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The Rob Skinner Podcast: Helping You Make This Life Count

Apr 29, 2024

How to Put God's Word into Practice Immediately

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.  Isaiah 66:2

The multiplying disciple responds and acts on God’s word.  He or she goes beyond mere head-nodding and mumbled assent during a sermon, “Mmmm.”  He takes it and immediately puts it to work. 

God compares the different responses of two different kings, Saul and David, in Acts 13:22.  After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’  Saul was called to wait on Samuel to make an offering and to wipe out the Amalekites.  He chose to ignore and modify God’s clear command.  His lack of responsiveness to God’s word disqualified him as king.  Look at how God addresses his refusal to obey,

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
    as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
    and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has rejected you as king.”  1 Samuel 15:22-24

David, on the other hand builds an eternal reputation as the “man after God’s own heart.”  Why?  Because, unlike Saul, he was willing to do everything God wanted him to do.  He put things into practice.  David made a ton of mistakes and committed some major sins like adultery, conspiracy to murder and abuse of power.  However, even when he did those things, he repented and turned back toward God.  He never left God or turned away from him like Saul did.

It’s easy to disconnect our feelings about God from our obedience to God.  We say things like, “God knows my heart.”  As if God gives us credit for good intentions or having the right feelings toward God.  It’s clear that God does know our heart, but like David and Saul, we reveal the contents of our heart by our humility and responsiveness to God’s word.  I want God to say about me, “Rob is a man after my own heart, he did everything I wanted him to do.” 

What does that look like in our current generation?  How can we be people who put things into practice?  Here are some indicators of a person who “trembles at God’s word.”

Take notes during sermons, classes and seminars. 

Notetaking is a lost art.  As a young Christian, those sitting around me in church often had both a paper Bible, a notepad and a pen.  People scribbled furiously as they listened to the sermon.  Notetaking is not proof of obedience, but it is one way to stay tuned in and to allow the word to penetrate deeper.  I will often write things down and then place a star next to the points that I felt were particularly convicting or challenging. 

Immediately write down three things that you can put into practice. 

I’ve gotten into the practice of offering “next steps” a the end of my lessons.  I learned this from Nelson Searcy.  I think it’s valuable to know how to apply the lesson of the Bible.  Action is what matters, not simple accumulation of information.  I like to make lists and one thing I will do is start the day by writing down three things I can put into practice from what I read or heard.  When we listen to a sermon or read our Bible without regular application, we resemble those who listened to the words of the prophet Ezekiel:  31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. 32 Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.  Ezekiel 22:31-32.  How many times do we hear God’s word without any conscious intention of applying it in our lives?  We are committing the same sin as those in Ezekiel’s day. 

Get an accountability partner. 

Our sinful nature desires we remain as we are.  Even our best intentions can get blunted by our old habits and routines.  One of the best ways to break out of a rut is to get accountability, coaching or discipling.  This is one of the hardest decisions to make and yet often the most powerful.  I remember listening to a preacher mention that he had accountability software on his computer to help him avoid pornography and visual temptation.  I was convicted that I had nothing in place to monitor my browsing.  I went home that night and downloaded Accountable2You software.  This sends a report of my past week’s computer activity to my spiritual mentor.  The knowledge that someone else will see what I’m looking at is a powerful inhibitor against sinful behavior.  I recently hired a physical trainer twice a week to help me get into and stay in shape.  I have gradually crept up out of my desired weight range over the past five years.  In spite of the fact that I regularly exercise, I haven’t been able to get back into what I consider my “normal” range.  I found him in the gym by looking for the biggest, strongest guy in the gym.  I shared my faith with him, studied the Bible with him and asked him if he would train me.  He not only helps me go beyond my physical limits in training, I also pay him a little extra every month for what I call “professional nagging.”  I log my weight daily on Google Drive and share that link with him so he can keep track of how many calories I’m eating every day, how much I’m exercising and how much I currently weigh.  He does a great job of getting on me when I’m tempted to make excuses.  I’ve lost fifteen pounds since the beginning of the year.   Do you have anyone that is hold you accountable to become the person you want to?  Look for accountability in common areas of difficulty:

·         Confession of sin

·         Personal finances

·         Physical fitness and weight control

·         Evangelism

·         Service to the community

All of these areas are incredibly different to change without first building a scaffolding of accountability.  You aren’t weak because you need help.  You are actually showing amazing self-awareness and strength by acknowledging that true change demands a supportive environment. 

Use Forcing Mechanisms

I’ve played guitar since the age of fourteen.  After a couple years of guitar lessons, I plateaued at the same skill level for about four decades.  I could play a couple of songs partially and that was about it.  It wasn’t until we ran out of songleaders and musicians that I was forced to get involved, dust off my guitar and start learning new worship songs.  I now know far more songs and play better than at any time in the past.  Why?  Sunday shows up about every seven days and if I’m not ready, it can be really embarrassing.  Playing with other people, learning from them and working as a team brings the best out of me and you.  When you are trying to grow in any area, set up forcing mechanisms that will keep you on track. 

·         Schedule a time once a week with someone else to go sharing

·         Join a financial accountability group

·         Join a band

·         Join a club that encourages growth.

·         Schedule a weekly time of accountability

·         Schedule time for church every week and don’t make exceptions


Recognize and embrace the process of change and growth. 

Anytime you put something new into practice in your life, you will experience a period of awkwardness, discomfort and even fear.  You are doing something that you haven’t done before.  You are going through a beginner’s stage.  Many people start to make changes, but retreat because they feel embarrassed or stupid because they haven’t mastered the new skill.  This is true in any field, not just spiritual growth.  How many people start piano or guitar lessons and quit soon after.  Why?  They didn’t see immediate progress.  They didn’t like the beginner phase when they weren’t that good.  I like Ben Franklin’s quote, “Genius is nothing but a greater aptitude for patience.”  When growing, developing new skills, learning anything new, patience is the master skill.  You have to be willing to give yourself time, allow for mistakes and be okay with being awkward and embarrassed at times.  One of my biggest regrets is not learning Japanese as fast as I wanted.  I lived in Japan for ten years and learned how to speak and write.  However, I could have sped up the learning process radically had I embraced the embarrassment of not speaking well more directly.  I wanted to be perfect immediately.  My pride wouldn’t allow me to make mistakes, so I avoided so many opportunities to speak imperfectly.  I learned, but I learned slowly.  If I could go back in a time machine, I would set a goal every day to see how many language mistakes I could make.  That would insure that I was in the game learning.  Where do we need more patience and acceptance of the novice stage?

·         Preaching

·         Teaching lessons

·         Teaching the gospel in Bible studies

·         Small group discussion leadership

·         Sharing our faith and inviting people to church

·         Meeting new people

·         Learning languages

·         Dating

·         Being a great husband or wife

·         Being a great parent

All of these incredibly important skills have a predictable growth process.  You can’t become a master without going through the novice stage.  Embrace it, accept it and allow each mistake, failure and setback to communicate to you that you are growing in your mastery.