Let’s open our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 10. Our topic this morning would be the one that I would probably love, most of all the doctrines of theology, that I could teach. The underlying one for all theology, is the scripture. Everything we know about God, that is true, is from the Word of God. This is the revelation of God. This is the revelation of who He is, what He has done, why He’s doing everything He’s doing. The scriptures are the bedrock on which everything else that we know, and can hold onto, and trust is built. The scriptures are vital.
This morning as we look at that last piece of armor, the sword of the Spirit, it says, this is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” That’s the word of God, the scriptures, the Bible, is what the last piece is. But how do you get that tool, that last piece of armor to be transforming your life and my life every day? Because that’s what God wants to do. So often we hear the great truth, but then there’s this distance of how it happens.
In this little time, looking at the last piece of armor, we’re going to look at how to read the Bible. Not just we think we should, we’re going to let the Bible illustrate that because the greatest illustration of biblical truth is the Bible. The Bible was written as the illustrated guide, the examples to follow of every doctrine that God wants us to know how to apply, He applies it in someone’s life. It’s amazing. Everything God wants us to know how to do, He shows us how to do it in someone’s life.
How do you read the Bible? There are some amazing people that we’re going to look at this morning that allowed God’s word to speak into their life on a daily basis and it transformed them. Then, when you’re reading it, you go on from reading to not just letting it pass by but to actually grabbing parts and studying it. Trying to see the correspondence, the patterns, the purpose, the location, what God is doing, how it relates to what He’s already said, how it ties into everything else He’s going to say. That’s what Bible study is.
As you study the Bible there’s some parts that are so unbelievably impactful to me that I memorize them. To you, that you memorize them. They become your personal treasures, your personal word of God that transforms you. That takes away fear. That takes away anxiety. That takes away the feeling of hopelessness, or loneliness, or emptiness that we’ve been talking about with the helmet of salvation. We memorize those.
Memorization is only getting them queued up and ready to go. The arrow or the bullet, or the paper and the printer. It’s just there for something further in that. Further is what the Bible calls meditation. Meditation is when, what we’ve read, what we’ve studied, what we’ve memorized begins to be a very part of us. The digestion. Remember two current eating disorders that ravage many people are anorexia and bulimia. Those spiritually are a part of every congregation. There are spiritually anorexic people. They never eat the Bible. They hear all about eating it. They come here and hear about recipes of eating it. They just don’t eat it. Then, the vast majority of Christians are bulimic. They come in, they hear a big service like this, they lose it all on the way out. It doesn’t really go in. In fact, John MacArthur used to say, when I started with him many years ago, he said we all come in with our little thimble. Can you believe he would say this? He said, I speak to 12,000 people, they’re all holding a thimble. I’m trying to get as much into their thimble, and they stumble on the way out, and dump it out. He said, that’s the state of the American church.
How do we get out of that? We make a choice to let God speak to us. When I read, God’s talking. When He’s talking to me, I listened to what He is saying. I can’t forget it. It’s so good. I began to think about it all day long. So that’s how. If you really got anything out of your time with the Lord, you can still remember what it was. Not just remember the facts, but you’re actually holding onto it and chewing it. This is the meditation, the digestion. Whatever you ate last night has become a part of you at the molecular level by now. All food when it goes through digestion fans out, and it gets down to the molecular level. In this book have you opened, chewed on, actually swallowed, and now is being digested so that you can use the word of God?
Did you know, there’s a spiritual gift theologians call, the word of knowledge. Some of them call it the word of wisdom that is still operative today. For a lot of people those spiritual gifts, that they have, are just a mystery to them. Many of the spiritual gifts are operative today. This one is very operative for those that read and study, memorize and meditate. What it is, is the spontaneous, as the theologians define it, the spontaneous bringing to mind of a previously learned verse.
I’m confronted with a situation. Think about it, I work in a spiritual ER. There are people ferried to me or I go out on the ambulance to people that are facing death, that are facing disease, that are facing disaster, that are facing terrible elements of depravity either in their own life or others. All that stuff. Either they’re brought into the ER, or we run out in the ambulance to them. How do you know what to say to them? How do you know how to comfort them in their disaster as they’re facing death? As disease is ravaging someone. As they’re going through some horrible depravity of human life and warped treatment of them, or their own lives. What do you say to them? Do you take your whole library? Do you take your file cabinet? No. What God promised is that what we have heard Him say, that we have ingested, that we have actually swallowed into our life and allowed our spiritual systems to digest, He will bring to mind to use.
I found that so many times in my life. That verse that I had to learn when I was doing a BMA: Bible Memory Association, or Awana, or Navigators, or had to learn it for some class that I haven’t thought about… other than when I pass by it when I’m reading through the Bible each year; all of a sudden, boom, and it is exactly what the person needed.
You can see people, they will be sitting there, and they will be in turmoil, or in fear, or in anxiety and you share that verse. They almost go like this, what did you just say? They heard it but they want to hear it again. They want it. They want to get it. A lot of times they’ll fumble around in their pocket, or purse, or whatever and they say, I got to write that down. I got to write that down. I say it’s actually written down. Then they have to get a Bible and you have to mark it. What it is, is the spontaneous bringing to mind of a previously learned verse.
How do you learn the scriptures? I’ve taught seminary Bible college institutes. You don’t need to go to an Institute or a seminary Bible college. You need to have the discipline of spending time listening to God every day, letting that word be opened as you invite Him to open your eyes to behold, wonderful things. Actually, ask Him to bring it into your life, digest it so that you can live it out and that will transform your life every day.
How do you share life transformation with other people? By experiencing it yourself. That’s the only way. So, every one of us, every time we come before this book, we can invite God to speak into our life. To feed us. To nurture us. We can ask Him to help us understand how it fits and then lay hold on it. Then actually let it go to the molecular level of our spiritual being, start transforming us.
That’s wonderful to say, but how do you do that? How do you find God’s word to be that precise tool? The sword of the Spirit was not the wide kind of King Arthur’s Knights of the round table, five foot long blade. It was a short, compact, precise, almost dagger, like the Roman Legionnaire’s sword that they used with extremely deadly precision.
How do we find this 1,189 chapter, monstrosity book to be the precise tool that the Holy Spirit can use? How do we do that? Buy another book, get a tape, go to a course somewhere? What’s amazing is, the best way to do it is to let God illustrate the transforming powers.
Did you know that God put anything that’s important in the Bible. That’s why I want you to turn to 1 Corinthians 10. If you’re not already there, we’re going to read it. 1 Corinthians 10 contains for us the purpose the Bible is so long. A lot of people say, why is it 1,189 chapters? That’s long. Because God wants to illustrate every doctrine that He wants us to understand how to unleash that in our lives. So, He illustrates humans like us that allow the word of God to either negatively or positively impact them.
It negatively impacts us by neglect. It positively impacts us by us responding. If we neglect the word of God, there’s a negative impact. If we respond to the word of God, there’s a positive impact. God illustrates both the positive and the negative.
In 1 Corinthians 10, what we find is that whenever we come to any doctrine in the Bible, we have an amazing tool available to aid us in our understanding of that doctrine. God Himself designed the Bible to illustrate every doctrine that He wants us to understand.
I think in pictures, I have a phonographic mind, I’ve told you that. Now, when I say that I think of when I used to be six years old, and I was dragged unwillingly by my mother to garage sales. I knew it was coming. On Friday night she’d have this Lansing State journal and she’d have her highlighter and her pen. She’d be marking the ones that she wanted to go to and find the address. She had the map there and she numbered them and numbered the map. It was like a gold mine, treasure map. She knew that if we got there early, when in the dark and the cold they’re just dragging stuff out of their garage and trying to put it on the tables, if you arrive early, they’re more likely to give you a deal because they don’t even want to put it on the table. They’ll just say, oh, take it all. So, she had this all plotted, and I had to go with her cause my dad didn’t want her to go alone. I would sit, cold, in the car like this and she’d go out. Usually, she’d find two or three National Geographics for a nickel, and she bring them back to the car and hand them to me. I would happily sit there, no matter how many hours she was at all these garage sales. I would know what every article was about. Now, did I read that Smithsonian level, graduate school writeup? No. What did I look at? The pictures. I would know it was about mountains, or I knew it was about spiders, or I knew it was about oceans, or fish, or snakes, and I was just fascinated.
Did you know, the Old Testament is God illustrating all those massive doctrines. What He does is, He lets us see His truth displayed in people. 1 Corinthians chapter 10, we’re going to read the first six verses, you ready? Let’s all stand and as you stand, I’m going to read these and emphasize something. This is a fascinating Bible study; this is Paul reflecting how much He had studied the Bible.
Verse 1, 1 Corinthians 10. “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea.” What is he talking about? He’s talking about Exodus 14. He’s talking about the whole going into the promised land, and that pillar of cloud, and the Exodus through the Red Sea. He’s in Exodus 14. “…all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,”
Now look at verse 3. “…all ate the same spiritual food.” What’s that? He’s moved two chapters. He’s an Exodus 16, he’s on manna and they are eating that spiritually produced food.
Verse 4, “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” What’s he talking about there? He’s in chapter 17 now. He’s moved from 14 to 16 to Exodus 17. This is Rephidim. They’re moaning and they’re dying. Then, Moses comes out and hits the rock, and the water gushes out. But what he’s saying is, all of those events are illustrating things.
Keep going, look at verse 5. “But with most of them God was not well-pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
Now, look at verse 6. “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” On he goes again with another narrative. That’s numbers 11. He goes down to Exodus 32 in verse 8. Tempting in verse 9, that’s Numbers 25. This is a travel log through the Bible saying those events each illustrate something that’s to be look at. Verse 6, an example to us.
Let’s ask the Lord to use this word to be an example to us this morning, so that we learn how to read, and study, and memorize, and meditate, and use the word of God so that we get transformed. That’s what He wants and that should be what we want. Let’s pray.
Father. I pray that you would open our eyes. That we might understand your truth and that you would get our attention this morning. We live in a very distracting world. We have many anxious thoughts, many things that displace a focus on one thing, but I pray this morning we might focus on the fact that you gave this book to transform us. That you are the God of all comfort and if we see that, we can comfort anyone. You’re the God of all hope, and if we see that and understand that, we can give hope to people that otherwise would be hopeless. You’re the God of all grace and you give grace to help in time of need. No matter what we face in life, we can point people to your grace. Finally, you’re the God of all peace. We can go through life with that peace that passes understanding, that’s perfect, but it only comes from your word by your Spirit. Help us to yield to that today. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
As you’re seated. Keep looking at that verse. I want to show you something about it. 1 Corinthians 10:6 says, all “these things.” He’s talking about, as I said, Exodus 14, Exodus 16, Exodus 17. He goes on and does all the Numbers things. Numbers 11, Numbers 25. These are all those big events that you read about, that Sunday School lessons are built around. He said, all those “things became our examples.”
Now, this is so vital. That word example, actually in Greek is typos. You say, so what? Typos not toupee. I know that’s what you’re thinking. No, it’s typos means a biblical word type. If you ever heard of Jesus as a type and the typology of the Old Testament, what that means is a typos, an example. What is that? God wanted those biographies, all those events that are written about to be examples for us, what is an example, a model? See, this is how the Greek dictionary people explain the language, a model of behavior as an example to be imitated or to be avoided. That’s interesting. Every one of those things that are recorded, that’s why the Bible is so long, God shows how to apply His doctrines in every setting in life. That’s why David has more chapters about him than anybody else. God picked him to be the example of how to face everything. Bad kids. Bad wives. Bad bosses. Bad struggles with emotions. Bad times with enemies. Times of hopelessness. Times of despair. How to deal with immense riches.
Solomon was only the richest man in the world because his father was before him. David was the wealthiest man on Earth, even more than the pharaohs. Do you know how much 100,000 talents of gold is? It’s about $60 billion in gold back when hardly anybody had any money. They didn’t have exchange based trading funds, they had only real property back in the old days. David had more than half of all the wealth in the world. He was rich. How do you deal with riches? David shows us. That’s why all these things are our examples, as a model of behavior to be imitated or avoided. So, that’s what we find in the scriptures.
What are the examples of God’s word in a Bible character? How do we see people reading the Bible? How do we see them? How did they do it back then? They only had manuscripts that were scrolls and that were only in the town tabernacle. How did they study the Bible? There are actually examples of people studying the Bible. How do we know that they memorized? Each of these are individuals, you all know a couple of the biggest memorizers are, Mary as in Joseph and Mary, and Hannah as in the mother of Samuel. Those two memorize so much of the Bible that every time they prayed it spilled out. It’s amazing to see how they memorize.
Daniel is a great student that studied the Bible. The readers were going to look at this morning.
How about the meditating? There are great examples of meditation. How do we know how to meditate? God shows us people that meditate. Jeremiah is one of the bigger meditators on the Bible and we’ll see him.
All of those are examples of people that God’s word shows us, are doing what God wants us to do. So let me just take you on a journey through.
Let’s do Joseph. I’m only going to do the famous ones that we’ve all heard of. Joseph, remember Joseph and Potiphar’s wife? Pharaoh’s Vice Regent, Joseph. One of the 12 sons of Jacob, Joseph. If I was to define him, he had a distress filled life. His life is like problems on steroids. Just think of what Joseph went through in his life. First of all, he was spoiled by his dad. He was the second to last born. He had 10 brothers, he was the 11th and he really got spoiled. That led to him being hated by his brothers. Now, we don’t mean rivalry here, sibling rivalry. He was hated by his brothers. They abused him, they enslaved him, they sold him, and they deported him for financial gain.
There was recently an article last month in the New York Times about, there’s constant articles about the people of the Middle East leaving Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan and Kurdistan and Turkey and wherever they’re being ethnically opposed, and they’re migrating to Europe. We all know that by the millions, what this article is about is the horrible cost the migrants are paying. And what it said is many of them are selling their wives and their daughters to the enemy to get free. They’re selling their wife. Men are selling their wives and their daughters to the bad guys to get enough money to get out of there. You say, that’s horrible. That’s what happened to Joseph. His brothers sold him for gain. Horrible.
He was used by his employer, set up by his employer’s wife, unjustly accused by his employer’s wife, and imprisoned. So, Joseph… talk about the stress, he can’t even go out for a walk in the country without being taken by his brothers, thrown in a pit, which almost killed him anyway, and then sold to marauding Ishmaelites. Then, he goes down for all the travails of Egypt. What most of us don’t realize is, that in Egypt he was chained, tormented, and forgotten in jail. That doesn’t make it into the movie. So, a lot of people don’t know about it. Psalm 105 records that specifically. Then after all that, Psalm 105 tells us he was vindicated, elevated by God, used for God’s eternal purposes, because his life passed the test of God’s word.
Now look at this, Psalm 105. He, that’s God the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth sent a man, this is Joseph’s biography. Joseph was a man sent by Almighty God, before them. Who’s that? That’s the nation of Israel, God’s plan. He planned to have Israel deposited in Egypt, protected from all the nations around them, from famines, and from anything for them to be like, in a greenhouse and to flourish and to immeasurably expand.
70 people, that’s Jacob and his family went to Egypt. In 400 years, they multiplied to 600,000, actually 603,000 families. Moms, dads, and children. 603,000 families. That’s probably 3 million plus people from 70. That was amazing. How could God build a gigantic nation? Without them being marauded, and plundered, and decimated, and destroyed, and carried off by planting them in the midst of the most powerful nation on Earth, Egypt. So, in His plan God says, he is going to send a man, Joseph. Who is going to go before them, the nation of Israel. And then Psalm 105 identifies Joseph who was sold, that was God’s plan, as a slave. God’s will for Joseph’s life is that his brothers hate him so much that they, instead of killing him, at Judah’s behest sell him. That he could be picked up by Ishmaelites who happened to be relatives, that’s Abraham’s other son ‘s descendants. To be taken by Ishmaelites down to Egypt to be sold as a slave.
Now what’s interesting is verse 18. “They,” we don’t know if it’s the Ishmaelites alone, but we do know that he was imprisoned. So, most likely the, “they” is the jailers in Potiphar’s jail “hurt his feet.” Now, there’s something that isn’t in Genesis, “with fetters.” Have you ever watched, people that are convicted of really, really bad crimes, in the orange suits? They are shackled around the ankles, and are shackled here, and they even have the body metal shackle, and all of it’s chained to each other, and they come into the court like that. Can you imagine, we have this most humane justice system for all the complaints of it. It’s unbelievably humane. Can you imagine back then, this nameless, faceless, prisoner is brought into a dark prison in the dungeons of Egypt by a very angry Potiphar, and said I want this guy, “laid in irons.” With a sledgehammer and some iron, they bend that around and they don’t care if they miss and they smash your hand. There was very little oversight. Joseph was “hurt [in] his feet with fetters and he was laid in irons.” It’s not very positive, that’s an awful distress filled life.
Notice, God is the one that’s planning all this. It doesn’t look very good so far. Look at verse 19, “until the time that his word came to pass.” What on Earth is that? That’s God’s will, His word, His plan, His purposes, His decrees, His testimonies. It’s what we hear repeated over and over again in the 119 Psalm. God has got this plan that He has written about in His word. His promise to Abraham was that He was going to make this nation of him that was hard to count, like the sands of the sea. The way He would do it is send a man before them. Who would be a slave, sold, and that God would fulfill His will.
Look at this, “The word of the Lord tested Joseph.” Now, you say what kind of Bible did he have? Did he have a study Bible? There wasn’t any Bible written down, as far as we know, at this point. It was orally discussed and passed from generation to generation. The first writing Bible author is Moses, who is 400 plus years after this guy Joseph. So, there was no written word. It was the word that Joseph had heard from Jacob, who knew God face to face, and from Isaac, and from Abraham, from his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father. The word that he heard repeated, he believed. How do we know that? Because he told Potiphar’s wife, I can’t do this, God’s watching me. How do he know that? Jacob said, God was the one who walked him as a shepherd through life. That’s actually in Jacob’s testimony. That God was the one who shepherded him. God was watching him like sheep and Joseph got the word, God watches me like a sheep.
“The word of the Lord tested him.” He said no to sin, and he said no to giving up in the jail. God wow, did He use him. When you say Joseph, you think of Joseph the mighty vice region of the greatest empire on Earth at the time, but look how he got there. All of that was possible because his distress filled life was tested by the word of God. Wow. There is a great example, and he didn’t even have a Bible to carry around he just had to listen.
How about David? David had a danger filled life. By danger, he was hand to hand with constant death. His biography is amazing. David had a very rough life. God described him as a bloody man who killed so many people. God said you can’t build, I don’t want you touching the building of my temple, because you’re a man of blood.
David started killing predators, bears and lions when he was just a little shaver. David graduated to killing giants when he was a teen. David went on to slay tens of thousands while was in his twenties. Tens of thousands. Tens of thousands with a sword, with a spear, with a sling, and with a bow and arrow. David was involved in constant hand to hand battles with his soldiers. He was covered, when you kill someone with a sword it gets on you, he was a man covered with blood. He was a man who had a very dangerous life. He was such a swordsman, a slinger, a spearman, and a deadly warrior that God said you’re too much of a man of blood to build the temple. Yet, he was a man after God’s own heart.
How do you reconcile Mr. Killer and man after God’s own heart? David tells us. This is interesting. Psalm 16, we can’t quite place. It’s either written as David was bringing the tabernacle or the Ark of the Covenant into Obed-Edom’s house and that whole process. Or it was when he was preparing all of the gold, silver, and brass for the temple. It’s written when he was a young man, but it’s from his early life. What he said is, this is how I made it through my danger filled life. I knew that God was showing me where to go. He said, my pathway was led by the Lord. He is my shepherd. I’m following Him. He is the one that’s in charge of my life. I made it through all those dangers by your presence. Yay though, I walked through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Why? You’re with me. He said your presence filled me with joy. It’s amazing. All David had was the revelation of God that he had heard at the tabernacle when the scriptures were read. He learned from those, God’s omnipresence. He said, that’s not just a doctrine out there, I feel and live under the power of your presence.
He just believed the word of God. He listened to the voice of God. He thought about what it meant. He appropriated into his life. He digested that to the point he could say, you’re my shepherd showing me the path of life. As long as I follow you, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I know that I’m doing, what’s right, because I stay by you. If I’m always near you, then I’m in your will. I am following the path. When I do… what’s this right hand thing? They talk about, at the right hand of power. That means they’re the authorized, under the direct command, of whoever’s in charge. They are the right hand, man. They’re doing what they want them to do. They’re doing what they’re authorized to do. David said, I’m at your right hand. I’m sticking right there. I want to do with my life what you show me. I want to do with my life whatever you want me to do. I who stand in your presence, am aware of what you want me to do. As long as I am at your right hand, doing what you tell me to do, I have endless pleasures. Wow. David. Endless pleasures. David, constantly knowing that he was doing God’s will.
Here’s the last one, we have to end because it’s time to go and we’ll pick up next week, Lord willing if we are back. How about Paul? Paul was hunted, stoned, shipwrecked, beaten more times- hardly than he could count. How did Paul with a constant affliction filled life, he was hated by his countrymen, there were conspiracies- even within the church- about him, there was rivalry, he knew every jail in every city he went to, how did he make it? He said, hey, everything that was written before were written for our learning. That’s code for the Old Testament because Paul wrote among the very first of the New Testament letters. He wrote the second. James was first. 1 Thessalonians was second. So, he’s not talking about the New Testament. He said everything written before, the Old Testament, were written for our learning. That we, through the patience, this is how he described his reading the Bible, it taught him to be patient and comforted. The scriptures gave him patience and comfort, which produced hope through all his affliction filled life. Wow. Talk about practical.
How did Paul endure the Philippian jail? How did he endure the beating within an inch of his life, in front of the Jews, and being stoned in Asia Minor? How do you endure that? He was in the word; the scriptures gave him patience as he sat in jail. Comfort as he hurt from all of his wounds. No matter what was going on with his afflictions, the God of hope spoke to him through His word.
Now the big question is that, how you look on the Bible? Do you look on it as, I can’t wait to hear what God wants me to do? I want Him to teach me patience in my life to not get ahead of Him. Comfort as I go through problems. I want the scriptures to be the constant production of hope in my life, so no matter what I face I have hope.
Do we have what David had? That we want God to show us. We’re not going to do what we want. We want to stay close to Him. We want to only do what He allows us to do, so we can have those endless pleasures.
Are we like Joseph? Letting God’s word, test us while God’s word is coming to pass in our life. You know what most people do? They avoid problems. Problem here, go there. Problem with that person, ditch him get someone else. God says, I am testing you through all the problems. It might not be God’s will that you avoid all problems. Most often our problems are schools that God uses, with the distresses to test us, to refine us, to make us as gold.
That’s what God wants us to see, the examples of people, characters in the Bible that get into the word. They read it, and they study it, and they memorize it. They let it come into their mind, they digest it, and they obey it. That’s all the Lord wants for us.
Let’s stand together for closing word of prayer. As we stand this might be a time, on the first day of the week, to renew your holy resolve. To not let a day go by that you don’t say God, I want to hear your voice. I’m going to open this, ask you to open your word to me, and I want to know you. I want to understand you. I want to follow you. I want you to transform me to look more like Christ today. Let’s bow together.
Father in Heaven, I pray we wouldn’t just be hearers of a message about the word, but doers of reading, and studying, and memorizing, and meditating, and using your word. I pray that it would become the joy and rejoicing of our hearts. As we do the simplicity of feeding our souls upon your word today, tomorrow, and each day you give us to live, as more than our necessary food, may we find your word. In Jesus name, we pray. And all God’s people said, Amen.
God bless you as you go.