Integrating God’s Word into your life

This is the final talk in 40 days in the Word

  • I hope you’ve enjoyed it as I have
  • several times I’ve been asked ‘What next?’
  • There is a sense in which, a programme like this shouldn’t just be left in the air.

It will only be of lasting value if we integrate it into our lives – that’s the theme for today.

I have a confession to make. When Andy and I were talking about dividing up the series to work out who would preach which, he said “OK, I’ll take observation and you do integration”

In that instant – what went through my head? This did …!

integration1_edited-1

For the uninitiated, it’s a mathematical definition of integration

  • Before we leave this too quickly just consider this (do a brain experiment with me)
  • Imagine you have a curve on the graph here and you want to find the area under it? Trouble is, this shape is bendy and doesn’t have nice straight edges.

Integral_example.svg

  • We could try guesswork. But that doesn’t guarantee the right answer.
  • Or we could divide the area up into nice neat little rectangles and add up their areas

Integral_Riemann_sum

  • But that still leaves awkward little bits left over in the corners (you can see this on the powerpoint slide)
  • So, to get close to the answer we could split the area into smaller rectangles – and then more and more, and more.
  • We would end up getting pretty close to the area we’re trying to work out.

The more we work on the curve the closer we get to the real area underneath it.

The more we work on the curve the closer we get to the real area underneath it.

Here’s the thing …

The more we know and live out the word, the closer we get to the model of Jesus Christ.

  • The more I imbibe God’s word internally and exhibit it externally, the closer my life comes to the person God made me to be in Christ.
  • That’s integrating God’s Word – taking it in and living it out – and neither is complete without the other.

So today I want to inspire you, motivate you, encourage you to make God’s word part of every-day living

You, I hope, have been blessed by reading a bit of God’s word every day and my prayer is that If we have a conversation in a year’s time you’ll say to me “Ian – I’m still reading!”

So, having done some reading over these 40 days, how do I integrate God’s word into every-day life? And not just part of my life, but the whole of it.

1. BUILD ON IT!

We need to build our lives on the Bible.

Paul said “Let the word of God dwell in you richly”

  • let it make its home in you so it dwells
  • and let it dwell richly, expansively, in such a way that there is no part of life that’s left out of its influence

Six years after the construction of a certain very tall skyscraper in New York, disturbing cracks appeared of the 42nd floor.

  • A surveyor was summoned urgently and when he arrived he was shown where the cracks could be seen and started examining them; but when the manager of the property company sent for him an hour later, he wasn’t anywhere to be seen on the 42nd floor.
  • Eventually, the surveyor was tracked down to the sixth basement. Abruptly the manager demanded “Why aren’t you on the 42nd floor – that’s where the trouble is!”
  • But the surveyor answered “No sir, that’s not where the trouble is. It’s here in the basement. The problem is in your foundations.
  • It turned out that there was a security guard working in that building and he longed to build a garage at his home.
  • He was very short of materials and so each day just before he left work, he went to the basement, chiselled out a single brick, popped it in his holdall, and went home to add it to his pile in the garden.
  • The cracks he unwittingly created reached to the 42nd floor

When the Bible is not our foundation we can end up like that skyscraper with cracks on the surface because there’s material missing from the foundations.

Today’s Bible reading – Jesus had been teaching about people who profess faith on the outside, but don’t have it on the inside. – and they’d know it! He said

Mt. 7:24 “Everyone who hears these words of mine, and puts them into practice, is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

The story is deceptively simple

  • two men each decided to build a house
  • one spent time finding a location where the foundation was secure – on rock – While the other just started building where (presumably) there was a nice view. (location, location, location)
  • Then a hurricane thundered in. The house on the rock survived and the other was swept away.

Both men BUILT but only one was SECURE

  • It wasn’t the design of the building that distinguished them, it was the foundation beneath the design.
  • Build your life on a foundation of living out my word and you will be secure.

Both men were CLEVER but only one was WISE

  • They both had the right skill-set and abilities, but only one started where the construction was going to last.
  • Build your life on living out my word and you’ll see beneath the surface to what I’m doing in your life and your world.

Both buildings were TESTED but only one STOOD

  • When testing came, as it comes in our lives, only one house withstood the hurricane.

Why was this? (obvious really) Jesus puts the punch-line at the very end. His application was hardly rocket science!

  • your life is in danger of being swept away if you don’t build it on the foundation of God’s word.

Both men HEARD God’s word, but only one DID God’s word

  • only one integrated it into his everyday life.

So when we make living out God’s word the foundation of our work life, our family life, our relationships, our money, and our church. Then what we build will stand in the storm.

The 2nd way to integrate God’s word into my life is to

2.FEED ON IT!

The Bible is often called spiritual food

Just as we need nutritious food for our bodies, so we need spiritual food for our souls.

When he was being tested in the most intense way he ever experienced, Jesus was hungry and tempted to use his miraculous powers to make bread for himself. It was in that moment that he told Satan “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”

Your heavenly Father wants you to enjoy a good diet, and I hope you’ve enjoyed having a slightly different diet as we’ve been going through 40 days.

God’s word feeds us!

  • My friend, if your soul is thirsty, if your spirit is dry, if your heart is hungry, this is where to come to be renewed
  • Listen to the Lord speaking through Isaiah … Isaiah 55:1ff

1 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;

and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labour on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

If that’s you, needing a bit of renewal, restoartion – come to be prayed for

  • don’t have to say anything – just ‘pray for me’ – that’s enough

The 3rd way to integrate God’s word into my life is to

3. LIVE BY IT!

I use it to help me every moment of the day…

to resist temptation, avoid error, and protect my life from evil

In the Bible reading, Jesus was criticising some people very harshly indeed.

“Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” Matt 7:21

What was it he highlighted that marked them out as being different for all the wrong reasons? They were a sham

  • They said ‘Lord’ but didn’t practice Lordship.
  • they wanted the drama and the excitement in their ministry (‘did you see that healing? Wow you should have been there!’),
  • they wanted the fame and the glory, (‘He’s a prophet, you know’)
  • but inside there was no connection with God – not feeding on His word, It was all superficial.

After all, anyone can use the name of Jesus but only people who have let the Word infuse their hearts can live the life of Jesus, both on the inside and the outside.

Ps. 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

When Jesus was tempted he quoted scripture. He used it to

  • overcome temptation
  • keep in touch with his father
  • give him resilience under trial.

And what it did for Him it can do for us.

4. GROW THROUGH IT

Pablo Cassals (Cellist)

  • was still rehearsing in his 90s
  • reported asked why – “because there’s room for improvement”

Ps. 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

Bible reading, Jesus’ story – the buildings grew as they were constructed (c.f. School opposite)

  • The foundations were being used as soon as the first brick is laid above the ground.
  • The bigger the building, the more force is exerted on the foundations

As life gets bigger and better (bigger job, responsibilities) so the foundations need to be stronger

Especially into old age – arguably one of the most testing times of life – the foundations need to be strong and constantly strengthened.

5. ACT ON IT!

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

It was this aspect of the Pharisees lifestyle that they and Jesus clashed over the most.

  • They knew the word, preached the word, told people off for not doing the word, but failed to practice it themselves.
  • They thought their role as the nations teachers gave them permission to see it just as a job and not as a calling and a lifestyle

When I read that vers I think we hear a slightly different message from what is actually there. What we hear is

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive other. Do what it says.”

Actually it’s “… and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

It is a telling reality that other people may see inconsistency in us before we see it in the mirror. You may not deceive anyone else looking on, but you can deceive yourself

In Jesus’ story it wasn’t the person who only heard the word whose house collapsed, it was the one who heard, but didn’t live the word who is the man whose house collapsed.

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