Summary: If we would be "People of the Book" we must weave the Word of God into the very fabric of our daily lives.
Title: People of the Book
Transition: And the thesis statement is:
Thesis: If we would be People of the Book we must weave God’s Word into the very fabric of our daily lives.
Following a time when Israel had refused to live in obedience to God, God allowed them to be overpowered by the Babylonian Empire. They were forced from their homeland and lived in exile in Babylon. Over time they learned to live as Babylonians. They learned their culture and lived as Babylonians… Temple worship and Torah life were foregone. Fifty years or so later they were allowed to return to their homeland – the land of Israel. After everyone had gotten settled in their towns they all assembled in Jerusalem for the purpose of being reintroduced to the Word of God.
Keep in mind; they had not heard the Word of God read publically for over fifty years. Many if not most of them did not know what was in God’s Word and had no clue as to what it meant to heard from and obey the living God. So In Nehemiah 8 we witness an historic moment.
The people stood for hours listening to Ezra read the Word of God. They were hungry to hear what they had not heard for generations. They were hushed with reverence as the Scripture was read. The people wept because they realized how far they had gotten from living in obedience to God. They wept because they were reminded that they were the People of God and People of the Book.
We find ourselves today in a position quite unlike that of those ancient Israelites who had not read the Book for over fifty years… we, on the other hand, are people of plenty. Bibles are a dime a dozen in every imaginable format, binding and translation. We are blessed to have an abundance of churches… so much so that churches have to appeal to consumers for a market share. Despite the abundance of spiritual influences and opportunities, I suspect we also are in need of being reminded that we too are the People of God and People of the Book.
The Word of God exists and is readily available to us… but that does not make us People of the Book. We have to carve out space in our lives for God’s Word.
I. Create space for the Book, Deuteronomy 6:4-7
“You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving to you today.” Deuteronomy 6:4-6
There are those in Christendom who are legitimately referred to as bibliolaters. Just as Romans speaks of those who loved, worshipped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, bibliolaters essentially worship the Bible. In such cases a person is more devoted to the Word of God than to the God of the Word. True spiritual development always begins with God.
So our text today correctly instructs us to begin with loving God and then moves to living God’s Word. So we begin by carving out space in our lives for God.
A. Create space for Loving God
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all of your strength.” 6:5
When I left the house on Thursday morning my neighbor was just coming in from having walked her dog. Earlier she had gotten up at 4:30 to go to the gym. She had then gotten ready for work and was just returning from walking her dog. I know she is loves to ride her Harley and in good weather she often hits the road. She also owns a horse and had ridden her horse over near Standley Lake on Sunday. The stirrup had broken and she had fallen and was all achy from that. And now she was off to work.
Tweet has tons of energy. She lives life large. She has varied interests. And Tweet carves out time in her life for the things that are important to her.
In my devotional reading this week I read a statement that made me stop and think… I’m still thinking about it. Here it is: “Sooner or later you will have to put God first in your life, that is to say, your own spiritual development must become the only thing that really matters. It need not, perhaps had better not be, the only thing that matters, but it must be the first thing.” (Emmet Fox, Power Through Constructive Thinking, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God)
Emmet Fox says placing the highest value our own spiritual development, i.e., our relationship with God and living in obedience to God, is how we put God first in our lives.