Charles Stanley - Trembling At God's Word
Why do you think the world is in its present deplorable condition? Immorality everywhere. It's unsafe. Many nations of the world are in financial problems. Warring tribes, warring against each other. Unsafe, great need. Why do you think the world's in this condition? Fighting each other, spiritually dead in so many places. Why do you think we got this way? And we could go on to describe many other aspects of where we are, but the question is: how did we get here?
Most people will give you some reason that's sort of human. But the truth is it's because we don't want God telling us how to live our lives. How foolish. How foolish to live and to believe that somehow we can do it better than God did it. He's given us the laws that make it best for us; make life best for others. And He's given us a principle to live by. And He's given us a command: that we are to share the truth of His love and His goodness and His mercy and His kindness and His judgment to the whole world. Well, I want you to turn, if you will, to Isaiah chapter sixty-six. Isaiah was probably the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. The Scripture says, "Thus says the Lord, 'Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things.'"
And Isaiah is simply saying this to the people, he's not criticizing Solomon for building this awesome, indescribable Temple to Him. He's simply saying, "You know, I appreciate the Temple, but that's not the most important thing". God says, "I've made everything. I control everything. I'm not drawn to you by temples and edifices. I'm drawn to you by something else. And then He says, "But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word". That's what God is looking for. We can't impress God with what we do and building edifices, though there are some beautiful ones. He says, "That's not what I'm primarily interested in. I'm primarily interested in those who have an attitude, a relationship, as He says here, who have a humble spirit". "Contrite spirit, and who tremble at His word".
When He says tremble at the Word, that means when you and I face the Word of God, we are awed by it. We are struck by it. We are affected by it. We are impressed by it. Something happens to us when we read the Word of God. God says, "That's what I'm interested in. People who," as He says in this passage clearly, "tremble at My word". So I'd ask you this question. You have a Bible. You probably have many Bibles. What do you think about your Bible? You may have one of many versions. It may be old King James; New American Standard and all others that follow. There's nothing wrong with different versions because sometimes it's easier for some people to read some and then the others. The issue is this. What does this Book mean to you personally? Do you bring it to church? And I would say to you if you go to a church.
You say, "Well, this is your personal opinion"? Yes. My personal opinion and conviction. You go to a church and the man who stands behind the pulpit never opens the Word of God, never defends the Word of God, never preaches out of the Word of God, you need to go to another church. For the simple reason, this is what the church is all аbout: expounding and challenging, living out the Living Word of God. And this is what he's saying. He says, "Here's the one I look to". He says, "To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word". Humble and contrite of spirit says that we humble ourselves. We recognize our need of the Word of God; and we yield ourselves to the Word of God.
So, with that in mind, I want you to think for just a moment about the attitude of the person, for example, who has that spirit. That is, somebody who trembles at the Word of God, that is, who reverences His Word; respects the Word of God. Would you throw your Bible on the floor? Certainly I hope not. Would you just toss it around? Would you tear pages out of it? No. The unbeliever oftentimes wants to destroy the Word of God. Listen, this book has outlived everybody who's ever lived because it is the Word of God. So let's think about the attitude of a person who really trembles at God's Word. And the first attitude I think about, they're going to have a longing to hear it. Why do you come Sunday after Sunday? You have a longing to hear the truth of the Word of God. And anyone who respects the Word and loves the Word; and that person to whom God says he has, listen, the person, He says He looks to that person, "Who is humble, contrite of spirit, who trembles at My word".
And so the question is: do you have a longing to hear the Word of God? I think if you didn't, you wouldn't come. But I'd ask you, maybe at home and you can't come, can't go to church, or maybe you just don't go, but you listen. But let me just say this. If you can't go to church, or for some reason where you live, you can't go to one, whatever it might be. At least get your Bible out; turn with us to the same passage and listen carefully and get yourself a notepad and a pencil and write down whatever God lays upon your heart to write down. Don't waste your time just listening and forgetting it. This is the Word of God. This is the eternal Word of God. And because it is, you and I need to be in it every single day, asking for direction and guidance in our life. And, if my attitude's right, I'm going to have a longing to hear it. And secondly, I'm going to have a desire to believe it.
If I tremble before God's Word, these things are going to be true. I'm not only going to have a longing to hear it, I'm going to have a desire to believe it because I'm going to bring it back to Him. I'm going to say, "Lord, here's what happened". I'm going to bring Him back His promises. For example, not long ago I was going through a little tough time physically and I just said, "Lord, You've got to restore my energy; because I don't seem to have any". And so, out of my desperation, I remember getting down on my knees, and saying, "Lord, I want to remind you of something you said. You said, 'This is the confidence that I have in You, that, if I ask anything that's Your will, You'll hear me.' And if I know that You'll hear me, I know that, you will answer my petition". And I got on my knees and just reminded God, Lord, you called me to preach the gospel, and I'm asking You to restore my energy. And I'm trusting You to do exactly what You said. I've felt better ever since. You know why, because He answered my prayer.
Do I tremble before the Word of God? Yes, when I think of the awesome promises of God's Word. And you can look around and see all the things around us that are not right, but there's one thing that is right. God is still in our midst. He's still in control. He's going to have His way no matter what the world says. So, there's a longing to hear it, there's a desire to believe it, and an intention to obey it. Now, if I'm just coming to listen to the Word of God, and because I enjoy going to church and so forth, that's not going to cut it, but rather an intention to obey it. It's not enough to have a desire for it and a love for it. It should be my desire, a strong intention to obey the truth of the Word of God.
So when you read the Word of God, why do you read it? And I would ask you, besides bringing it to church, when's the last time you just opened the Word of God and said, "Lord, just speak to my heart". You say, "Well, God won't speak to my heart". Yes, He will. He's waiting for you. You're not waiting on God. Now, there are times when you have to wait on Him to show you His will for certain things, but you, listen, if you don't drink any water in a given day, your body's going to suffer. Amen? That's pretty weak. You better start believing this. You don't drink any water for a whole day, your body is going to start sending you a message. Amen!
The Bible says that God's Word is the living water. You don't drink any of this, you know what happens? Morally, spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes physically you're going to pay the consequence. The Word of God isn't just the written, printed page. It is the mind of God, the heart of God, the soul of God, that He has blessed us by putting it in print so that you and I can drink every day. Let me ask you: when do you not need the Word of God? Is there ever a time you just don't need the Word of God? No, there isn't. So now I ask you a question: do you have a longing for it, a desire for it? Do you have an intention to obey what you read?
All right, one other thing I want to mention just for a moment, what are the benefits that you and I have of reading the Word of God? In other words, He says, "Those who humble themselves before the Word; those who bow before the Word; those who acknowledge that this is the written Word of the Living God. And He said it so clearly. To this one, to that person, He says, "I will look, 'To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at the word of God.'" God says, "He has My attention". You want to get God's attention? Open His Word. You've got God's attention.
So let's think about some of those benefits, and the first one is this. God's Word will lead us to salvation. I hear people who have not been to church, and for some reason they go through some catastrophe and somebody gives them a copy of the Word or explains the Word to them or gives them a copy of the Bible and says, "Well, just read". Sometimes don't even tell them where to read. They get to reading the Word of God and what happens? They get saved. You don't have to have a pastor to get saved; or a Sunday School teacher, anybody else. You just need to begin to read the Word of God.
Listen to what He says in First Peter, first chapter, twenty-third verse, "For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable through the living and enduring word of God". All of us got saved as a result of believing the truth of Scripture. You may have known almost no Scripture, but when somebody said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him to be the Christ, the Savior, the Lord, that person shall be saved". "If we confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in our heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, they shall be saved".
So, one of the benefits, and the benefits go on and on and on. For example, in the hundred and nineteenth Psalm, and I'll stick with the hundred and nineteenth Psalm just to show you a few of these benefits. God's Word will guide your steps. Look, if you will, the hundred nineteenth Psalm, the hundred and fifth verse. This verse, most of us memorized a long time ago, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," which is simply this. You should teach your children that so early in life they can't remember when, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path". That is, the Word of God is going to show me where to go and where not to go. It's going to show me what to say and what not to say. It's going to show us how to make decisions, "A lamp to our feet and a light to our path". His Word.
That being true, think about the society in which you and I live and the society in which you live wherever you are, we live in a dangerous society, an unsafe society, a needy society, an immorally decadent society. We live in a society today, we need light and truth and we need direction. We need to walk in His path. And here's what He says, "His word is a lamp to my feet," show me where to go, "light to my path". Mom and dads, grandparents, you ought to drill this into your children's hearts so early in life they cannot remember when. Because what you're saying to them is this. God will show you the right way. He'll show you when you're heading the wrong way. You don't want to go in this way which is destructive. You want to go in the way that'll make it possible for you to grow up to be the kind of person that Almighty God wants you to be and He planned for you to be.
A third benefit, and stay in the hundred and nineteenth Psalm, he says God's Word will direct you to wisdom. Hundred and nineteenth Psalm and the hundred and thirtieth verse. The, listen to this, "The unfolding of Your words gives light;" that's wisdom, "it gives understanding to the simple". When you and I read the Word of God, we become wise. Because what does God do? He shows us things that are good for us. He warns us about things that are not good for us. He is a protector; and the Word of God is our greatest protector. It's like a shield before us. And we head in the wrong direction, He will reveal the truth that He's planted in our heart. He'll give us warnings.
And we talk about the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit living within us, He's the One who sounds the warning signal. This is not the right direction. For example, if you don't know any part of the Scripture, you don't read the Word of God, then some things that you think, "Well, there's nothing wrong with that," that God declares absolutely there's something wrong with it. Then, of course, listen to what He says in the hundred and nineteenth Psalm, the hundred and eleventh verse. God's Word will bring you joy, "I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart".
Let me ask you a question. What do you read that brings you more joy than the Word of God? What, in other words, what can you read that brings you more joy than the Word of God? For example, if we just want to start from something that's basic, read the twenty-third Psalm. "The Lord is my Shepherd," hallelujah. "I shall not want," glory to God. We can just go right through the twenty-third Psalm and you're going to feel joy and hope and assurance and confidence. You know why it's in the Bible? Because God knew you and I would need it, and the whole world needs it. And God says, "Here's the people that get My attention, those, 'Who trembles at My word.'" When do you want God's attention? When you're hurting the most; when you feel lost and estranged and you find yourself in difficulty, that's when most people want God the most.
You know what He wants? He desires that you and I want Him just as much when everything is going our way. When everything seems to be just right, He wants us to be loving toward Him; desirous of Him; obedient to Him; walking in His way. And when the Bible says that He responds to our response to His Word. He says, "I'm not impressed by great buildings. I'm impressed by those young and old alike, no matter where you come from, what nation you're from, He says, "I'm impressed by those who love My Word". And so, I'd ask you this. Do you love the Word of God? By the way you treat it, do you have a Bible that you wouldn't give up for anything in the world?
And I remember, one of the Bibles I preached from for years, I left it in the back seat of my car. I went to a vitamin shop to get some vitamins. I came out and it was gone. And I had a briefcase in there. If I'd have just had the Bible laying there, nobody would have picked that up. But they thought in the briefcase there'd probably be money or something else. The only thing I had in there was a Bible, a Greek New Testament and my favorite fountain pen. That's all was in there. So, they thought they had something. The truth is they had my favorite treasure, my Bible. But I don't think they read it. If they had, they'd have brought it back. And I offered the college students in church, I said, I'll give five hundred dollars, and that was a lot of money then, if whoever finds my Bible. Look in the trash dumps. Look, listen, whatever, get my Bible back.
Well, I never got it back, but the truth is, the truth in that Bible was in my heart. And, of course, you can always have another Bible. But when I think about he says, "I have inherited Your testimonies forever, they are the joy of my heart". And Sometimes I get so happy reading a Scripture, I think, "Lord, I want to thank You by saying thank You. I want to tell You in some fashion that I love You by saying I love You. Isn't there some way I can just... mmm. How can I get it out, God"? Because you know when He works in your heart, you know when He works in your heart. There's no substitute. And then I just say for this last one: God's Word will give you peace. Psalm a hundred and nineteen, one sixty-five, "Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble".
Everybody I know wants peace. And I remember being in a restaurant in California, a friend of mine and I, we were out there, at a book signing, in the restaurant that morning, and this young lady walked up and I could tell something wasn't right. And I said, we got to talking, and I said, "Ma'am, if you could have anything in the world you want this morning, what would you have"? She didn't even hesitate. She said, "Peace". And then she began to weep and tell me why, what was going on in her life. You know what peace means? It means to be bound to. In other words, when you have peace, you're bound to God. You will never, never, never, never, never, never have peace without Almighty God. And Jesus said to His disciples, cause they were so troubled, "My..." well, listen to what He said, "My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives," because that wouldn't work. "My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid". That's the promise of God.
And so, when I look at this passage and I see what He says. He says to this one, He says, "I will look to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word". You want God's approval, get in the Book. You want God's approval, read it. You want God's approval, pray about it. Ask God to speak to your heart. Somebody says, "Well, I read some things that I don't understand". Well, just read the part you do understand. There are some parts that are difficult to understand, but there's so much that's easy to understand. And God is saying to us, "God honors and is committed to blessing those who honor His precious Word".
So when I look at that and I think we hold in our hands the most precious and most valuable thing we own: the Word of God. And then one of my favorite verses about the Scripture is Isaiah forty, verse eight. He says, "The grass withers, flowers fade, but the word of our God shall stand forever". It doesn't make any difference what anybody says about it; how many they burn; how many they walk on; how many they trample on; how many they don't believe, this Book is not going anywhere. It is the Living Word of God. In fact, it's so precious, God said, "You want to get My attention? You want to know who I really and truly am impressed by? Not people who build great buildings; have great reputations; great speakers; great this, great that". God says, "I look to the one, I favor the one," 'Who trembles before My word.'"
You believe it, you obey it, you treasure it because it's God's message to us. And listen to this, the message of this Book will transform anybody's life. It will give you absolute assurance that when you die, you go to heaven. But it also gives a warning: you die without Christ, you'll be eternally separated from Him. Let me just say this to you. There's only one way to heaven, and that's the way of the cross. The resurrected Christ who died on the cross for your sins. He paid Your sin debt in full and the Bible's clear about that. And the Bible's clear about how to be saved. The Bible's clear about going to heaven. And the Bible is clear about the warnings of those who reject Him.
So I trust that if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you are willing to say to Him today, "Lord, I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin. I don't understand a lot, but I do believe according to the Scripture, that You'll forgive me of my sin. I surrender my life to You today and want to be the person You want me to be". Will He answer your petition? Yes! Where does the Word of God fit into your life? Can you say you love it? Can you say you treasure it? Because, listen, to say you love the Bible is to say you love God. To say you treasure the Bible is to say you treasure God. This is His Word. This is God in print. You'd say, "The Bible's God"? No. But it's the mind of God, the heart of God, the spirit of God. It's all about who God is. From Genesis one that begins, "In the beginning". Somebody says, "In the beginning of what"? In the beginning of everything, "God created the heavens and the earth". And we come to the last verse of the Revelation, and God is still on His throne doing what He promised to do. Amen?
Father, how grateful we are that You loved us enough to give us Your Word. And that You have kept it down through these generations pure. That we can read it in any given situation no matter what and know in our heart we're doing the right thing. We're getting true instruction. And we will be helped and guided properly every single time. We love You for this precious gift, in Jesus' name, amen.