20.7.14 – Why Should We Read God’s Word? – John Park

Today is the Sunday of the Bible. So, I would like to talk about the Word of God. The term ‘the Word’ is translated from the Greek term ‘Logos.’ In the book of John, ‘Logos’ has a personality, existed from long before the creation of heaven and earth, and became flesh. ‘The Word’ conveys the notion of Divine self-expression or speech and has a rich Old Testament background. Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”  Let us Read Matthew 4:1-11.

In this passage, Jesus was tempted by the devil 3 times and He responded to each temptation by quoting the Word of God from Deuteronomy, by saying, “It is written.” Just as Jesus was tempted by the devil, we also live our lives being tempted by the devil.

The first temptation is about material things. About what we will eat or what we will drink. This is about our personal lives. The devil wants us to believe that material needs are the most important things in our lives, so that we may forget about spiritual things. But one of the most necessary things in our lives is for us to live by the will of God.

The second temptation is for us to deal with social issues through relationships with others, rather than through the relationship with God. Some people consider honour and respect as being more valuable than having a relationship with God. They try to achieve things on their own or through those who they consider to be influential people, rather than trusting in God. Just as the Israelites disobeyed God, we will also test and try God.

The third is a religious issue. The devil talks people into worshiping him because he promises to give them all the glory. But God is the only object that we should serve and worship. The devil is the object that we should resist and cast out because he is a fallen angel who rebelled against God. The devil promises to give us an easy way, a wide way, and the way of glory, but such ways eventually lead to death.

There is only one thing that can overcome these 3 temptations: it is God’s Word. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The word of God is so powerful.

Therefore, we have to have the word of God in our hearts and this passage explains the 3 reasons why this is important. Firstly, we have to have the word of God in our hearts to live (v4), secondly, it is so that we don’t test or get tested by others, and thirdly, it is in order for us to worship only God (v10).

We will look at these 3 things in more detail.

Firstly, we have to have God’s word in our hearts to live. Verse 4 says, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Here, Jesus says that people do need physical food in order to live, but the more important thing is the Word of God, the spiritual food. I think that this is a matter of priority. We need to have the spiritual values that prioritise God over us.

I am sure we can all remember the miracle when Jesus feeds 5 thousand people. Jesus said that ‘I am the bread of life and the water of life’ and said ‘eat and drink my flesh and blood.’ Even though people experienced this miracle, everyone, except Jesus’ disciples, left him because they didn’t realiase how important his flesh and blood was for them to live.

In Amos 8:11, it says ““The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land–not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” People these days definitely do suffer from the famine of God’s words. Lots of people are also hungry because they don’t consume the word of God as a whole, but as parts, as they pick up a little here and there.

Jesus understands that people aren’t happy just by consuming physical food but are only truly happy when they consume the word of God. When they consume the word of God they can live forever. The Word of God is Jesus Christ. We are able to live when we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. We should not firstly pursue worldly wealth, but we should first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And then we will be able to enjoy worldly wealth, honour, and a healthy life as well.

After that, we need to have faith that God will be responsible for our daily lives. When we prioritise God’s Word, He will solve our issues of food, clothing and shelter. In the wilderness, the Israelites experienced the power of God’s word many times. When they had no food and water, God gave them water coming out of a rock and manna and quail as food for them. God solved the issues of their daily lives through such miraculous ways.

Therefore, do not worry about your daily lives, such as what you will eat, drink or what you will wear. When we worry about such things, we can’t bear fruit. Look at the parable of the Sower in Luke chapter 8. Verse 14 says, “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and their fruit does not mature.” Worrying shows that we don’t acknowledge God as our Father, our king, and our Lord, but that we think of ourselves as the providers. Therefore, worrying is the sin of unbelieving.

You may have heard about the North Korean Christians who love God’s Word and eagerly get it into their hearts. If they have one New Testament, they divide it into many pieces to be shared and they memorize each book. When they get together for worship service, they worship God together with the Bibles and hymns they have memorised. Because they don’t want to be found with actual Bibles and hymns in case they are found by the security police trying to arrest them.

When we love the God’s Word and honour it, we are definitely able to overcome temptations of our daily lives. Ps. 119:165 says, “Great peace have they who love your Word, and nothing can make them stumble.

Secondly, we have to consume God’s word in order for us to avoid testing and being tested by others. In Verse 7, Jesus says “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Looking back at the history of Israel, God let the Israelites escape from Egypt with His great power. In the wilderness, He gave them manna and quail, and so on. In spite of experiencing God’s great power, when they were faced with troubles, they tested God by rebelling and complaining to him and Moses. Because of this, they were not able to gain rest in the land of Cannan.

Heb. 3:7-11 say, “So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, [8] do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, [9] where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. [10] … I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ [11] So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'”

A good example of not testing God is shown by Abraham. After promising Abraham a son, God didn’t give him a son for 25 years. And his great grandson Joseph became a slave and was put in prison. Although they could have complained to God, they didn’t do that and accepted their distress as the will of God. But some people lose trust in God when they are faced with such hard things and end up testing him. Even though we live by faith, we can’t always be prosperous. Sometimes there will be distresses in our lives. No matter what situations we are in, we need to praise God and have faith in him.

God should not be the object that we test, but the object that we love, believe in, and obey. How can we absolutely trust in God’s love? God gave His one and only son in this world and let him die on the cross in order to forgive the sins of all human beings. Why would God let His own son die like that? The reason is only one thing: God wanted us to know His love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

We need to be absolutely confident in the love of God. Even if the sky is falling, one thing that we cannot doubt is how much he loves us. We shall believe in God and humbly obey Him. When we do so, we are able to overcome the tests thrown in our way. God will give us the signs that we need in our daily lives. He will protect us from any difficulties and surely give us great honour.

Thirdly, we have to consume the word of God in order to serve and worship only God. Verse 10 says, “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” Serving God involves suffering, but the devil tempts people by saying, ‘don’t go the way of suffering, go the easy way.’

We also have to persevere with our faith in God. Luke 8:13 says, “Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” There are people who listen well and rejoice when they hear the word but soon they turn their back on God because they have not put down the roots as their love for themselves is stronger. This was the case with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus rather than serving him.

Although the way of the cross can be rough, we have to believe in God, as our king and Lord until the last moment of our lives. Even though we are tempted by the glory of the world, we should not head down this pathway. We need to stand up to Satan with God’s word and our faith in Jesus. We should worship and serve only Him.

Luke 8:15 says, “As for those in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” We absolutely need to trust in the (lovely and) powerful word of God.  As those who worship God, it is important that we live our lives holding fast on to God’s word and the attitude of patience. When we do so, we are able to bear fruit 100 fold.

Joshua, Daniel, and his 3 friends made a decision to serve and worship only God and they did so. In Joshua 1:8, God said to Joshua, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” And in Joshua 24:15b, Joshua challenged his people before he died, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

We can also look at the faithful confession of Daniel’s 3 friends. Daniel 3:18 says, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Even as they faced death, they kept the integrity of faith.

If we overcome the test by faith, we, like Jesus, will receive help from the angels. God fulfilled the wonderful works of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. He will achieve such things through us as well. I am convinced that this can happen to all of us.

I want to challenge you. Will you be the doers? Or will you be the hearers? The Bible says, “Be the doers of the word, not the hearers.” And Jesus says, “In the last days, many deceptions will come.” If you do not take deep roots in God’s Word, how will you escape from deceptions? If you have  God’s Word, you will have discernment: what is right or wrong? I want you to deeply abide in God’s Word. And listen to what God’s Word says.

Let me give you some suggestions.

1) Don’t snack on God’s Word. Let us feast on God’s Word. When you go to a wedding or a banquet filled with good food, you want to feast on it, don’t you?

2) Consume the word of God like you are eating a loaf of bread rather than eating crumbs.

Try to read the bible cover to cover instead of reading a little bit here and there.

3) Try to set yourself a goal.

– Try to set yourself the number of chapters you are going to read everyday and try to read at least 5 chapters a day. If you were reading a novel, would you read 2 – 3 pages every day? No, you want to read more, as much as possible. Why? Because you want to get the story into your hearts.

The purpose of Bible reading is just one: to get the story of God into our hearts. That’s all. The Bible is the story of God. Get it in our hearts every day. If we are saturated by God’s Word, we might read a large portion of the scripture and feed our souls with God’s Word. As time comes, when you read the scripture, it touches you. It means the scriptures from all over the Bible are available to you. You are interpreting God’s Word. The word of God interprets itself to us. So, all we need is to be saturated with God’s Word.

Sometimes you won’t understand God’s Word, read it whether you understand it or not, read it whether you enjoy it or not, read it and tell yourselves, “I am storing God’s Word in my soul.”

I think that the Bible is the one book worth reading out aloud. Once you have started reading the bible, take your Bible, and imagine that you are reading it to an audience. If you are reading before an audience, you don’t doze or sleep because you have an audience. And you also don’t get distracted by other thoughts. In the early days, it will be difficult. But when you have the purpose that “I am going to do it constantly,” after sometime, it will become so sweet. And then suddenly the story of God will be unfolding. The more you can read a big potion, the more intelligible it becomes.

When you read the Bible, try not to read the commentary or study notes. They are not the word of God, but they are only human study and human interpretation. The Bible reading is to read itself. If one day you fail to read it, don’t condemn yourselves. If you read less today, you can just read more tomorrow. If you read continuously, you will fall in love with Jesus because he will fill your heart.

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