(Amos 8:11) 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
As we discovered in our last post, we can avoid a famine of hearing the word of the LORD. From Psalm 119:103-105, we understand that if God’s word becomes our only comfort and illumination, we can walk confidently hearing the word of the LORD, whether reading it or hearing it proclaimed. We also discovered that even when there is no open copy or spoken proclamation of God’s word, we can be confident the Holy Spirit will lead us by it; should it be our only comfort and illumination.
Today we will examine two more ways we must receive the word of God, in order to avoid a famine of hearing the word of the LORD.
#2 REVEALS, CONVICTS, CLEANSES
In the American church culture, we often live with a wrong mentality of the word of God, even though we claim it to be “living and active” and “God breathed” in relation to it being “inspired” by the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 3:15-17). This wrong mentality arises from a tendency to bring the word into the vernacular of the common. In this tendency, we like to make pithy statements that will stick with people and are meant to communicate what we truly believe.
One of these is the acronym B.I.B.L.E. or Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (which we market to make money at the right). Now this appears cute and a simple communication of the purpose of the Bible, but it is neither. The Bible is not basic, nor is it merely instructions, before we leave earth. God’s word is God’s complete recorded revelation to mankind.
There are other diminishing ways we receive the word of God that are damaging to receiving it as it is in truth, the word of God which effectively works in you who believe (I Thessalonians 2:13), like referring to it as “God’s love letter” to us. The point being that to communicate the meaning of the word of God in this fashion is to actually divorce it from its “living and active” and “inspired” nature. In fact it is to divorce it from who the word of God is… Jesus the Christ!
(John 1:1-5) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
(Hebrews 4:12-13) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
It is to this reality of nothing being hidden from Him, who is the word of God, that we want to settle for a moment. God’s written word, read or spoken, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit is our powerful source of revelation concerning ourselves, which convicts and cleanses our soul from sin, practically. Yet in order for this to happen, it must be diligently hidden in the heart.
(Psalms 119:9-11) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
This is perhaps once of the most forgotten realities among the general population of American Christians. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself why pulpits across this land are virtually baron, in addressing sin — or why churches no longer practice discipline in sinning members. Christians in America want basic instructions before leaving earth — they want to hear God’s love letter; but want no part of holiness without which none will see the LORD (Hebrews 12:14). Without ongoing conviction of necessary change as well as positive growth in the Christ-life, a large part of the will of God for us is left out…
(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Sanctification is not Christian behavior modification, but Christ’s resurrection life transforming us into living letters to be read by all men (Romans 8:11; II Corinthians 3:2).
#3 GOD’S WORD SUSTAINS EMPOWERS, PRODUCES FRUIT
Psalms 1:1-3 1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
Lastly we must live as though God’s word is living food from heaven indeed. We must remember that Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 in resisting the Devil’s temptation in the wilderness, as He declared… “It is written ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes from the mouth of God”.
As we find in Psalm 1:1-3, meditating on God’s word (meaning to chew it over and over for the purpose of assimilating its life into our own, like a cow chews the cud), is the only way to  avoid being sinful and ungodly and  have true success. We have already discussed the word of God and its power to sanctify and bring the resurrection life of Christ through our own, so let us consider the secret of our success.
Truly, success in the American church has to do with numeric amount, either in larger congregations, a more prosperous financial bottom line, or more favor with relationships. Quite honestly success is seen in materialist terms, almost exclusively and this vision is sold by some of the best flock fleecing preachers the world has ever seen. Or should I have said the worst flock-fleecing preachers? These shameless scoundrels promote your best life now, comfort as blessing, and amount of followers as a sign of their super “anointing”. But their gospel, where they name it and claim it and blab it and grab it from the twisting of God’s word, has muddied the water.
True success means that the life you live pleases and glorifies God — that you overcome sin, by the power of the word of God and submitting to the Holy Spirit leading your life–by loving your enemy while they persecute you — by enduring the impossible by faith in God’s word and being filled with His presence — and by growing in the fruit of the Spirit through seasons of peace and tribulation. This is the measure of biblical success and is guaranteed for the one who delights in the word of God day and night. When received in this manner the word of God sustains, empowers and produces fruit.
When Christians received the word of God, as described in these last two posts, they are well prepared to stave off any famine of hearing the word of the LORD.