Part 3 from our Church Retreat
My final message Saturday afternoon:
We talked about absolute truths in the Bible and that in fact the Bible is the truth. Earlier I touched on doing God’s word, not just knowing it and I’d like to pursue this theme more.
It’s the application of scripture that makes the difference in our lives. The meat of the word is doing what God wants.
Skip Heitzig wrote, “Biblical knowledge can puff us up, leading us to try to impress others with our mastery of scripture.” (Don’t you think of the Pharisees when you hear that?) Unless we love other people and live according to what the Lord taught us, the Bible says we are nothing.
Some people become experts in the Scriptures, yet their lives are unchanged. The goal of studying the Bible is not simply observation or even interpretation. Rather it’s application. The point is not to uncover new tidbits of knowledge about prophecy or explain the precise definition of a Greek word. The joy comes in applying the truth to our lives. Only then can we see that the Bible works. The best way to approach the Bible is as an obedient servant waiting for the master to give instructions.
Remember all of Joshua 1:8 says, “The Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.”
A lot of people quote the meditate on the word day and night part of Joshua 1:8, but you rarely hear that second part.
True fulfillment only comes through doing what God has planned for you.
I read somewhere that what God wants from us is to be believed and then for us to act upon that belief. Every time we read something in the Bible we should ask ourselves 5 things:
1.What example is there for me to follow?
2.What error is there for me to avoid?
3.What command is there for me to obey?
4.What prayer is there for me to echo?
5.What issue is there for me to study further?
There are lots of things God told people to do in the Bible, which didn’t make sense at the time, but when people obeyed they saw His mighty power.
God gave Joshua the strangest military strategy ever heard of in the battle of Jericho. Jericho was the enemy’s mightiest stronghold. And what did God tell Joshua to do? March his men silently around the outside walls of the city once a day for 6 days, then on the 7th day march around the city 7 times and on the last lap the priests in the army were to blow trumpets loudly and the people were to shout and the wall would collapse and Joshua’s army would successfully capture the city!
Joshua obeyed, exactly as told, and it happened!
Gideon’s another example. He was confronted by an invading army of Midinites that was so huge it looked like grasshoppers stretching out along the plain as far as they could see. He gathered up 32,000 men for his army, but God told him to get rid of all but 300! Then God told Gideon to take the 300 men and position them on the ridges surrounding the enemy’s camp. Each man was to hold a flaming torch inside a clay water jar with one hand and a trumpet in the other. When Gideon gave the signal, the men were to break the water jars, lift the torches and blow the trumpets.
They did this and the enemy ran, killing each other as they went. The victory in both these stories was clearly God’s, which is probably why He did it in such strange ways, so there was no question it was His doing and we would give Him the glory!
Here’s another strange one: There is a story in Numbers 21:4-9 about how the Israelites were grumbling about God and Moses. God sent deadly snakes among the people of Israel because of their sin. The people asked Moses to pray to God for relief and God told Moses to make an image of a poisonous serpent out of bronze and set it high on a pole so that "everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live."
In the book of John 3:14-15 Jesus uses this story to prepare Nicodemus for the revelation He was about to give Him concerning His redemptive work on a cross. He said, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life."
The Israelites would never have thought of the bronze snake as their salvation from the biting serpents. Looking at the very thing that was killing them to save them.
What the Israelites were told to do in the desert we are told to do with the cross. Sin is the serpents biting us. Jesus became sin on a cross. He told Nicodemus that He would be so identified with sin, death and punishment that He would be lifted up like a snake."
2 Corinthians 5:21 says "For our sakes He made Him who knew no sin - sin, that in Him we might become the rightousness of God."
Like the Israelites with the snake, it's something we would never have thought of ourselves.
Just like God telling the people in the Old Testament that a lamb or other animal sacrifice would cleanse them of their sin if they believed Him that it would. It wasn’t the sacrifice. It was their belief that what He said was true that caused Him to forgive them.
No one could have made that up! It had to be God! 1st Peter 2:4-10 refers to Jesus as the living stone, rejected by men and it quotes Psalm 118:22 as saying that He’s the stone causing men to stumble, the rock that will make them fall.