Daily Archives: December 4, 2011
(This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”)
Hearing The Message
Lesson 24 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
We’re getting ready for Christmas here in Illinois! We’ve put the tree up this afternoon, and last night went to see our teenage daughter dance in a special Christmas show.
And as we get closer to Christmas, I’d like to encourage you to take this time to get closer to God. Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate that God came so close that we could reach out and touch Him–in the form of Jesus. And it’s a great time to remember that God is still very close to us–even closer than you might think. As Paul said to the men of Athens:
“God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).
God has been trying to get His message out to people in as many ways as possible, even using the heavens and the skies. When Paul talked about this in his letter to the Romans, he referred back to Psalm 19 which says:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4a).
Yet even with the heavens and the skies proclaiming the glories of God, there are still people who don’t listen. In Romans chapter 10, Paul laments the fact that so many of his Jewish brothers and sisters had missed what God was trying to say to them. At the end of chapter 10, Paul quotes what God said through the prophet Isaiah:
“All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (Romans 10:21).
What a sad picture to imagine God the Father holding out His hands to His children continually, yet they unwilling to take hold of it.
At the same time, I realize that it’s not always easy to reach out to God, especially when you feel like you’ve been hurt by Him.
In the Christmas show we saw last night, the main character was a man who had tried hard to push God out of his life. He hadn’t always pushed God out, though. At one time in his life, he had a wonderful relationship with God. He had married the woman of his dreams, had a young boy with her, but then tragedy hit: his wife was killed in a car accident.
From that point on, this man kept God at arm’s length. Even though God continued to try to talk to him, the man kept pushing God away. He could no longer believe in a God who either would not or could not save his wife from death. It was simply more than he could bear.
Sometimes we’re like the man in this play. When life doesn’t go the way we think it should, we wonder if God really is who He says He is. We wonder if He really loves us as we thought He did. We wonder if He’s really as powerful as He says He is in the Bible. The truth gets muddied in the midst of life.
But what can you do when you start to lose your faith? What can you do to try to get–or recapture–that love relationship with God that He says in His word that He wants with you?
Thankfully, Paul gives us the answer to that as well, in Romans chapter 10. Paul says:
“Consequently faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Or as it says in the New King James Version:
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17, NKJV).
If you want to increase your faith, one of the best ways you can do it is to immerse yourself in the word of God. When you do, you’ll hear the message that God wants you to hear–the message of Christ, the Savior who came into the world at Christmas to demonstrate God’s love for you in person.
While God speaks through the heavens and the skies, He has also spoken to and through many people, as recorded in the Bible. As you read the God’s words in the Bible, you can hear what God said to people like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, or to Moses out in the desert, or to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob throughout their life long journeys.
You can hear what God said to Sarah and Hannah and Mary and Elizabeth. You can hear what God said to Peter and John and the woman at the well. As you hear God’s words as spoken to others in the Bible, it’s hard not to hear Him speaking to you as well.
I know as I hear the stories in the Bible, my faith comes alive. I start to ask God how He might work in my life in the same ways. Faith really does come from hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
I also want to encourage you to not just read these stories once and then be done. The word “hearing” in this passage has the meaning of “hearing continually,” or in other words, “hearing and hearing and hearing.” So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing, not just by having heard. Read the Bible, and keep reading, and you’ll see your faith start to grow. As D.L. Moody said:
“I prayed for faith and thought it would strike me like lightening. But faith did not come. One day I read, ‘Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now began to study my Bible and faith has been growing ever since.”
If you’ve got a Bible nearby, I hope you’ll read it. And if you need a Bible nearby, I hope you’ll get one. There are so many great Bibles these days–and in so many languages of the world, that it would be sad if those who had access to God’s word didn’t read it on a regular basis. If you don’t have one in print, you can also read it online in multiple languages and translations at places like www.biblegateway.com, or www.blueletterbible.org.
And if you’d like to hear how God is working in people’s lives today, I’ve put dozens of stories that you can read in the story section of The Ranch website at www.theranch.org. God is still speaking to people today, and I’d love for you to hear the stories of how God is using His word to build people up in their faith.
In the show we watched last night, the man who had pushed God away finally reached the breaking point where he could no longer take it. He realized he had to either give up on life, or give in to God. He chose to surrender to God’s plan for his life, and in so doing, he found that he was also able to finally hear God speaking to him–and the words were like music to his ears.
As we get closer to Christmas this year, I hope you’ll use this time to get closer to God. Take Paul’s words to the Romans as God’s words to you for building up your faith:
“So then faith comes by hearing (and hearing and hearing and hearing), and hearing by the word of God.”
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for speaking to us in so many ways and so much of the time. Help us to hear Your message to us today, so we can respond to it in the way You want us to respond. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. I’ve written many of the stories of how God has spoken to me through the Bible in many of my devotional books over the years. If you’d like to get a copy of any of these books, I’d be glad to send a paperback copy of whichever one you’d like this month for a donation of any size to our ministry. Your donations help us to offset the cost of printing and shipping, as well as get God’s Word out to more people via this website, so we truly appreciate your help! And if you’d like multiple copies of any of these books as gifts for family and friends, you can order them from InspiringBooks.com any time. Just use the links below to either make a donation and choose a book, or order multiple copies from InspiringBooks.com.
Make a Donation and Get a Book
Or Order multiple books from InspiringBooks.com
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 10:16-21. Have you ever sensed God speaking to you through nature, as Paul implies when he quotes from Psalm 19?
2. Why do you think some people still don’t listen to God, even when He might seem to be speaking to them clearly?
3. Why do you think Paul is so sad for his fellow Israelites, based on the words he quotes from Isaiah in verse 21?
4. Based on verse 17, what are some steps you can take in your own life to increase your faith? Why not commit to taking them today?
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
The Romans Study
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
The Ranch Giftshop
To make a donation of any size and get a CD as our way of saying thanks, please visit:
Get a CD
To find us on Facebook, please visit:
The Ranch on FaceBook
To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit:
Invite your friends! We’d love to have them study along with us—and you! Just forward this email and encourage them to sign up for themselves at the link below.
Today is our Christmas party at my mom and dad’s house. I love my family and enjoy any and every gathering that we have but Christmas is always the most special.
We have it early in December so that my parents can leave for Florida before the weather starts getting too bad. Dad has arthritis and the cold is something that he just can’t take anymore. At 82, I don’t blame him for wanting to get down in the warmth.
Although I have been sick on and off all last month, I thank God that I feel well enough to go today. :)
Therefore, I will be out of commission until later on this evening. If you leave me a comment, I promise to get back with you either tonight or tomorrow depending on what time we get home!
Peace, love and blessings,