Summary: In order to live out God's Word we must first love God's Word.
Getting Fit: The Bible
Rev. Brian Bill
“Q&A’s” are common at conferences and they make up an entire genre of jokes. Here are a few that come to mind.
What do you call a song sung in an automobile? A cartoon.
What to you call a deer with no eyes? No eye deer.
How do you make a hot dog stand? Steal its chair.
What country makes you shiver? Chile.
What do you get when you cross a stream and a brook? Wet feet.
What did the mother broom say to the baby broom? It’s time to go to sweep.
I wanted to start with some Q&A because that’s actually how the Scripture passage we’ll be studying today begins. Only this question is extremely important and the answer is no joke. Look at Psalm 119:9. Here’s the Q: “How can a young man keep his way pure?” And here’s the A: “By living according to your word.”
As we head into the third installment of our “Getting Fit” sermon series, let me summarize where we’ve been (if you missed one of these messages, you can read the manuscript or listen online at: www.pontiacbible.org).
• January 2: “Getting Fit: Discipline” – It takes discipline to be a disciple because spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.
• January 9: “Getting Fit: Worship” – In order to develop this discipline we need to make sure that our worship is both reverent and filled with rejoicing and that we have the courage to rethink what worship really is, which is a surrendered life to the Savior. We also made the point that if we unplug we’ll unravel. I was happy to hear from a PBC family this week who wanted a church recommendation for their time up in Wisconsin Dells this weekend.
A Psalm that Praises Scripture
Would you please turn to Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible? Before we focus on a few of the verses, there are some things we should know about this Psalm.
1. The psalm is an acrostic. This is not readily apparent in English but the writer used the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet as his guide. Here’s how he did it. He composed 22 eight-verse stanzas, with each verse in a particular stanza beginning with the same Hebrew letter. For example, verses 1-8 all begin with the letter aleph, verses 9-16 with the letter beth, etc. Since my wife’s name is Beth I decided that we’ll study this second stanza this morning.
2. Almost every verse contains a direct reference to the Bible. To mix it up a bit, the writer uses at least nine Scriptural synonyms to describe God’s Word: law, testimonies, judgments, precepts, statutes, commandments, ordinances, promises and word.
3. God will use this psalm to renew your love for the Word. If you feel a bit blah or bored by the Bible, this psalm is the perfect solution for it really is an inspired devotional meant to increase our appetites for the Word of God. Did you know that preacher Thomas Manton preached 190 sermons on these 176 verses!
Charles Spurgeon tells an amusing story about a man named George Wishart, the first Episcopal bishop of Edinburgh, who during the 1600s was sentenced to death by hanging. He came to the day of his execution hoping for a pardon that had not yet arrived. It was a custom in those days to allow a condemned man to call for the singing of a psalm before he was put to death. Bishop Wishart, stalling for time, called for the singing of Psalm 119. As the story goes, before they hit verse 100, the pardon arrived and Wishart was spared. Thus does God use his Word to deliver his servants! It’s my prayer that we will all experience some deliverance today.
A Workshop on the Word
Instead of a ‘normal’ sermon this morning, whatever that is, my aim today is to make the preaching as practical as possible. We all know the Bible is important at PBC. After all, it’s our middle name. But I want to make sure we move from importance to experience to our very existence. Here then are some steps to take in order to saturate ourselves with Scripture.
1. Read the Word. We have to start here even though it sounds so simple. Jesus assumes that believers will know the Bible and be reading it regularly. Matthew 21:16: “Have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”
Here are some practical practices to help you read the Word on a regular basis.
• Develop the habit of “hang time” with God. You must plan this in order for it to happen. It might be in the morning or at night or in the middle of the day.