Holy Resolution #2
Our second Holy Resolution for the new year is to become engaged in the Word of God. “Engaged” is a key word. It means to be “deeply involved” in something. If I said I was engaged in a business deal, but rarely showed up for meetings, and when I did show up wasn’t prepared to participate and spent most of the time staring out a window, would you believe me when I said I was “engaged” in the deal? Of course not. My actions would speak louder than my words. My lack of interest in the deal would be obvious to everyone.
The same is true about being “engaged” in God’s Word. We would not know Who God is or What He wants if it were not for His Word. God reveals Himself in His Word. He reveals His purpose in His Word. He reveals His will in His Word. He reveals His methods in His Word. He reveals His Truth in His Word. He reveals His future in His Word. God shows us how to be saved from sin, how to serve Him, how to worship Him, and how to tell other people about Him. Everything we need to know about this life and the next life are explained fully in God’s Word.
Look at what God said about the importance of being deeply involved in His Word. Let’s begin with God’s dealings with Israel during their time of wandering in the desert between Egypt and the promised land. First, notice what God said, what the ministers of His Word said and did, and what His people said and did. Think about your own involvement in His Word.
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.’ So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.” Exodus 19:5-8
“So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has said we will do.’ And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.” Exodus 22:3-4
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” Exodus 34:27-28
“Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:1-2
“To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:35-40
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7
“And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:2-3
“When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.” Deuteronomy 9:9-11
“And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, that you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you.” Deuteronomy 27:2-3
“Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!” Deuteronomy 27:26
“The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them. But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” Deuteronomy 28:9-15
“If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses.” Deuteronomy 28:58-59
“Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 29:9-13
“So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger whois within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe 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 which you cross the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:9-13
Do you see the importance God places on His Word? Hearing and obeying what God says has great importance and serious implications. God promised to bless and protect Israel as the people obeyed His Word. God also promised to curse and remove His protection from Israel as the people disobeyed His Word.
This emphasis on obeying God’s Word continued during all of the history of Israel in the Bible. God made it clear to Israel’s leaders that knowledge of and obedience to His Word were paramount to their success and the success of Israel.
Look at what God promised Joshua, the man who became Israel’s leader after Moses’ death.
“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9
We know about the many successes of Israel under the leadership of Joshua. Here’s why he was successful in defeating the larger and better equipped armies of Israel’s enemies.
“Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.” Joshua 8:33-35
“The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.” Joshua 21:44-45
Israel succeeded in doing all that God wanted them to do because they heard and obeyed God’s Word. Unfortunately, Israel also failed miserably through the centuries that followed because of their disobedience to and lack of interest in God’s Word. However, it did have a prosperous time during the reign of Israel’s greatest King, David. Here’s what he said about the importance of God’s Word in his life. Notice how “engaged” King David was in the Word of God.
“The words of the LORD are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.” Psalm 12:6-7
“As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30
“For the word of the LORD is right, And all His work is done in truth.” Psalm 33:4
“He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, Saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan As the allotment of your inheritance,’ When they were few in number, Indeed very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, From one kingdom to another people, He permitted no one to do them wrong; Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes, Saying, ‘Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.” Psalm 105:7-15
“With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes.” Psalm 119:10-12
“I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.” Psalm 119:15-17
“Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life. The proud have me in great derision, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.” Psalm 119:49-51
“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides.” Psalm 119:89-90
“I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:102-104
“I hate the double-minded, But I love Your law. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. Depart from me, you evildoers, For I will keep the commandments of my God!” Psalm 119:113-115
“Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them. The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments.” Psalm 119:129-131
“Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name. Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me. Redeem me from the oppression of man, That I may keep Your precepts.” Psalm 119:132-134
“Your word is very pure; Therefore Your servant loves it.” Psalm 119:140
“I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.” Psalm 119:147-148
“The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Princes persecute me without a cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your word. I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:160-162
“My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172
“I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” Psalm 138:2
King David succeeded in leading Israel through many tough situations because he looked to God for his success. In good times and bad, David wanted to hear from God.
That’s how it should be for all of us, every day. Whether things are going well in our lives or not, we need to be engaged in studying God’s Word.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1-3, 14) and depended on hearing from His Heavenly Father. Jesus used the Word of God to face the testing of Satan (Matthew 4). Jesus taught that hearing and obeying God’s Word were necessary to spiritual life and success (Matthew 13:23). Jesus spoke with great authority (Luke 4:32-36) and said that His Words were spirit and life (John 6:63) and would never pass away (Mark 13:31). In the Lord’s great prayer before His arrest, beating and crucifixion, Jesus told His Father about the importance of God’s Word to Him and His disciples.
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me … I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
John 17:6-8, 14-19
The disciples of Christ based their faith on God’s Word and believed deeply in its power to transform lives (Acts 4:31). The apostles believed preaching and teaching God’s Word was their solemn duty and responsibility and that nothing should take them away from it (Acts 6:2-7). The Apostle Paul took the Word of God to the Gentile nations and they were saved by the hundreds and thousands (Acts 13 – 28). He knew that God’s Word was the door and the path to their salvation and would be to all who came to Jesus Christ by grace through faith (Ephesians 1:13; 2:8-9, ). Paul knew that God’s Word would protect them in their battle with Satan and his evil empire (Ephesians 6:17), bring them great wisdom (Colossians 3:15-17) and give them tremendous power in their service to the Lord .
So, what do we do? How should we handle God’s Word? Look carefully at the words of the Apostle Paul as the Holy Spirit inspired him on that important matter.
“For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:17
“But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
“We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” 2 Corinthians 6:3-10
“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” 1 Timothy 4:1-6
“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5
“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2 Timothy 2:8-10
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5
God has given all of us a high calling. We are to be ready at all times to share God’s Word with people. How do we get ready? How do we know that what we’re telling people is correct? “Rightly dividing the word of truth” means to “cut straight” the Word of God and handle it “correctly.” It carries the idea of focusing on the Word of God with such intensity that we cut a straight line through it, dividing the Word with the precision of an experienced surgeon. That’s how important God’s Word is to God.
Finally, let us never forget the power that is the Word of God. It is alive!
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
Knowing and obeying the Word of God is our Holy Resolution #2. Think about it today, this week, and throughout 2010. Ask God to help you “rightly divide the word of truth” in a way that is far above anything you have experienced before. May God’s Word be magnified in our hearts, minds, mouths and lives this coming new year.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,