Long before the days of e-mail, web sites, instant messaging, cell phones and fax machines, all we had were hand written letters. When US servicemen deployed overseas in defense of their country, the two most longed for words were: Mail Call! Men lived to receive a letter from home. It was their only connection to their loved ones at home. Telephones were very few and far between. Even if you could find a phone, the cost was exorbitant and the reception was unbelievably bad. It sounded like you were 8,000 miles away. It wasn’t worth the time and money. So letters were worth their weight in gold. They were a lifeline to home; a connection to loved ones.
When a serviceman received a letter from his loved ones at home, he would go off to a quiet secluded place by himself, and slowly read the letter. He read every word, he read "between the lines", he devoured the letter. He reread the letter many times. He kept reading the letter until the next one from home arrived. And if the letter contained a photograph, it was joy unspeakable. The photograph was kept close to his heart and was gazed at many times a day when the opportunity presented itself. The letters and pictures boosted his morale tremendously and provided the necessary strength and will to fight on until he was home again with his loved ones. The letters fueled his love for his family and kept that love burning brightly in his heart.
The bible is God’s love letter to us. It reveals in a personal, amazing way, the depths of God’s blazing love for us. To miss this wondrous connection to our Father is to consign ourselves to being a seriously wounded emotional cripple. For our Father IS love and for us to be capable of true love, we MUST experience the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love for us (Eph 3:18.) God’s word is the gateway to Christ, who is love Himself!
When Jesus was challenged by the devil in the desert, he quoted three different scripture passages from memory to the devil. He used the sword of the spirit, the word of God to cut the legs out from underneath the devil and his temptations. Jesus demonstrated to us the absolute necessity of memorizing and having scripture hidden in our minds and hearts.
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread." He said in reply, "It is written: ’One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’"
Then the devil took him to the holy city, ....’" Jesus answered him, "Again it is written, ’You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’"
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, ... At this, Jesus said to him, "Get away, Satan! It is written: ’The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.’" ( Matthew 4:1-10)
God wasn’t kidding when He commanded: "Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal." (Joshua 1:8)
Jesus said: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you." (John 15:8)
And to put an exclamation point on it, God says: "Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates." (Deut 6: 6-9)
It’s clear that inundating our minds with God’s word isn’t an optional extra for the super-spiritual. It’s the belt and suspenders of the Christian life. The word of God is like the laws of gravity. What you don’t know about it can get you killed. Ignorance is not bliss in this case. St. Jerome said, ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ. Even if we act contrary to God’s will out of ignorance, we will still destroy ourselves.
Scripture is the meat and potatoes of our walk with God. Just listening to only a few minutes of scripture in church on Sunday is like having one mouthful of food for the week. That will produce spiritual skeletons, the valley of dry bones that Ezekiel talks about. We will be battlefield casualties whether we know it or not.
Someone once said that going out to work in the morning without praying, was like going out without putting on your pants. Well going out without God’s word in our heart, is like going out with a patch over one eye looking like Blackbeard the pirate. Our vision is limited and our spiritual depth perception is shot. We are a spiritual Blackbeard in our bvd’s!
The ultimate destination of all scripture is Jesus Christ. The bible reveals Jesus. When we truly encounter Jesus in the New Testament, it will be impossible to read the Old Testament without seeing Jesus on every page. The bible is a hidden treasure map and Jesus is the hidden treasure. There are clues to Him on every page. To find Jesus, we have to read with our hearts and not just our minds.
It starts with memorization of a few favorite scriptures and saying them out loud. "Faith comes from hearing and what is heard is the word of God." (Ro 10:17) Then we need to meditate on what we read, slowly rolling it around in our mind, using our Holy Spirit imagination, putting ourselves in the scene and letting it come alive to us. This will bring personal revelation to us, what Jesus is saying to us, today! This revelation will spark praise and worship in our hearts to our Father for His great love for us. And the fruit of all this will be a great desire to be obedient to the word of God. Our focus will shift from ourselves to God alone. To see Him lifted up and glorified will become our hearts desire.
The bible is not a book. It is not a set of moral rules to live by, a code of conduct. It is a pathway to the burning bush, the great I AM. It is a roadmap to an encounter with an inferno of God’s love, a baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire. It is all about Jesus! When we seek Jesus in the scriptures, we will end up "gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:17)
***** JESUS IS LORD *****