Focus on God’s Word


Part 1 – Raise the Sails

The first element in “raising the sails” for movement is “Focus on God’s Word.”

Most of us hear that & think, “I do that.” But what you may be thinking about is not exactly what people in these movements are thinking about.

When we hear “Focus on God’s Word,” chances are we think about reading the Bible, listening to sermons about the Bible, downloading some podcasts where people talk about the Bible, and so on.

That’s only one aspect of focusing on God’s Word & it leaves out two other very important things.

Simply defined, focusing on God’s Word involves a regular pattern of reading, obeying, and sharing the Word of God.

Ahh, now do you see it? Many of us have the reading part down. It’s the obeying & sharing part that we often tend to miss. Especially in the American church.

Roy Moran, in his book Spent Matches, agrees with this by saying:

Jesus asked followers to teach people to obey all of His commands. What have we done in response? We’ve taught people all of Jesus’ commands and assumed that knowing them means they will obey them. Many people— believers and nonbelievers— would give today’s church a very low grade when it comes to obedience to Jesus’ commands.

If you’ve been in church very long, chances are you know a lot about the Bible. Maybe you’ve read it all the way through a couple of times. You’ve listened to sermons about it on Sunday mornings most of your life. You’ve been in some small groups where you’ve talked about it.

All of that is good, but that alone doesn’t “raise the sails” for movement.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7?

Matthew 7:24-27“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Anyone who listens to his teaching and… what’s the next part? FOLLOWS IT is wise!

Other translations say “anyone who listens to my teaching and…”

  • Acts on it (NASB)
  • Puts it into practice (NIV)
  • Does it (ESV)

What’s the emphasis here? It’s not just on listening to the teaching. The emphasis is on OBEYING it! FOLLOWING it! ACTING on it! PUTTING it into practice! DOING it!

I think you get the idea.

Too often we remember this story Jesus tells as, “We are like people who build our house on solid rock if we listen to Jesus.” That’s not it. It’s not just about listening to Jesus. Many of us are really good at that. It’s about OBEYING Jesus!

Obedience-based discipleship.

That’s what our friends call it overseas.

They measure spiritual growth based on how much they’re OBEYING Jesus, not how much they KNOW about Jesus!

The Pharisees KNEW a lot. Jesus didn’t give them credit for that. The disciples didn’t know as much but they FOLLOWED Jesus & OBEYED what they knew (not perfectly). They are the ones Jesus took a special interest in & gave the Great Commission to.

Ok, back to the definition.

Focusing on God’s word is a regular pattern of reading, obeying & sharing the Word of God.

In many of these movements around the world, they use a tool call Discovery Bible Study (DBS) to help them focus on all 3 of these things.

Each week, they gather together as a disciple-making community (aka church) and ask some version of these 7 questions.

  1. What are you thankful for in the past week?
  2. What has challenged you or stressed you out over the past week?
  3. Is there anything this group can do to help with those challenges or stresses or is there any other need we can meet together?

At this point they’ll read a passage of Scripture several times out loud together, then have everyone in the group retell it in their own words. Then they’ll ask the next 4 questions.

  1. What does this passage teach you about God?
  2. What does this passage teach you about people?
  3. What should you do this week in response to this passage?
  4. Who should you share with this week?

In addition to these questions, before they read the new passage for the week, they’ll often review last week’s passage & ask if everyone did what they said they were going to do & shared with they said who they said they would share with. Doing this keeps everyone accountable for OBEYING & SHARING.

Do you see how this Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process encourages not only reading but also obeying & sharing the Word of God? Questions #6 & #7 are the most important questions they ask.

In fact, one of our friends from overseas told us that Question #7 is the most important question if you want to see movement. Without sharing regularly, how will you find “persons of peace” & see new groups started? SHARING is absolutely essential.

Can you see why it’s called a “Discovery” Bible Study?

By asking the participants questions about the text, rather than teaching them, it allows them to “discover” for themselves, with the Holy Spirit as the teacher, what God wants them to learn.

This is exactly what Jesus said would happen in John 6.

John 6:45As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

The New Testament teaches a concept often referred to as the “priesthood of the believer.” It basically says that the believer can go directly to God & hear directly from God like John 6:45 says. They don’t need a priest or a mediator because they already have one — Jesus Christ!

As the participants read the Scriptures, they are “taught by God” like it says in John 6.

They “listen to” and “learn from” the Father directly and as a result, it says they’ll be drawn to Jesus!

POWERFUL!

Plus, aren’t people more committed to truths they discover for themselves than what other people teach them? Luke commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to make sure what Paul was saying was true (Acts 17:11). They wanted to “discover” it for themselves from God’s Word with the Holy Spirit as the teacher.

The Discovery Bible Study (DBS) process invites the Holy Spirit to be the teacher with the Bible as the curriculum.

So, guess what?

ANYONE can lead! You don’t have to be a gifted “teacher.”

All you have to do is read the questions, open the Scriptures, and let the Holy Spirit speak to everyone. Actually, you don’t even have to be able to read. In many places around the world where this process is being used, people can’t read. Instead, they memorize the questions, listen to the Scriptures, & the Holy Spirit still speaks through the Word of God! Amazing!

This “discovery process” is bearing fruit all over the world as God speaks to people through his Word like he said he would. And the most powerful part of the discovery process is when the Holy Spirit tells each individual person (or the group as a whole) what they should OBEY that week & who they should SHARE with.

It’s easy to see how if people start reading, obeying, & sharing the Word of God, many disciples can be made in a short period of time.

Having said all of that, can I ask you a question?

Do you “Focus on God’s Word” or do you just read it?

If I’m being honest, most of my life I just read it. Only recently has the Lord opened my eyes to the power of intentionally obeying & sharing it on a regular basis.

Each day as I read God’s Word, I don’t just read & then move on anymore. I spend time asking the Lord, “What do you want me to OBEY from what I’ve read today? And who do you want me to SHARE with?” I then write in my journal what the Lord wants me to obey that day & who he wants me to share with.

It’s been a life-changing adjustment.

Each of our DMM Church Planting Teams that we’ve sent out from eLife have these goals related to this element:

  1. Meet together each week as a group to “Focus on God’s Word” by doing the 7-question DBS process.
  2. Spend 5 days each week on your own “Focusing on God’s Word” by reading, obeying & sharing.

Here’s a link to the “Focus on God’s Word” message in a sermon series we recently did called Raise the Sails.

Part 3 – Multiply Extraordinary Prayer