Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

11 January 2012

Holding fast to the Word of God

I have to admit that I'm not very good at reading LONG quotes in blog posts.  There's a small handful of bloggers whose quotes, long or short, I will read because I just know it will be worthwhile.  But for the most part, I am like everyone else circling about in cyberspace, with my increasingly short concentration span.  If it is too long I will just skim over it, or worse, skip it.

I say this because what follows is a long-ish quote.  It is from the most linked-to sermon on this blog - John Piper's "Holding Fast to the Word of God in 2010" from 10th January (in 2010, funnily enough.)  I don't know how many times I have listened to that sermon now.  So worthwhile just for the first fifteen minutes where he reads the whole of Philippians magnificently. 

But a little way into the actual sermon there is a wonderful section (that makes for a long-ish quote) that has stayed with me ever since I first heard it.  If you are serious about reading your Bible, hang in there with the following long-ish quote.  Read it through.  Or go to the sermon itself and listen from the 22 minute mark.  And be encouraged. 

I would guess that almost everyone in the hearing of my voice is dissatisfied with the spiritual power and consistency and faithfulness and fruitfulness of your life. I certainly am with my life.  I would assume everyone else is also dissatisfied with the level of your own spiritual power. 

And I do not consider that anything I say is a simple remedy to that spiritual weakness. God is sovereign.  He changes times and seasons. And that includes global political seasons and it includes church seasons and it includes family seasons and it includes personal spiritual seasons. 

God changes seasons. Are you in a dry season?  God changes seasons. 
 
But one thing I know: There is a spiritual diet without which no Christian can be strong or healthy or fruitful.  And that diet is the Word of God. That I know.

Now I want you to hear me very carefully, lest I be misunderstood.  You may be surprised at what I say.  I am making you zero promises that reading or memorising the Bible will make you strong or healthy or fruitful spiritually.  

The Pharisees read and memorized their Bible more than you or I ever will. And almost all of them went to hell, Jesus said in Matthew 8:12, "cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth," filled with the Bible.  

I am not giving you any guaranteed technique for power. The Spirit blows where and when he wills. 

I have known terrible seasons of barrenness in reading the Bible.  Did you hear what I said?  Not in neglecting the Bible - in reading the Bible.  I am not God.  The Bible is not God.  God is God.  And He blows with His power where and when He pleases.   I make you zero promises that reading the Bible will make you strong.   God will make you strong if He chooses to make you strong.  

But this I know.  He will not do it without the Bible.  That I know. 

Wonderful words.

6 comments:

Mrs. Edwards said...

Thank you! I'm going to listen to that sermon today.

Mrs. Edwards said...

I'm listening now and just heard the recitation of Philippians. I'm certain that he was not reading, but reciting Phiippians. I've heard another January sermon called something like "Abiding in the Word" in which he recites big chunks of Scripture for the first 20 minutes. It is incredible to hear God's Word spoken in that way!

Meredith said...

I hope you enjoyed the sermon. Well picked about the recitation. I just went back to the Desiring God site, looked up the sermon and watched the video footage. And yes, he recited the lot. Wow. Breathtaking.

It reminded me of some footage from him one Christmas (maybe Christmas 2010) where he was speaking and midway through his message I realised he had lapsed into Phil 2:5-11, so naturally that it was as if he had just continued to chat.

Truly amazing.

Anonymous said...

amen sister! they are striking & encouraging words.

i agree Mrs Edwards that it feels like Piper recites Philippians in that sermon. It sounds so natural and impassioned. and once or twice he stumbles in ways he wouldn't have if reading. Thanks Meredith for researching and clarifying that suspicion.

John Piper's love for scripture is magnificent and breathtaking isn't it? I get a thrill when recites scripture in lots of his preaching. He says the words pastorally, with love and pain and yearning and joy.

Thanks Meredith for spurring us on in loving God's word.

Sal

Sally

Sharon said...

"he had lapsed into Phil 2:5-11, so naturally that it was as if he had just continued to chat." This is how I want to be when I talk with people. Especially when I am trying to encourage or challenge my closest friends. That my words of edification will come straight from the Bible but also straight from my heart, so naturally should the word of God come forth. Work in progress, though - definitely a work in progress!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such encouragement Meredith, I'm going to listen to Piper's sermon tonight, Em W