A Man of Two Questions
â€œThink over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.â€ 2 Tim 2:7
MESSAGE TO SELF:
You may be armed with an inspiring quote, found a good phrase you might use as a punch line, you might have heard a great story that is sure to â€œwowâ€ the people, you might have up to date facts and figures at your disposal that might possibly be shocking or even frightening, but certainly, enlightening; you might have a file of pithy quotes showing how the great thinkers of the church have seen the issue; yes, you may have all of this and more, but remember this, when you step into your office to study the word of God, you enter what for you is sacred space.
Of course, it may not be seen that way to others, but it has to be this way for you. There should be no discussion or debate on this. This is the time when you pour out your heart to God, pleading with Him to open up the text of the Bible to you. This is where you declare your total dependence on the Holy Spirit, even though He might use your study habits as a means to opening up your understanding. This is the place where the man becomes the man of God. Alone with God, your gaze is heavenward in heart, while your eyes peer downward at the text of the Bible in front of you.
Remember too that all of hell trembles as you enter this place. Hell fears the proclamation of the word of God as no other thing in this world. You wrestle not with flesh and blood but against hostile unseen forces seeking to distract you from your calling. Hell has no fear of a joke; of a punch line; or an insightful quote, but hell trembles when a man of God proclaims the word of God. If the devil cannot stop you in public, he will seek to win the war in private, distracting you with a million other things and a million other affections.
So knowing that there is both heavenly and hellish interest in what you do in your study, settle it forever. This is a sacred place to you. Its a place where you are unreachable (and those close to you know it) unless there is an emergency. Your phone is off. There are no earthly distractions. Outside the study, you have all the time in the world for people â€“ your family especially; but inside, you have entered, what is for you, the very holy of holies.
Your task is not complicated but amazingly simple â€“ to please the audience of One.
How exactly do you do that?
You know the answer, but let me remind you once again. Your task is not first to think of how to communicate truth; how to say it with passion, how to communicate in such a way that people can identify with it.. no, no, no, a thousand times, no. That is important. God offers no rewards for the boring preacher. Yet communication is a secondary matter. That comes later.
Your first priority is to ask (and then answer) two simple questions:
(1) What does the Bible say?
(2) What does it mean by what it says?