I want to start out with something that is true for all of us, yet a challenge to understand.
You are a spirit being that just happens to have a body.
And the more real this truth comes to you, the more fulfillment you’ll find in this life.
Actually, a quote by C.S. Lewis says it all:
“Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
We started off this year with 21 days of prayer and fasting. And many of you made spiritual strides during that time. You grew more spiritually in 21 days than you have in a long time.
But here we are two months later, and I imagine prioritizing your daily time in prayer has become a struggle once again. I’m not here to put you down, because I am in the same boat as you.
I’m here to remind you and remind myself to put God first. Because if God is not first in your life, then He is not in your life.
Why? Because if you don’t put Him first, something else will take His place every time.
So, I challenge you to pursue God this year more than you ever have before.
Prioritize our Sunday services. Show up for First Sunday Prayer. Join a small group and participate in as many meetings as you possibly can.
Find your daily rhythm where you put God first by talking to Him, listening for His direction, and reading His Word.
Because you know what? There’s nothing more important, there’s not a better decision you can make than to get more of God’s Word in your life.
It Is Written
John 1:1 NLT – In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
In other words, the Bible is God. And if you want to get to know God, then get to know the Bible.
The problem is, we tend to have a hard time understanding it. Or, we are intimidated by its length. But, thank God, Jesus solved these issues for us.
John 1:14 NLT – So the Word became human and made his home among us.
Jesus came down to earth, the Word Himself, so that we could understand God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.
And now, we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us. So, when we hear or read the Word, we can expect to understand it.
So everyone say this, “I expect to understand the Word that is spoken today. And I expect it to change my life.”
The Bible is alive.
John 6:63 NLT – The very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
The words in the Bible are not mere words. They are alive and they go much deeper than our natural mind. They speak to our spirit.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT – For the word of God is alive and powerful.
The Bible is not a historical record. It’s not a normal book. It is alive. It is powerful. Is it the very word of God speaking to us today.
Hebrews 4:12 NLT – It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
In other words, the Bible is not an innocent bystander. It will get all up in you. It will mess with your attitudes, your emotions, your issues.
But once it gets in there because you took the time to let it work into your life, the power of the Word will change your life.
It will do an epic work of healing inside of you.
But here’s the problem. For most Christians, the Bible is not alive. Actually it’s quite dead and seems like an out-of-touch book from the past.
So my goal today and through the rest of this series is for the Word to come alive in your life. So how do we do this? The first thing to know:
Faith activates the Word.
Faith is what causes the Bible to come alive. In other words, when you go to read the Bible, you must first decide in your heart that it is truth, it is alive, and it holds the power to change your life.
You expect all of these things to happen before you even start reading.
Hebrews 4:2 NKJV – For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
Reading the Bible without mixing it with faith is like wondering why the cookies didn’t turn out when you left the ingredients scattered around the kitchen. Eggs were still in the fridge. Vanilla was still in the pantry. Why is this not working?
Aren’t you glad that before we started this message, we activated our faith by saying, “I expect to understand the Word that is spoken today. And I expect it to change my life.”
And it’s a little easier to operate in faith when you are here at church, surrounded by other people who are activating their faith. But how do you activate faith in your daily life?
Revelation activates faith.
In other words, if you want your faith to come alive, revelation has to happen. You know, that “A ha” moment, when the light bulb comes on.
Here’s an example. Remember that text message you read once that really made you mad because the other person was being a punk? And then you re-read it and realized they weren’t being mean at all. A ha… I see it now.
Or that song you’ve heard a hundred times. But then on the 101st time, the lyrics in the second verse hit you like a rock and make you cry.
Or how about that thing that your wife has been telling you for years but you are just not getting it. But, when one of your friends brings it up, you’re like oh my gosh. I can’t believe I didn’t see that.
All of these moments are considered revelation. It’s when something clicks. You get it.
So, what we need is more revelation of God’s Word.
If you’ve been in church for long, hopefully you’ve had moments here and there where you experience revelation during Sunday morning service. You know, when something you’ve heard from the Bible for years finally makes sense. “Ah, walking in forgiveness is for my benefit, not for theirs.”
So if revelation activates faith and faith activates the Word of God, where do we get revelation?
Meditation activates revelation.
In other words, it’s probably not going to come to you on the first pass. You can’t speed read the Bible and expect to receive revelation.
You can’t rush in to church and rush out of church every Sunday and expect to receive revelation.
You have to slow down. You have to clear your mind. You have to focus.
Read it. Ponder it. Think it through. Let it marinate. Be patient with it.
Don’t get hung up on getting through a certain amount of pages or chapters every day. Instead, read a little bit and then ponder on what you read. And some days, that might only be one verse.
So that is why I am challenging you to pursue God more than you ever have before this year. Make church a priority. Make your small group a priority. Make your daily time with God a priority.
And this isn’t for my benefit, it’s for yours. Actually, I dare you to dive all in and turn your life upside down to make these things a priority in your life this year. And at the end of the year, I promise, your life will be more than you could have dreamed it could be.
Joshua 1:8 NLT – Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it.
Meditation is kind of like the cows you see out in the field chewing on the grass. They just keep chewing. They’re not in a hurry.
It’s a little bit different at our house during dinner time. Our kids are done eating before we even sit down to eat.
Or if we are lucky enough to eat at the same time, Beth and I eat as fast as possible so the kids don’t ask for our food.
But back to the cows, chewing up their grass. And they finally swallow it.
But then they do the most disgusting thing and vomit it back up and chew it some more so they can get more nutrients out of it.
And then they swallow it again… only to bring it right back up and do it again.
This is meditation! Learn from the cows. Although, don’t meditate on grass. Meditate on the Word.
Take a scripture, chew on it, swallow it down. Whoops, there are still more nutrients to get. So, bring it back up, chew on it some more.
Because here’s what happens when you meditate on the Word:
Joshua 1:8 NLT – Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
I think it is safe to say that building our lives on God’s Word is the best strategy if we want to live a prosperous life.
So that’s what we are talking about today in Part 1 of this series.
A Life Built on God’s Word
Matthew 7:24 MSG – These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
When your life is built on God’s Word, the storms still come. The tornado still hits and try to destroy your house. But none of this moves you. You stand firm.
Everyone else around you is falling apart when the storms of life show up. But since your life is built on God’s Word, you are the one left standing. Your joy is in tact, your peace is in tact, your needs are met.
But, maybe your sitting there thinking, “Uhh, my life is not built on the Word. I’m one of those people that are crumbling from the storms of life.”
Well, it’s never too late to start building. So, let’s get real practical and talk about how you can build your life on God’s Word.
I must accept its authority.
It all starts with your attitude towards the Bible. Is it just a book written by good people, or is it God’s Word, the real deal, one-hundred percent truth?
Or maybe your attitude is that its not relevant. I don’t understand it.
And you know what, there will always be things that you don’t understand.
I don’t understand digestion, but I still eat. I don’t understand women, but I’m still extremely thankful to share life with Beth.
So, if you don’t understand something in the Bible, welcome to the club.
And if you find something in the Bible that is contrary to our culture, guess who’s wrong? It’s not that the Bible is irrelevant. The truth is, our culture has decided that its way is better than God’s way.
The attitude we should have toward the Word is spelled out really well in this scripture:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT – Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
If we want the Word of God to work in our lives, we must see the Bible as the authority in our lives.
When we read something that reveals we’ve been doing something wrong, we change. When it tells us to forgive even when we would rather hold a grudge, we forgive anyways.
When it tells us to pray instead of giving into anxiety, we pray. And we keep praying until the anxiety dissipates.
We must accept the Bible as the ultimate truth in our lives because it is the very Word of God.
Which brings us into step two for building your life on God’s Word:
I must assimilate its truths.
The word assimilate means that you have to work it in to every area of your life. It’s not just a Sunday morning thing. It’s not just your morning quiet time. The Word has to find its way into every area of your life.
So, how do you do this? How do you get God’s Word into every area of your life?
By listening to God’s Word.
And look at you. You are doing this one right now! Take a look at this:
Romans 10:17 NKJV – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
This is why prioritizing church is so important! Because faith comes when you hear the Word of God. And trust me, you are going to hear the Word of God every single Sunday here at NoLimits.
But have you noticed how our modern culture has a hard time prioritizing church? Can you see how this is a good idea, for the enemy?
If he can keep you from coming to church, he keeps you from hearing the Word. And without hearing the Word, you live your life without faith.
Now, that’s a win for the devil, not for you.
And don’t prioritize church to make me happy. Prioritize church because you want to hear the Word of God and connect with others who have the same desire.
And don’t stop there. Prioritize your small group so you can hear the Word of God once again in the middle of the week.
And listen to a podcast from our church or another church while your on your way to work or mowing the lawn.
Be intentional about making sure you hear the Word of God on a regular basis.
There’s something else to keep in mind as you listen:
Luke 8:18 NLT – So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.
In other words, don’t be lazy in your listening. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next thing after church that you can’t pay attention.
Show up to church expecting for your faith to grow from listening to the Word of God. Show up to small group expecting. Show up to church expecting. When you turn on that podcast in your car, expect God to speak to you.
And listen, I am not saying you cannot go on vacation. I’m not saying that your faith is going to be stripped away from you if you miss church.
What I am saying is that listening to the Word should be a priority on your schedule.
So, we’re talking about how to bring God’s Word into every area of your life. Here’s the second way:
By reading God’s Word.
You probably saw this one coming. But please know I am not talking about an obligation to get through the Bible every year. Although if that’s what is on your heart, go for it!
When we read the Word, it should be kind of like sitting down for a meal. Take a few minutes aside from everything else to feed your spirit from the Word.
Most of us wouldn’t dare do a complete fast from food. Heck, I might even disappear! Yet, I don’t know about you, but I’ve participated is some pretty lengthy fasts from the Word.
And just like your body withers away without food, your spirit becomes quieter and quieter without the Word of God.
And we all know what happens when the mind and body start leading instead of our spirit. You start acting a fool!
Your mad all the time. Everyone around you is annoying. Your attitude is ugly. You eat when your not hungry to satisfy your emotions. We’ve all been there.
But take a look at this:
Matthew 4:4 NLT – People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Reading the Word is nourishment for our spirit. It’s really the only way to ensure our days our led by our spirit instead of our bad attitudes.
Reading the Word on a regular basis is what enables you to walk in peace and experience joy even when things around you are falling apart.
So, find yourself a plan, whether it is a one-year Bible, or some other plan. There really is no right or wrong way to read the Bible.
You could read a Proverb every day, or a Psalm. Or, you could have a plan to read through the gospels this year. Whatever it is, make a plan, set aside a time and do it.
And when you do open it up, don’t just read the Bible, let the Bible read you.
The Bible is like a mirror. It shows you things about yourself that you haven’t even realized yet. And this is good stuff.
Because I don’t know about you, but I would rather be confronted about things I need to change in my life during some private time with God’s Word, rather than someone else telling me I need to change.
Alright, so we are going to listen to God’s Word. We are going to read God’s Word. And here’s the third:
By exploring God’s Word.
One of the best ways to do this is with a group. The Word comes alive in a whole new way when you sit down with a small group of people and discuss what you’re reading and what is going on in your life.
Getting involved in a small group enables you to see how the Word is working in those around you, and will even help you realize how the Word can work in your life.
So, if you are signed up for a small group, you need to prioritize it on your schedule and show up, because it’s important.
And if you are not in a small group, the door is always open. See Chris or Gina after service and they will get you in the right group.
Because take a look a this. This is what happens when we let the Word into every area of our life:
Psalm 119:11 NLT – I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
When the Word has found its way into our hearts, sin goes away. And I imagine there are people in this room that are just sick of the sin.
Like you just keep doing something and afterwards you say to yourself, “Why? Why do I keeping doing that?”
You know it’s not who you are. And your frustrated because you just keep going back to something you really don’t even want to do.
And you know what, you’ll keep repeating the same process until you decide to bring the Word of God into every area of your life.
The answer is simple. Dedicate yourself to God’s Word. Listen to it, read it, and explore it with a small group.
When you do this, your life will change. The sin will disappear, and your life will be more than you could ever dream it could be.
Now, here’s the final point I want to make:
I must apply its principles.
Don’t just read it. Don’t just listen to it. But apply it into your everyday life. Take a look at this:
James 1:22 NLT – But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
And the best way to apply the Word to your life is to find a scripture for every situation.
A few years ago, I was so stressed out that it started to show up in my health.
My chest would hurt, which made me think there was something wrong with my heart. I had higher-than-normal blood pressure, which always threw the doctors off because on the outside, I looked healthy.
My hands were always shaky. I had a hard time concentrating. And of course, I was tired all the time and never felt fully rested.
All of this was because I was worried about everything.
I worried that Beth and I would run out of money. I worried that I would make a mistake at work and there would be no coming back from it.
I was always caught up in the thought that I didn’t have enough to offer. I didn’t have what it took to do my job well. I didn’t have what it took to be a good husband.
And when all the health problems started showing up, I worried that I would die prematurely, leaving Beth behind with a load of heartache.
Until one day, I had enough.
I knew the answer was in the Word of God. I was a Bible school graduate for heaven’s sake. But yet, I let years go by before ever picking up the most powerful weapon. The weapon that destroys every stronghold.
When I finally picked it up, I found this scripture:
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
This sounded really good. It’s what I wanted. It’s exactly what I needed.
But my struggle didn’t magically disappear by reading this scripture once. And at first, there were only moments of relief when I would say this scripture out loud.
But, I kept at it. I grabbed that scripture by the collar and was determined to make it shape my life. I was determined to live my life not worried about a thing.
Turns out, it takes a bit of time to undo a mindset that was developed and nurtured over several years. But day by day, speaking this scripture out loud countless times, my life began to change.
I developed a habit of speaking this scripture out loud every time I started to worry about something. And I would just keep repeating it until the anxiety dissipated.
And the truth is, God’s Word destroyed that stronghold. His peace really is guarding my heart and mind as I live in Jesus.
The peace I was looking for back then doesn’t even compare to the peace I have now. God showed up and exceeded my expectation.
And He wants to do the same for you.
The Bible is alive.
It’s not a historical record. It’s God speaking to us today, right now, in this moment.
It holds the power to change our lives. It has the solution to every problem you face.
And when you prioritize the Bible and accept it as ultimate authority in your life, it won’t matter how bad the storm is. You’ll stand strong and you will overcome.