Refresh & Restore – 5/28/2020

Acts 17:10-12 —

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

Romans 10:14-17 —

14  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of Christ.

Greetings, readers! It’s Thursday again – a day that is fast becoming one of my favorite days of the week because it means that I get to interact with you all in the Word of God via these devotions.

Today, we are going to look at some things the Word says about the Word. And, in doing so, I hope you find something that draws you closer to the Word of God and by it our Savior, Jesus Christ.

As I have shared with you in the past, these devotions were a response to part of Peter and John’s sermon in Acts 3, specifically verses 19-21:

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed to you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets long ago.”

We have looked at length about what it means to hope that “times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord”, and the primary way that we have seen the presence of the Lord play out in our lives is by reading the Word of God.

The passage above from Acts 17 introduces us to a group of people who have something important to teach us about the Word of God. Paul and Silas had just spent a period of time in Thessalonica where they “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying , ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3). They received a mixed response from the people there (which was nothing new – and still is not) where some were saved and others were angered. A group of locals got angry, literally drug some of the local believers out of their homes to the authorities, and accused Paul and Silas of “turn[ing] the world upside down” (v. 6). Then, the believers in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas to a town called Berea in the cover of night.

So, what do you think Paul and Silas did? (Hopefully, you read the Scripture passages before my writing.) That is right; they did the same (“as was his custom” – v. 2) as they always did: they went to the synagogue, opened up the Scriptures (Old Testament) and told those there how the Scriptures point to Jesus. They did this time and time again. Only Berea offered them a different response.

Look back at verse 11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Rather than jumping up to respond without thinking or deciding they were heretics and planning to run them out of town, the Bereans at the synagogue rolled open the scrolls of Scripture in the synagogue and tested what was being preached to them by the Word of God. What an amazing idea!

I hope that you do the same thing when you sit under someone’s teaching or read their devotions or other writings. That’s right: I want you to always check what I say or write by the Word of God.  In fact, that’s the purpose of these weekly devotions; I want to help you seek out the presence of God in His Word.

We live in a world where it is easier than ever to seek out facts. For all of the foolishness that this world offers via the Internet and other sources, there are means by which to check up on things on a scale never dreamed of through most of history. Yet people are willing to believe whatever is presented them, allowing fear, anger, hatred, or whatever else to drive them rather than simply returning to the source.

Many places in the ancient near East where Paul and Silas were preaching did not have access to scrolls of the entire Scriptures at that time. The Bereans were blessed, and they knew it! They took full advantage of the gift they had been given in the Word of God. Yet each and every one of us have access to many physical Bibles and free access to many digital versions of it. And we take people at their word and neglect the Word.

The Bereans were eager to hear what Paul and Silas had to say. They found themselves moved by their preaching. Yet they did not rely on their hearts. Maybe they read Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” They checked everything that Paul and Silas said by the Word, and, when they found what they said to match up with the Word of God, many of them were saved.

This is extremely important because it reminds us how God intends salvation to work. Salvation cannot happen apart from the Word of God. Romans 10 offers us such a clear picture of what it takes to respond to the gospel and be saved. It also makes sure we know how to be saved. Romans 10:17 makes it clear that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The Bible tells us the story of Jesus. It tells us that we are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23). It tells us that there is no way for us to remove our own sin aside from responding to the gift of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). It tells us that God fully knew our sin and what it would cost for Him to take away that sin – and He paid the price for us (Romans 5:8). And the Bible makes it clear how to be saved: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

There is no salvation apart from that because there is no salvation apart from Jesus. I am not saying that testimonies or songs are not important or good things. I am simply saying that there is no substitute for the Word of God when it comes to people getting saved.

So, what will you do with this information? You could treat me like those whose worlds were turned upside down by the gospel in Thessalonica. They were so outraged that they followed Paul and Silas to Berea and kept…well, you will have to continue in Acts 17 on your own to see what happens there.

Maybe you spent adequate time with God in His Word. Maybe you open your Bible and check it every time you sit under preaching. Maybe you have it open right now, checking my words here. I genuinely hope this is the case. But, were I a betting man, I would wager that is not the case.

If you are not spending time with God in His Word daily, I urge you to repent. Seek Him there and He will be found. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said it thusly, “There is dust enough on some of [our] Bibles to write ‘damnation’ with your fingers [on its cover].” That was true when he preached in the 1800s, and it is true now. But he also said, “My dear friend, when grief presses you to the dust, worship there!”

So, wipe off the cover or reinstall the app – whatever you need to do – and get back in the Word of God. If you do not have one or would like to know how to get into the Word of God, I would love to talk to you. If you have questions, I cannot promise you that I will be able to answer them, but I can look in the Word of God with you to help you find the answers you seek. I genuinely hope that you will do this.

I want to close with some verses from Psalm 119 about the Bible. May they give you a hunger and thirst for the Word and you find Him there:

  • v. 9 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word.
  • v. 11 – I have stored up your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
  • v. 41 – Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise….
  • vv. 49-50 – Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in affliction, that your promise gives me life.
  • v.77 – Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
  • v. 81 – My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.
  • v. 105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

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