americans” with “Christians” and get only slightly different results.
Reminds me of a story I heard:
One day, a teacher was teaching her young class the story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha. She carefully explained how Mary and Martha had hurried to clean the house and cook a special meal. Then she paused and asked, “What would you do if Jesus was going to visit your house today?” One little girl quickly responded, “I’d put the Bible on the table!”
God’s Word is vital to our Spiritual Growth. Yet it’s something that we can often neglect. I want you to think of God’s Word as literally your favorite meal. Let’s just say that meal was all you needed to sustain life.
Now, knowing this would you miss feeding time? Probably not. Let’s say you did forget to eat a meal, would you eat that meal with the current meal also? What if you neglected eating all the time, except on Sunday? What if you kept forgetting to eat to the point of guilt and frustration, would you just call it quits all together?
The answer is no, because you would die! Feeding our bodies has priority in our lives. When we neglect to feed our souls through study of God’s Word we are dying spiritually. Once again, we are shutting out God’s voice.
1. The Value of Study
For the sake of discussion this morning, I’d like to replace the word “feed” with the word “study”. Understand that these words will be synonymous this morning, and ultimately point to the importance of God’s Word in our lives.
A. What is study?
When we study, we are taking on a detailed investigation and analysis of something. It is more than a passing glance. God’s Word should be no different. We are to take a much closer look than a passing glance at his Word if we are going to truly be “fed” by it.
Deuteronomy 11:18 (NIV)
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Listen to the instructions given here. They are telling us to direct our mind repeatedly and regularly towards God’s Word. Understand this very simple concept:
“What we study is the kind of habits that we will form in our own lives.” Good in, Good Out. Garbage in, garbage out. Period.
That’s why Paul emphasizes so strongly here in:
Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Study of God’s Word is not without value. There are definite byproducts of study:
B. Study Ensures Certainty
Psalm 119:5-6 (NIV)
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
The psalmist basically declaring that when we live by God’s Commands, we will never be left high and dry. We will be able to walk with certainty that God’s Word is sure, and steadfast.
C. Study Gives Direction
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.