Monday, August 24th

Monday, August 24th

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22

This is week number four in our series on "Doors." The image of a door has helped us look at the subject of "God's Will" from a number of standpoints. We are thinking a little more broadly and a little more foundationally this week as we consider the Bible itself as the "door" that connects us with the overall picture of what God has in mind for our lives. There are a lot of ways to involve ourselves with Scripture so that we become ones who gain a thorough understanding of God's intentions for us as his people. However, as our James passage says, it all comes down to being a "doer" of God's Word. God's Word truly becomes a "door" to his will for our lives when our involvements with his Word result in our being ones who live it out consistently and fully on a daily basis.

Giving us tools that help us truly be "doers" of God's Word was the focus of Sunday's message. While we will include this focus in our Devotionals this week, our primary focus will help us in some other ways that are really important as well. The SPECS acronym from Sunday's message helps us see the Scriptural applications we are being called to respond to and live out in our daily lives. If you scroll down to the Sunday Devotional spot you will see an overview of the "Deep Six Study" and the "Daily Devotional." Just after this (for this week) you will find an overview of the SPECS acronym. We encourage you to use the Scripture passages in Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday's Devotional materials as opportunities for trying out the SPECS approach to applying and living out God's Word. The Devotionals for Thursday, Friday, Saturday will give you specific passages of Scripture for using SPECS and for putting into place our primary focus that will be covered over the first three days of the week.

Now for the primary focus of this week's Devotionals. We are going to look at a "core" understanding that forms the basis for all involvement with Scripture and three key perspectives about God's Word that go with it. Without this "core" understanding and these three key perspectives in place, we are likely to go about applying Scripture and living it out in ways that are counterproductive to God's will being accomplished fully and completely in our lives. Here we go!

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5

God's Word, the Bible, is the revelation of who He is and His intentions for all of creation. A significant part of this revelation is its teaching concerning our relationship with God and the life that should flow from it. Our passage from John shows us that fruitfulness coming forth from a close relationship with God is at the heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is the "core" understanding that forms the basis for all involvement with Scripture. In addition there are three key perspectives concerning the nature of God's Word that help us to interact with Scripture in such a way that God is able to move in our lives so that fruit comes forth from our relationship with Him. We will be considering the following three questions over the next several days to help us gain these all important perspectives: (1) God's Word: Means or End? (2) God's Word: Content or Change? (3) God's Word: Obligations or Descriptions. We will look at the first one today.

GOD’S WORD: MEANS OR END

There are those who interact with Scripture very little and there are those who do so a great deal. While it is true that ample time must be taken for interacting with God's Word, how much time you spend interacting with it is far less vital than how well you interact with it.

When seeking to interact with Scripture you must always seek to interact with the One of whom it bears witness and not merely interact with the pages of Scripture and the information it communicates. If you are learning to do this, you are learning to interact well with Scripture. When Jesus was here on earth He often debated with the Pharisees about true spirituality. They believed that their particular religious practices had wonderfully squared them away with God. On many occasions Jesus burst their bubble.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life." John 5:39-40

The Pharisees were very proud of their devotion to Scripture. They spent large quantities of time studying them and acquiring a vast knowledge of their contents. But for all their interaction with Scripture, it was not good interaction because they missed Jesus. And if you miss, Jesus, you are not squared away with God, whether in regard to redemption or fruitfulness.

These men trusted only in their knowledge of the Word of God and not in the God whose Word it was.  In doing so they were never really able to know it truly as the Word of God, let alone God Himself. This is because they were more concerned with mastering it with their minds than having their lives mastered by the God who spoke it in the first place.

If we allow ourselves to develop a pattern of this kind in our interaction with Scripture, we too will: (1) miss Jesus; (2) not have a full understanding of Scripture; and (3) become unwilling to come to Scripture as the means by which we are confronted with our living Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were never intended to be an end in themselves and yet how easy it is for us to make them just that and thereby lower them from their place of extreme importance. If we have more of a relationship with Scripture than Jesus Christ of whom they speak, we have truly twisted their purpose. If our relationship with Jesus Christ is greater than our relationship with Scripture, then our relationship with Scripture will be greater than it ever could have been otherwise."

"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4

Just as physical living requires physical food, so spiritual life requires spiritual food.  We are told in this text that our spiritual food is every word that comes out of the mouth of God. May you always think of Scripture as God's very words to you flowing right from His heart by way of His mouth to your heart as you interact with the sacred text of Scripture. God never steps back from His Word. May you never treat His precious Word as if He were not right there in it waiting to meet with you for occasions of sweet communion and spiritual nurture.

Lord, I want to be a "doer" of your Word. I know the greatest of all treasures is you and so I ask for your help with the thing I need to "do" more than anything else: to come to your word and seek you with all my heart, soul, and mind. You are the beginning, middle, and end. You are everything I need and long for. Here I am, Lord! I give myself to you in worship, surrender, and devotion. Amen!

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