Take your Bibles if you would, please; turn to Luke's Gospel, and we're gonna turn to Luke 11. And we have just begun a new series entitled Happiness Is. Last week we learned happiness is knowing the Savior. Today we're gonna learn that happiness really revolves around our living out the Word of God. And so if you would, turn to Luke 11. Let's stand together. Ushers are bringing folks in, and we're glad that each of you are here. And we're going to read this morning. If you're a guest with us, you'll find the outline for the message inside the bulletin, and if that will help you follow along, we encourage you to use that. Lots of the verses that I'm gonna quote are found right there in the bulletin. For our Scripture reading this morning we're going to read in Luke 11, and in just a moment we'll start at Verse 14, and then we'll come down to Verses 27 and 28. I do wanna remind you, next Sunday we'll continue the series. And bring a friend; we're gonna learn about how to find happiness and joy in life. We're gonna be covering a lot of great topics. We're gonna learn about contentment and forgiveness. And every time the Bible really emphasizes happiness or the blessedness of the Christian life, we're gonna go to that passage and try to learn how to apply that truth. And so today you'll see where we're headed in just a moment, but let's get a little bit of the context in Luke 11. Let's begin reading in Verse 14, and follow along; we'll go down to Verse 27 in just a moment. "And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake, and the people wondered. But some of them said, 'He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of the devils.' And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from Heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falleth.'" Notice in Verse 24, for the sake of time, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest and finding none. He sayeth, 'I will return to my house whence I came out.' And when he cometh, he findeth it is swept and garnished. Then go with he and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first." And this morning to our text, Verses 27 and 28, "And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto him, 'Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.' But he said, 'Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.'" Let's read Verse 28 together, shall we? Ready, begin. "But he said, "Yeah, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it." Let's pray together. Lord, we thank you for the great morning we're having here at Lancaster Baptist. Thank you for the victories of the first service, and the time to go to our connection groups. And now, Lord, the second service; we're so thankful that we can learn more about the source of happiness. And, Lord, the world tells us it's found in materialism and experience, but we know that the source of our happiness is found in knowing you, and in living out your Word. So teach us today more about what happiness is. And I pray and ask this in Jesus' name, amen. You may be seated.
Well, we're learning about the blessedness of the Christian life. We've learned that happiness is found in the Lord. But how many of you have noticed that when people don't apply the truths of the Lord to their life, happiness can be very evasive for them. In fact, there're some people that just seem to be never happy in their life. There's just always something wrong with them. It's either too hot, too cold, too soft, too loud. There's just always a complaint along the way. You might say to someone, "Well, it's a beautiful day." "Well, yeah, but I think the wind's gonna blow later." You know somebody like that? They're just never quite ready to settle in and enjoy the moment. I heard about a man that worked in an office where there were several very attractive ladies, and it bothered his wife very much, and she was very jealous and insecure, and very, very unhappy. And so every day when her husband would come home from work, she kind of gave him an interrogation, and in fact she would even check his suit coats. And one day she found a blonde hair, and boy, she began to accuse her husband, and she began to say things. And he was a very upright man, had a good testimony, not flirtatious at all. But his wife was very suspicious. Then he came home another day and there was a red hair, and boy, she went after him for that red hair, and she talked to him about that. And some time later, there was a black hair, and there they went again. And so he finally thought, "Here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna go get a lint brush, and before I get home every day, I'm just gonna make sure there's nothing on my coat. I'll just brush everything off with the lint brush." And so it was. He walked in the door; his wife examined that coat. She sat down in a chair, and she began to cry and bawl. And finally the husband said, "What's wrong, honey?" She said, "Don't touch me!" He said, "What's wrong?" She said, "Now you're having an affair with a bald woman!" You see, no matter what the man did, he wasn't gonna quite be able to find the opportunity to make her happy. And y'know, there are people like that in life, but that is certainly not how God has designed the Christian life. God has designed the Christian life to be a life of joy and happiness. In fact he said, "In the world, you'll have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
Now, what I have noticed in these 33 years as pastor here at Lancaster Baptist is that unhappiness, discouragement, and depression is not necessarily something that is experienced only by married people, or older people, or people that commute. It really affects every generation. Every single generation can find frustration in their life. I read recently of a 2017 report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University. They surveyed with 147 colleges, and they found that students seeking mental health has increased at 5 times the rate for their new students from 2011 to 2016. A Blue Cross/Blue Shield study published in 2018 revealed that major depression diagnosis surged by 44 percent among millennials from 2013 to 2016. And recently in a Wall Street Journal article, they labeled millennials the therapy generation. They said that today's 20- to 30-somethings are more likely to turn to therapy, and fewer and fewer of them are enjoying the happiness of life. Now, I don't say that to add baggage to the millennials; I simply say it to remind you that every generation struggles. And if you need help or counseling, go get it. But it's sad to say that this matter of happiness is very evasive to every generation represented in this auditorium today. And that is not God's will nor God's plan. So let's get a little context into the background here of Luke 11. We find Jesus Christ here teaching. He's in the Galilean region, probably around Calpurnia, and as he is standing there and teaching and casting out devils, this was a period that we might refer to as his greater Galilean ministry. It was the pinnacle of his fame, if you will, from the standpoint of people following after him and listening to him. But it also was the time in which persecution or accusation really began to rise against Jesus Christ as well. You see, the jealousy of the Pharisees was now beginning to peak. And in fact in this passage we read a moment ago, that even as he cast out the devils, some of them said, in Verse 15, "He casteth out devils through Beelzebub, the chief of devils." Now, if you ever have a time in your life when you're being criticized for your Christian faith, just imagine Jesus Christ himself being accused of only being able to do what he's doing because the Devil was empowering him. And always remember that our Lord was crucified, our Lord was criticized, and if he suffered and was persecuted, then we need to be faithful to him. If he would die for us, that we would live for him. And here we see the great persecution that he was facing. He cast out a devil, but people were criticizing and questioning how he was able to accomplish this. Well, it's interesting in the middle of all of this, as he is speaking and as he is explaining to them "a house divided against itself cannot stand," and giving other principles to illustrate why it was not a devil that was empowering him, suddenly on the scene a lady pops up, and apparently quite an emotional lady. And she's gonna make a statement, and I want you to see that statement in Verse 27. The Bible says in the last portion of Verse 27, she says, "Blessed is the womb that bare thee and the paps which thou has sucked." In other words, this woman suddenly says, y'know, "Happy is the woman that bore you, and happiness is centered around the woman that gave you birth." And it's interesting that Jesus does not simply come back to the woman, his mother, Mary, and he does not give credence to the statement that is made by this woman, who jumps onto the scene. But in fact, he goes just the other direction, away from her, and he says in Verse 28, which is our text this morning, "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it." Now, people seem to look for happiness in many different places, and this woman is saying, "Well, the woman that bare you must be very happy, and the way of happiness might be around having children, or the fact that she brought such a wonderful person into this world." And yet Jesus does not follow that line of thinking. He's going to point her, and the entire crowd, not to his mother, Mary, but he's going to point them to the very words that he was speaking, because his words are life. The Word of God brings life for each and every one of us. Someone said, "Any day that I have not contemplated Scripture and worshipped my Lord, my happiness invariably diminishes." Jesus knew that focusing on Mary would not bring happiness, but he knew that focusing on his Word, and keeping his Word, would bring blessedness or happiness. And so let's take a few moments to understand this morning how the Word of God really relates to the happiness that we will experience in the Christian life.
Let's look first of all at receiving the Word. How do people receive the Word? And we see in the passage before us this morning that people receive it in a lot of different ways. Now, reception is important. How many of you remember the time when we would either have an antenna on top of our house, or we would have the rabbit ears on top of our television, and you had to fix them just in the right direction in order to get reception? How many of you remember that? Let's date ourselves a little bit. All right, none of the millennials are raising their hands, right? They all had cable TV, right? But how many of you even remember what I remember – getting out some tinfoil and kinda working it just right? How many of you did that? Let's see, just take a poll. How many of you ever tried a hanger? Did you try a coat hanger? All right, good. So we got a lot of rednecks in this church. Just checking. All right, good. So anyways, I would do my very best, because reception mattered. And if it was my favorite football team, or if it was Leave It to Beaver, whatever it was, I wanted to be able to see it, and I wanted to make sure reception was there. And what we wanna make sure this morning is that nothing's clouding our reception. Not a friend who's gossiped to you; not a bad attitude towards someone that's in your family; not sin; not envy. We're gonna see that this morning. All of these things can cloud us from really hearing what we need to hear from the Word of God. And so let's notice how different people receive or don't receive the message of the Gospel. Notice first of all some people flat-out reject it. I mean, there are some people that reject the Word of God. I don't think anyone's here to do that. In fact, how silly it would be to just come here with the whole idea, "I don't wanna get one thing out of this guy's sermon. That's why I came. I don't want one thing out of the sermon." But that was how the Pharisees were, and the crowd in Verse 15. They said, "He casteth out devils through Beelzebub." They completely rejected what Jesus Christ was doing. They rejected his word. Jesus said in John Chapter 12, in Verse 47, "If any man hear my words and believe not, I judge him not. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him. The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." In other words, Jesus said, "I didn't really come to judge you, but if you reject my Word, there will be one that will judge you in the last day." It's vitally important that we would receive the Word of God. Now, we live in a day where the Bible's rejected just completely in certain countries. For example, I think of Iran. It's against the law to witness for Christ. It's against the law to preach the Bible. I think of China, the recent crack-down on Christians, where they have literally bulldozed churches, burned crosses, told people to stop assembly and worship. They're very paranoid about the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think of Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke just in the last few days on television. He was being asked, he said, "If you became president and a church would not marry two men, what would you do?" He said, "I would revoke their tax-exempt status." He said, "We need to punish these churches that will not go along with our belief in this particular area."
And I believe that we're seeing a growing animus toward the faith and toward the Word of God. And some that would just say, "Look-it, I don't wanna hear it. I don't wanna hear the whole counsel of God's Word. And if you're gonna preach it, then we're gonna try to deal with you." So we see it in China; we didn't think we'd see it in America, but we're beginning to sense it here in America. And I said earlier, Iran. And I read not long ago about a man in Iran who was imprisoned by the Guardian Council of Iran. He was sentenced to three months for simply selling a Bible in his bookstore. Now, I think all of us would say, y'know, that's terrible that an entire nation would have a law against God's Word. I think that's terrible that China would close a church, or terrible that even in America there would be a politician that would somehow try to punish a church that doesn't believe like he believes, a church that wants to obey the Bible. And all of us would say that's bad, when a country would take a position like that. But the question this morning is not necessarily or primarily how is the Bible being received in Iran or China; the question is, how is the reception in your heart? I mean, how's reception going? Are you readily and daily hearing from the Lord? Are you receiving his Word? Some people reject it. Other people, secondly, are confused about the Bible. Certainly this woman was confused. She said, y'know, "Blessed is the woman that brought you into the world. That's the one that's really blessed here, is the one that brought you in." And let me tell you, there's something wonderful about motherhood. There's something wonderful about the family. We thank the Lord for that. But this woman is placing emphasis on Mary, and we see that many do that. They place emphasis either on the family, or place emphasis in this case on Mary. We know that that has come to a complete realm of heresy over the centuries of people who literally pray to Mary, and they seek the blessing of Mary, and so forth. A few weeks ago we were on the Journeys of Paul tour, and we stopped in Athens. And we viewed some of the various sites there, and I actually preached a message from Mars Hill, from Acts, Chapter 17. And as you stand on Mars Hill, which is just kind of an outcropping of rock, up above you is what is called the Acropolis in Athens, and there you have the Parthenon, and you have this little temple to Athena. And it was very interesting to see the temple, and they told us that the Athenians worshipped the virgin goddess Athena. And they explained to us the pagan aspects of that, and the Roman god of Zeus, and how these gods that they worshipped are the figments of really their imaginations – their wicked imaginations. And Paul the Apostle said, "I perceive that you are far too superstitious. You have way too many gods." But one of the things the guide said to me that just struck my attention, he said, "Of course," he said, "after the third century, the Roman Catholic church began to come into place. And so instead of worshipping the goddess Athena, we just began worshipping the Virgin Mary." In other words, how quickly and carefully paganism and so-called Christianity melded in together. Now, let me just quickly say that Bible Christianity has never involved worshipping or praying to Mary. It was conveniently brought in from paganism, but this was never God's will. There's never one time in the Bible where we're commanded to pray to the saints, or to pray to Mary. We are to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ. And "Our Father which art in heaven," we pray to the Father through the Son. But here this woman places emphasis on Mary, and on the blessedness of birth. But Jesus takes the attention from that immediately. Y'know, in Mark 7:6, it says, "He answered and said to them, "Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, "This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." There are many people who give credence to Jesus, but they do not know him. And so here we see the confusion that had come into this woman's mind. Very emotional outburst, but not on the right target. How many of you know that worship is not enough, we need to worship the right person? And the right person is the Lord Jesus Christ. And so we see some people reject. Some people are confused about the object of their worship, and then some people will receive the Word of God. Jesus says, "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it."
Now, turn in your Bible if you would for just a moment to 1 Thessalonians 2:13, and I want you to see a wonderful illustration of a church that truly received the Word of God the way it should be received. Notice in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 it says, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing. Because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." Now, the Thessalonican church was a noble church. They were a wonderful church of influence. Why? Because they received the Word of God. Not as the word of men; it wasn't up for debate. They received it as it was, the very Word of God. And my friend, when we come into this church house on Sunday morning, Sunday night, or Wednesday night, we ought to be here fundamentally to hear the Word of God. We ought to be able to look past what somebody's wearing, or some person in the choir. It ought to be as though you pray, "Lord, let this be as though it was just pastor preaching to me, and if his silly jokes get in the way, then take those out of the way, 'cause all I really wanna hear, God, is what you have to say to me. I wanna know what the Bible says." And this church at Thessalonica, they received the Word of God. And friends, we've got to come here willing to put everything else out of our mind and hear what the Bible has to say. We must hear it as the church at Thessalonica. We need to hear it personally. Notice in your notes 1 Peter 2:1, "Wherefore, laying aside all malice and guile and hypocrisies and envies and evil speakings, as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby." Now, notice that in Verse 1, "Laying aside malice and guile and hypocrisies." Now, you look right here, and I want you to understand this very clearly. Even as there's static on the television, Satan's gonna try to throw things in front of the picture. He's gonna try to confuse you so that you don't hear the Word of God. It may be something on your Facebook or something on your internet. It may be something in your heart. But God says we need to lay aside all the hypocrisy and the malice, and all of the things that would keep us from really focusing on what God's Word says. Why? Because we need the milk of the Word of God. And we need the meat of the Word of God. Every one of us must have it. We need to hear it personally. And then we need to sometimes hear it publicly. Notice if you would in your notes there, in Nehemiah Chapter 8. I love this passage. Toward the end of the building of the wall, it says, "So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense." Would you say that phrase with me? "And – "
Response: "…gave the sense."
That's what I'm trying to do right now. I'm trying to give the sense of it to you. Trying to help you understand where Jesus was, and what he was teaching, and what was the point he was trying to drive home the truth about. And he gave the sense, and it caused them to understand the reading. This is why we come to church. How tragic that some people would attend a church where the Bible's never opened, where the Bible's never expounded upon. We need to hear the Word of God. It's the key to our life and happiness. I was some time ago visiting in Scotland and had the opportunity to visit the Glasgow Cathedral. And as you walk into this cathedral, it's amazing. The first thing outside you'll see is the statue to David Livingstone. David Livingstone was born not far from this place. He was the renowned missionary to Africa. He was a very faithful preacher of the Gospel. He made many of the maps into the heart of Africa. And so there's kind of a museum and a statue commemorating David Livingstone. A lot of famous things about the Glasgow Cathedral. Y'know, don't have time to go through all of them, but just a few of them. The organ was amazing, when you walked in – pipes that were 30 and 40 feet tall – and this massive building that would hold thousands of people. And then of course someone showed us the chair where the queen sat when she comes to the church every year or so, and this is where the queen sits, and that's something that they were showing. But the thing that is most important about this cathedral is not the rafters; it's not the organ; it's not the square footage. The most important thing is the Word of God. And they showed us the Bible that they had for 400 years in this church, a King James Bible. And we stood there looking at it, and then I looked a little closer at the paper just above, and I began to read. And it talked about the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible. And then a few sentences down it talked about the reader of the Bible. The reader would read to the congregation, most of whom were illiterate, for up to an hour before the minister began the sermon. Now, I'm just bringing to your attention that as the Word of God began to kindle in Europe, as Reformation fires were burning, as they began to realize, "Hey, it's not about what some priest says. It's not about what some church says. Hey, I wanna know what does the Bible say?" And the Bible was now being printed, and revival fires were now flaming. And the people, though many of them could not read, were so hungry for the Word of God that when they would come into these churches that for one hour they would simply read it. Now, I view you as a wonderful, Godly congregation. But I'm gonna tell you something that I know, because there would be people trying to leave here before I even get to the invitation this morning. And the funny thing about that is if I quit at five to 12:00 or ten after 12:00 – well, just figure it out mathematically. I mean, I could just preach a little longer. You'd still leave a little early, but just get out later. So let's work together and get out early. If that made sense to you.
But here's where I'm going with that. If I were to stand up this morning, and before we had the choir – If I would have stood up here and just read the Bible for an hour, and then said, "Now we've read the Bible. Now we're gonna hear the choir, we're gonna have the offering, we have the special music, and then I'm gonna preach," a good portion of this crowd right here would be slipping out. You'd say, "I do an hour, but I'm not doing more than an hour." Where's our hunger for the Word of God? You see, the fact is that these people wanted to know what the Bible said. They don't read the Bible for an hour any longer in the United Kingdom. I think the assumption was at some point – maybe in the 1700s, I don't know when this started – but at some point they said, "Well, they'll read it for an hour at home. Surely they'll read it for an hour at home, so we don't need to read it for an hour at church anymore." Now, if that was the assumption, would that be a fair assumption, that we would each of us read the Bible, say, 15, 20 minutes a day this week? Would that be a fair assumption? But they read the Bible for an hour. They received it. They wanted to know what the Bible says. A friend of mine has a church in Manila, and on the side of that church is a huge sign. (It's actually in Cebu City.) It says, "What the Bible Says." And you can tell the taxi driver, "Take me to a church that will tell me what the Bible says," and they know exactly what church to go to. It's the Bible Baptist Church. It will tell you what the Bible says. Folks, that's what we wanna know this morning – what does the Bible say? Some people reject it. Some people were confused. But then Jesus said we need to receive it, and not only that, he said we need to keep it in our heart. Notice that in Verse 28. He said, "Who hear the Word of God and keep it." Proverbs 3:13: "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and that getteth understanding." We've got to keep the Word of God. So there is the receiving of the Word. Once I receive the Word of God, notice secondly there must be the reflecting of the Word of God. The reflecting of the Word of God. Now, to understand how the Word of God reflects to us and speaks to us, notice if you would in James Chapter 1 in Verse 22 of our notes this morning, James 1:22. Let's read this. Follow with me. "But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves: for if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straight away forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." Now, notice that phrase in Verse 25, "whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty." The law of liberty speaks of the Bible. Some people today say, "Well, I'm under grace. I don't care about the law and the statutes. But the Bible says the law is perfect, and the statutes bring joy to our hearts, and God says we're to look to the perfect law of liberty. I realize that some of the ceremonial laws are not applicable in this age of grace, but the Bible is still the inspired Word of God. And we're to look into the perfect law of liberty, and what it shows us here is that the Bible is like a mirror, and that we're to look to the mirror of God's Word, and then let God make the adjustments or changes that he would make as he reveals his will to us. Now, most of us this morning looked in some kind of a mirror. We got up, most of the fellows looked in the mirror and said, "Hey, hey, looking good," and then they just left. That's what fellows do. Maybe they shaved; maybe they fixed a few things. Ladies spend a little longer time in the mirror. But if you were to get in front of that mirror, and you were to say, "Wow, that's a mess;" and if you were to say – I can't use the illustration; I don't have enough hair – but if you were to have a lot of hair, and you were to say, "My hair is really messed up," or "Oh, man, my beard is terrible;" or the ladies would say, "Oh, I need to put on some makeup;" but if you were to look at that and then do nothing, we'd probably see the result of that. And if all you do is come in here preaching, or if all you do is read the Bible and do nothing, pretty soon we're gonna see the result of that in our life. We're gonna see the destructiveness of that. We're gonna see the lack of joy as the result of not really spending time. So notice a few key words here. First we are to look. The Bible says in Verse 25, "whoso looketh." This means to investigate. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Study to show thyself approved unto God." Spend time getting into the Word of God, knowing the Word of God. It's amazing how many people are so emotionally moved with a song, or with a relationship, but not by the Word itself. God wants us to be moved by his very words. I gave you several ways that I would encourage you – Let me just encourage you first of all, be sure to read the Bible every day. Now, that's very basic. Every one of our new members, we give you a Bible reading schedule. Many of you receive the little e-mail devotional called Daily in the Word, and over 40,000 people get that every day. But if people across the country are getting it, that's wonderful, but all of us should get it. And on the bottom is our daily Bible reading schedule. And it's not a contest. You might not read as fast as someone else, but taking time each morning. Secondly, of course, hear the preached Word of God. We wanna take time to hear the Word of God as it is preached. And around here we have Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night opportunities to come, to learn, doctrinally to be challenged, and to be edified and built up from the Word of God, to be encouraged. And then we have the teaching of the Word.
What a ministry we have with our connection groups, and many, many of you are already part of a connection group. And sometimes there's a little fellowship, maybe a doughnut and some coffee, whatever, but then there's a lesson to help with marriage, or child rearing, or to help someone in their burden bearing of life. And then of course we have a discipleship ministry on Wednesday nights for those that have never been discipled. Fifteen lessons that you can go through basic beliefs and doctrines of the Word of God. And you can have other times of Bible study that God may open up for you. You can audit a class here at West Coast Baptist College. Some of you were saved later in life and you're making up some ground. But I just wanna say God's will is that we would be looking into the perfect law of liberty, that the Bible would not be some unwanted appendage, or some, "Oh, yeah, there it is." But that it would be a part of our life, that we would fine joy from the very Word of God. We're to look in the Word of God. Secondly we're to labor in the Word of God. Verse 25 says, "whoso looketh," and then it says, "and continueth therein." To stay faithful in the Word of God. Randy Alcorn said, "There's no place we can go to hear God speak authoritatively, to hear his voice with the complete confidence other than the Bible itself." God wants us to focus on his Word. There's the receiving of the Word, and then once we receive it, we can begin to reflect, the Word of God reflected through our life. And then notice thirdly we have the rejoicing in the Word. Now, notice what Jesus says is Verse 28 as we close. "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it." Now, the word blessed means happy or joyful. God says there is joy in hearing the Word of God. There is joy in receiving and reflecting the Word of God. Philippians 2:16 says, "Holding forth the Word of Life that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain." Now, let me tell you something about people who are blessed. When the Bible says, "Blessed is the man that heareth the Word of God," it speaks first of all of the fact that people are encouraged. You're gonna be encouraged by the Word of God. You say, "But sometimes it convicts me of my sin." Hey, when you repent of that sin, you're encouraged in your heart. The Bible's going to encourage you along the way. Notice Psalm 19:8, "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes."
Notice that phrase, "rejoicing the heart." You see, we don't need to run from the statutes. The Bible says they're gonna rejoice our heart. The Psalms in particular truly lift our heart and encourage our heart in times of trial and difficulty. And when the Bible is prevalent in our heart, there's gonna be joy unspeakable and full of glory. I like to study the history of revivals, and one of my favorite revivals to study is the Welsh revival, 1904, 1905. Some amazing things happened in Wales. There's one particular town called Ros. Actually it has about 27 letters in the name of the town, but all I could remember are the first three, R-O-S. And as I was reading about that town of 10,000, history records that in 1904 and 1905, eight thousand out of the 10,000 people in that city accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. How many of you would say that was a revival? People's lives were changed. The men who worked in the mines would go to church in the morning before work. They would come to church after work. They would stay in there and sing, and hear preaching, sometimes until midnight. There was a hunger for the Word of God. One little girl told her friend, she lived a few miles away, she said, "We're gonna go to Ros. Mommy and Daddy are gonna take us to Ros." And her friend say, "Why are you going there?" And she said, "Because every day is Sunday at Ros." Meaning every day they worship Jesus. Every day they were happy. How many of you would say that'd be a wonderful thing if every day was Sunday, amen? Every day. But one of the greatest indicators of the Welsh revival was the fact that by about 1905, as the revival had really culminated in many different cities, many thousands of people being saved, over 100,000 people being saved, that they literally had to take the mules that had gone down into the coal mines and that brought supplies to the coal mines, and they literally had to retire an entire generation of mules and train new mules because the drivers now who were saved, they had completely been filled with the joy of the Lord. No longer did they curse when they were commanding the mules what to do. The mules didn't know what to do, because they were being treated so nicely and there was such new language. And so they had to let all those mules retire and bring in a whole generation of new mules because revival had come to Wales. And I tell you, wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if the joy of the Lord came into your heart so that your children would say, "I don't know what happened to Mommy and Daddy at church," and "Ever since the Bible's been read by Mommy and Daddy, and now that the Bible's always there on the kitchen table, and now that Mommy and Daddy are so immersed in the Word of God, they don't curse at us anymore, and there's a joy anymore, and there's no anger anymore in our home." That's the result of getting into the Word of God, you see. The heart will rejoice from the Word of God. There's an encouraged people, and there is a happy people. Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God, that God's work is happening in our lives. Notice what Jesus said in John 13:17, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if you do them." Happy are ye if you do them. Let's say that together. Happy –
Response: "…are ye if ye do them."
Someone says, "Well, I don't just need a bunch of lists of things to do." Oh? Let me ask you this. Would you let your five year-old play in the middle of the street? You might love them enough to not want them to do that. God's Word will help you to avoid sorrow. God's Word will help you to know joy each and every day. The Bible says in Psalm 119:111, "Thy testimonies have I taken as inheritance forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart." Let's say that together. "For they – "
Response: "…are the rejoicing of my heart."
How about this book? Is it the rejoicing of your heart? I mean, more than the Lakers, more than the Dodgers, though they broke your heart a few days ago. Seriously. How's the reception? Are you receiving God's Word like you should? Because all of this world's pleasure is temporal, but God's Word will never fail. Tom Brady was being interviewed a few years ago on 60 Minutes. He wasn't real happy in the interview, and he began to sort of think through some things, and at that point he'd won three Super Bowls. He said, "Why do you think I have three Super Bowl rings, and still I feel like there's something else I'm missing?" I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, "Hey, man, that's where it's at. You reached your dream, your goals in life." But me, I think, "There's gotta be more than this." And there is. You see, having a multi-million-dollar contract, having ten Super Bowl rings, having all the things of this world, there's still gonna be a void in a man's heart. Because within every man's heart there is a need that only Jesus can fill. That need is the need of a Savior. God knows what you need, and God knows what I need, and that's why he sent his son Jesus Christ, the perfectly sinless Son of God, to die upon the cross, to shed his blood, so that our sins could be forgiven. And when we receive Christ as our Savior, there's a joy in knowing our sins are forgiven, that we have a home in Heaven. But the way to continue walking in that joy, the way to keep walking in the joy of the Lord, is to walk in his Word and to live it out, each and every day. "Blessed are they that hear my Word and keep it." May we be that kind of a church where the reception is clear, where God is speaking, we're listening, and we're living out the Word of God in our daily lives.
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