Practicing the Principles of Study Part 1
Sermon Summary
This message looks at portions of Psalm 119 to discover principles for studying God’s Word. Reading the Bible is a wonderful thing, but studying the Bible allows God time to speak greater meaning and application into your life! The first step in the discipline of study is to desire to know the wisdom, insight and understanding which come from God’s Word! Second, a person must dedicate the time needed to meditate on what he or she just read! Once we understand the truth God is speaking to our hearts, we should put it into practice through obedience. The benefits of study far outweigh anything you give up in exchange!

Small Group Discussion Guide
1. About how many printed copies of the Bible do you have in your home? Now add your digital copies. Don’t answer this part out loud! How many times did you open one of these copies this week?

2. If we realized how beneficial it is to study God’s Word we would probably read it and study it more often. What are some of the hindrances to Bible study in your own life?
Psa 119:16  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.
Psa 119:17  Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.
Psa 119:18  Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

3. The Psalmist said that his study of God’s Word gave him wisdom, insight and understanding. While this is certainly true when it comes to spiritual things, how might a study of God’s Word help us have wisdom, insight, and understanding in other areas of our lives? {work, school, home and in relationships with others) Here’s an example of God’s Word. Read it and see how these verses might help you answer the question.
Prov 26:28  A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
Prov 27:1  Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.
Prov 27:2  Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
Prov 27:3  Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but provocation by a fool is heavier than both.
Prov 27:4  Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?
Prov 27:5  Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Prov 27:6  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

4. If we read and even study Scripture, but do not put it into practice we deceive ourselves if we think God is pleased. You might be inclined to say, “but it’s a sacrifice to set aside time and read my Bible!”  The Prophet Samuel told this to King Saul...1 Sam 15:22  But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” Why do people who know the right thing to do, sometimes opt to do the opposite? What is the remedy for this?
Psa 119:129  Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
Psa 119:130  The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Psa 119:131  I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
Psa 119:132  Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
Psa 119:133  Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.


Full Sermon Notes
Practicing the Principles of Study Part 1
Psalm 119: 97-105
Part 1

Today's message will be guided by nine verses taken from a Psalm which has 176 verses. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Book of Psalms. The whole Psalm is amazing. The Psalms are songs. Psalm 119, would be considered a "Jam Session" on the Word of God!! It's amazing!

The Psalmist uses ten words that describe the Word of God nearly 200 times in these 176 verses. Only verse 122 does not contain one of these ten words. Here they are...

Torah, "Instruction"
Dabar, "Words"
'Edut, "Precept"
Mishpat, "Law"

Mitswah, "Commandment"
Choq, "Statute"
Piqqud, "Order"
'Imrah, "Utterance"

Derek, "Way"
Orach, "Path"

I know I'm personally in great need of understanding God's instructions, His Words, His precepts, His laws, His commandments, His order, His utterances, His ways, His path! I don't believe I'm alone in this great need for God's Word! In fact, our world is in desperate need to hear, understand and practice these most important truths from God! Let's pray and ask God to teach us how to study His Word and why we need to study His Word! PRAY!!
What is the Bible? The Bible is God's written revelation to Human kind. The 66 books of the Bible were given to us by God through 40 human authors over a time period of approximately 1,600 years!  Even though God used human writers, His inspiration of those writers means God is the author!
Dr. Henrietta C. Mears put it this way...

"Behind and beneath the Bible, above and beyond the Bible, is the God of the Bible."

As I shared with you last week, we can know some things about God by just looking at His marvelous and amazing creation. However, God wanted us to know more! He wanted us to understand more! He wanted us to not just know about Him, but to know Him …… personally. This is why God gave us a written revelation. In this revelation we see the history of God's dealings with humankind. We see His guiding principles for humankind. We see His will for humankind. We see His plans for humankind. We see His love for humankind. Remember a few weeks ago, I told you that worship is the love language that allows a mere human being to enter into the presence of an Almighty God! The Bible, is God's love letter to each of us. It reveals the heart of God towards His children. It shows us the great lengths He would go to in order to forgive us, redeem us, and save us! We'll be talking about that in just a few weeks on Palm Sunday and then on Easter Sunday. Last week we talked about how prayer is our personal communication line to God. The Word of God is in essence, the major way God responds back to us. And I can tell you this for sure…the Bible is the standard, the guide, by which we determine the authenticity of any spiritual communication.

If you think God has spoken a message to you through someone else, through a book, through a song, or just in your thoughts and feelings, if it contradicts or goes against the principles and standards in this Holy, revealed truth of God, then it is not a message from God! Plain and simple.
"But I feel so strong this way or that way!!"
It's not about feelings. That's one of the reasons God has given us His written Word. He knows our feelings can lie to us and deceive us. That's why we have this spiritual standard. Did you know there is a bureau of weights and measures in Washington D.C. That's right. They set the standard for what an inch actually is and what a pound actually is, and such things as this...

"to measure, calculate, critically compile, and disseminate reference data on atomic structure and fundamental constants in support of basic research, commercial development, and national priorities."

Why would I even mention such things in a sermon? If it is so important that we have standards in the physical realm, how in the world do we think we can survive spiritually without a standard to follow? We can't and we aren't. Our world is sick and hurting and lost and wondering! We need a standard!  And please remember God's Word is not just a set of do's and don'ts or legalistic jumbo. God's Word is a love letter from God to humanity written in hopes of bettering our lives and our eternity! God does have laws and standards, but they're meant to help us not hurt us!

If we're going to take advantage of the truths in this wonderful book of books, we must not only read it, we must study it!  Anybody here today who would like to be wiser than your enemies? Anybody here who would like to have more insight than all your teachers? Anybody here today who would like to have more understanding than your elders who have so many years of life experience you don't have?

There's only one place you can go to get that kind of wisdom, knowledge, and insight. These things are found only in The Word of God as revealed in The Holy Scriptures, and are only found when we are willing to study the Word! Let's look at the principles of studying God's Word we must understand and practice if we are to experience the amazing benefits of that study! Let's read our nine verses and then we'll look for the principles contained in them.

97 Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
102 I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Now let's see what principles we can find in these words from the Psalmist!

97Oh, how I love your law!

Principle #1
You must yearn to learn!

97Oh, how I love your law...

If you don't want it you won't get it! If you don't care to know God's wisdom, His truth, His will, then you won't care to study His Word! People read what they want to read, watch what they want to watch, learn what they want to learn, study what they desire to study. Without a motive to know your Bible your Bible will be neglected and left unopened.
Barna Research reports there are 4.4 Bibles per household in the U.S. 66% of those surveyed agreed the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, however….

58% say they don't personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible and about the same amount (57%) read it fewer than five times per year.

Info taken from American Bible Society Web site…AmericanBible.org

So the most important factor for Bible Study is the motive or desire to study God's Word!
The Psalmist prays these words in verses 36 & 37 of Psalm 119…

36Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.

37Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Principle #2
Don't just read, meditate!  

97Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.

It's just like prayer. We are to pray without ceasing. That simply means we are to always be in an attitude of prayer and in acknowledgement of God's presence with us! The same thing is true of study. As I told you last week, God's Word is the main way God communicates with us! Because of this we we should be in a constant awareness of His Words to us. Meditating on God's Word can be done all the time and everywhere! Trust me, it won't be a distraction in your life, it will be a source of wisdom, a source of strength, a source of peace, and a source of light.

meditate |ˈmedəˌtāt| verb
think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time...

To many people thing meditation is the property of Eastern Religions. It is not! Men of God in the Old Testament, like Isaac, Joshua, the sons of Korah, Asaph, and King David spoke of meditation. The goal of some modern day eastern style meditation is to empty the mind. The goal of Christian meditation is to fill the mind with God's Word, His presence, His peace, His wisdom! Ok, so how do I learn to meditate? When you read God's Word, stop to think about what you just read! Ask God to teach you and to help you understand what you are reading. You may read a whole chapter, but then go back and pick one or two verses and ask yourself some questions. Like: What did this mean to the people it was originally written to? How would this apply to my life, my situation?

Take one of the ideas or principles from what you've read and write it down on a sticky note or on you smart phone. Take it with you and when you get a moment during the day, think about it, pray about it. and if it is something to do, do it! Let me give you an example. Hebrews 4:15-16

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin.
16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So I think about these two verses. I realize I'm not the first person to face temptation. It's been around since Adam and Eve! I read that Jesus is our High Priest and He sympathizes with our weakness. He never sinned, but temptation was no easy thing. He knows we are weak and He cares! Knowing Jesus sympathizes with me, it gives me confidence to approach God's throne. And by the way, these two little verses tell me the throne of God is a throne of Grace!! These two little verses tell me I'm going to receive mercy and will find grace to help me in my time of need.

Anybody here agree with me that knowing these things will make a big difference in your attitude and my life? I could preach a whole sermon on these two verses. But I just wanted to use them to show you how you can benefit from the principle of study called meditation!

Principle #3
God's Word will make you wise, give you insight and help you understand things!
 

98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.

Wisdom comes from study and is based on the knowledge gained in that study, but wisdom is not just knowledge alone. Wisdom comes with experience and uses knowledge and experience to create good judgement. Good judgement brings insight into people, situations, and things. Insight brings the ability to understand and comprehend. There is something about studying God's Word that brings about a clarity in all areas of our lives! There's no part of your life God's Word can't touch if you are willing to let it! Paul the apostle gave this advice to young Timothy in his second letter to Timothy...
Listen...

16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The writer of Hebrews says this about the Word of God...

12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

So whether or not you are studying medicine, physics, law enforcement, fire fighting/emergency medical, aviation, teaching, music, arts, or whatever, make sure you make the study of God's Word your first priority. It will sharpen your mind, strengthen your spirit, and direct your path!

Principle #4
Study must translate into obedience!

101I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.

Did you know one of the greatest ways to learn is by doing? It's so true! You can read about flying an airplane, but until you get a chance to put your hands on the controls and practice, you don't really know! Until you practice, you just know about! When you do it, you begin to really know it! The more you practice the principles the more you will know and understand them!

9How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

Here's an obvious truth, but one that is overlooked so many times it is shocking. We read and study God's Word, but fail to obey it. Why? Sometimes it's because we simply don't want to obey it. We know it's right and true, but we desire other things more than we desire to be obedient to God.

And why is this? Maybe it's a trust issue. We sometimes just think we know better, or our way would be better. Obedience comes easy to the one who has learned to trust the motives and heart of God! The Psalmist had learned to trust that God's commands were good! Here's what he said in 119:129ff

129Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
130The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
131I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
132Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
133Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

Sometimes we don't obey, because we're just too busy doing other things. We can get so preoccupied with life that we miss life. What? That's right. Sometimes we get so busy living life we forget what the really important things in life are.

Richard Foster put it this way in his book entitled "Celebration of Discipline"

"In Contemporary society our adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds…

If he can keep us engaged in 'muchness' and 'manyness,' he will rest satisfied!"

Don't let busyness keep you from experiencing the goodness and greatness  God wants to place in your life. Take time to learn the good and great things God wants to do in your life and then take the time to put God's truth into practice!

There are four more principles, but we will have to study them next week. I hope some of you might say, but I want to start practicing the principles of study today. That's great, start with the first four. If this is your attitude, you've already got the first one.

Principle #1
You must yearn to learn!

Principle #2
Don't just read, meditate!  

Principle #3
God's Word will make you wise, give you insight and help you understand things!
 

Principle #4
Study must translate into obedience!

End Sermon here!!!!!

Sneak preview of next week...
Principle #5
Study leads us to hear from the ultimate Teacher!

102I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.

Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit!

Principle #6
The more you study God's Word, the sweeter it grows!

103How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Principle #7
The more you love God's ways, the more you'll hate wrong ways!

104I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Principle #8
God's Word will light your path and direct your steps!

105Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Sermon workup and preparation
ETS: The Psalmist speaks of his love for God's Word and why!
ESS: If we understand and practice the principles of studying God's Word we will experience amazing benefits!
OSS: I want my hearers to understand and practice the principles of studying God's Word so they can experience the benefits.
Probing Question: What are the principles of studying God's Word we must understand and practice in order to experience the benefits?
Unifying Word: Principles
Transitional Sentence: Let's look at the principles of studying God's Word we must understand and practice so we can experience the amazing benefits of that study!