Going Deeper with God 00:15
Heidi Howerton: Welcome to our podcast! We’re going to spend our next few episodes talking about Going Deeper with God. As a young girl, and into college, and even into my early years of marriage, I remember reading Jame 4:8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you,” and crying out to the Lord in prayer , “Lord, I want to draw near to you, but I don’t know how to do it.” I knew as a Christian it was important to spend time reading the Bible, but I didn’t know how to do that. I knew that I needed to and I wanted to spend time in prayer, but I often questioned how to do that on a daily basis. During my time in Jani’s discipleship group two years ago, Jesus used her teachings on time in God’s Word and prayer to change my relationship with Him. Because that teaching impacted me so strongly, I asked Jani if we could spend a few podcast episodes talking about how we can draw near to God in his Word, prayer, and through scripture meditation.
Jani Ortlund: Oh yes. This is so important, isn’t it, Heidi? These next few episodes, we’re going to be talking about spending time in God’s Word, how to read and delight in the Word of God. Let me start by quoting from John 4:14 where Jesus says, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Oh, don’t you want that inside of you? I do. I remember as a young teen when a godly older woman first challenged me to spend daily time in the Word of God. When she first did, I thought daily, every day? How could I possibly find time to do that? But I am so eternally grateful that she did! And now it’s Heidi’s and my privilege and delight to challenge you as our listener.
Daily Nourishment 2:23
Jani: Have you ever spent consistent daily time in the Word of God? Feasting on, as the Psalm 36:8 says, “the abundance of his house and drinking deeply from his river of delights.” If not, I want you to ask yourself this hard question, why not? Why would you deny yourself daily meals from the Bread of Life or refreshing drinks from the spring of the water of life? We all know that if we don’t take in enough nutrients for our bodies we will eventually starve ourselves. Did you know it’s the same for your soul? Without proper spiritual nourishment, your soul will shrivel. Your emotions will become dry and brittle. Your mind and eventually your body will weaken and go places and do things you will live to regret. Is that extra 30 minutes of sleep really worth the price you would pay? I want to challenge you to daily read your Bible, but before I challenge you, I want to tell you why I value the Bible.
Jani: I think it’s a great treasure that we often take for granted, but in it are recorded the very words of the Lord God Almighty. Think of it, words. He communicates to us through words. What would your life be like without words? But we have words that He’s given us in his Word, the living Word through Jesus Christ. And He’s asking us to spend time with Him so that He can speak to us.
4 Reasons Why I Value the Bible 4:11
New Speaker: Let me share with you why I value the Bible so deeply, and why Heidi does too. There are four reasons.
1. Because God Does 4:25
Jani: The first one is I value the Bible deeply because God does. God says He uses his Word to give us life. Heidi, will you read Deuteronomy 8:3?
Heidi: I’d be happy to, “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
Jani: Every word… Ezekiel, Deuteronomy, Leviticus? Those words can be life giving to us. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” That’s what the Word of God can do as it lives within us and is active in our lives. God does indeed value the Bible. He says he stands by it. Heidi, read Proverbs 30:5.
Heidi: “Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in him,” Proverbs 30:5.
Jani: It proves true. He stands by it. God values his Word. Listen to this in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth. It shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God will stand by his word. He values it. He wants it to be revered and esteemed. Heidi, what does 2 Timothy 2:15 say?
Heidi: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.
Jani: Oh, that’s so good! We’re supposed to rightly handle it. That means we have to know it to be able to rightly handle it. He values it by making sure that it will last forever. There are a lot of things that are going to fade away, but throughout eternity, his Word will last forever. He promises us in 1 Peter 1:25 that, “the Word of the Lord remains forever.” Oh, my goodness. The first reason you and I value the Bible so deeply is because God does!
2. Because History Does 7:04
Jani: Another reason I value the Bible so deeply is because history does. For millennia, these sacred words have guided individuals, groups of people, even whole nations. Think of how many legal systems are based on the 10 commandments from Exodus 20. Think of all the people who, though they don’t read the Bible, desire to live under the governance of the golden rule. Or what about marriage? Who thought up this idea of one man and one woman becoming one flesh as long as they both shall live anyway? Who thought that up? God did. From Genesis 2 thru Revelation 19, the Bible tells us that marriage is God’s glorious creation, showing the world a tiny picture of Jesus’ sacrificial love for His bride, the Church, and her joyful response to Him throughout history. Even nations that don’t believe the Bible have followed the basic tenants that God gave us in his Word. So why do we value the Bible so deeply? First of all, because God does. Secondly, because history does.
3. Because those I respect do 8:18
Jani: A third reason we value the Bible so much is because of those whom we most respect, treasure and live it. I think of Ann Judson, one of my personal heroes, or Amy Carmichael. Oh my goodness, how she revered his Word! Or Elisabeth Elliot, she’s one of my heroes, and my own mother-in-law Anne Ortlund. I see the pattern of their lives… of knowing the Word, valuing the Bible. I want to imitate them as they imitate Christ. So I value the Bible, because God does. Because history does. Because those whom, you and I, Heidi, most respect, treasure and live it.
4. Because, through it, God has spoken to me personally. 9:04
Jani: And, personally, I value the Bible because through it, God has spoken to me. He has changed my life. God’s Words have protected me. They’ve guided me. They’ve rescued me. They’ve comforted me. How would I have made it through the sorrows and confusion of life without his Word speaking grace and pouring peace into my restless soul? His Word has never proven false to me. Psalm 119:105 puts it this way, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Jani: Heidi, have you found this true in your own life, these reasons for valuing the Bible? I know you have because you’ve talked to me about it. But can you share with us from John 6 about how God’s words can change our lives? And then maybe tell our listeners a little bit about how God’s Word has changed your life.
Heidi: I’d love to! John 6:68 says, “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'” Jani, this is so true in my life. I need God’s Word every day. I love the Bible because it’s the way that God can speak to us. It’s a way that we can hear His voice talking into our own lives. I think of John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” One way we can learn to recognize God’s voice is by reading it in the Bible. We can hear Him talk joy into our lives and give us direction. I think I would be so lost if I didn’t have God’s Word guiding me, directing me, encouraging me. Picking me up day after day.
Jani: I’ve really seen over the years that we’ve been friends, Heidi, how you’ve come to value God’s Word more and more. And, how you’ve taught your own disciples how to value his Word. That’s always an encouragement to me!
Heidi: I think it’s because I see you! You talk about the women in your own life that you look up to, and Jani, every time we spend time together I feel the Lord’s love radiate out of you! You encourage me just like you share that other women encourage you. When I see the Holy Spirit working in you, it makes me all the more eager for Him to want to work in me in the same way! It’s so helpful to surround ourselves with others that we love who spend time reading the Word of God. This lesson, especially, lights a fire in my heart to spend time with God through reading the Bible.
Jani: Oh, I’m glad! That makes me happy. Heidi, you’re very kind.
“How can I come to value the Bible?” 12:18
Jani: Maybe we can share with our listeners how they can come to value the Bible too. The Lord is allowed us to value it. But how can they? You know if I were to answer that question, I would have a two word answer. Read it. Read it. Read it! Read it daily. I mean, really read it! I think some Christians have lost their confidence in the Word of God. Instead of studying the Bible, they study books about the Bible. Now, as an author, I don’t want to discourage anyone from studying books about the Bible, but that is not a Bible study. That is a book study. There are many classes that teach principles about the Bible. Heidi, you and I have taken some of those classes. Classes like, “How to Have a Great Marriage” or “How to Raise Godly Children.” Now, these classes aren’t wrong for us to take. They are helpful. But let’s not be women who substitute classes about the Bible for our own personal daily Bible reading. We will only come to value the Bible when we read it ourselves.
Jani: My mother-in-law, Anne Ortlund, whom you hear me reference often because she was such a huge influence in my life, would say that people would often ask her for book recommendations. They’d say, “What book do you recommend for my friend who’s in grief?” Her response, “The Bible.” Or someone might ask her, “What book do you recommend for my sister who’s going through a divorce?” Again, “The Bible.” Or, “What book do you recommend for my single friend, or my newly married niece, or for my teenager who is searching for God’s will for his life, or…” You name the question. Her answer would be “The Bible.” For thousands of years, this God-breathed book has taught, corrected, completed, and equipped us. 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches us that. Through the Bible, God speaks to our every need.
Read it. Read it daily. 14:52
Jani: Please read your Bible. Read it daily. Get to know your Bible. Otherwise you will be like a child, as Ephesians 4:14 says, “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” Read your Bible. Read it daily. Accept it. Believe it. Receive it. I love how Romans 15:4 puts it. Would you read that for us, Heidi?
Heidi: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4.
Jani: We go to the Bible for hope, don’t we? We all need hope. Oh, my goodness. Read your Bible, please dear sister. Let it touch the gray areas of your heart. Think of the Word of God as 2 Peter 1:19 puts it, “a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Read your Bible. Read it. Read it daily. Let it sink down so deeply into your heart that it will flavor the atmosphere of your home and your family. Think of Deuteronomy 6, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” And, as you read it day by day, month after month on through the years, you, too, will come to value it as a treasure of inestimable worth.
Jani: Today we’ve been talking about why Heidi and I value the Bible so deeply and how you can come to value the Bible. And we’ve landed with, by reading it. In our next episodes we’re going to talk about how to do that. How to have daily time in God’s Word.
Heidi: Jani, thank you so much for sharing this lesson with us! My hope is that we would become a community of women and men that love the Bible and love to spend time in God’s word every day. And, that by doing that, year after year, we would notice on the days that we don’t spend time in God’s Word that something in our souls is missing. I love this lesson because it lights a fire in my heart for spending time in the Word of God!
Jani: Let me pray for us all Heidi. Oh Father, thank you that you let us be born in a country and in a time of history where we can learn to read. Thank you for giving us the Bible in a written form. Thank you for making it so readily available to us. No one needs to say, “But I don’t have a Bible.” Thank you for that, Lord. Now we pray for every listener and our own hearts that your Word would be more and more treasured deeply in our souls. We pray, Lord, that you would awaken within us all a deep desire to spend time with you day after day. And that through it, you would make us more like your son, Jesus Christ. In whose name we pray. Amen.