That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Magnified Word

This past weekend I was at my sister and brother-in-law's, and I went to their church on Sunday morning.  The pastor preached that morning a sermon on the Word of God.  It was such an encouragement.  I greatly appreciate preaching that is straight from the Bible.  In fact I love it!  I like it even when it convicts me, and believe me that happens more often than not. I like Bible preaching because I can trust it.  I don't want a sermon of catchy quotes, clever alliterations, and tear-jerking stories.   Sometimes the stories, jokes, and quotes may add to the sermon, but often they replace Bible preaching.  I want to know what GOD says.  The pastor is the Lord's messenger.  Even though the sermon each Sunday comes through my pastor, I expect to hear a word from the Lord!  I don't want a man to speak to me, I want God to speak to me. I like looking up lots of Scripture verses throughout a sermon.  I think it's cool how things in the Bible connect with each other, and I love it when pastors bring out those connections.

So, back to Sunday.  The pastor read several of the "famous" passages that deal with the Word of God:  I Timothy 3:16, II Peter 1:19-20, etc.  One verse he read really stuck out to me.  Psalm 138:2  I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Read the last half of that verse again.  Read it slowly.  Think about it.  Ask yourself, What does it mean?  What is God saying?  How has He done that?  How does it relate to me personally? ... Did you ask the questions?  Did you answer them?  If not, don't read any further until you do.  It's important.

If you've been a Christian for any length of time, especially in Independent Baptist circles, you've most likely heard this verse used in a sermon or seen it quoted in a book about the Bible. IFB's like this verse because of it's foundational truth.  I like this verse :), but I don't necessarily like it because I'm a Baptist.  I like it because I'm a Christian, and because it puts in perspective the place of God and His Word in my life.  Psalm 138:2 mentions the name of God.  Read these verses about God's name and then go back and ask those questions again.  Then ask yourself how these verses relate and connect to Psalm 138:2.

Philippians 2:9-10: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...

Psalm 8:9: O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

This is a very brief sampling of some of the things God says about His name.  Now think about it.  I know I'm saying "think" a lot, but it's important.  It took me a long time to grasp this truth, but God has shown it to me, and I LOVE the concept.  I want to share it with you.  Maybe you've already figured it out.  I hope so.  That's why I wanted to you think.  Maybe you've already known this truth.  If you do, then you can rejoice with me at the wonder and amazingness (is that even a word?) of our God!  The truth is this.

The name of God is great.  The Bible describes it in Proverbs 18:10 as a "strong tower" that keeps the righteous safe.  BUT, an even greater thing than the name of God is the Word of God.  Why? Because Psalm 138:2 says God magnifies His word above His name.  WOW!  That's why II Peter 1:19 describes it as a "more sure word."  That's why Hebrews 4:12 describes it as "sharper than any twoedged sword."  That's why Psalm 12 and Proverbs 30 describe God's words as pure.  I could go on... Psalm 119 comes to mind.

The Bible exalts the name of the Lord above every name, says it is excellent, and pronounces guilt on him who would misuse His name.  And Psalm 138:2 says that God's word is magnified above that!  God puts great emphasis on His Word.  The reverence that we give to the Lord, must be the same reverence we give to His Word.  Now some would misconstrue this by saying it's worshipping a book instead of worshipping God.  For me it is nothing of the sort.  Knowing how God views His Word causes me to have great respect and awe for the Bible, but I do not worship the book.   Reading of the Bible doesn't inspire me to worship the Bible, it makes me bow my head and give glory and worship to my great God, because it's what I read that reveals to me just how great of a God He is!

That sermon ended with this passage.  The preceding thoughts put into a whole new perspective.  Philippians 2:13-16.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  Holding forth the word of life...

I don't know about you, but I want my life to be a shining light for Christ.  I want to be that light in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.  Indeed, our nation is crooked and perverse.  I want my testimony to be like the candle in a dark room, spreading it's glow through the gloominess.  I want people to look at me and see the light of Christ's love in my life.  We shine as lights when we hold forth the WORD! 

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