Wednesday, June 25, 2008

#1 - Matthew 4:4

But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

In the the book of Matthew, this is the second sentence that Jesus spoke. It occurs during a time of temptation when Satan is trying to convince Jesus to turn some stones into loaves of bread (a task which would have been simple for someone who could turn water into wine). Jesus was hungry. Okay... REALLY hungry. He had been fasting for 40 days. The Lord's response was simple... "Satan, food is not what guides me... God's word is."

I have been saddened again and again by how "Christians" seem to look for life and joy and direction outside of Scripture. It seems that they quickly turn from the Word to something else; i.e. friends advice, pastors' advice, self-help books, Christian books, parents advice, etc. Please don't get me wrong. I read books and grow from them. I seek advice from friends, parents and spiritual leaders. I'm not saying those things are bad. They are extremely helpful and wise. But my concern is when these things take the place of God's Word, rather than submit to it's authority in our lives. I'm afraid that often, our guidance and growth come from these other sources, rather than from God's Word.

I have been challenged lately by the Psalmists words in Psalm 119. Let me remind us of some...
- "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word."
- "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
- "In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches."
- "Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors."
- "Behold, I long for your precepts."
- "my hope is in your rules."
- "I find my delight in your commandments, which I love."

For sake of length, I'll stop there. But that was only selections from the first 47 verses. There 176 verses in that chapter and most speak of God's word and it's value to us. I will mention one more: verse 105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

Now, why do I mention Psalm 119? Because when the Psalmist says those amazing and wonderful things about God's word, he doesn't have the whole Bible. In fact, he only had the law. Yes, the part of the Bible that trips us up every time we commit to read through the Bible in a year. The Psalmist loved God's word, even the law, so much that he craved it and was led by it.

So, what's the point? How much more should we speak such words about the Bible we have? Yes, about the law, and yes about the life of Christ and yes about the letters and instructions to churches! Jesus doesn't say that the Bible is something we can just go back to in a crunch. It is more valuable than bread to our sustenance. We don't just refer to it... we "live... by every word" of it. As followers of Christ, we must be guided by the words of God which He has written down for us.

It is not our job to figure out how much grace we can apply so that we can get away with whatever we want (Paul referred to that in Romans 6:15). As followers, our job is to read, meditate on, memorize and OBEY the word of God. I love Isaiah 66:2. It says: "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." What a picture. Do we tremble at the Word of God? Or do we look for ways to lesson it in the church? Do we live by it (as Jesus states)? Or do we refer to it as a good book?

I love God and I love his Word. I love that it shows me what He is like. I love that it gives me direction. I love that He speaks to me through it. I love that I get doctrine by reading and studying it. I love that it sustains me.

I "shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."

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