“Slipping Away”

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Mere Listeners 02

The other day I was introduced to a friend’s girlfriend. He said her name. I repeated her name as I shook her had. And repeated it again. A good habit I’ve used to remember many a person’s name, but this time it slipped out of my mind almost immediately as I turned to talk to someone else. At first I attempted to blame it on getting older, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I was preoccupied with other thoughts—even though I used my faithful, good habit for remember names….

Have you found this to be the case when reading the Word of God? Sadly, I must admit that sometimes this is so for me. As v. 24 of our main text observes, I look at the Book, but my mind is preoccupied with other concerns, issues, and, dare I say, worries. Oh, I’m reading the words—even saying them out loud sometimes, but alas, they soon slip away….

One thing I have done for years, but have gotten away from as a habit, was journaling the text I was reading. Over time it became another opportunity for ‘sermon seeds’. (Now, on one hand, this is not ‘bad,’ but this would often lead to “how I could present it to others” and not “how can I apply this to my own life.”

I have returned to journaling and pondering and engaging the text, praying to Lord Jesus to apply in my life through His Holy Spirit this particular aspect of Truth which leads to freedom (v. 25). Some times the bites are manageable; while other times they are sizable, requiring more time to process. …

What are some ‘habits’ you use so that the Word doesn’t just slip away after reading it? Your thoughts?

Main Text— James 1:22–25 (NIV84)— 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

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.John 8:31–32 (NIV84)

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”—John 14:6 (NIV84)

 Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.— John 17:17 (NIV84)

Lord Jesus Christ, I put You on as my Belt of Truth. May I be a Truth-bearer and not a tale-teller. Sanctify me by Your Word. Your Word is Truth. In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Becoming a People of the Book & Getting the Right Explanation of the Word”

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Date: 03-14-15

The Big Idea: If the Word is indeed the Word of God (and I most assuredly believe it is), then I must do everything I can to accurately interpret the Word so that I will not be putting words in His mouth, right?.

My Thoughts: Even the Apostle Peter had some difficulties with some of the Apostle Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:16). Even when he literally walked with Jesus, Peter had to ask the Lord, “Explain the parable to us” (see Matthew 15:15). The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading Isaiah 53 and asked Philip to explain it to him (Acts 8:31ff). Dare I supposed I need not to ask for explanation of the Word?

I have found that to become a People of the Book, I need to rightly interpret the Word of God. In order to do this, I need to interpret its meaning in the proper context: Literary, historical and cultural context. Sometimes I need to read a good commentary or ask one who has study the Word longer than I have or who has a particular expertise in a language or given area of history…. I try to surround myself with people like this.

If the Word is indeed the Word of God (and I most assuredly believe it is), then I must do everything I can to accurately interpret the Word so that I will not be putting words in His mouth, right?

If our God is sovereign over time, and if He has breathed Life into the Words of this Book, then it follows that His Words can span time and culture. His Words go beyond any ‘first century worldview’ or 21st century deconstruction attempts. His Word is eternal and valid for all cultures and times….

On my journey becoming a People of the Book, I have learned some simple guidelines of interpretation: First, I make observations of the text prior to reading any commentaries. I focus on the verbs and participles in their original language, moving to key nouns and adjectives. Then I move to interpretation, asking such questions as what was the context of the original audience, what is the context of the passage in the Bible, and how does the author use these particular words. Once I come up with some contextual interpretation of the Word, I move to application. Following both of the first two steps avoids any misapplication and putting words in the Holy One’s mouth. What I have also learned is, much of the time this is hard and sacred work. Sometimes I have discovered that what I thought the passage said actually was my bias taking it out of context. …. Have you found this to be so, too? Has the Word presently come alive to you in ways that it has not in the past?   Share your story about your journey becoming a People of the Book as you get explanations of the Word.

Main Text: — Nehemiah 8:8—They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. [NIV84]

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)

The disciples came to [Jesus] and asked, “Why do You speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”  —Matthew 13:10-12 (NIV84)

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar. — Proverbs 30:5-6 (NIV84)

Coach Mike