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The Spiritual Discipline of Study


Recorded on March 31st, 2019

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The word of God is both an defensive and offensive weapon in our lives. Society and culture tend to force values and opinions on us. By studying the word of God, we can better defend ourselves against the status quo.

Transcript of Sermon:

[Music] a scripture this morning it’s from John 8:31 32 and Romans 12:1 John 8:31 through 32 to the Jews who had believed him jesus said if you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free romans 12:1 therefore I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to god this is your true and proper worship do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good pleasing and perfect will the Word of God for the people of God thanks be to God would you all join me in prayer please God I ask that you would Center our minds in my mind that you would help us just to be present in this moment with you and not to be distracted by the things around us god help us to hear your word for us this morning helping help us to open our hearts to you to your love to your grace and to your teaching which helps us to draw closer to you to remain with you it’s in your name we pray amen we are in our Lenten series and we are working to learn how to remain in Christ we begin our Lenten series looking at John 15 where we are working to see how we remain in Christ in John 15 we are told by Jesus that if we remain in him he remains in us and so how do we remain what does it look like to remain in Jesus and so we’re looking at different spiritual disciplines these spiritual disciplines are ways in which we learn to remain in Jesus the first week we looked at meditation and we looked at the idea that meditation isn’t really a sea Stern discipline it really is something that’s mentioned in the Bible a lot of times I can’t remember the exact number so I’m not going to say it now but meditation is a spiritual discipline and then we looked last week at fasting and how it’s a spiritual discipline that helps us to remain in Christ and today we’re going to look at Bible study and how Bible study is a spiritual discipline that can help us to remain in Christ and so as many of you know I did not grow up in a Christian home and it wasn’t until I was 28 years old until I came to Christ I was in college and it wasn’t even until after college that I really actually became what you would call a practicing Christian I was pregnant with Brennan when I was baptized and so I think I might have told you guys this joke before but my pastor used to joke that Brennan’s been baptized twice now because he was baptized when I was baptized and then baptized when he was a baby so honey you are covered you are covered indeed he’s not paying attention so it doesn’t matter but see now I got a little smile so that’s good but I was 28 years old when I really started walking with Christ and this thing used to scare me senseless I didn’t know what to do with it I mean it was like trying to learn a foreign language I would open it up and I would read it and I would think well that’s interesting and it would just kind of move on I mean okay yeah so what am I supposed to do with what I just read there and it didn’t matter if it was Old Testament or if it was New Testament it’s just didn’t it make a lot of sense to me granted there were some things that made sense like do not murder got it I can do that do not murder makes sense but then there were some things that just absolutely made no sense to me and I didn’t know how to translate that unless of course I had my handy-dandy translator aka my pastor but at they take time they didn’t have a pocket-sized version of my pastor that I could take with me everywhere I went so I was just kind of in trouble and then I started getting into Bible studies and in reading kind of other books about the Bible and that was helpful and for a long time I only really did Bible studies or reading books about the Bible but when you do that what you’re doing is really only hearing other people’s understanding of what the Bible has to say and not really hearing what the Bible has to say itself you’re letting other people translate the Bible for you which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing but it can’t be the only way that you interact with the Bible you cannot only interact with the Bible through somebody else’s translation through somebody else’s iteration through somebody else’s on sanding Bible studies are great reading books about the Bible is great but it can’t be the only way that you interact with the Bible and so there was this one time in our family’s life where I was well not one time but one particular time in my family’s life where we were going through some tough times which happens in life in case you were wondering we were going through some tough times and I said alright that’s it let’s do this and I sat down and I started reading my Bible and I chose the book of Job bad decision but I did it anyway and I started reading and I read and I read and I stayed in that darn book for quite a few months and I just kept reading and I just kept saying God please show me what you trying to show me I need to understand you I need to understand something about this Bible because we are stuck I am stuck I need to know more about who you are and sure enough over time I started God over that few month period I started God spoke to me about that season in my life I started to understand some things that I needed to understand about God and about me and about that season of my life and I didn’t have a translator I didn’t have my pastor I didn’t have some book telling me what I needed to understand about that season about what was happening in the Bible it was just me and it was God but it took some wrestling and it took some time and it was like learning French all by myself in the dark with a candle but I did it and it started this love affair between me and this thing called the Bible because I realized that it’s accessible that it’s not really as scary as it seems that it isn’t actually a foreign language that it was written with the language that you and I know intimately because it was written by the creator that created you and me it was written for us it was written to us it was written with the same language of love that created us you see in order for us to remain in Christ we must be able to engage with this because this is the living word of our God this is truth Ellen read for us John 8:31 232 and it says to us if you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples then he will know the truth and the truth will set you free you see when we were struggling in that time one of the things that was so hard is that there were so many things needing me to make a decision and so many things looking like truth and I was having a hard time reading the truth from false and this might be falseness because I don’t know farming that well but weeding the wheat from the shaft is that right is that a right thing pulling those things apart and I didn’t have my translator and this my friends is our translator this tells us truths from life this helps us understand what’s happening in our lives and without this is a tool we really don’t have a chance because this world is so good at just changing one little itty bitty thing and oh man does it look so right and it looks so true and what you just said there boy that sounds right I mean that has the ring of truth to it doesn’t that sound right Margie I mean what he said just that hold me and that sounds right it happens a lot and unless we understand this a lot of what sounds right becomes truth because we’re not laying it against the truth of Scripture because we don’t know the truth of Scripture so in order to really dig into how to make the truth of Scripture a part of who we are we’re gonna camp out in Romans 12:2 which Alan read to us and it says do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good pleasing and perfect will and I think in all of our lives we’ve come up to that point where you’re trying to decide what is next or what should I do or how do I handle this or what’s the right way forward what’s the right answer and as a pastor that’s almost what I get asked most is how do I know what to do next or how do I know how to handle this or how do I know which job to take and the answer always needs to come from your ability to be able to hear God or your be ability to be able to translate what’s coming into you from the outside influences as truth and lies and without your translator you’re stuck so how do we train our minds to be able to automatically translate the influences that are coming into your mind as truth or lies how do we train ourselves to do that so this scripture is telling us three things the first thing it’s telling us to do is we need to train ourselves to not conform to the patterns of this world then we need to transform our minds by renewing our minds and then the fruit of that is when we do those two things we will be able then to test and approve God’s will we be we will be able to translate the things that are coming into our minds and understand what God’s will is and that equals freedom that brings us freedom the truth will set us free and so we’re told first to not conform to the patterns of this world man if I had a dollar for every time I have tried not to conform to the patterns of this world I would be a rich girl I would probably be a rich girl oh if I had a penny for every time I tried not to conform to the patterns of this world it’s just a really hard thing not to do this world is so full of influences that feed us every single day I mean when I Drive down the road I am influenced every time everywhere I look there are billboards there are restaurants you know what they tell you that they odd BC the obesity epidemic is not just about people eating more food it’s also about the environment that we live in because if somebody has an issue with food the environment that they live in is an environment that encourages that influences somebody to eat because if you woke up not thinking about food you walk out your door and all of a sudden you’re thinking about food I can tell you that I didn’t think about wanting a hamburger until I drove by Five Guys and then I thought well hey wait a minute now I think I want a hamburger right or I didn’t think about that I went to chick-fil-a yesterday for the kids and I wasn’t thinking about a they had this new key lime frosty thing and I didn’t think about that I didn’t know it existed but once I saw it I thought hey now that sounds like a really good yummy thing didn’t know it existed never thought about it never wanted it but now that I know it exists I’m thinking that sounds pretty darn good it’s an influence it gets in your mind and it lives there and it talks to you and it talks to you and it wants you to do stuff right but it’s not just food then we have shopping their shoppers among us and some of us who have shopping issues you walk out your door you think I’m just going to go to the grocery store and then you get to Publix and when Publix has a really good buy one get one sale you have five things on your list and you walk out of the store with two baskets because everything you wanted and everything you like was on a buy one get one sale and you had to get them all and not just one of each you have to get five of each because what if they don’t have this same buy one get one for like five more weeks you’ll be out of all the stuff that you like anybody ever done that before every once in a while I’ll tell you see there’s like five of you that raised your hands you didn’t plan to do it you didn’t want to do it but all of a sudden you were doing these things we are so easily influenced by the things that we see in this environment that we live in it just is a fact of our existence and we like to think that we are adults and that we are bigger than this world that we live in and that we are smarter than that and that we can overcome these influences but the fact is is that we don’t even realize that we’re really being influenced like we kind of do but then the other part of us is like well you know it’s not that big of a deal thank you some of us listen to radio stations or podcasts or people who have a lot of opinions about things or people who live a certain lifestyle that we don’t think is something that we’re really interested in but they talk about it so much that we start to kind of think that it’s something that we might do or that we might want to do or that we might be interested in this world influences us every second of every minute of the day that we are awake and if you listen to the TV or radio when you’re sleeping well then every second of every minute of the day that you’re awake and sleeping and we can’t control that we cannot control that we are being influenced so what we have to do is realize that we are being influenced and we have to take those influences seriously we have to know that this is happening we have to realize that this is happening and we have to decide to do something about these influences that are happening and that’s where verse2 comes in that’s where the being transformed by the renewing of the mind comes into play because we can’t do anything when we’re being influenced we can’t decide all of a sudden then to open our Bible and go oh my gosh oh my gosh there’s this podcast happening and they’re talking about something that’s kind of where do I go to to find the answer oh and the leaders have fled together they have captured without using the boat that’s not going to help me oh my gosh Publix is having a sale I really want to spend some money and it’s not in the budget I don’t have any money I’m in the fifth month of that same year on the fourth year every rain is it no that does not help me right now in this moment come on you’ve done it you know you’ve done it you know you’ve been tempted and you know you’re struggling and you don’t so you figure well the Bible is gonna help me so you do that whole little I’m just gonna sing and put my finger in the middle and God’s gonna tell me what the answer is I’ve done it if you haven’t done it just pretend you have to make me feel better you can’t in the middle of being tempted in the middle of being influenced you can’t then decide to try and find a way to have God help you fix everything in the minute you can pray to Him sure but that’s not when training happens that’s not when the renewing of the mind happens that’s not when you can fix everything you’re more than likely going to give in that’s more than likely when the sparkly worldly thing gets its way because it seems so close to the truth that’s when the sparkly worldly thing means seems so right the way that you make it the way that you find the truth and the truth sets you free is that you let number to happen the transforming of the mind soldiers soldiers go to boot camp and in boot camp they are tortured basically I mean this is what I’m told I haven’t been boot camp and I’ve never been a soldier but I’ve been told that they go and they are told to wake up at a certain time and they are told to run a lot and they are told to do a lot of sit-ups and a lot of push-ups and a lot of sit-ups and a lot of push-ups and then a whole lot of other exercises and then they shoot a lot and then they do a lot of other exercises and then every day day after day day after day over and over and over and over again they exercise their bodies and their minds over and over and over again week after week day after day and do you know why they do this they do this so that when they are in combat their body doesn’t have to think that in the moment they don’t have to decide wait a minute is this when I pull out the gun and I do that know instinctively their body knows exactly what to do because it has been trained exactly what to do it’s called muscle memory it’s the same thing that an athlete does a football player does a drill again and again and again and again so that in the moment in that football game that one play and they may never use it but they do it over and over again and practice so just in case it happens on that particular day they don’t have to think about it not at all their brain doesn’t get engaged at all their body does it for them and knows exactly what to do the play happens because they’ve trained their body over and over and over again their muscles take over and it just happens because they’ve been practicing for it forever over and over and over again beforehand you transform your mind by renewing your mind for us that means before we get into battle before we get to the place where we’re wondering what God wants us to do before we are wondering what truths and lies are before we’re stuck before we’re hurting before we’re trying to figure out what life wants from us we need to know this we need to have a relationship with this we need to know Scripture we need to have some of it memorized in my recommendation this is the first thing you need to do is choose a piece of Scripture and memorize it number one one piece one verse start with one because in that moment it’s a spear that your body can go to instantly that speaks back to the lie it’s muscle memory its truth that speaks to the pain it’s truth that speaks to the lie and the more intimately that you know this thing when the world is speaking and Margie says that thing that sounds so close to truth so close to truth Margie’s not here and I don’t really mean Margie Margie sorry Margie who’s not here but when somebody says something that sounds so close to truth you know instantly it’s a lie because you know this we must be transformed by the renewing of our mind and the renewing happens by engaging our friend by engaging Scripture day after day and it doesn’t have to be a big deal you just have to sit down with it and let God walk you through it piece by piece step by step you don’t have to be a pastor to do this and then what happens just like the soldiers and the athletes the fruit happens the muscle memory kicks in it’s like with Jesus in Matthew and in mark before he goes into ministry he’s tempted in the desert and what does he say when the devil tempts him he doesn’t say anything to the devil except he quotes specifically scripture the only words that Jesus says to Satan are direct quotes from Scripture what Jesus does to confront evil to confront the lies is that Jesus uses Scripture truth to bring freedom from lies you and I need to learn to house the truth in our bodies as if it were another piece of us as if it was our best friend so that in the moment the truth pours out of us just like it was a muscle memory just like Jesus when he’s tempted by Satan in Ephesians 6:10 through 17 I says finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes for our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers against the authorities against the powers of this dark world and against the special spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground and after you have done everything to stand stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist the breastplate of righteousness in place with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace in addition to all of this take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God here Paul gives us a picture of how we can prepare ourselves for these battles how we can take Scripture Bible study and make it a way to battle in this world when heatin was 8 years old he had just finished school that year is probably a week after skooled finished and he was in the bathroom yeah you heard your name and he comes in I knew that would happen and he was in the bathroom and he called me he’s like mom can he’s like mom you come here and I said can it wait and he said I don’t know and so I went to the bathroom door and I said what’s up buddy and he said mom some kids have been saying some that have been hurting my feelings and so I sat down outside the bathroom door and he began to tell me about these things that the kids have been saying that we’re hurting his feelings and I was praying that God would give me the words that I needed to help soothe his heart because we all know what that feels like we all know what it feels like to have people say things about us that hit that place inside of us that just hurts and after he finished using the restroom and washed his hands I took him upstairs to his room and we opened the Bible and we write a piece of Scripture and I said buddy I said it would be really great if you memorize this piece of Scripture this week and I said do you have any idea why I want you to memorize this and he said no and I said well do you know about the the armor of God and I he said yeah and I said well can you tell me about it and he talked me through the different pieces of armor and I said tell me about the sword I said what’s the sword and he said well it’s the Word of God and I said yeah and I said did you know that of all of the pieces of armor the sword is the only singularly offensive weapon and all of the armor he said no I said is the only weapon that is meant to fight of all of those pieces and isn’t it interesting that the only weapon that’s meant to fight that’s meant to kill is the Word of God now you can’t go into the battle waving this thing around can you no you have to go into the battle with it already here because when somebody comes to you and puts those words at you if that words already there you slay and you win so if you implant the Word of God in your heart you go unto battle equipped with the only weapon that is offensive the only weapon that is meant to destroy the lies that come at you from this world Bible study helps you remain in Christ because it removes you from the lies of this world let’s pray God we thank you for your word we thank you for giving us a testimony of your goodness of your greatness we give you giving us a testimony of what is true in this world God thank you for your love and your mercy God give us the strength to come before your word in humility and to encounter it and new it’s a new your grace we pray, Amen.

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