"God's Word and the Path of Righteousness"
God's Word and the Path of Righteousness Good morning and welcome to Word of Life Ministries. Let's start with a word of prayer. Father we thank and praise you in Jesus' name and we give you glory and honor. And Lord Jesus we give you glory and honor for redeeming us and giving us salvation through your sacrifice for us. And we thank you for ever making intercession for us and mediating between us and God. And father we thank you for the word that you've given us: the word made flesh, the word recorded in the Bible, and the word that you speak to us today. We thank you and praise you for it and we receive it with thanksgiving, in Jesus name. Amen. The title of the message today is: "God's Word and Path of Righteousness." The title again is "God's Word and Path of Righteousness." Turn in your Bibles to Proverbs, chapter 8, verses 6 through 21. Hear for I will speak of excellent things and opening of my lips will be right things. For my mouth will speak truth and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness, there is nothing perverse - froward, self- willed - or perverse in them. They are plain to him that understands and right to them to find knowledge. Receive my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies and all the things that may be desired are not be compared to it. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way and the froward mouth, or self-willed mouth, do I hate. Counsel is mine and sound wisdom. I am understanding. I have strength. By me king's reign and princes decree justice. By me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges the earth. I love them that love me and those that seek me early will find me. Riches and honor are with me, yes, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold. And my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance and I will fill their treasures. All of God's words are in righteousness and lead in the way of righteousness. The path of righteousness that God describes in the Bible is a path of spiritual growth and maturity. It is a path of righteousness, but if we progress on that path of righteousness we grow spiritually and we grow in maturity. Our place on the path of righteousness and our pace along it depends on how we receive the word, or words, that we hear from God. Consider some examples of receiving the word of God. or how some individuals received the word of God and their place on the path of righteousness. Ezekiel, chapter 18, verse 21, 22, and 24. If the wicked turn from all his sins that he has committed and keep all my statutes and do that which is lawful and right he will surely living shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they will not be mentioned to him. In his righteousness that he has done he will live. Here we have an example of where someone not on the path of righteousness; if they receive the word of God, do the word of God, move on to the path of righteousness. Verse 24. When the righteous turns away from his righteousness and does wickedness... Then in that situation, that person leaves the path of righteousness. We cannot turn toward the path of righteousness without turning toward God's word and receiving it. So if we're to be seekers of righteousness and truth, we need to be seekers of God's word. We cannot turn away from and leave the path of righteousness without turning away from God's word. The wicked man turned toward God's word and turned towards the path of righteousness. The righteous man, in the example, turned away from God's word, began not to do what God said to do and left the path of righteousness. We cannot stay on the path of righteousness without continuing to receive God's word. How do we receive God's word? We seek it. We don't just wait for it to find us. There are times when God will speak to us when we're just going along in our daily life. But if we want to receive God's word and walk on the path of righteousness and make progress along that path then we need to seek God's word, we need to read the Bible, we need to pray, we need to listen and seek to be sensitive to hear God's word - both as we read the Bible so God can bring what he wants us to see to our attention so we can respond to a particular word, or as we're praying and asking God to speak to us, or just opening our lives up to God and putting ourselves in a position to do whatever he tells us to do - then we need to listen and be sensitive to hear what he's telling us to do. To receive God's word in addition to seeking it and hearing it, we need to consider what it means. When we hear it we need to consider what it means. And here we don't lean to our own understanding. We seek to have God give us understanding of what it was he told us - of his word. And we need to let God's word produce understanding. A lot of times people fall into the trap of they'll read the Bible and they won't understand it and they reject it, or feel frustrated with themselves as they don't understand and they may just quit reading the Bible because they don't understand it. But God's word will produce understanding if we let it. If we receive it into our hearts, accept it as truth, and continue on and ask God to give us understanding his word will produce that fruit in us. If we fail to understand we slow or stop on the path of righteousness. We may even fall from the path of righteousness if we don't understand. We look at the example of the Pharisees. How much of what Jesus said they did not understand. They leaned to their own understanding and didn't seek God to understand what Jesus was saying or what he was doing. And any of them to ever had been on the path of righteousness fell from it. We need to consider our response to the word God. In Ezekiel we have the response of the wicked man who turned from his wickedness upon hearing the word God and did what was right, did what the word God said he needed to do. On the other hand the righteous man didn't respond very well did he? He quit doing what God said to do and did what God said not to do. Think about response of the Pharisees to what Jesus said and what Jesus did. Then on the other side you have the response of the publicans and sinners who came to Jesus, who repented of their sins, who followed him and as Mary instructed, "Whatever he says to do, do it. One of the key scriptures on telling us how to receive the word God and how we respond to the word God is Matthew, chapter 13, verses 10 through 23. Here Jesus is explaining the parable of the sower and he says.. well first the disciples came and said to him, Why do you speak to them in parables? He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Let me stop here before I go on. Those who seek it's given to know. Those who don't seek, who just wait for it to find them, may find themselves in a position where it's not given to them know. Those who seek, who seek righteousness, who seek truth, who seek God's word, who see God diligently, to them it's given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, to know God, to know and understand his word, and walk on the path of righteousness. For whosoever has to him will be given, and he will have more abundance. But whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has. For this reason I speak to them in parables; because seeing they don't see, and hearing they don't hear, and the don't understand. The difference... the seeker of righteousness and truth, the one who seeks God's word and seeks to understand it and do it, can hear the exact same word that someone else hears that isn't seeking, and see it, and hear it, and understand it. And on the other hand someone who's not seeking God's word and not seeking righteousness - not seeking God's righteousness, they may be seeking to establish their own righteousness - will hear that very same word and not see it, not hear it, and not understand it. In them fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, By hearing you will hear and will not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive. For this people's heart is waxed gross, or callous, and their ears are dull of hearing, their eyes they have closed, lest at anytime they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and would understand with there heart and be converted and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear. For verily I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see and have not seen them, and hear those things which you hear and have not heard them. Here we have people who were righteous - righteous men, prophets - men who were walking on the path of righteousness, but because of the time they lived in they didn't have the full explanation of the kingdom of God that Jesus was giving here. And that can happen. It happened in the case of these prophets and righteousness men. They saw some of it. Certainly. Isaiah saw some of it. Ezekiel saw some of it. Daniel saw some of it. But didn't get as much explanation of the kingdom of God as what Jesus was giving here. Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word the kingdom and doesn't understand it, then comes the wicked one and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This he which received seed by the wayside. So that underscores again our needing to consider what the word means. We need to consider so we understand. Because if we don't Satan comes and takes away that which was sown our heart. He that receives seed in the stony places, the same is he that hears the word and immediately with joy receives it. Yet he has no root in himself and endures only for while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended. There is a failure in considering the response. Responded immediately with joy - and God's word is joyful. Sometimes it brings sorrow because one needs to repent. But God's word is joyful. There's the joy of righteousness after one does repent and joy of returning to fellowship with God. That wicked man who left wickedness and did what was righteous - that God talked about in Ezekiel - certainly left a life of sorrow in darkness and began a life with joy - the joy of the Lord. But immediately receiving that word with joy and failing to further consider our response fails to receive the word in a way that will bear fruit. We need to consider as we consider our response that tribulation and persecution will rise because of the word. Satan will come after that word to cause it not to bear fruit. To cause you and those around you not to walk on the path of righteousness and not make progress along it for spiritual maturity and spiritual growth. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches - or trust in false riches - choke the word and he becomes unfruitful. Here again is a failure in the response. Failing to keep that word over time and to protect that word from the cares of this world and faith in riches rather than God - desire for pleasures,. desire for other things and entering in and choking that word. What do you think the prospects are for making progress along the path of righteousness if the word of God's sown in you is choked? Probably not very good. In fact the possibility of falling from that path of righteousness if the word God in you is choked is probably a lot better than making any progress on it. He that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understand it, which also bears fruit and brings forth: some an hundredfold some 60, some 30. So there is the situation where the person considers what God's word means, doesn't lean to their own understanding, let's God's word produce the understanding in their heart, considers their response, considers there response over time and respond properly over time, receives the word with joy, but endures and holds that word and endures persecution and tribulation, and holds that word and keep it in the right perspective relative to the things of this world. and stays on and continues on the path of righteousness, and the word of God brings forth fruit in them. And last in receiving - and not least in receiving God's word - we need to receive it in faith. We need to receive it as God's word and believe the scripture that tells us how to determine whether God is speaking to us or not. We need to believe in God. We need to believe in his word and we need to believe in his righteousness. We need to believe that the path of righteousness is there and that it is a path of life. We need to believe that his word will put us on and keep us on that path. The path is narrow and difficult. Few find it. Few continue on it and make progress and there are many who miss the path altogether and follow the path of unrighteousness to death. Let's pray. Father we thank and praise you for giving us righteousness through your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you for guiding our steps that we may walk on that path of righteousness. We thank you for helping give us understanding and helping guide our words that we may help others become seekers of righteousness and truth, become one who seeks your word, seeks to understand your word and to respond properly to it. We thank you that you help us help those around us to leave darkness and walk in the light and leave death and have life. We thank you in Jesus' name. Amen.