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 (A New Life in Christ)
Week 3: Applying God’s Word
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Week 3: Applying God’s Word

In the Bible, there’s a written account of a eunuch who applied God’s Word as soon as he heard it. He was an official of the queen of Ethiopia, and he held a position like that of a present-day finance minister. The story unfolds when the official was on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem. Travelling on desert road in his chariot, the official spent the time studying God’s Word. But there was a small passage he couldn’t understand.

Philip, a disciple of the Lord Jesus, was sent to minister to him. Philip noticed the official was reading from the prophet Isaiah and he asked the official if he understood (Acts 8:26-39). The official confided he needed help, and he invited Philip to join him in the chariot.

It so happened that the scripture the official had trouble understanding was none other than that about Jesus. Philip told him that the passage was about Jesus who had come from God to this world, where, when he was 33 years old, he died a slow and painful death on the cross. Coming from a culture where animals were sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins, the official understood that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Philip explained that Jesus’ blood opened a fountain to cleanse man’s sins and lead him to salvation; and that this cleansing power was available to the official through the sacrament of water baptism.

And this is how the Bible records this official’s reaction. “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36).

As you can guess, the official was baptized immediately. This is just one example about a person applying God’s Word as soon as he heard it. Having been baptized, you too share a similar testimony. In this lesson, we shall study the importance of applying God’s Word.

Some Basic Principles

Be Humble.

The virtue that stands out the most in the above example is the man’s humility. Though a high-ranking official with a great deal of power in the queen’s court, he was not offended when Philip appeared out of no where and asked if he knew what he was reading. Instead, he listened to a complete stranger. In the process, the official received the gift of eternal life. It is as promised in Psalm 147:6, “The Lord lifts up the humble.”

Look, Listen and Learn.

The official’s position in the queen’s court tells you that he was a man of many years. That the queen trusted him with all her wealth also tells you that he was someone who was admired and respected in that nation. You would not be mistaken if you also imagined that in this powerful position, many people answered to him. He probably could do no wrong. Yet, this official understood that there were some areas of life where even he needed help, and he was not afraid to ask for it. It is written, “A wise man will hear and increase learning” (Prov 1: 5).

Act On It Now.

The official responded to God’s Word with a sense of urgency. When he saw water, he seized the opportunity to be baptized. Being the official who had charge of the queen’s treasury, this man knew the buying power of money. But after listening to Philip, the official understood that no money could ever buy the gift of salvation. He also understood the essence of time. No amount of money could buy that either. Says the scripture, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near” (Is 55:6).

Suggested Guidelines

Be Familiar with the Bible.

The Ethiopian official was a man who studied God’s Word whenever and wherever he could. Because of this, he understood the big picture of God’s Word. So on this day, after Philip explained the meaning of a small passage that he had been puzzling over, everything the official had ever read now came together and made sense. Applying God’s Word immediately, then, was the natural thing for him to do.

Make a Conscious Effort.

From the beginning of time, man’s struggle to apply God’s Word has remained an ever-present everyday challenge. The psalmist, a man who knew his own weaknesses and understood the power of God’s Word reflected: “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Here we see the psalmist talking about his problem and thinking about applying God’s Word. But he didn’t stop there. In the next 2 verses, we actually see him making a conscious effort. He prayed, “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” (Ps119:9-11).

Pray for Understanding.

 “Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (Ps 119:34). The presence or absence of understanding is often why we do or do not do something. For example, when a preschooler understands why he must not rush out into the street to get to the other side, he will wait for his parents to hold him by the hand and walk him over. By the same token, when we understand why we must not do the things that we wish, then, we shall be more likely to pray for God to give us the strength and the courage to do the right thing.

Rely on the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be surprised if, at first, you find that, more often than not, “you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. ). You are not alone because this is a common struggle for every believer, no matter how long ago or how recent he/she has been baptized. But we can hope for improvement. Before Jesus was taken away from his disciples, he promised them that God would send the Holy Spirit to help them. The Lord said, “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn ). Today’s believers can count on that promise, as well. Even so, we must not let our guard down. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).

Write down other guidelines that have worked for you.

Write down new ideas that could work for you.

Questions

1.      List at least 3 principles that will be helpful when you are applying God’s Word in your walk of faith.

2.      Memorize Psalm 147:6 and write it down.

3.      How was the eunuch a humble man?

4.      Read Prov 1:5. What characterizes a wise man according to this verse?

5.      The eunuch responded to Philip’s message with a sense of urgency. Why must we do likewise when we hear God’s Word today?

6.      The eunuch was able to make sense of Philip’s explanation so quickly because he was familiar with the Scriptures. T/F

7.      How can you hide God’s Word in your heart? From the time we wake up until the time we fall asleep, who can we rely on to help us remember to do the right thing?

8.      Why did the psalmist pray for understanding?

9.      As disciples of Jesus, we believe that he made the ultimate sacrifice and died so that we may have eternal life. Therefore, we can do no less than learn to apply God’s Word in every area of our daily lives. T/F

Case Studies

1.      Julie was recently baptized and has been studying the Bible voraciously ever since her baptism. In just a few short months she has already almost finished reading the whole Bible twice. During the lunch break, after the Sabbath church service, Julie tells the pastor that she has gotten so much out of the Bible. She excitedly relates to the pastor all the joy she has received from reading God’s word and listening to sermons. Julie then tells Tom, “You know, I almost read one book of the Bible a day. I especially love to read the gospel books. My favorite book of all is Matthew. Jesus’ teachings are so good to read. And I always put what I learn from the Bible into practice.” Amanda, who is listening to the conversation, blurts, “So you must think you’re pretty smart, right? I mean you sound like you’re ready to go on the pulpit and preach a sermon.” Julie then gives Amanda a dirty look and says, “Are you trying to be rude or are you just born that way?” Amanda just returns Julie’s dirty look and walks away. After the service, Julie rushes home extremely unhappy. She vows she’ll never talk to Amanda again. In fact, Julie thinks about the many avenues of revenge available to her. Before Julie goes to bed that night, she reads a large section of the Bible as usual. During her Bible reading, she comes across a passage she read a few times before: Matthew 18:21-35. The passage talks about Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness. The verse really touches Julie because she relates the passage to her argument with Amanda. At the same time, she starts to think about the day’s argument and thinks angrily, “Why is Amanda so insensitive to other people? I can’t stand her! But Jesus says I need to forgive her. But Jesus probably meant forgive only good brothers and sisters. I don’t think Jesus cares if I’m angry with a rude person like Amanda. I’ll get her back for what she did.” What’s wrong with this picture? What advice would you give Julie on applying God’s word?

2.      Gary, who has been baptized for about a year now, confides to Bill, his close friend in church. He tells Bill, “After I got baptized, I was so excited about my new faith. I wanted to read the whole Bible in a month. And pray for hours every day. I really had a strong desire to seek after God. I would be so deeply moved by the passages I read in the Bible that I would try to put everything I learned into practice. But I don’t know what’s happened. Now, I cannot relate at all. When I listen to the preacher, it all seems so dead to me.” Bill, feeling very concerned asks, “Well, what do you do with your free time?” Gary replies, “Oh, I’ve been watching these videos I tape so I can keep up with the story line of the most popular TV show. My roommate sometimes asks if I want to pray with him. He’s so rude. He likes to do that when I’m in the middle of a good story.” What do you think is Gary’s problem? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, and how have you overcome?

Activity

1.      Make a short list of some of the important virtues found in the Bible (e.g., humility, gentleness, mercy, love, self-control, etc.). Now try to find the polar-opposite vices for each virtue on your list (e.g., pride, rudeness, vengefulness, hate, lust, etc.). Now pick a virtue or a vice you feel you could most improve upon. Find about ten verses/stories that are on point to the virtue or vice you picked, then study what the Bible teaches in those verses/stories. Write or print out the verses, in whole, or the stories, in outline form (a concordance may be useful to find the verses or relevant stories). If possible, commit the verses/stories to memory. The most important thing to remember is the teachings found in the verses/stories. Now, over a period of time, evaluate yourself on whether you have improved upon your chosen virtue or vice. Whenever you encounter a challenging situation that calls for application of your virtue (or the defeating of your vice), try to mentally run through all ten or so verses/stories as an activity in Bible application.

 

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Publisher: True Jesus Church
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