Robert Jeffress - Bright Lights and Night Lights
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". When temptation comes roaring our way, how do we avert disaster and say no? Well, even our best intentions are not enough. Success begins with a strong moral compass, that helps us spot danger. And for Christians, that compass is the Word of God. Today, I want to show you how to allow the Bible to direct your steps. And I'll also give you three benefits of allowing the Word of God to become a part of your life. My message is titled, "Bright Bights and Night Lights," on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
Dr. Ian Blaylock is the professor of Christian Studies at Auckland university in New Zealand. And he has written, "Of all the centuries, the 21st is most like to the first. Once again, Christians are a small minority in the midst of a despairing and pagan world. And they are confronted on every side with violence, hostility, ignorance, widespread immorality, and despair. We are thus thrust back into the very climate of the 1st century". Isn't that a great description of the world in which we're living right now, a world that is filled with persecution, immorality, and ignorance of God's word. And yet Paul, more than almost 2000 years ago, wrote a letter to a group of Christians in Colossae, who were involved in that very same kind of culture. And he said in his letter, "The only way you're going to stand firm against the morality, the heresy, the persecution of this age, is to keep your mind fixed on things above, set your mind on things above," Paul wrote, "Where Christ is".
In the book of Colossians, he tells us how to do that, how to become a heavenly-minded Christian. Today, we're going to look at the second of the four steps Paul says we can use in our life to make our lives like that of Jesus Christ, to resemble Jesus in our attitudes, affections, and our actions. If you have your Bibles today, I want you to turn to Colossians 3:16. Paul writes, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you". And what does Paul mean by the word of Christ? Some commentators say that Paul was talking about the words spoken by Jesus Christ, all of those red letters in your red letter edition of the Bible. That's what he's talking about, the words actually spoken by Christ. Other people say, "No, he was talking about the words in the Bible, spoken about Christ". And literally all the Bible is about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points toward him, the New Testament reveals him, and explains who he was.
I believe actually Paul had both in view here. He was talking about the words spoken by Christ, and the words about Jesus Christ. He's talking about the Word of God. And he said, "The Word of God is like a light that gives direction in this dark and corrupt world". You know, throughout the Bible, the Bible describes itself as a light. For example, in Psalm 119:105, the Psalmist said, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path". Or in Philippians 2:15-16, Paul wrote, "That you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God, above reproach, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life". I like 2 Peter 1:19, jot that down. Peter said, "So we have the prophetic word," that's referring to the Word of God, "Made more sure, to what you do well to pay attention, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts".
Maybe you've used a night-light before. You know what a night-light does? Glows in them middle of the night. If you're a child, it can give you comfort, if you're afraid of the dark. As an adult, night-light are helpful, if you're getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, or to the kitchen, whichever one it is. It's good to have a light in the darkness, to give you direction. Now, the only time a night light is absolutely of no use is in the daylight. In the daylight, the daylight, the sun absolutely drowns out the light. And that's what God's word is saying here, in 2 Peter 1:19. Right now, while Christ is away in heaven, getting ready for his return, we are surrounded by darkness in this world. We live in a dark, corrupt world, but the word of Christ is like a light, giving direction to us.
Now, one day when Christ returns, that is when the morning star arises, and the day dawns, that's a reference to Christ's return. When Christ returns, he's the light. But until that time, his word is our light in this darkness and corruption. And not only does it give this direction as a whole, as a country in which way to go, but it also gives us individually light and direction in our lives. And that's what he's talking about here. "Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you, so it can be a light giving you direction".
Now, before we talk about exactly how to do that, let me point out to you three benefits of allowing the Word of God to become a part of your life. First of all, God's word produces spiritual growth in your life. Write that down, God's word produces spiritual growth. God's plan for every Christian is that he grows in his faith. The Word of God is the nutrient that allows that spiritual plant to grow. It is the building material by which we construct a life. In 1 Peter 2:2, Peter says, "As newborn babes, we need to long for the pure milk of the Word of God, that by it, we may grow in respect to our salvation". God's word is the catalyst that produces spiritual growth in our lives.
Secondly, God's word is a deterrent to sin. You know, sin, disobedience to God, is what messes up everything in our life. It's what keeps God's blessing out of our life. And yet God's word is a deterrent to sin that robs us of God's greatest blessings for us. In this chapter, Colossians 3, Paul is telling us that as a Christian, there's certain sins we need to put to death, he says, "Put to death, crucify immorality, impurity, evil passions and desires, and greed". You're to put a stake through that kind of behavior in your life, if you're a Christian. And not only that, he says, "You're to lay aside some sins, just like you take off old clothes that are worn out". He said, "Lay aside the sins of anger and speech".
And then he says we're to put on that kind of behavior, that is pleasing to Christ, kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, love. Well, that's all great stuff, but exactly how do you do that? I mean, how do you say no to sin, on a practical basis every day? What is your motivation to put on that kind of behavior that's pleasing to God? It's the Word of God. The Word of God gives us both the desire and the ability to say no to sin, and yes to God. Remember in Ephesians 6:17, Paul is talking about the different spiritual armor we put on to fight the Christian fight, the spiritual battle we're all engaged in. In verse 17, he says, "And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is the Word of God". Paul says, "The Word of God is like a Roman sword".
The word sword here is the word machaira, and it literally means dagger. The machaira was about six to 18 inches long. I've got a replica of one up in my office right now. It's a dagger, and for the soldier to use it, he would have to use it not while he's on horseback, but he would have to use it in hand to hand combat with the enemy. And he would have to be so skillful in the use of this dagger, that when he got up close to his enemy, he knew exactly where to strike with the dagger, in order to kill his opponent. And the Bible says we need to be so skilled in knowing the Word of God, that when temptation to sin comes into our life, we know exactly where to turn, what scripture to use in our fight with the enemy. We have a great illustration of this in the life of Jesus.
Remember in Matthew chapter 4, he was in the wilderness after his baptism for 40 days. And Satan came to him during that time to tempt him. And once he came to Jesus, he said, "Why not turn these stones into bread"? And Jesus quoted the Bible and said, "The scripture says, 'man shall not live by bread alone, but from every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'". And then Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple, and said, "Why don't you cast yourself off of this pinnacle, and let the angels come and protect you. And then everyone will know you're the Son of God". And again, Jesus quoted scripture that said, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test". And then remember Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, and said, "These kingdoms can be yours, if you will bow down and worship me". And Jesus said, "The scripture says, 'you shall serve the Lord God and worship him only'".
Three different times when he was tempted, Jesus answered that temptation with scripture. Why did he do that? Why did he quote the Bible? Listen to this, he didn't quote the Bible for Satan's benefit. Do you realize Satan knew the scripture, just as well as Jesus did? Contrary to what a lot of people think, Satan didn't run away whenever he heard the Word of God, and hide under some rock, 'cause he couldn't stand to hear scripture. No, Satan knows the Bible better than most Christians do. Satan's not afraid of hearing the Word of God. The reason Jesus quoted the Word of God was not for Satan's benefit, but for Jesus' benefit. As he recalled these passages of scripture that dealt with each temptation, that scripture was like a dagger that cut through the fog in Jesus' own mind, and allowed him to see exactly what the real issue was. And it was the Word of God that gave Jesus the strength to say no to Satan, and say yes to God. It is a deterrent to sin, the sin that keeps us from experiencing God's blessing in our life.
Third, God's word allows you to experience the peace of Christ. Allowing the Word of God to richly dwell within you allows you to experience the peace of Christ. Remember, there's a relationship in the way these two verses are worded. Look back at verse 15, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which you were indeed called in one body," and then look at verse 16, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you". Do you see the relationship? It's not accidental. The way you allow the peace of Christ to have the final say in your life is by allowing the word of Christ richly to dwell within you. And simply put, when we read the Word of God, it is a constant reminder that even though people change, and circumstances change, the God we serve, and the God who loves us never changes. And that's how the word of Christ allows you to experience the peace of Christ in your heart.
Now we've talked about the benefits of the Word of God. How many of you would like to have a better relationship with God than you're experiencing right now? The Bible says the answer is allowing the word of Christ to richly dwell within you. Now for the last few minutes we have, we're going to go from the theoretical, to the intensely practical. And I want to share with you five simple secrets for allowing God's word to richly dwell in your life. You know, for years, the navigators used the illustration of a hand, and they said the hand, the five fingers represent five ways to what they called, get a grip on the Word of God. You know, think about this Bible in my hand. I can't just hold onto it with my thumb, or even my thumb and my index finger. I need all five fingers on this book so that nobody can rob it from me.
And in the same way, there are five ways to allow God's word to richly dwell within you, so that you have a grip on God's word. I want you to write these five ways down. The thumb, let's think about the thumb, for example. That stands for listening to the Word of God, listening to the Word of God. This is the easiest, most passive way to get God's word into your life. Romans 10:17 says, "For faith comes by," what? "Hearing, and hearing the Word of God". We all need to be listening to the preached Word of God. Some people say, "Well, I don't need to go to church for that. I can just study the Bible on my own". Well, you can the Bible on your own, but that's not enough. All of us need a regular intake through the ear gate of God's word. Listen to the Word of God.
Secondly, reading the Word of God, that's the second finger. If you want to get a grip on God's word, it's not enough to listen, you need to read the Word of God. Psalm 109:18 says, "Open my eyes that I might behold wonderful things from your law". Do you realize that of all the ways God could reveal himself to us, the way he chose to do it was through the written word. And that's why it is important that we have a regular time to read the Word of God.
Thirdly, we study the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of God". You know, as you read through the Bible, say you're reading through the book of Philippians, you'll come across a word, or you'll come across a phrase or a subject and say, "You know, I'd like to know more about that". There's a difference between being a tourist, and an explorer of God's word. You know what a tourist does? He comes to a city, he has maybe a day to spend time there. And so he just hits the high points of the city, and then moves on. But in an explorer is somebody who takes time to explore and navigate, and ask questions. It's the same way with the Word of God.
Fourthly, memorize the Word of God, memorize the Word of God. Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have treasured in my heart that I might not sin against you". We need to commit God's word to memory, so that when we're in the heat of spiritual battle, just like Jesus, we can recall those specific verses that speak to our situation. And then number five, and remember we're talking about getting a grip, the most passive way is to listen to the Word of God, and then we read the Word of God. Then we study the Word of God. Fourthly, we memorize the Word of God. But the climax is five, is to meditate on the Word of God. And that's where real success in our spiritual comes. Joshua 1:8 says, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it, for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success".
Do you know what it means to meditate on scripture? It doesn't mean sit around and be in a trance. No, to meditate, in Hebrew, means to mutter, to murmur. The picture is somebody who is so saturated with the Word of God, that he's constantly thinking about it, and how it applies to his life. Psalm 1:2 in the living Bible describes it this way, "The people who are blessed by God, they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws, thinking about ways to follow God more closely". That's what it means to meditate, to think about God's word. How can I follow it even more closely? What happens to a person who does that? Verse 3 of Psalm 1 says, "That person will be like a tree, firmly implanted by the streams of water, which yields fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. And in whatever he does, that person will prosper".
You know, this was a great picturesque description in the Middle East, a tree out in the middle of the Israeli desert, a tree that is blooming, that is green, that is bearing fruit, that is planted by a spring of water. A tree that is so large and massive, it can't be blown down by any storm that comes. Your life can be that way as well. Let me ask you this morning, do you desire a life that is marked by stability? That means no matter what circumstances blows into your life, you're not shaken at all, but you remain steadfast. Do you desire a life that's marked by productivity? That is, you're involved in activities that have eternal meaning, not just meaningless day to day activities. Do you desire to have a life that's consistent in your relationship with God? Not just short bursts of enthusiasm, followed by long periods of apathy and disobedience. Both Paul and the Psalmist says, "The way to have a life that is marked by stability, productivity, consistency is to allow the word of Christ to richly dwell within you".