Summary: Knowing God's Word can make all the difference in our lives. A sermon delivered in preparation for Vacation Bible School.

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The Hidden Word

Psalm 119:9-16

July 11, 2004

As a child growing up in Chatham, Louisiana, summers were reserved for two things. Little League baseball and Vacation Bible School. Both were the extent of my summer activities because that was all there was to do. I went to church camp a couple of summers, but at that age, I was just not turned on by church camp. The local swimming pool was one of two bodies of water, either Chatham Lake, which was really a pig pond, or the Buffalo Hole, which was a big bend in Casto Creek where local youths gathered to swim with the snakes and each other. There just was not much to do in the small town of Chatham, Louisiana during the summer. So we anticipated the coming of Vacation Bible School.

Vacation Bible School was a big deal in Chatham. Every major church, all three of them, had their own Bible School, and kids from every church would flock to the other churches because it was something to do. Well, perhaps there were more Methodist kids who went to the Pentecostal Bible School than there were Baptist kids who went, but in any event, we shared kids during VBS.

The three weeks that VBS was going on were always busy weeks. Each week began in anticipation and moved almost methodically (if that word can be used of a Baptist or a Pentecostal church) toward the climax event of the week which was the closing program. Parents and grandparents would gather at the church to see what the churches had taught their offspring through that summer week, and the week’s work came down to one thing: Did we learn our Bible verses?

In turn, each class from VBS would march to the front of the church and recite for the gathered assembly the verses they had learned during the week. Some years, there was even a prize for the class who did the best job reciting the selected verses. I think my class may have even won an award or two. Like summer baseball, bible memorization became a competition between the boys in the upper classes. The only thing that mattered was winning. Little did we boys know that those exercises were designed to give us a foundation in Scripture. They were designed to help us “hide God’s word in our hearts.” Had we known their real purpose, we might not have had quite so much fun because then we might have viewed it as work. But it was a game, and we were always up for a game. But it was VBS, and VBS is about learning the Bible. That is why it is called “Bible” school. It is about hiding God’s word in our hearts.

How long has it been since you thought about hiding God’s word in your heart? How long has it been since you memorized a Bible verse? And if you did, what was the point? Were you teaching a Sunday school class and needed to know the passage to teach the children? Or was there a crisis in your life and you were seeking comfort? Perhaps you haven’t memorized a passage of scripture since you attended VBS. So why should we be memorizing scripture? What is the purpose of hiding God’s word in our hearts? Let’s read today’s text and see if we can find out.

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