In this message, we learn that feeding ourselves the Scriptures will strengthen our hearts.
Hey everybody. If you’ve got your Bibles, Genesis Chapter 3. We’re going to jump right in together and I’m going to take you to a couple of different places today. And so you could follow along if you want and turn there as we go to different place. You see, we’re in a series called ‘Take Heart’. We’re talking about strengthening ourselves in the Lord. Like, how do we find strength in this life? How do we deal with difficult or trying circumstances? Has anybody had to put into practice what we’ve been talking about the last few weeks?
Yeah, yeah. Me too. It’s a good week to strengthen yourself in the Lord, right? It’s always a good week to strengthen yourself in the Lord. And we’ve been kind of talking about how. Like, how do we actually do it? Last week we said it’s about renewing your mind, that you can’t let what your eyes see determine what you think. You have to let your renewed mind what you think determine what you see.
And we’re going to keep going forward. And what I want to show you today is, I want to show you the two most significant temptations in all of the Bible. Genesis Chapter 3, Verse 1 – “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Satan comes into the garden and he comes to tempt Eve, and he questions her identity.
He says, “If you do this, you will be like God.” And each problem in this moment is she forgets who she is. You see, Eve is already like God. This is the perfection of creation. This is the Garden of Eden. Even was made in the image and likeness of God. She is more like God in this moment than she will ever be in her entire life, but she forgets that. And what Satan always wants to get you and I to do is he wants to tempt you to pursue something in the world you already have in Jesus. He tries to get you to pursue something in the world you already have in Jesus. Like, find love and peace and strength in this world. Well, guess what? You’ve already got those things in Jesus. And that’s what he’s trying to get Eve to do. And Eve responds by saying what she thinks instead of what God really said. I mean, she says, “God said…” Only problem is that’s not what God really said. She responds with what she thinks. She weakens herself. She is defeated and the downward spiral of sin continues in her life. You know how the rest of the story goes, right?
Now, remember that and flip over with me to Matthew Chapter 4. Matthew Chapter 4 – you see, what I love about Jesus is he redeemed everything that happened in the garden. Matthew Chapter 4, Verse 1 – “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry, and rightfully so. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of this world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and the angels came and attended him.”
Sure sounds like a familiar story, doesn’t it? It’s almost the exact same thing that happens in Genesis Chapter 3. Satan comes and he questions Jesus’ identity. You see, Satan always wants to question your identity because who you are determines what you do. In fact, at the root of all temptation is an identity question. At the root of all the temptation in your life it’s really an identity question. You fall to temptation when you forget who you are. In fact, if you remember who you are, you won’t want what Satan offers because you realize you already have it. When you remember who you are, you don’t want what Satan offers because you realize you already have it. Satan comes and says, “Hey, if you do this, you can be loved.” You’re like, “Man, I’m already loved. I’m good. I don’t need to do that.” Satan comes and says, “If you do this, you can have money or possessions or stuff.” You’re kind of life, “Man, I don’t really need to do that, because my God supplies all monies according to his riches. I’m already a co-heir with Christ.”
“Hey if you get involved with this relationship, it will fill up a void in your soul.” You can step back and say, “My soul is already filled by the Spirit of the Living God. I really don’t need to get involved in that.” See, at the root of every temptation in your life it’s an identity question. You fall to the temptation in your life when you forget who you are. It’s one of the reasons we spend so much time around here talking about identity. Satan comes to Jesus and he says, “If you are the son of God.” And what’s really interesting is Satan leaves out the most important word in that whole thing. See, Jesus isn’t just the son of God. He is the beloved son of God. Matthew 3:17 – The Father says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Satan leaves that word out and just comes; “If you are the son of God.” Why? Because Satan will never remind you that you are loved because love conquers all.
1st John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear.” In other words, the love of the Father will always drive out the fear of Satan. So Satan will never remind you that you are loved, because the moment he reminds you that you are loved he knows the Father’s love will drive out his fear. And he is the god of fear, not the God of faith. In fact, he wants to do everything he can to get you to forget that you are loved, because that’s when fear comes into your heart. You forget who you are. You can fall to temptation. So let me go ahead and declare over you today. You are not just the son or daughter of God. You are the beloved son or daughter of God.
And so he says to Jesus, “If you are the son of God, then do these things.” And three times Jesus responds back with, “It is written.” “It is written.” “It is written.” He strengthens himself. He walks in victory and we get a totally different reality. You see, the same temptation, different response leads to a different result. Eve responds with, “I think”, and she fails and weakens herself. Jesus responds with, “It is written.” He strengthens himself and he walks in victory.
And what we learn from this story is that if you’re ever going to strengthen yourself in the Lord, you can’t respond with “I think.” You have to respond with, “It is written.” In fact, the question I want to ask you is, what’s the driving force in your life; what you think or what He has said? Whatever you’re struggling with, that situation, that circumstance; whatever thing you’re wrestling with, as we’ve been talking through this series – right now, like what’s the driving force in your life; what you think or what He has said? What voice has more authority; your thoughts or His voice? Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it only leads to death.” Our thoughts. But Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp into my feet and a light into my path.” It will show me my next step and it will show me the direction that God is leading me. What we learn from Jesus is that if we’re going to strengthen ourselves in the Lord we must feed ourselves on the word of God. It’s the next way we strengthen ourselves.
You have to consume the scriptures. You have to feed yourself, because when life falls apart the temptation comes. The hard day shows up. If you haven’t been feeding yourself on the word of God, you won’t be able to respond with, “It is written.” You will respond with, “I think.” In fact, Psalm 119:28 says, “My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” His word will strengthen your heart. Now, do you remember Joshua? Remember the story of Joshua. God’s assignment for Joshua was to lead the Israelites to go in and take the promised land, over a million people. You want to talk about an opportunity for some hardship, for some difficulties, for some discouragement. I mean, Joshua has got a big assignment on his hands. He’s got to lead over a million people. First thing they’ve got to do is cross the Jordan river. Then they got to go in and they got to go to this land that’s filled with giants. Then they got to fight the city of Jericho with these crazy high walls. Then he’s got to deal with rebellious people. They’re always at war. He gets deceived by another nation. I mean, Joshua has every opportunity to be weakened in his circumstances.
And God comes to Joshua and in Joshua 1:8, before he starts leading the people into the promised land he says, “Joshua, do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night, that you would be careful to do everything that is written in it. Then, and only then, will you be prosperous and successful wherever you go.” Out of all the things that God could tell Joshua to do to prepare himself to go in and take the land, he says, “Joshua, I want you to feed yourself on my word. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.” In other words, “Feed yourself. Consume it. Fill up so you overflow. I need you to get my word so deep inside of you that when hard days come you’re prepared and you’re armed with what I have already said. I need you to dig a deep well inside of you and fill it up with my word. A reservoir full of my wisdom and my truth that you can draw on it any point in time.” In fact, Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of God dwell richly within you.”
You see, you can’t draw water from a well you haven’t dug. You can’t draw water from a well you haven’t dug, and what I mean by that is you can’t say, “It is written” if you don’t know what He has said. You can’t say “It is written” if you don’t know what He has said. You can’t draw water from a well you haven’t dug. And when is the best time to dig a well? Come on, when is the best time to dig a well? When you’re not thirsty! The worst time to dig a well is when you’re thirsty and in the desert and you need a drink [Laughs]. You’re going to die, man. You’re going to die [Laughs].
You dig a well when you’re not thirsty and life is good and you get this well going. And you dig down deep, so that when you are thirsty you can draw from water from a well you’ve already dug. And I think a lot of us, we try to draw water from wells we haven’t dug. We get into situations and circumstances in life, and we reach for things that aren’t there because we’ve never put them inside of us. And so unfortunately like Eve we respond with, “I think” instead of “It is written.”
Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We find ourselves in battle and all of a sudden you reach for your sword as if you’re going to fight and survive, and you reach for it and it’s not there. You can’t fight with a weapon you don’t have. In fact, let me go ahead and press pause here for a second. I just want to speak to some of you. If you feel like God is calling you into ministry, you want to be a great disciple maker; you want to write worship songs; you feel like God is calling you to be prophetic, can I go ahead and tell you the greatest thing you can do in your life is dig a really deep well? Because what happens is we want to do all these great ministry things for God and His great aspirations, but we never dig a deep well, so we have no water to draw from. When those opportunities come to speak life, to write a song, to preach the word, to make disciples, to give good counsel, to prophesize, you’ve got to have a deep, deep well to draw from, whether it’s for great ministry or just to get through the day sometimes.
“Just do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it day and night.” Okay? That word ‘meditate’ literally means to mutter. It’s like a cow chewing it’s cud, right? Cow eats, it swallows it, spits it back up, and chews on it some more. Swallows it, spits it back up, and chews on it some more. Swallows it, spits it back up, and chews on it some more. [Laughs] That’s pretty gross, but that’s basically what that’s talking about. In other words, He says talk to yourself. Now, how many of you are really good at talking to yourself? Alright. Come on, we’re really good at talking to ourselves. Only problem is we usually say the wrong things. We have the wrong conversations with our ourselves. And if you’re like, “No, I will never talk to myself”, okay have you ever been in love? You’ve talked to yourself. You constantly bring that person up in your mind. Have you ever been worried? You’re just talking to yourself. You’re constantly thinking about that thing. Have you ever been afraid? Just talking to yourself. You’re constantly bringing it up. And what He is telling Joshua is, “Joshua, talk to yourself about what I have already said to you about the word of God.”
Philippians 4:19 for example – “My God will meet all your needs according to his gloriest riches in Christ Jesus.” You need to consume it, eat it, and then put it inside of you, but then you need to spit it back up and you need to chew on it. Like, when you’re driving down the road bring it back up in your mind. “Okay, my God will meet” – my God. It’s not my wife’s God or my grandma’s God or my friend’s God. It’s my God. You’re walking down the road. “My God will meet all your needs.” “Yeah, I’ve got some needs in my life, but He says He is going to meet those needs.” And then you’re sitting at the dinner table. “According to his gloriest riches in Christ Jesus.” – “Yeah, my God has gloriest riches in Christ Jesus. It seems he is going to give those things to me.” You’ve got to talk to yourself over and over and over again. You keep bringing it up and chewing on it. In fact, revelation comes through meditation. If you ever really want revelation from God’s word, you’ve got to meditate. Word ‘revelation’ just means to reveal something, to uncover a hidden thing. Man, when you’re chewing on the word of God and you’re dwelling upon it, the Holy Spirit will bring revelation into your mind and into your life.
That’s what He is telling Joshua. And what I think is so cool is that word ‘meditate’. Not only does it mean mutter, but another part of the definition of what it actually means in the original language is ‘to imagine’. So catch this. It’s like God is saying, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. Imagine it day and night.” Think of great athletes. What do great athletes do? They imagine themselves throwing that touchdown pass long before they get in the game. They imagine themselves making that tackle, shooting the goal, making the basket; the buzzer winner. They imagine it in their mind. Great athletes imagine themselves in victory long before the game comes to pass. And great men and women of God imagine the word of God being performed over their life long before God moves. That’s what He is saying. I want to know what kind of imagination Joshua had about the word of God. Thinking about these promises and the things that God was going to do and how God was going to move. I mean, do you imagine the promises of God coming to pass over your life?
If you feed yourself the word of God, you will strengthen yourself in the Lord. Listen; when you come together and we’re here like this, and we gather together as a church, we try to feed you the absolute best meal we can give you. I mean, we prep and we pray and we seek the Lord and we study, and we go through every – I want to feed you the absolute best meal we can feed you. But this is only like one out of six days a week, and if this is all you eat, you’re going to be hungry. Right? I think church service is kind of like a friend inviting you out to a really nice restaurant and says, “Hey, I want to take you to like Three Forks or Pappas Brothers or, I don’t know, some nice steak place.” And you’re like, “Man, this is awesome.” All you’ve got to do is accept the invitation. You go, it’s free, and it’s filling and you leave and you’re like, “That’s amazing.” [Laughs] And if you said, “I’m just going to wait till somebody invites me to Pappas Brothers again, you’re going to be hungry, a lot, because that probably doesn’t happen even every six days.
What you get in church is even better than that. I mean, you get it every six days. Right? I mean, you would be starving. And I think that’s what happens to a lot of us. We forget that we’ve got to feed ourselves. I mean, have you ever sat in church and felt like the speaker was speaking directly to you? Did you ever have that experience? I mean, I’ve had people come up to me after service and they’re like angry. They’re like, “What, who told you?”
What? “Who told you I was going through that in my life? I mean, I know you said this statement directly at me.” I’m like, “Bro, I don’t even know who you are.” [Laughs]
“Look, how do I know what’s going on in your life?” That’s called the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 55:11 – “His word will not return void, but will accomplish the purposes for which He sent it.” Holy Spirit will take it and put it inside of you. It will penetrate deep down in your core. And you know what the cool part is? When you read the scriptures you can have the exact same experience for yourself, by yourself. You can read the word and be like, “Man! Jeremiah, did you write that for me? Because I needed to hear that”
It’s the Holy Spirit. He’s the great chef. He knows what you enjoy. He knows what you like and he knows what you need. It’s like my wife. She’s great. We have a lot of severe allergies, food allergies in our family. She knows what we like, what we enjoy, and what we need. I’ll finish something and be like, “That was amazing! What is it?” She’ll smile at me and be like, “Yeah, it’s full of spinach.”
I never eat spinach at all, but she figures out how to get it in there, right? [Laughs]
That’s what the Holy Spirit does. You don’t know how food works, but you eat it anyways. I don’t know how scripture works, but you’ve got to eat it anyways. Hebrews 4:12 – “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” You put it inside of you, it’s alive. It does something. We don’t work on the scriptures. The scriptures work on us. The scriptures are to the soul what food is to your body. That’s why I think you have to eat every single day.
I really believe that’s why God made us the way that He did, that we have to eat every day, so we could have an exact parallel of what His word is for our souls. And if you don’t eat, you will become weak, and weak people are – if you don’t eat, you become starving, right, and starving people will always become weak. And I think a whole lot of Jesus’ church is weak because of starving. I think the church today, especially the American church, we survive on one sermon a week. You come to church every other week, every three weeks, every four weeks; we survive on one meal a month. That’s why we’re sick and weak and struggling, broken; can’t find victory in our lives, and feel like life crumbles around us. It’s because we’re not eating. Think of the Israelites. Forty years in the desert; every day God brought manna from heaven. And every day they had to go out and gather it. It represented the body of Jesus. It represents the word of God. Every day they had to go and get it. They never had too much, the Bible says, and they never had too little. Forty years, every day they would go out and get it, and they would feast on it.
You know what the Bible says about that? They lacked nothing. Their clothes never wore out and their feet never got swollen from all the moving that they had to do. Some of you ladies are like, “Man, I’m wearing the same outfit for 40 years.” I’m just telling you. 40 minutes is enough and you need a new one and a wardrobe. They lacked nothing! Eating the word of God was strengthening themselves in the Lord, and the same is true for you and me. Listen; he writes it. He anoints it. He gives it. He sends it. All you’ve got to do is eat it. That sounds like a good deal, don’t you think? You don’t got to write it. You don’t got to anoint it. You don’t got to send it. You don’t even got to figure out where it comes from. You’ve just got to choose to eat it. Jeremiah 15:16 – He says “When your words came, I ate them. They were my joy and my heart’s delight.” “When your words came, I ate them.” When did His words come? Every day. You’ve just got to choose to eat them.
And if you’re not feeding yourself on the word of God – listen, this is really important. You shouldn’t feel guilty. You should feel hungry. There’s no reason to feel guilty. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I mean, there’s no shame. We’ve been forgiven. We’re free. We don’t feed on the word of God for Him. We feed on the word of God for us. You shouldn’t guilty. You should feel hungry. See, motive is everything. John 5 – Jesus speaking to the Pharisees – he says, “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These scriptures testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” He looks at these guys that are consuming the scriptures, but for the wrong reasons. Their motive is information, history, content, religion. He says, “No, no, no.” He says, You need to feed on my word because my word will always lead you to me.” The scriptures are the footprints that lead us to God. That gives the word of God that’s always meant to lead you to an experience and an encounter with Jesus.
Which means if you’re reading this and you’re not having an experience and an encounter with Jesus, you’re reading it with the wrong motive. This is not to know about God; this is to know God. This is not about discovering content; it’s about discovering Jesus. This is not a have-to. It’s a get-to. This is not a burden to carry. It’s a privilege to be stewarded. He gives this to you to say, “Hey, you want to know me, because I want to know you. Here is how you get to know me. Read this.” When you consume the scriptures what you’re doing is you’re declaring to God; you’re saying, “God, I’m desperate for you, dependent upon you, and desire to find you.” “God, I’m desperate for you, I’m dependent upon you, and I desire to find you.” In fact, let’s just go ahead and be right – like, what do you think about when you think about this? What does this really mean to you? It’s okay, but just think for a second.
Like, what is this? What is the Bible to you? What does it mean? How do you view it? I think if we’re honest, a lot of us, we’re intimidated by it. We’re not sure what to do with it. It kind of sits in the periphery of our life. I think some of us, we’re afraid to read it because we feel like it’s full of rules and regulations. It’s going to like take the joy out of our lives and make us do things or feel guilty about our life. I think we like it when other people feed us the word and we think, “Wow, that was really cool! That was really refreshing.” I just don’t think we know really what to do with this, and I think the reason is because I think we read it with the wrong perspective. I think we read it with the wrong perspective, and Jesus tells us how we read it with the right perspective that makes us crave this and be hungry for it. Do you want to know what that perspective is? Five of us are excited. So look at Luke 24.
The rest of us are like, “No, I just like Pappas Brothers, man.”
Free and filling. Me too. Pull out the gift card; let’s go. Luke 24 – let me set the story up for you real quick. I think if you catch this, oh man, this has brought so much freedom in my own life. This will bring freedom to you. Luke 24 – Jesus has just been crucified. He is dead, buried, put in the ground. The disciples feel like this is the worst day ever in their entire life. Like, Jesus is gone. It’s all over. And two of the disciples leave Jerusalem. They’re on the road to Emmaus, and they’re walking and they’re defeated and they’re discouraged, and they’re doing the self-talk. They’re in their loops, downward spiral. It’s a negative cycle. And as they’re walking down the road the resurrected Jesus Christ comes and walks alongside them, but they don’t realize it’s the resurrected Jesus. He shows up and they’re kept from seeing who he really is. They just think he is some guy. So the resurrected Jesus is walking with them, and the resurrected Jesus says, “Hey guys, what’s going on?” And they basically say like, “Man, are you a stranger to town? Well, don’t you know everything that’s happened? Jesus was just crucified and we thought he was the one. We had our hope in him and our whole life has now fallen apart.”
And catch it; Verse 25 – “The resurrected Jesus” – but they don’t realize it’s him – “said to them, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe.” Pause. I don’t ever want that to be spoken over in my life. “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe.” I want spoken over my life, “How wise you are and quick to faith.” I want to open my heart to believe just because He said it; for no other reason than because He said it. I want to believe that whatever I ask according to His name will be given unto me according to the Father’s will. I want to believe that nothing is impossible with God. I want to believe that I am loved for no other reason that just because He said it and that’s good enough. I want to be wise and quick to faith, quick to believe. I don’t want to live with, “I think.” I want to live with, “It is written” and believe it like it’s really true.
So he says, “How foolish you are and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.” Jesus starts a Bible story, and he unpacking the scriptures to them. And you might sit there and you might think, “Okay, wait a second. If they’re defeated and discouraged and this is the resurrected Jesus, why didn’t he just say, ‘Hey guys, it’s me”? “Like, look at my side. Touch my hands. Guys, it’s me. I’ve risen from the dead.” Like, why didn’t Jesus do that? Because Jesus chooses to reveal himself through his word. Romans 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God.” 2nd Corinthians 5:7 – “So we walk by faith, not by sight.” Jesus doesn’t want them to see and then believe. He wants them to believe and then see. And he gives them this Bible study and they get to their destination, and their eyes are opened. And all of a sudden they realize it’s Jesus, and they go from weakness to strength.
But here’s what I want you to see. It says, “And beginning with Moses and the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.” In other words, it was the greatest Bible study of all time because as they were walking down the road Jesus unpacked the Old Testament in the prophets and showed them himself in all of it. He was walking with them and he didn’t sit there and say, “Hey, you know guys, like the 10 commandments? You’ve got to keep them. I’ve been watching you. I mean, somebody is seeing what you’ve been doing in your lives.” [Laughs] No, no. He would have said, “Hey guys, remember the 10 commandments? You couldn’t keep them, so God sent Jesus to fulfill the requirements on your behalf.” “Oh, hey guys, remember the prophets?” He wouldn’t sit there and say, “Yeah. What the prophets spoke, there’s a lot of condemnation. The wrath of God is coming in your life. You better get ready.” [Laughs]. No.
He would have been walking with them and said, “Hey guys, Jesus came. He took the wrath of God upon himself and the love of God was poured out. Jesus became your sin, that you might become his righteousness. It is filled. It is finished.”
He spoke the scriptures concerning himself. You see, the key to reading the Bible is looking for Jesus. The key to reading the Bible is looking for Jesus. If Jesus is teaching the Bible and he is teaching it concerning himself, he’s telling you, “If you are going to read the Bible, you look forward concerning him.” But this is not a book of what you have to do. It’s a book of what he has done. Discover who he is. Understand what he did. Approach it with a Jesus focus, not a self-focus. It will change everything. We read that book thinking about us. That’s why we don’t like to read it. We don’t interpret everything concerning him. We interpret everything concerning us, and it defeats us. We read it wrong! That’s what I’m saying! That’s why we don’t like it. It’s all about Jesus.
Think about it. The whole Old Testament is Jesus Christ concealed – the whole Old Testament. Jesus is in it; he’s just concealed. He’s covered up. You’ve got to look for him. Remember we said last week; we said that the Israelites get to the bitter water where they cry out. Moses cries out to God. He shows him a piece of wood, which represents the cross of Jesus. Moses picks up the wood and throws it into the water. The bitter water becomes sweet. How about Abraham and Isaac? Isaac, the one and only son of Abraham, he loves his son. God asks him to sacrifice his son. He puts the wood on Isaac’s back representing the cross of Jesus. And for three days they go, representing three days in the ground before the resurrection of Jesus. Isaac is bound. He is put on the altar, about to be sacrificed, and God speaks from Heaven and says, “Now I know that you love me, for you have not withheld from me your one and only son.” That’s us saying it to God. “Now I know you love me, because you have not withheld from me your one and only son.” How about the Passover? They have to kill a spotless lamb, take the blood, put it on their doorpost representing the cross of Jesus Christ, that the blood of Jesus would protect you from the death angel, from the death in this life, that you would be raised to a new life.
How about the bronze serpent on a pole in the desert? Remember that one? One of the weirdest stories in the Bible.
You’re like, “What the heck!” Right? People complain. These snakes come in, start biting them, poison. They start dying. They cry out [Laughs]. And Moses cries to the God and God says, “Take a serpent. Put it on a bronze pole. Raise it up and everyone who looks at that will be saved.” What does that mean?
That’s just creepy.
It represented that Jesus will take the poison of sin upon himself. And all who looked to him will be saved! How about Noah’s Ark? “Well, that’s just a cool children’s story.” No, it’s not. It’s real! Come on man, it’s real! Humanity was saved when they climbed into the wooden ark.
Humanity is saved when we climb into the wood of the cross of Jesus Christ from the condemnation of the world around us. It’s all about Jesus. You get to the gospels; it’s Jesus revealed. You read the stories of his compassion, his love, his kindness. You just get to say, “There he is. Here I am.” You get to the Epistles. It’s the story of the finished work of Jesus. Ephesians 4:32 – we read a verse like this – “Be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We read that and we’re like, “Crap! Man, I’ve got to be forgiven?”
Sorry if that bothered you there.
You’re just going to have to deal with it. You can forgive me right now. Look, I don’t want to forgive that person. I don’t want to be kind and compassionate. Yeah, you’re reading it about you. That’s why you want to put the book down and move on. It’s not about you. “Be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” That’s the point! That God forgave you – focus on that and you’ll naturally start to forgive other people. That’s what it means, concerning himself. John 13:34 – Jesus says, “A new commandment I give you; love one another: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” I’m like, “Man, I can’t love my spouse that way.” [Laughs] Come on. So you don’t want to read it. It’s wrong. That’s not what it’s saying. It’s not about you loving your boss or that person. “The way I’ve loved you”, he says. You’ve got to read it with a Jesus focus. “Concerning himself”, not concerning yourself. We love because he first loved us. That’s what changes us. And when you start reading it with this Jesus perspective, it’s his grace that empowers you and it changes you, and all of a sudden it’s like going to Three Forks every day in your living room. You’re like, “This is incredible!” Serious! It’s not about what you have to do. Can you hear me? This is not about what you have to do. It’s way bigger than that. The Bible is not so small that it’s about what you have to do. The Bible is so big it’s about what Jesus has done.
And when you discover who he is you start to understand who you now are. When you understand what he did, it will change what you do. If you read the Bible concerning himself, you will be strengthened. If you read the Bible concerning yourself, you will be weakened. Now, I love in Verse 32, when it’s all the done and the resurrected Jesus disappears, it says, “Were our hearts not burning within us” – I think we have this verse for you on the screens here – Verse 32. “Were our hearts not burning within us as we walked along the road and he opened the scriptures to us?” “Were our hearts not burning within us?” In other words, as Jesus opened the scriptures to us, wow, everything changed and we became strengthened. But when we read the scriptures concerning ourselves we become like the Pharisees, who read the Bible but the Bible gave them a hard heart. Why?
Because they read it concerning what they had to do. And if you read it concerning what you have to do as the primary focus, yes we learn what we’re supposed to do as we read the scriptures, but that’s not the primary focus. The primary focus is what Jesus has done. It will give you a hard heart. That’s why sometimes the meanest Christians in the world are the ones who know the Bible the best. Come on. Somebody in this room may be that person.
I don’t know who it is, but if you’re offended, it’s probably you. I don’t know what’s going on with me today but just – Just go with it. It’s what Jesus says in John 5 – we already it – “These scriptures testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me.” All who come to Jesus become loving and grace-filled. All who read the Bible concerning themselves become angry and hard and want to be truth defenders without love.
You don’t read the Bible to do something for Jesus. You read the Bible so he can do something for you. You don’t open the scriptures to him. He opens the scriptures to you. In fact, what we need to start saying is, “Holy Spirit, give me eyes to see and show me Jesus and what he did as I spent time today getting to know you.” The Holy Spirit was given to testify about Jesus. The same spirit that inspired the word will illuminate it to you today, and he will show you Jesus and what he did. This is the greatest treasure map on the face of the earth. You catch that, right? The greatest treasure map – it will lead you to the greatest treasure in the world and his name is Jesus. In fact, let me close with this. John 6:63 – “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.” “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.” That word ‘spirit’ in the original language, it means breath.
So what Jesus is saying is, “The words I have spoken to you are the breath of God and they are life.” They are the breath of God and they are life. In other words, the same breath that spoke the universe into existence, the same breath that breathed life into Adam for the first time, the same breath that breathed on the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”, is the same breath in those words that will be breathed into your life when you’re willing to sit there and say, “I want to know what is written instead of what I think.” I want to know about this concerning Him, not concerning me, because when it’s about concerning Him, He will always flow into me and it will change who I now am. Has the breath of God ready to blow into your life every single day?
You might know this is eternal life, that you might know Him. That we not be people that walk through this life and just respond with, “I think” and shallow pools in our hearts. May we be people with deep wells filled with the words of living water that rush out and overflow, and we can declare at any moment, at any time, “It is written.” As when you say that, you’re speaking the breath of God over your situation, your circumstance, that relationship; whatever it is. Okay? So you close your eyes with me.
And what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you? The reason we always open the Bible at Valley Creek Church is because it’s the breath of God. Who cares what some man thinks? I want to know what God has said. And if you’re here and you have the sense of guilt or this pressure, “I’ve got to read the Bible”, no, no; you’re missing it. You shouldn’t feel guilty; you should feel hungry. And here would be my guess; it’s that there’s a lot of us that are starving in this room. And Jesus is saying, “I want to feed you. I want to feed you of myself. Great meals that are just for you.”
What you need, what you enjoy, what you like; he wants to feed you that. And the Holy Spirit will show you concerning himself. You just have to be willing to say, “Okay, here am I, Lord. I’m ready today. I’m going to open this up to know what is written.” You don’t have to read 20 chapters a day. You don’t have to read 10 chapters a day. Sometimes you just read one chapter. Just read a chapter and meditate on it. Think about it. Ask the Holy Spirit what does it mean. Journal; write some things down. It’s a discipline, just like eating every day. You just start feeding your soul. You’ll be amazed what happens. And so Holy Spirit, I just pray that you’d move among us right now, and here’s what I ask. I ask that you would make us hungry, that we would be starving for your word and we would learn to feed ourselves. That we would consume your scriptures in our lives.
And we would eat them the way Jeremiah said that they would become our joy and our delight. And they would settle inside of us, living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, and they would change us from the inside out. The scriptures, may they work on us. May we meditate and chew on it day and night; imagine your word being performed over our lives. Would you give us a desperate hunger for your word, because I know when we’re hungry you promised you would fill us up. I speak right now over many people that that well would go deeper, that reservoir would get wider, and that they would be armed with a sword on their side; a weapon to fight with. When the darkness of this world comes against them, they will strengthen themselves in you because it is written. It’s been written about you for us.
Thank you, Lord. What do you want to say to the Lord right now in your own way? Do you want to whisper to Him or ask Him? He is here and He is in this place. Thank you all.