Are You Being Careful?

Are You Being Careful? Loving God, part XXVII


Have you gotten closer to God so far this year? I know that the year is not over, but by now you should be able to reflect somewhat on your spiritual growth as you look back. Just like observing plants, it’s rather difficult to see growth from day to day. Over 6 to 8 months there should be some indication of growth or some notable lessons learned.

If you are disappointed or would like to do better, then this message is for you.

When I started I stressed the idea of reading the Bible in a year. After all, that’s what I thought set me on fire, so I put the emphasis on that, a complete reading in a year’s time. While I still think it’s a great idea to read through the Bible in a year, I realize now that it’s not for everyone. While the reading load is a heavy burden for some, I still think every believer should read through the Bible regardless of how long they take.

What I hold strongly to and will not waiver on is my belief that for the Christian that desires ongoing growth over a sustained period of time, daily, or at least regular Bible reading is a must. As I stated last week, this reading is not just to read for content like we do any other reading, but should be done with the conscious effort of seeking God in the process.

Prioritize God’s Word

Christian literature or nonfiction is no substitute for the Bible when it comes to spiritual growth. Although there is value in Christian writing it always comes from the author’s perspective, out of the author’s mind, and even when they use Scripture it is diluted.

God has preserved His Word over thousands of years through many scribes and a painstaking process. Everyone knows that it is Holy, but it seems that too often it takes a back seat to the “latest and greatest” Christian book that a pastor or author has written. We are then filling our minds with what these authors are saying about God or what God said to them, but we are missing out on what God wants to say to us.

It’s sort of like wanting to love your spouse only by spending time with people who know all about your spouse. They quote your spouse and tell you all about your spouse. You might learn something about your spouse, but do you know your spouse? It’s second hand and it’s never the same as talking to your spouse directly.

Go directly to God!

If the goal of being a Christian is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, then wouldn’t it be a good idea to spend time with Him and His Book directly?

This is by far my favorite verse when it comes to daily Bible reading and it stands on its own:

Joshua 1: 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Let’s discuss the word “meditate” for a moment. What does that mean to you? To me, it means thinking and pondering about what I’ve been reading. Ideally, I like to bookend my days with Scripture, morning and evening. It starts off my day with Him in mind and it ends my day on a good note. This is a great idea, especially after a “bad” day!

What’s great about reading the Bible daily while conversing with the Author is that it has a wonderful way of keeping us on His path. God is constantly reminding us of what we need to be doing to stay close to Him.

Psalm 25: 8 The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.

We’ve all gone astray, isn’t this a comforting message?

What Moses said.

While reading Deuteronomy I noticed that Moses continually reminds the Israelites to “carefully obey” God’s laws. Here’s one example:

Deuteronomy 31: 12 Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions.

Here’s what Jesus had to say:

Luke 6: 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

 Does this make you want to be careful to obey?
 Luke 8: 21 Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

I think Jesus is giving us a clue on how to belong in His heavenly family. How often do you hear the Word of God? Is it just on Sundays? (Assuming your pastor teaches from the Word of God.)

It’s about taking responsibility for your faith.

What I love about learning to read the Word and discern what it says is that we are actually taking responsibility for our spiritual growth. We should not rely on our pastors for spiritual growth. I think it is far better to have a friend (that also loves God) read along with you and have regular discussions over it. This makes it that much more personal.
What does it mean then, to carefully obey?
I think it is about living your life deliberately. It means planning your days so that you set aside time to read God’s Word and prayer; rather than waiting until late at night when you’re too tired.
It is about being aware of your evil thoughts and not meditating on them:
2 Cor. 10: 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)
It is about taking the required time to spend with God. Then we can be still, hear His Words and get serious about growing in Him.

Will you be careful?

“Dear God, I admit I have not been completely serious about reading your Word and making time to meet with you. Change my heart, Lord, please teach me your ways and help me learn what it takes to be your disciple. You are my God and I choose to serve you. Thank you for what you are doing in my life and for a future spent with you. In Jesus name, Amen.”

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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