Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Today on Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss will talk about keeping God’s Word at the center of your life. Nancy, that’s such an important topic.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: It sure is, Leslie. Let me just share one example with you. A woman wrote to say,

The Lord brought Revive Our Hearts into my life when I was young in my faith. At that time I was struggling to discern what was true from the many lies that are out there. During this time I also had a lot of false ideas about what it meant to be a child of God. The Lord in His faithfulness has been using the sound teaching on Revive Our Hearts to mold my life as a woman of God. The Lord has used this ministry to shape me in ways I’ve yet to see or know.

I’m so thankful for how God has used Revive Our Hearts in this woman's life, to get her grounded in the truth of God's Word. It is the truth that sets us free. That's how we come to know God, through the truth of His Word.

And I’m so thankful for a special group of people who help make this ministry possible. We are able to help women become grounded in God’s Word and in their faith in large part because of support from our monthly partner team.

This is a group of listeners who are actively involved in making this ministry possible as they pray, and they support the ministry financially each month, and they share the message with others.

In order for Revive Our Hearts to continue airing across the U.S. and spreading around the world by means of the Internet, we are asking the Lord to provide at least 800 new monthly partners here in September.

When you sign up as a monthly partner this month, as our way of saying "thank you" for your investment in their ministry, we'd like to send you a copy of the new hardcover, gift edition of my book that's called The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.

As a monthly partner, you'll get one conference registration each year. I hope you'll get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Would you join us in praying that the Lord would raise up additional monthly partner so that we can continue sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with listeners in your area and all around the country.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for September 18, 2014.

What role should the public reading of the Bible have in a church service? To answer that question there’s no better place to look than the Bible itself. That’s what Nancy will do continuing in a series called "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 7): Indispensable Ingredients for Life."

Nancy: We’ve been parked in Joshua chapter one, the first nine verses. We’ve seen the changing of the guard as Joshua has become the leader of the people, replacing Moses who is now dead. In those first nine verses, God gives some wonderful words of encouragement to Joshua as he faces this impossible task that lies ahead of him.

I’ve spent the last several months meditating on the first nine verses of Joshua chapter 1. It’s been so rich to me, and I would encourage you to get into that passage yourself for whatever season of life you may be in and to find words of encouragement and exhortation that will help you in this season of life.

We saw that Joshua has been commissioned. God has told him what his task is, what his responsibility is. Verse 6 of Joshua 1: “You shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.” You’re going to take the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.

The natural question is, humanly speaking, how can this happen? How can this be? This is impossible. There’s no way to get those one to two million Jews across the Jordan River. And once we do get there, there are these walled cities and there are these giants. How are we going to do this?

Joshua doesn’t say that because over the years Joshua has been learning to walk by faith. He has demonstrated over and over again that he believes that God is bigger than the giants. But I want to tell you, no matter how spiritual you are, no matter how long or how much you believe God, there are moments when you still get terrified.

I can’t speak for anybody else but I can speak for myself. I know some people must hear me teach and think, “Don’t you ever doubt that these things are true? Don’t you ever doubt that God’s presence is with you?”

And I go, “Yes. Sometimes I just lapse into serious unbelief and dark times at moments of just doubting. How, Lord, am I going to do this? This seems so impossible.”

And then I get flustered. And God comes back to me with the same things He said to Joshua. I guess that’s why I love this passage.

God said first of all, I will go with you. You’re not going to be on your own. You will have my presence. We’ve looked at that over the last couple of sessions.

Then as God charges Joshua to be strong and courageous, He gives him another resource that will help protect him from fear, and that is the Word of God. Not just the presence of God, but the Word of God.

In this passage, Joshua 1, it’s often called the Book of the Law, which is all they had in those days, the books of Moses, the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They didn’t have the whole Bible as we do. But what they had was God-inspired, it was precious, and it was what they needed to enable them to fulfill God’s calling.

Let me pick up in verse 7 of Joshua chapter 1, and you’ll see this theme:

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (vv. 7–9).

One of the most important keys to Joshua’s success over a lifetime of faithfulness was his respect and his love for the Law of God, the Word of God. From the time he was a younger man, now as he’s becoming an older man, to the end of his life he had a huge respect for God’s Word. He had learned this from his mentor, who was Moses, his predecessor, Moses the servant of the Lord.

So let’s back up to Deuteronomy 31. I want you to see Moses’ heart for the Word of God and how he realized the importance of the Word of God. As Moses is preparing to die, he appoints Joshua as his successor. He reminds the people that their dependence is not to be on a human leader but they are to depend on God Himself. He reminds them that God will go with them to encourage them, to protect them, and to strengthen them for whatever lies ahead.

So in Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses says to the people,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or afraid. The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged (paraphrased).

You see that theme throughout that chapter.

Then when we come to verse 9 of Deuteronomy 31, Moses emphasizes to the people the importance of keeping the Law of God before them. Verses 9–11:

Then Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.

Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner [the strangers, the guests] within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess" (vv. 9–13).

Skip down to verse 24, again continuing in Deuteronomy 31:

When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, "Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you” (vv. 24–26).

You see here the huge esteem and role and place that Moses gave to the law of the Lord, to the Book of the Law, the Word of God, in the life of the nation. As we said, all they had was the first portion, what we call our first five books of the Bible today. What did they do with the Word of God?

Number one, they recorded it. It was written out. They didn’t have printing presses and copies the way we do, so God gave His Word, inspired it and gave it to Moses to record. It was written out.

This reminds us what an incredible privilege it is for us today to have our very own copies of God’s Word, something we should never take lightly or for granted. It's something that the Children of Israel never dreamed of having. So the Word of God was recorded and thankfully it has been passed down to us from one generation to the next.

The Word of God was respected. You see that it was given a prominent, visible place. Moses said, “Take this Book of the Law, put it next to the ark of the covenant of the Lord.” That was the central, core place in the whole nation of Israel; that was the place where the glory of God dwelt. Moses said, “Take this copy of God’s law and put it in the most visible prominent place.”

It was respected. It was not put up on a shelf or stuck in somebody's tent or buried in the ground or someone just hauling it around with their other belongings. There was huge respect and visibility given to the Word of God.

The Word was read. It was read regularly. It was read aloud, and it was read corporately. Every seven years on a regular basis the people, all the people, all ages, were to assemble together to hear the Word read to them. When it was read, it was read in its entirety from start to finish.

Some of us would think today that eternity had come if we were to read Genesis through Deuteronomy in one of our church services. But this was such a precious, beloved, cherished possession to the Children of Israel that God would have spoken to them, that it was no hardship or duty to come together every seven years—men, women and children to congregate together and to have the priests read aloud the Book of the Law to them.

I think it’s important to notice that the children were included. Even those too young to really understand everything were hearing. They would hear the Word of God and, in time, as they grew up, they would learn to fear the Lord. The parents would hear and learn to fear the Lord, and the children would hear and learn to fear the Lord.

Our corporate worship is so vital for many reasons, but not the least of which is that as the Word of God is read and preached in our church services, we have an opportunity not only to learn the Word of God for ourselves, but also to teach the ways of God to the next generation.

It’s one thing to do it in our families; that’s very important. But there is something important too about families coming together to hear the Word of God read and preached, so that your children know it’s not just our family that values this but it’s other families. They are being raised in a community of faith that honors and exalts the Word of God. This has to mold and shape their lives.

Let me say, by the way, in my opinion, the single most important reason for education is to read and comprehend the Word of God, so that we can know God through His Word, so that we can respond obediently to Him. The purpose of education is not just to make us smarter.

I believe the single most important reason for getting your children well educated is so they can handle this Book. Not so they can become scholars of this Book, but so they can know God and walk obediently with Him.

What would happen when the Word was read aloud to this corporate gathering of God’s people? They were to do three things. First of all they were to listen, hear the Word of God. You can be listening with your physical ears but not listening at all with your heart.

I’m ashamed to say how many times in our church I have stood with our congregation for the reading of God’s Word and had my mind be in so many different places, even as God’s Word was being read. God said, "When the Word of God is being read, hear it. Hear it not just with your ears but with your heart." Hear it. Take it in. They were to listen.

They were to learn to fear God as they heard the Word of God read. They were to have a respect and reverence for God and His Word. There was nothing casual about this gathering, this corporate time of coming together to hear the Word of God read.

I’m sure there were little children who must have gotten fidgety.

I can remember in our family devotions when we were little, we had quite a span of children, different ages. There were always younger ones and sometimes older ones who didn’t have much attention span. I’ve been with families as they’re trying to have family devotions.

Sometimes it can be an effort and some maybe don’t have the capacity early on to hang in there for any length of time. But it’s important for your children to know that this is a serious, important, and valuable time that your family, your church family, respects and reverences the Word of God.

So they were to learn to fear God and then number three, they were to do it. Do it; to obey the Word of God. Not just some of it but all of it, all of the Word of God. Listen to it. Learn to fear God, have respect and reverence for Him and then do the Word that you have heard.

Why was this so important? Why is it so important for us? God’s Word tells us that it’s important because our life depends on it, as do your children’s lives. We read this passage earlier in this series, but let me repeat it from Deuteronomy chapter 32, picking up at verse 45.

When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, he said to them, "Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess” (vv. 45–47).

This is your lifeline. This is your hope. This is the hope of your family. This is the hope of the community of faith of which you are a part in your local church. The Word of God is our very life. We are to listen to it, to respect it, to fear the Lord as we hear Him lifted up in His Word, and then to do what He says in His Word.

As we go through the life of Joshua over these next days, we’ll see that throughout Joshua’s life and ministry, he continued to elevate the Law of God as his predecessor Moses had. He continued to point the people to public application and obedience to the Word of God.

For example, in Joshua chapter 8 we read an account where, in obedience to instruction he had received years earlier from Moses, when the Children of Israel got back over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land, they erected an altar on Mount Ebal. There Joshua made copies of the Law of God written on stone. He read that law aloud in its entirety, word for word, to all the people.

As the people of God heard the Word of God read, there was a sense of corporate accountability to obey the Word of God. That’s something that happens in our churches. As we read the Word of God together, there’s a sense together that we are accountable to obey God.

Joshua 8:34-35 tells us,

Afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.

So we see in the life of the Children of Israel, in the times of Moses and the times of Joshua, the prominent place that was given to the Law of God in their corporate gatherings. I want to take a few moments here just to talk about the importance of the Word of God being given a prominent place in our corporate worship services, in our gatherings whether they’re large or small.

We have staff meetings with our staff. I think it is so important that the Word of be central when the people of God come together.

There are several verses in the New Testament that point this out. For example, Colossians 4:16, Paul says, “When this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.”

The letter from Laodicea was generally thought to be Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. So Paul said to the Colossians, “After you read the letter I’ve written you, send it to the Ephesians and then after the Ephesians read their letter, you get that one and read it aloud.” The point was the congregation, the people of God, read the Word of God together.

First Thessalonians 5:27, Paul says, “I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.” Coming together for the reading of God’s Word.

First Timothy chapter 4:13, Paul says, “Until I come [Timothy], devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

It’s important to have exhortation and teaching, but if you haven’t had the Word read, what are you exhorting and what are you teaching? That’s what biblical preaching is. It’s opening the Word of God, reading it to the people and then shedding light on it. “This is what it means,” making it clear to the understanding of the people.

Paul says, “Give yourself, devote yourself, to the public reading of Scripture.”

Revelation 1:3: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear,” which suggests that you’re not just reading this privately, although that’s not a bad thing to do. But there’s a coming together to read aloud the words of this prophecy. You’re blessed if you’re the one who’s reading it aloud, and you’re blessed if you’re the one who is hearing it read aloud. Then, blessed are those “who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”

It distresses me to see how many church services and Christian gatherings today give a small place to the Word of God, if at all. I remember attending a women’s conference some years ago, a lot of women there, a lot of interesting speakers, a lot of spell-binding stories and things that made you cry, things that made you laugh.

But what struck me at the end of the day was that you could have gone through that whole conference and never needed your Bible. This was a Christian conference. The power is in the Word of God; otherwise, it’s just my story. It’s just my thoughts. The power is in the Word of God. The Word should be the centerpiece of our public life, of our community of faith.

It’s okay to use other resources, to reference other commentaries, to use illustrations, to use quotes. But I find that many of the preaching resources that are available to preachers, and I actually subscribe to some of those because I look for good illustrations to help me make the Word come alive to others. But it is dismaying to me that how many of those resources are on pop culture. How many of them use movies to illustrate truths.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with doing that occasionally, if it is something that is worthy of praise. But where is the central place given to the Word of God? There’s no substitute for the Word of God. You can bring illustrations all day long out of modern day culture, out of modern day readings and writings and illustrations. But the Scripture cannot be an add-on. It cannot be eclipsed in our services by music, by drama, by speaking about the Word of God.

We need to be making the Word of God central. In that I love the practice of some of the older churches, and still in some churches today, of having the pulpit where the Word is preached actually be at a higher place than where the rest of the service takes place. The symbolism there is that the Word of God is exalted.

I love it in our church that we stand for the reading of the Scripture. There’s something that symbolizes in that for the old and the young alike, the Word is central to our experience as a community of faith.

If you are in a church that does not honor the Word of God, where the Word of God is not being proclaimed, you need to seriously consider getting into a church that does, because church isn’t doing church as God ordained it should be if we’re not feeding people with the Word of God.

As we read and listen to the Word of God in our churches, in our corporate gatherings, we want to make sure that we’re showing respect for God’s Word, that we don’t just toss our Bibles around as if they were an extra piece of luggage, that we show respect for the Word of God.

Let me give you this word of encouragement as we talk about the corporate use of God’s Word. Don’t neglect the corporate reading of God’s Word in your own home. Look for ways and opportunities to teach the Word of God to your children, even if your husband may not be a believer and this may not be his thing to do. You’re not trying to make him look foolish or like you are spiritually superior to him. But look for opportunities to teach your children the Word of God.

Only the Spirit of God can make it come alive in them. But you can surely salt the oats and create an environment where your children are seeing, “We love God’s Word. We exalt it. We reverence it. We respect it. When God’s Word speaks, God speaks.”

It’s a great privilege to have God’s Word, and it’s a responsibility corporately as a church and as a family for us to elevate the Word of God.

God says, “You will have good success in whatever you do.”

Leslie: “Success” is an electrifying word. Everyone wants to achieve it. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has looked to the Bible and offers a simple component for success: Read the Word of God. This is such an important habit.

If you missed any of today’s program, you can hear it or read the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com. In fact, you can listen to hundreds of past broadcasts as well. ReviveOurHearts.com is a valuable resource as you’re looking for help in practical issues.

The word “meditation” brings up several connotations, and some of them are viewed with a lot of suspicion within the church. Yet we’re told to meditate on God’s Word. Find out what that means tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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