Abiding (In His Word)
Spend enough time with the Word of God, day-by-day, so you feel comfortable with it.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, I wait for you to answer, of course I do. Like to know how you are. The first law of getting along with anybody is to find out what he or she is interested in and then plug into that. Remember that the next time you have a conversation with someone. Ask yourself the question, “What does this person want or need? And in what is he or she interested?” You start on that basis, and you’ll find that people appreciate you and think that you’re really alright. The reason being that every one of us wants to know that somebody cares how we feel. Well, threw that in free. This is your good friend Dr. Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you once again.
We’re looking at the wind up of 1 Timothy 4, “Take heed,” says Paul, “unto thyself and unto the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.” Your first responsibility is to be right and keep right with your Lord. There used to be an old Sunday School song that has gone out of vogue, I haven’t heard it sung in a long, long time, “If your heart keeps right.” “If your heart keeps right, there’s a song of gladness in the darkest night. If your heart keeps right. If your heart keeps right.” Something about every day’d be full of sunshine if your heart keeps right. Old song. Remember it? Any of you old timers? Well, he says, “Take heed to thyself.” It’s a personal responsibility to stay right with the Lord. You don’t drift into holiness. If you start to drift, beloved, it’s always away from God.
The writer to the Hebrews says, “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at anytime we let them slip.” And you look up the original meaning of those words, and it means drift away from them. Any time you let up and take it easy and start to drift, it’s always away from God. That’s why Paul said in an earlier verse here in 1 Timothy 4, “Exercise thyself rather unto Godliness.” You have to work at it. It is a conscious effort to make sure that you’re walking with your Lord every minute of every day. “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” “Can two walk together,” asks the ancient prophet, “except they be agreed?” So there’s the truth of it, “Take heed to thyself.” It’s up to me and up to you to make sure that our hearts are right with God.
Then he said, “Take heed to thyself and unto the Doctrine.” It’s a word that means teachings, “didascalia,” teachings. We get our word “didactic” in English from that root. Take heed to thyself and your relationship with the teachings of the Word of God. He says, “continue in them.”
It’s an interesting verb. Now the Greek verb, “meno,” means ‘to remain’, and then they put a little prefix on it, and it’s “epimeno,” to stay on top. Isn’t that interesting? Stay on top of it. Not only don’t drift away from it, but you stay right on top of the job, right on top of the content of your lesson.
Tell me something, have you ever experienced, either in listening to a professor, a teacher or a minister, have you ever experienced the feeling that this was something old and very familiar to the speaker, that he or she was just going through the notes so to speak? Have you had that feeling? I guess all of us at some time or another have had that. The idea that the speaker wasn’t really on top of his or her subject. I had one professor that was just one lesson ahead of the class. Oh, that was something. Unfortunately, I used it as an excuse not to do my best. Isn’t that awful? But I did, that’s a fact. I just slid through because I figured he was just sliding through. [laughter] Isn’t that awful? I’m ashamed. But you know we’ve had that experience of people who are not on top of the subject. Paul says stay on top of it, what does it mean? Stay right with God and stay current with the truth of God so that it’s new and fresh in your life every day.
Now that’s the reason that I emphasize, beloved, the importance of getting something fresh from your Lord in the Word every day. It may be an old truth, but it needs to be a new application to your heart. Life is constantly changing. You never step into the same river twice because the water into which you enter this minute is different from the water that you may have entered a moment before. You know that. Life is changing, circumstances are changing. And so although you and I deal with the ageless, eternal truths of the inerrant Word of God, the Bible, we need, by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to get something fresh for ourselves everyday. Otherwise what we have to say gets stale and second hand, doesn’t it?
You remember the story of the manna which was provided by God for his people to sustain them as food in the wilderness. They had to gather it fresh everyday except on the Sabbath when there wasn’t any. They gathered twice as much on the the day before the Sabbath. But they had to gather it fresh everyday, and if some tried to keep it over, you remember what happened to it? It says it bred worms and stank. [chuckle] The Bible is pretty blunt about things.
I have to tell you, beloved, that if you and I don’t get something fresh from God day by day, we end up looking pretty wormy, pretty old. We end up in the same classification as spoiled food if we haven’t got something fresh from God. So he says, “You take heed to the teachings and continue in them.” That means stay on top of it. Be aware, be honest in your application, and have something fresh from God day after day.
Now, I’ve given this to you at different times through the many years that we’ve been on the air but let me once again tell you what I learned from Steven Alford. Dr Alford came to this country on his first trip from Great Britain, a preaching tour that we arranged through Youth For Christ. He and I became fast friends, and we are to this very day. And I asked him in those days, because all of us were very busy, and he was constantly going from one meeting to another on this tour that we arranged. I said, “Brother, how do you keep your own soul fresh? How do you feed on the Word?” “Well,” he said, “I have learned some years ago, a procedure that I still follow.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “You stay with any given passage, whether it’s a few verses, or a chapter, or whatever. You stay with any given passage until it says something to you.”
Now he said, “That isn’t sermon outlining.” He said,”It needs to say something personally to you. Stay with a passage in prayerful reading and waiting on God until that passage of Scripture says something to you, that’s the first thing. Second, write down what it said. Write down what God said to you. Third, pray it back to God, until your heart is warmed and made tender with the truth.” Third, pray it back to God, until your heart is warm and tender. “Fourth,” said he, “share it with someone that very day, as soon as you can.” An excellent procedure, I immediately began to apply it and have done so through the years. As a matter of fact, I put it in my little book, Now That I Believe, and it has been shared now with well over a million people here and there around the world.
Stay with any passage until it says something to you, then write that down, then pray it back to God, and then share that with someone else, the very day that God said it to you. Fresh, keep fresh. Keep fresh in the Word of God, stay on top. Alright?
Now he says continue in them, and that means abiding. That same term means to tarry or to abide, like you would live in a house that you call your home. Make the Word of God your spiritual home. Do you feel comfortable with the Bible? Most people don’t, it must be admitted. I’ll show you how this works. Suppose I came to your house for dinner and the family was gathered and you had done your best, the house was shining. I always appreciate the fact that when we preachers come for a meal, the dear lady of the house and others who’ve been enlisted surely, have made everything just shining. It’s perfect, and they just knock themselves out to be kind. I appreciate that, bless your heart. Those things don’t do themselves, they take a good deal of elbow grease and back ache, I know it.
So, here we’re sitting around the table, and the meal is perfect. The roast turned out just right, and the potatoes are creamy, and the gravy has no lumps, and the biscuits are just turned out of the oven perfect. There it is, a beautiful dinner. And so as the meal progresses just toward the end of the entree, I say, “Well, let’s talk about the Word of God. How about it? Let’s talk about Colossians. I’ll take Colossians 1, and Dad, you take Colossians 2, and Mom, you take Colossians 3, and daughter, you take Colossians 4. And we’ll just have a little… We’ll sorta enjoy the Word of God together. How about it?”
Well, I’ll tell you. First of all, there’ll be a chill settle around that table, and then mother will think she has to go turn off the oven, and father will have a paroxysm of coughing, and have to leave the table. And daughter thinks she hears the dog scratching at the back door, needing to come in. And before long, I am given the distinct impression that that was a faux pas, that was the wrong thing to suggest. Now, there we are. We’re Christians, and I’m a minister, and we all believe the Bible. And yet when I suggest talking about it, it throws a chill over a nice social occasion. [chuckle] How about that?
Well, maybe I’ve exaggerated it a little, but not much. The average person is very nervous when you say, “Let’s talk about the Word of God.” We aren’t really comfortable with God’s Word. The reason being, the reason being that we haven’t mastered what it says. Yet, in order to be comfortable with God’s Word, you have to know what it says.
I was talking with a friend of mine who’s an airplane pilot, and he had just been assigned to a new aircraft. He was just about then to be qualified as a pilot for a new kind of aircraft. Whatever it was, I don’t know, a 747 or something. “Well,” I said. “What’s involved in qualifying?” He says, “You got to memorize that manual. You got to know,” he said. And he said it with considerable conviction. Well, he showed me the manual, it was several inches thick, a huge document, every page of which had important information about that flying machine. And he had to know about it. And if you don’t know about it, not only can you not qualify for a pilot, but you don’t feel very comfortable about it ’cause you don’t know what to do if something goes wrong.
Spend enough time with the Word of God day by day so you feel comfortable with it. That word “abide” means make yourself at home. Make yourself at home in the Word of God, not just a verse here and there, tacked on like some little spiritual band-aid. No, no. Abide in the Word of God, feed on it in the way that I just told you a few moments ago, and let God’s Holy Spirit make you comfortable with that eternal truth. Now we go on with this the next time we get together.
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