The Blessed Life Pt. 2

bible-readerT
In America, Bibles are everywhere. You can find them in grocery stores,
bookstores, motel rooms, everywhere. They’re available in all sizes, shapes,
translations, versions, leather bound, paperback. Every year the Bible out sells
every other major bestseller. Last year there were 500 million Bibles published in
the world in 18,000 different languages. In America we are glutted with the word
of God on the airways, radio, TV, books, magazines. It’s everywhere. Yet millions
of people still miss the blessing of the Bible.

Why? Because it’s not automatic. The Bible is a book of blessing. It promises
comfort, strength, hope, wisdom, joy, power, and purpose. But just because you
have a Bible doesn’t mean you’re going to get the benefit from it. James, being his
practical self, gives us three steps on how the Bible Blesses us:

James 1:19-25 NIV – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone
should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because
human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore,
get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the
word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and
so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does
not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after
looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But
whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—
not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they
do

The Bible is called the perfect law because it’s exactly what I need. It promises
freedom and it promises blessing. James gives us three steps:

1.I MUST RECEIVE GOD’S WORD IF I’M GOING TO BE BLESSED BY IT

vs. 21, “Accept the word planted in you.” Circle the word “accept”. This word in
Greek is a hospitality term which literally means “to welcome” — come on in. If
we’re going to be blessed by the word of God, first we must welcome the word into
our lives. We must be receptive.

James gives an illustration. He says it’s planted in you. He gives the illustration of a
garden and seed. The Bible, all through Scripture, compares itself to seed. Jesus
told the parable of the sower and said, “The word of God is a seed and it’s planted
in our hearts.” How is it you can take two seeds that are exactly the same and plant
them in two different locations and get two different crops in fruitfulness?
One soil is prepared and the other is not. How is it that you can take two people
and put them in the same service, with the same message, and one person gets
blessed by it and the other person says he didn’t get anything out of it. One heart
was prepared and one wasn’t. James says we must receive the word of God with
the right attitude. He gives us four attitudes you need to be blessed by God’s word.

Attitudes for a Good Reception

1.Be careful. I must have a careful attitude. v. 19 “Be quick to listen…” Give it
your full attention. Be alert. Don’t miss it. “… slow to speak …” When I’m
talking, I’m not listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth so we ought to
listen twice as much as we talk. Many of our problems are caused because we’re
quick to speak rather than being quick to listen. Be careful in your attitude. Be
ready. Be intent. Be ready to receive God’s word. Be careful.

2. Be calm. Be calm if you’re going to receive God’s word and be blessed by it. v.
19b “… and slow to become angry …” A relaxed attitude increases receptivity. If
you’re relaxed, people can communicate with you more. We work on relaxing
people in our services for that reason. We don’t hear much when we’re angry, upset,
bitter, resentful. Bitterness is a barrier, an emotional block that keeps us from
hearing God’s word. Some may ask, “How come God never speaks to me.” Maybe
you’ve got some resentment in your life you need to get rid of. An article I read
from Reader’s Digest said when you listen it actually lowers your blood pressure.
When you speak it raises your blood pressure. James says be calm, be slow to
anger.

What is your emotional state, normally, when you come to church on Sunday
morning? Do you come with a calm attitude? In many homes on Sunday morning
it’s kind of hectic. Then we come at the last minute and expect God to speak to us.
What preparation? You need to be calm. Maybe you need to get up a little bit
earlier.

3. Be clean. v. 21 “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…”
Before you can plant the seed you need to do a little weeding. The word “filth” that
he says you’ve got to get rid of is actually the Greek word that means “earwax”.
When you have a sin in your life it blocks your hearing. It prevents God’s word
from getting into your heart. He says get rid of the evil, anything that we know that
isn’t right in our lives. God says, “Lay aside all of the emotional garbage, the old
habits, the junk in your life so that God’s word can get through to you.”

How can we be clean? By confession. “If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just
to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Living Bible says “Get
rid of all that’s wrong in your life, both inside and out.”

“Dusty Bibles always lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the
Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and
the world is squeezing you into its mold.” Howard Hendricks

4. Be compliant. Teachable, yielded, humble, willing to be changed. He says
“humbly accept the word of God planted in you…” Don’t act like you know it all. If
you know it all, God’s word can’t get through to you. Pray, “God, do what You need
to do in my life.” God says if you want to be blessed, first you have to receive it,
be receptive with these four hearing aids. Reception is not enough. James says we
not only need to receive the word of God, but…

2.REFLECT ON THE WORD OF GOD
v. 23 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man
who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself immediately goes
away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James uses an illustration here.
God’s word is like a mirror. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate us. We use them
to evaluate ourselves. We look in a mirror to assess the damage from the night
before. Then we do something about it. What good is a mirror if we don’t do
anything about what we see? God says a mirror reflects what we’re like on the
outside. God’s word reflects what we’re like on the inside.
Have you ever seen yourself in the Bible? Hebrews says, “God’s word detects the
thoughts, intents, motives and desires of the heart.” Many years ago, Queen
Elizabeth, who was beautiful in her youth, ordered that all of the mirrors be
removed from Buckingham Palace because she couldn’t stand to face that she was
growing old.

A lot of people don’t read the Bible because they’re afraid. They’re unwilling to
face themselves and see themselves as they really are. They don’t want to look in
the mirror of God’s word.

James gives us three practical ways to reflect on the word of God,

1. Read it. v. 25 “the man who looks intently into the perfect law”. He’s actually
talking more about research that he is reading. Investigating. The word “look”
in Greek means “to stoop down and gaze in”. It’s the word used when Peter
went to the tomb on resurrection Sunday when he stooped down and peeked in.
He investigated. Focus your attention on the word of God.

There are two ways you can look at a mirror. You can gaze at it or you can glance
at it. All of us have done both. It’s human nature that you can’t walk by a mirror
and not look at it. When you glance at it, you immediately walk away and forget
what you’ve seen. It didn’t do you any good. Many people try to have a quiet time
that way. They don’t want to gaze at it, but glance at it. Give God five minutes.
God says that He wants us to gaze at the word. Look at it intently in detail.

Nine things to look for — S.P.A.C.E.P.E.T.S
S – Is there a Sin to confess?
P – Is there a Promise to claim? Look for promises, there are over 7000 promises in
the word of God.
A – Is there an Attitude to change?
C – Is there a Command to obey?
E – Is there an Example to follow?
P – Is there a Prayer to pray? There are lots of prayers in the Bible. You can take
those prayers and pray them for yourself and for others. You can know they’ll be answered
because they’re in the Word of God.
E – Is there an Error to avoid?
T – Is there a Truth to believe? Is there something I just need to believe God for?
S – Is there Something to thank God for?

That’s how you look intently at the word of God. Look at the details. James says
we need to receive the word of God and then reflect on it, first by reading it and
second by reviewing it.

2. Review it. v. 25 “…and continues to do so…” That means over and over and
over. The Bible calls this meditation. When you think about something over and
over, it’s meditation. Meditation is not, put your mind in neutral and contemplate
lint in your navel. Meditation means to think seriously about something over and
over. If you know how to worry, you can meditate. Take a negative idea and think
about it over and over, and it’s called worry. Take God’s word and think about it
over and over, and it’s called meditation. The Bible says, “Meditate on God’s
word”. Jesus said, “…if you continue in My word, then you’re truly My disciples.”
Read it and review it. The outlines I give you each week on robyanok.com are not
so that you can keep up with me, it’s so that you can review it during the week.
God says, “You want to be blessed by the word? Review it.”

Psalm 119:97 “I meditate on your word all day long.” Every person ought to
memorize Joshua 1:8 NIV – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;
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

If you’ll do one thing God promises to bless you with success. And that promise
is IF you meditate on His Word. Read it and review it continually. Stay in it and
be faithful to the book. I know some people that are more faithful to Ann Landers
or the sports page than they are to God’s word. How many of you believe
everything you read in the newspaper or watch on TV? Then why do we spend
more time reading or watching something we don’t believe than something we
do?

We need to fill our minds with the word of God. James says, “You want to be
blessed? Reflect on the word. Think about it by reading it and reviewing it.”

3. Remembering it. v. 25 “… not forgetting what he has heard.” Nothing will do
more for your spiritual life than developing the habit of memorizing Scripture.
Nothing will benefit your personal spiritual life more than developing the habit of
memorizing Scripture. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin
against Thee.” Memorize God’s word if you want to be blessed by it. We
remember what’s important to us.

Take notes, write things down. If you value God’s word you’re going to take notes
on it. Hebrews 2:1 “Write things down so we don’t let slip what we’ve heard.”
The United States Air Force did a study and found that we forget 95% of what we
hear within 72 hours. This statistic depresses a pastor. I spend all week preparing a
message to give on Sunday. By Wednesday you’ve forgotten 95% of what I’ve said
unless you’ve written it down. James says, “Receive God’s word with the right
attitude, reflect on God’s word by reading it, reviewing it, remembering it.” But
even that’s not enough

3.I MUST RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD
I must do something about it, act on it, live it, practice it. vs. 22 “Do not merely
listen to what the word says and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Practice.
What good is a mirror if you look at it and don’t do anything about it? The word
“listen” in Greek is the word for “auditor”. If you audited a class in college you
didn’t take it for credit, no tests, no responsibility, no research. You were totally
relaxed. You just listened, you didn’t have any intention of applying it. We have a
lot of auditors in the church. They come to church, walk in, hear the word of God,
walk out with no intention of ever being changed. I was one for years. I took notes,
wrote things down, but it never changed me. We must respond to God’s word, let
it change us if we’re going to be blessed by it.

That is what James is attacking. He’s saying, “If you want to be blessed, you’ve
got to live the word of God, not just hear it. Not just know it.”
I really work at making the Bible simple. There is a lot in the Bible that is difficult
to understand, complex, deep. Yet I try to present it in such a way that’s very clear
and very easy to understand and easy to put into practice. When you go out of here
I want you to be able to do the word not just hear the word of God. I work at
making it practical. I try to make it simple so we can put it into practice.
I heard about the guy who came to church late. He walked in just as the service
was completing. He said to an usher, “Is the sermon done, yet?” The usher was
wise and said, “The sermon has been preached, but it is yet to be done.” Be ye
doers of the word, don’t merely listen. Put it into practice.

My honest prayer on Sunday afternoon is that you will remember what I said and
put it into practice. I pray that GraceTown Church will develop the reputation that
people say, “They’re doers of the word. They practice what everybody else talks
about. They live it.” People have a Living Bible. You ought to be a Living Bible.
The best translation of Scripture is when you translate it into your life and let
it change you.

What pleases me even more than a comment or compliment is when somebody
says they will put it into practice and use it. They say they will do the sermon this
week. “Let’s not deceive ourselves,” James says.v. 25 (Phillips) “The man who puts the law into practice wins true happiness.”

Jesus, in Matthew 7, tells the story of the wise and the foolish builder. He says the
foolish builder builds on sand. He is like the guy who hears the word of God but
doesn’t do what it says. The wise man is the one who hears it and then goes out and
makes an honest attempt to put it into his life. Practice it.
Jesus said John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you
do them.” I think the simplest definition of maturity is to be a doer of the word.

“If we are not interested in the Word of God, can we really be interested in God?”
~Robert Godfrey

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or
stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose
delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.That
person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.

Prayer:
Father, You have not beat around the bush this morning. We can’t ignore what Your word says.
You’ve told us to be doers of the word, to practice what we already know. Lord, I know You
have put some ideas in the minds of people and they know they’ve got to do something maybe
even before today ends. I pray that You would give them the courage to act on what they know.
Help them to do the right thing. Help them to act on what they already know is right. Lord,
maybe it’s to pay off some debt, or to ask forgiveness, or to return an object, or to be baptized, or
to join the church, or to make a phone call, or to witness to some neighbor and invite them to
church, get involved, or to receive Christ for the very first time. Lord, Help us to do what we
need to do, to not deceive ourselves, to not glance at the mirror of the word and walk away
unchanged. Help us not to miss the point, that we need to receive Your word with the right
attitude and we need to reflect on it through reading and studying and memorizing. But Lord, that
we most of all need to respond to it and allow it to live in our lives.
If you’ve never opened up your life to Jesus Christ, do it this morning. Ask Him to come into
your heart. That’s the first step. Say, “Jesus Christ, I don’t understand it all but I want You to
come into my life. I want to be a believer.” He died for you on the cross. He will forgive your
sins if you ask Him to. He will give you a new start. Just say, “Christ, come into my life. I want
to be a Christian, a real Christian.” Others of you know the Lord. The issue for you is not to
make that first step but to practice what you already know. Say, “God help me to do what I know
is right.” That takes faith and courage. He will give you that faith and courage. Say, “Help me to
live Your word this week and apply even what I’ve heard today in the next few days.” Lord, Your
word is true. It is accurate and it pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and the
joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Lord, we’ve seen
areas of our lives we need to work on today. Give us the strength and courage to do what we
know we need to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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