The Wonder of the WordDrink from the Well
Leslie Basham: Today, we’re asking people, “As you make decisions, do you ever think about what the Bible says?”
Street Interviewee 1: That’s an area I don’t touch too much because I’ve studied a lot of literature, and I find that most of the books of the Bible were actually plagiarized from earlier Greek writers.
Street Interviewee 2: If I was doing one thing and the Bible said to do something else, off-hand I would probably follow my own beliefs because, I mean, the Bible is an important work, but it’s not the answer for everything.
Leslie: What do you think about the Bible? Is it just a collection of fairy tales? Or, is it the powerful Word of God?
This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February 17.
When you don’t even take your Bible off your shelf, you’re acting like you don’t even believe what it says. Nancy will explain, continuing in the series, The Wonder of the Word.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The Old Testament prophecy of Amos 8:11, Scripture says, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, 'when I will send a famine throughout the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.’”
I think that Old Testament passage is a powerful description of what we’re facing in our nation today: a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord. Now it’s not a famine of having the Word of the Lord; it’s not that we don’t have the Scripture. The average American home has three Bibles.
The problem is, we don’t read the Bible. We have it, but there’s a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord. Fifty-two percent of Americans say that they never read the Bible. Now that may not be so surprising, but here’s the one that, really, I find disturbing. Twenty-two percent of evangelicals report that they never read the Bible outside of church. Twenty-two percent of people who claim to be evangelicals say that they never read their Bible outside of church! Only one out of four evangelicals reads the Bible daily.
As a result, the church has become biblically illiterate. So-called Christians, the body of Christ, is in what George Barna calls, “a crisis of biblical illiteracy.” Some of you will know the name of George Barna as a Christian poll-taker and sociologist, and he takes surveys and then assesses what is the condition of the church.
As he talks about biblical illiteracy, he says, “How else can you describe matters when most church-going adults reject the accuracy of the Bible, reject the existence of Satan, claim that Jesus sinned, see no need to evangelize, believe that good works are one of the keys to persuading God to forgive their sins, and describe their commitment to Christianity as moderate or even less firm?”1 That’s a majority of church-going adults.
He said we’re biblical illiterate. We have the Bible. We can read, but we don’t read the Bible. Biblical illiteracy: a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord.
Psalm 85 is one of the great Old Testament prayers for revival. I’ve loved that passage for many years, and it’s a lot of the heart behind the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. But in verse eight of that Psalm, you’ll find one of the keys to revival. The Psalmist says, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak.” We’ll never have revival in our hearts, in our homes, in our churches, in this nation, or in this world, if we don’t begin to hear the Word of the Lord—to read it.
Throughout the Scripture there’s a blessing promised to those who read the Word of God. Listen to these words from Deuteronomy chapter 11:
Fix these words of mine, in your hearts and minds; tie them as cymbals on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (vv. 18-21)
God says, “Get this Word into you! Get into this Word, and there will be a blessing, not only for you, but for children.” Revelation 1:3,
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
God says if you will read this book—you may not understand all of it—and let me just tell you, honestly, there’s lots of this that I don’t understand. But I keep digging; I keep studying; I keep pressing on to know. And God says if you’ll read this book, there’s a blessing.
In so many of our churches, we don’t even read the Bible in our services. You can go to a lot of evangelical churches today and find that the Scripture isn’t read. We’re talking about the Bible, but not actually reading the Bible.
That’s a serious thing to overlook, and before we’re too hard on our churches, let me ask you, how much of the Bible are you reading in your home? Are you reading it to yourself? Are you reading it to your children?
We’ve been challenging people to commit themselves that every day they will take time out to read something from the Word of God, to let God speak to them. God promises a blessing if you will read the Word of God. I have read this Book over and over and over and over again, since the time I could read. I can’t get enough of it!
Now, does that mean every day you just wake up and bound out of bed and you’re just dying to read the Bible? No. I don’t ever bound out of bed; that’s not me! There are days—many days—when I’m very distracted, when I’m very tired, when I have my mind on other things, and it’s all I can do to make my eyes concentrate on the page.
But you know what? I keep reading. Like meals, not every meal is a great feast, and not every time you’re in the Word of God will be memorable in and of itself, but it’s the cumulative effect of eating right that makes you a healthy person physically. It’s the cumulative effect of the Word of God—the intake of the Word of God into your system—that will make you a healthy woman of God.
Read it! You say, “But I don’t understand it!” There are so many aids and helps to understanding the Word of God today. But I’m saying, even if you don’t have those, open the Bible and read it! We have some reading plans available that we’ll tell you about at the end of the program that you can take advantage of. You can read through it quickly; you can read through it slowly.
You can do as I do. I mark six places throughout the Bible, starting in the book of Genesis and then at other places so they’re broken up into six sections. Then I read consecutively through those sections. You can see I have these little post-it things stuck in those sections, and I read, as I did this morning in the book of Deuteronomy, and I read as far as I’m going, then I move the little sticker ahead.
I read in each of those sections. I don’t read in each section every day, but I’m at any given time moving in those different parts of the Bible so that I’m always reading something from the Old and something from the New, getting a balanced spiritual diet.
There’s so many different ways you can do this. I’m saying God promises a blessing if you will read the Word of God.
Ladies, if there’s a plea I have for us as women, it’s that we need to become women of the Word. Women today are so confused, and not just women outside the church, but women in the church. I hear the kookiest things—I mean about praying to dead parents and doctrinal mistakes and errors and people saying God led them to do this or that, that is so far off from the Scripture because women in the church today are not only making wrong decisions themselves, but they’re counseling other women in ways that are contrary to the Word of God. They don’t know the Word. There’s a famine of hearing the Word of God.
Women today are confused. They’re falling prey to all sorts of deception because they don’t know the Word. They’re making wrong decisions that are very, very costly, because they don’t know the Word.
Let me encourage you not to just read it piecemeal, not just hit or miss, not just a verse here an there. I love the Psalms. I’ve written a book called A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms, and that might be a good place to start your challenge.
But I want to say, as you grow in the Lord, you need to get beyond the Psalms to where you’re reading more than the Psalms. Some people never read more than the Psalms and a little bit of the Epistles.
I want to be reading in the Gospels so that I’m seeing what Jesus is like. If I want to become like Him, I want to be reading about Him. I need to be reading in the Old Testament history books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. You say, “Leviticus? How do you get through Leviticus?” That’s where a lot of people get tripped up in reading though the Bible.
Well, do you know that the whole plan of salvation is prefigured in the book of Leviticus? It’s forecast; you can see it. The whole aspect of sacrifice is in the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. Calvary will never be precious to you until you hear the bleating of those sheep and those oxen and those goats as they’re innocent animals taken away to be slaughtered for sin.
Yes, there are days when it will be hard reading, but God will bless your life. He will instruct you and show you His ways as you get to know the Word of God.
George Mueller is a name that many of you will recognize as a man of faith, a man of prayer in 19th century England. He ran orphanages for children and over the many years of his life, it was said that he had a million answers to prayer. I learned not too long ago that George Mueller, a very busy man, read through the Bible four or five times every year, many of those times on his knees.
When I read that—and he didn’t have all the modern conveniences and the things that help speed our lives up—I thought, I need to get more of the Word into my system.
John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, said, “Read the Bible, and read it again.”
Last January, a woman wrote and said,
I’ve now read the Bible cover to cover for the ninth year in a row. It becomes sweeter and sweeter with each passing year. I’m always amazed at how fresh, and yet familiar, it is every day. The time I spend with the Lord is the most important time of my day. I could not make it through life without this time with Him. I hope many listening will take your challenge.
I hope you’ll take it. I believe that it will change your life.
Now let me say, it’s not enough just to read the Word of God, and I want to close this series by pointing out some other aspects of what we need to do with the Word of God. First, reading it of course, but then meditating on the Word of God.
George Mueller said,
It’s not the simple reading of the Word of God so that it only passes through our minds just as water runs through a pipe. It’s also considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.
I did that this morning with just a brief passage of Scripture in Revelation chapter 2. I was reading about Ephesus and how they were doctrinally sound, and they worked hard for the Lord. They were serving the Lord faithfully. But Jesus said to them, “I have something against you: You’ve left your first love” (v. 4 paraphrased). You need to repent.
As I read that description of the church at Ephesus, I went back to it, and I began to ponder and to meditate it. God’s Spirit was working with that passage in my heart, and I began to pray about it to the Lord and saying, “Lord, have I left my first love? Am I doing all the right things—serving You, knowing the right doctrine, dotting my i’s, crossing my t’s, teaching the Word to others—but do I need to repent of having left my first love, not having for You the hot heart and the intimate love relationship that I once had?”
I took some moments there in my study this morning just to meditate on that passage; to think about it; to let it sink in; to ponder it. Joshua 1, Psalm1, Psalm 119—these passages tell us that if we meditate on the Word of God, we will be successful in everything we do.
Do you want to be successful as a mom, as a grandmom, as a wife, as a worker in your office, as a friend, as a daughter, as a church member, as a Sunday school teacher? Whatever your different roles in life, do you want to be successful from God’s point of view? Scripture promises that you will be if you are meditating on the Word of God.
“Meditate on it,” Joshua 1 says, “day and night, so that you may be careful to do what it is written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (v. 8).
Now, it’s important not only to read the Word of God, to meditate on it, but also to believe it—to trust it. Hebrews 4:2 tells us that the Word of God had no effect in the lives of the Children of Israel in the Old Testament because it was not mixed with faith.
If you come to God, you have to believe that He is—that what He says is true. It’s not enough just to read this book as you’d read another textbook. We have to read it and then take it to heart. Believe it! This is true! God’s Word says, if you don’t repent of leaving your first love, here’s what’s going to happen. There are going to be consequences. I have to have faith when I read this book that it’s true.
And when the Scripture says, “Cast all your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7), I can’t just read that and say, “Oh, that’s nice, I need to cast my cares on the Lord.” I need to believe that what it says is true. He will care for me when I cast my cares on Him.
Then I need to tremble at the Word of the Lord. I think that speaks of having a reverence for God’s Word; to take it seriously. Isaiah 66:2, God says, “To this man, or to this woman will I look: even to him who trembles, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and trembles at my Word” (paraphrased).
When you hear the Word of God, when you hear it read in church, when you read it in your quiet time, when you turn on Christian radio, and you hear the Word of God being taught, do you just keep driving down the street, keep doing your own business, keep going your own way, merrily rolling down life’s street? Or do you stop and think about what you’re hearing? Do you tremble at it? Do you say, “God said that! I’ve got to do something about that!” Which leads us to the next point . . .
We need to obey it. Obey it. D.L. Moody said, “God did not give us the Scriptures to increase our knowledge but to change our lives.” To change our lives.
Listen to these statistics. Eighty percent of Americans say that they believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Eighty percent! But forty-eight percent believe that there is no one set of values that’s right.2 Now, that doesn’t make sense. If you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then you have to believe that there is one set of values, as it is described in God’s Word, that is absolutely right.
Only one in five Americans believes that absolute moral truth exists. And this is not just a problem with non-believers. “Only four-out-of-every-ten adults who consider themselves born again rely upon the Bible or church teachings as their primary sources of moral guidance,” says George Barna, poll-taker.
There’s something wrong with that picture! At least three-out-of-ten adults who consider themselves to be born again—now I’m not saying they are born again, but they say that they are—say they believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. But at least three-out-of-ten of those quote “born again adults” also say that co-habitation, gay sex, sexual fantasies, or watching sexually explicit movies are morally acceptable behavior.
What’s the problem? We say we believe the Bible; we say it’s the inspired Word of God, but we don’t obey it. We’re not letting it be the authority and the rule over our lives. It’s not enough to just know the Word of God; you need to obey it. James says if we say we believe the Word of God but we don’t do what it says, we’re self-deceived. We’re foolish. Don’t be just hearers of the Word, be doers (see James 1:22).
Is there anything in God’s Word that you know to be true that you’re not obeying? If you are, then you’re self-deceived. You say you believe the Bible is God’s Word, but you’re not doing it. That’s what’s convicting to me as I read the Word of God and think how many things there are in God’s Word that I don’t let direct my everyday life. That needs to change. We need to have the commitment that David did in the Psalms when he said, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commandments” (119:60).
And then, can I challenge you to reproduce the Word of God in others? Not only to read it for yourself, to meditate on it, to believe it, tremble at it, reverence it, obey it, but then, as it becomes a part of your life, reproduce it with others. Share it with others.
Ezra 7:10 tells us that Ezra the scribe set his heart to study the Word of God, to do it, and then to teach it to others. Study it; do it; teach it.
Now the problem today is so many are teaching the Word of God who aren’t actually doing it. First study it; do it, and then teach it to others. Teach it to your children. Some of your children know more about television programs and jingles and commercials than they do about the Word of God.
I see so many teenagers growing up in Christian homes—some of them are homes of Christian workers and Christian leaders—sadly enough, who are more familiar with (the teenagers, the kids) movie stars, with modern entertainers, with movie stars, with People magazine, than they are with Bible heroes, with the Word of God. Teach it to your children, read it to your children. In the course and context of every day life, be applying it in the lives of your children.
Now, let me say this. Your children know you, and if they know you’re just saying something that they don’t see you living, that’ll be a real quick turn-off. That’s not going to draw them to the Word. But when they see you living the Word of God, then you can teach it to them, the power with effect.
The Word of God will bring you joy; it will give you wisdom; it will give you direction; it will bring peace to your troubled, tumultuous life. It doesn’t mean it will fix all of your circumstances, but God’s Word says in Psalm 119, “Great peace have all they who love your law, and nothing will cause them to stumble” (v. 165 NKJV).
Do you want that peace? Do you want to walk in freedom? Pick up this book. Take that challenge. Get into the Word of God. Let the Word of God get into you, and let it change your life.
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, wrapping up a series called, The Wonder of the Word.
In 2012, you can expect to hear a lot about the Word of God. In January, Nancy began challenging listeners to read the Bible every day in 2012. We want to keep reminding you of the challenge and to encourage you to begin if you haven’t already.
When you sign up for the challenge at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll send you a couple reminders each month. And we want to send you a book that will help your study come alive and be more effective.
When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say thanks by sending you a book by Kay Arthur. It’s called Discover the Bible for Yourself.
This book will help you better understand the Bible. You’ll understand the themes of each book and the context in which it was written. You’ll learn to study the meanings of biblical words. And you’ll also learn how to apply God’s Word to your life.
We’d like to send you Discover the Bible for Yourself when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also include a resource the Revive Our Hearts team developed called My Personal Bible Reading Journal.
Ask for both when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or make your contribution at ReviveOurHearts.com.
You can also hear more material about Bible study techniques on a special podcast-only series. To hear this bonus material, just subscribe to the Revive Our Hearts podcast. [Read or listen to the program here.] For details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
When you read the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew, do you know the ancestors listed there include a prostitute? Nancy will tell you her story, Monday on Revive Our Hearts. Now she’s back to pray.
Nancy: Thank You, Lord, for the wonder of this Book. I pray that You’ll do a fresh work in each of our hearts, that in the days ahead we may come to love this book in a way that we never have before. Give us a new hunger and thirst for your Word.
I know that will come as we begin to read it, to meditate on it, to believe it, to obey it, and to share it with others. As we do, our hunger will increase. My hunger has increased today for Your Word as I've shared these truths.
Father, may Christ be formed in us as Your Word takes its place in our lives, in our hearts, so that You may be glorified through our lives. I pray in Jesus' name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
1George Barna. "Religious Beliefs Vary Widely by Denomination." June 25, 2001.
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