Soaking in the Word
In the summer of 2011, Joe Duncan of Cleveland, Ohio, was mowing his grass when the earth suddenly collapsed beneath him. He was swallowed by a giant sinkhole. Thankfully his injuries were not life threatening.
About the same time, a 66-year-old man was driving his car through a Chicago suburb when the vehicle tumbled into a twelve-foot sinkhole caused by an underground water main that had burst and washed away the supporting earth beneath the street.
In the state of Florida over 3,000 sinkholes have opened up in the Sunshine State in the last few years, swallowing streets, buildings, cars, and even people.
I have personally seen this happen, since I used to live in an area outside the city of Altoona Pa. It is called “sinking valley” because there are many, many sink holes.
Sinkholes are caused by water saturation. In some cases, underground water pipes burst or leak, causing unseen erosion. In other cases, the culprit is rainwater or underground springs. What's shocking is the suddenness of the collapse. On the surface, everything looks fine.
A building stands firmly.
A highway rolls over the landscape like a ribbon.
A field spreads out like a green carpet.
But beneath the surface, the integrity of the earth has been compromised. When least expected a sinkhole suddenly forms and the ground collapses.
For us, there's a lesson to be learned regarding the SINKHOLES in our lives: When the influences of the world begin to seep into the Christian's habits or heart, they can create unseen spiritual erosion.
On the outside, everything seems fine. You may be or have a Christian husband, a faithful pastor, a Bible teacher, a godly mother, a long-term marriage, a vibrant church.
But worldly influences have a terrible way of silently eroding the foundations. The collapse may seem sudden, but the destructive stage has been gradual. Remember, sin always has a way of being found out. It has a way of coming to the surface.
Today's Christians may be at an all-time "world saturation" level. Without intentional effort, we unavoidably soak in many activities that can erode our Christian faith, our godly habits, or our character.
At the beginning of a new year, perhaps it's a good time to check our saturation levels by asking these eight questions:
Number 1: How much television do you watch every week? Another question would be what ungodly television programs do you regularly watch?
Some programs are relatively harmless; they can provide needed diversion in small doses. But other programs are down-right harmful, and watching them is like taking a glass-bottom boat ride through the sewers.
Let’s face it, few programs are truly edifying. Unchecked, television can douse our hearts and homes with a fire hose of worldliness. As Christians, we must consistently apply a Spirit-filled finger to the remote control.
Number 2: How much time do you spend idly surfing the Internet? Another question here would be, how much time do you spend on face-book or other social media?
While the worldwide web is helpful for research and study and keeping up with friends, it can also be a huge sinkhole swallowing up vast amounts of time and sanctity.
Number 3: What are your reading habits? It's all right to enjoy reading during leisure and the right novels are restful and entertaining. But remember that your reading material is your mental diet, and whatever you feed your mind will influence who you are.
Choose your books and magazines carefully. And be sure to choose godly Christian material to read.
Number 4: How much time do you spend each day soaking up the endless flow of news and commentary offered by various political or media outlets? We all have our political viewpoints, and the media has learned how to stoke our boilers. Some people almost become addicted to the continual cycles of news and commentary.
Number 5: Do you find yourself reaching for video games during moments of ease? Experts warn that video addictions are damaging to marriage, ministry, and mental well-being.
One man admitted he played his favorite video game every day, every night, and sometimes all weekend. It crowded out his real life, including his wife and children.
There have been reports of other people collapsing from exhaustion after playing games for fifty straight hours, of parents neglecting their infant children, and even of teens murdering their parents when video games were taken away.
These are extreme cases, of course, but even a mild case of game-addition can seep away the integrity of our spiritual foundations.
Please, please note: Many of these games that children play are not as harmless as you think – especially if they consume all hours of the day and night. Appropriate limits must be set and adhered to.
Number 6: Are your friends the kind who draw you closer to the Lord or do they tend to weaken your Christian zeal? Again, I caution you to be very, very careful who you allow your children to hang around with.
Number 7: How many TV movies have you watched this month? I don't object to an occasional movie carefully chosen on TV.
But even watching the previews or reading the reviews of many movies is disturbing. The devil couldn't have found a better propaganda medium for instilling worldly values into an entire generation of humanity. Hollywood morals have a way of becoming society's mores.
As Christians, we mustn't underestimate the impact of soaking our minds in movie-land.
Number 8: Is there anything on your computer screen or portable electronic device you'd be ashamed to show to Jesus, were He nearby – which by the way he is?
For us, we must Think on These Things: How much time do we spend on the above activities compared to studying the Bible, engaging in prayer, and being in the house of God more than just for one hour or so a week? How does our prayer time line up when contrasted with our time emailing, texting, and talking on the phone? In Romans 8:5-8 we read,
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Here is the point:
We need to turn off the constant streams of noise and distraction, so we'll have time to meditate on the things of God and allow His Word to seep into our conscious, subconscious, and unconscious thoughts.
We need to increase our habits of holiness, remembering the old song that says: "Take time to be holy, the world rushes on."
It’s no wonder we're anxious, worried, nervous, discouraged, and fearful. As Hebrews 12:2 tells us, we've got to fix our minds on “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” We need to reform some habits to guard against sinkholes!
Dr. A. W Tozer was a man who modeled this for us all. His biographer put it this way: "A major concern of Tozer's was the lack of spirituality among professing Christians of his day. He zeroed in on its primary cause. He was convinced that the frenzied pace … mitigated against what he termed cultivating the knowledge of God. The average church was too busy with frivolous activities to get to know God as He deserves to be known. Everything in the Christian's life must give way to cultivating an attitude of solitude and silence. The average Christian leaves no room for reflection and meditation on the things of God."
Now, would you turn to our text found in Philippians 4:8-9 where we read;
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
It is here that we need to pause, and examine closely God’s concerns about our THOUGHT LIFE and our ACTIONS resulting from that thought life.
In verses 8-9 God is concerned about the HEAD, the HAND and the HEART of the child of God.
First: God is concerned about our HEAD: In Psalm 199:113 David said, "I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love." By vain thoughts, I would imagine the Psalmist was referring:
To lustful thoughts, and he had them, and
To vengeful thoughts, and he had them too, and
To hateful thoughts, and
To immoral and evil thoughts.
Why did David say, "I hate vain thoughts?" Perhaps it was because they had a negative influence upon his mind and did damage to his life.
Negative thinking leads to negative action. That's why we must realize that thoughts are real, and they are powerful.
In II Corinthians 10:5 we read "Casting down imaginations (all those vain appeals and vain thoughts presented to us by Satan to control our minds) and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God (prideful and sinful thoughts), and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
When we come to today’s passage in Philippians 4, the thoughts we are to think upon are just the reverse of vain thoughts. Paul clearly spells out six thoughts on which the mind is to dwell:
Whatsoever things are TRUE; think upon things that are true, genuine, and sincere.
Whatsoever things are HONEST; think upon things that are noble, that are worthy of respect rather than things that come from being dishonest.
Whatsoever things are JUST; think upon things that are fair and righteous by both divine and human standards.
Whatsoever things are PURE; think upon things that are of moral purity. Thinking purely in this very sinful, contaminated and corrupt world of ours is one of the consistent themes of the New Testament. In I Timothy 5:22 Paul challenges us to "Keep thyself pure."
Whatsoever things are LOVELY; think upon things that are pleasing, orderly, beautiful and attractive.
Whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; think upon things that are positive and noteworthy, things that are appealing.
These thoughts will have a positive influence on our lives. They can be characterized by the words "virtuous" and "praiseworthy."
If it is "virtuous," it will motivate us to do better.
If it is "praiseworthy," it is worth commending to others.
As we read God's Word, what should our thought pattern be? If God’s primary purpose of providing the Bible is to get us to think the way God thinks, then we should be determined to do just that. Our thoughts should be on:
WHAT God thinks about our life.
WHAT God thinks about our sins.
WHAT God thinks about our history and our destiny.
God wants us to think of life the way He thinks about life. He wants us to have the mind of Christ.
God is not the author of anything that is impure, unjust, dishonest, or of bad report. Those thoughts are authored by God's adversary, the Devil. On the other hand, as we read God's Word we discover:
God is the source of truthfulness.
God is the source of honesty.
God is the source of things that are just.
God is the source of purity.
God is the source of things that are lovely.
God is the source of things that give a good report.
Now the word "Think" that Paul uses in Philippians 4:8 is a word which means, "to ponder, to consider, to meditate upon."
In Psalm 1:1-2 we read, "Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he MEDITATE day and night."
If we are to keep ourselves:
From following the counsel of the ungodly,
From standing in the way of sinners, and
From sitting in the seat of the scoffer,
Our MIND must be occupied with the Word of God. The word meditate simply means that I take what I have read and go over it again and again and again in my mind, as I ponder its truths.
What Paul has in mind when he says to "Think on these things" is to mull these things over and over again; to let your mind be constantly occupied with these things.
Second: God is concerned about our HANDS. We now come to verse 9 where Paul moves from the HEAD down to what we do with our HANDS, "Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO…"
We have progressed from RIGHT THINKING in verse 8 to RIGHT LIVING in verse 9. And the key word here is "DO."
In verse 9 Paul tells us that we should be doing something about that which we have LEARNED and RECEIVED and HEARD and SEEN.
Facts being heard are not enough, we must put those truths in action.
No one can receive truth from God without assuming a responsibility for the truth he has been taught. While you are sitting here, you are receiving some truth.
It is now your responsibility when you leave here to DO what you have been taught to do. In James 1:22 we read, "But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
Our problem is not IGNORANCE of the scriptures; it is failure to translate what we KNOW into DAILY LIVING. It is to put into practice what we have read, or heard from the Word of God.
You and I can store in our minds lots and lots of Bible knowledge, Bible facts and Bible Doctrine. But if what we receive with our mind does not filter down into our hearts and out into our walk, we will go on our way leaving others to wonder if we are for real.
What the unsaved world is looking for today is a FLESH and BLOOD, REAL CHRISTIAN. They are saying, don't tell us what one is, show us one.
When we come to the house of God, it's not our purpose to just sit here and listen to the preacher, or evaluate the preacher, and evaluate the quality of the message. That's not it at all.
We should say, what is being spoken from the Word of God needs to have an impact on my life. This message from God needs to become an objective in my life. Our goal should be to have someone point to us and say:
There goes a real Christian.
There is a model of the Christian faith in action.
There is a model Christian mother, father, or young person.
Now I wonder how many of us have that as our goal? Paul said, "Think upon these things, and Do."
The world in which we live sees so much that is plastic, so much that is artificial, so much that is hypocritical, so much that is phony. What a refreshing breath of fresh air it will be to see “someone that is a real Christian, genuine in their Christ-like behavior.”
Our Christianity demands that DO something. Jesus said in John 13:17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye DO them."
We are not only to THINK right, we are to DO right. We must apply what we know. Truth is not something just to be discovered, something to be understood, admired, or preached. Truth is something to be DONE!
Since God's Word tells us we have a responsibility to "love one another" then let's DO it.
Since God's Word tells us we are to "pray for one another" then let's assemble ourselves together to pray for one another.
Since God's Word tells us to have a harmonious relationship within the assembly, then let's DO it.
Since God's Word is emphatic about compelling people to come into the house of God, our responsibility is to DO it. Let’s reach out to our world with the gospel, sharing it with men and women.
Until what we know is assimilated into our lives through our actions, it counts for nothing. Wouldn’t that be a sad commentary on our lives?
Third: God is concerned about our HEARTS. Let me call to your attention one last thought as we conclude this passage.
In verse 8 God is concerned for our HEAD, how we are thinking.
In verse 9 God is concerned with our HANDS, how we are doing.
Then in the last part of verse 9 we have God's concern about our "HEARTS," how we are feeling. It says, "And the God of peace shall be with you."
A consecrated, dedicated, spirit-filled believer not only HEARS, and OBEYS what he hears; he also puts his faith into practice.
It is at this point that a believer enjoys the presence, power and purpose of God, possibly unknown to the average Christian. It is "the peace of God."
In Romans 5:1 we read, "Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Peace with God becomes ours by faith in the finished work of Jesus at the cross.
Perhaps you need and are searching for that peace in your soul. So why not this morning pause and ask God to save youRomans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
However, for believers who are obeying God’s Word by doing those things God has directed us to do, then the God of peace walks with us, day after day and moment by moment. Therefore we commend God’s people to continue day after day throughout 2019 to "Think on these things and then DO them this coming year."
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Let’s Just Praise the Lord" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
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