Sacred Scripture – what’s the point?

My poor, neglected blog…I wonder if I can remember how to do this.

I have been mostly on track with my resolution to read through the entire Bible in 2017. I fell off the wagon a few times when life got a little busier than my schedule could compensate for, and I am still playing catch up, but if my calculations are correct, I should be finishing the New Testament in a couple weeks, and the Old Testament by the end of December.

This is a first for me on several levels. One, I have never kept a New Year’s Resolution any deeper than the resolution not to have any resolutions. Two, I have been a baptized Christian, attended Bible School, Christian School, and attended church faithfully since I was six years old; I have read a lot of Scripture, done countless Bible studies, even memorized large portions of Scripture, but have not ever read through the entire Bible, until this year. It is SO COOL to see the big picture. All those passages that I have committed to memory take on a whole new level of understanding when read in the context of the whole story of salvation. If you have not done this, I highly encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to memorize portions of Scripture. You will be amazed at the times those words that you have put to memory will come to mind in a season of need.

So…what is the point of reading and memorizing Scripture?

There are several (Biblical) reasons why reading and memorizing Scripture is beneficial.  I will list the first few that came to my mind, and if you have others, I would love to see some discussion here at New Things…leave me a comment, and let’s chat!

Psalm 119:11 I treasure you word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Romans 1:16 says that Scripture is God’s power that leads every believer to salvation.

Hebrews 4:12 states that Scripture is active and powerful; sharper than a double-edged sword, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 reassures us that God’s Word does not return to Him void (or wasted, or empty), but accomplishes all that He desires, and will prosper according to His intentions.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 instructs us that Sacred Scripture is inspired by God; it is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, to make us competent, and equip us for every good work.

Sacred Scripture is God’s recorded voice. It is His words, given to us, His creation, for the sake of a relationship!  The very thought!  The same God who created this world and everything in it wants a relationship with me!

He speaks His words to me in these Scriptures…warning, comforting, and reminding me of His loving will for me, His own beloved child.

Seeking God through Sacred Scripture in faith, hope, and love is part of prayer. We are much more familiar with the prayer that WE speak to God, but can easily forget that prayer is a two way street.  He is speaking to us as well…prayer is both speaking and listening…just like any healthy relationship.

How would you feel if your best friend monopolized all your conversations with all the details of her life, her drama, her joys, sorrows, and various issues, but never gave you the chance to get a word in edgewise? It would get old.  Isn’t that what we do to God?  No wonder He seems so quiet sometimes, huh?

Reading and learning Sacred Scripture is our loving response to the God of the Universe who stepped down from His glory for the sake of a conversation with His creation. Seeking Him and His will through His Word is our response to His initiation of a relationship with Him. It is us affirming that what He has to say to us is important, and in obedience, we enter into His Presence by opening the door, His Word.

It is no surprise, then, that Jesus is called “the Word” (John 1), and also “the Door” (John 10).

We enter into the Presence of God through Christ (Hebrews 10), who boldly stated that His very words are spirit and life (John 6:63). When we treasure God’s Word in our hearts, it becomes active and powerful in us and discerns our innermost thoughts and intentions of our heart. Jesus, the Word,  is God’s power in us, leading us to eternal life with Him. When we treasure Him in our hearts, He will accomplish everything that God wills in our lives, and none of it will not return void–or empty–or wasted to the Father.

Jesus gave us an example of how to rightly use Sacred Scripture to overcome temptation. Rich Mullins referred to this as “quoting Deuteronomy to the devil”. When Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, he responded with Sacred Scripture. We can too! When we are tempted to doubt the love of God, we can pull up a defense of the love of God from His very words to us in Sacred Scripture. When fearful circumstances arise, and we are tempted to fret, we can answer with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” and be assured that His Word is true…because He cannot lie. We can actually use Scripture to retrain our brain, did you know that? In fact, we are INSTRUCTED to do so.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

When our minds are renewed, we can understand what God wants from us.

How do we renew our minds? How can we hide God’s Word in our hearts? This is what I have been asked to share, and hope to so in the coming weeks. I believe the first step is the simplest, ask Him to plant and grow His Word. As you seek Him, He promises to be found. Make yourself available and ready to hear and obey what He tells you in His Word.

A disclaimer here: ATTENTION! Reading and memorizing God’s Word will do you NO GOOD if you are not willing to do what He tells you in it.

If you are not ready to obey His Word, memorizing it will only make you headsmart…(and probably obnoxious to others) and you will miss the mark of storing it in your heart by 18 inches.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you have not hidden from us, but have revealed yourself and your will to us through your Holy Scriptures.  Thank you that they are a lamp for our our feet and a light for our journey.  Teach us to read and obey what you have spoken to us. Comfort us in our sorrows with the consolations contained there and help us to speak forth your Word at appropriate times to build up your body, the Church here on earth. Most of all, Lord, we ask that your Word will guide us into doing your will. May we be doers of your word, and not hearers only as James instructed. In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we ask, for your glory only. Amen.

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When God Bends Down

Psalm 116 – paraphrased by me

I love the Lord, because he hears and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down to meet me where I am, I will continue to cry out to Him all my days.
Death came near to me, I thought my life was over, I was in trouble, and full of fear and distress.

Then I called out “Jesus, Lord, Jesus!  Help us!” when I thought we were going to die.

And God, who is full of mercy, protected us.  When I thought this life was over, He saved us.
Now my soul is at peace, because God has blessed us with life.

Lord, I know you have rescued me from death.  You dried my tears, and you kept my feet from tripping.
Because of your mercy and grace, I am still following You in the land of the living.
My faith was preserved, even in the middle of my distress and anxiety, when I forgot how to trust.
How could I repay your goodness and mercy to me?
By remembering the gift of your salvation when I called on Your Name.
I will follow through on the intentions of my heart, and the promises I have made to you in the presence of your people.

To die as a faithful servant of God is seen as a precious gift.
Lord, I am your servant, the daughter of your servant.
Thank you for unfastening my shackles.
I will bring the sacrifice of praise as I call on Your Name.
I will follow through on the intentions of my heart, and the promises I have made to you in the presence of your people.
In heaven’s courts, in the presence of Jerusalem, Praise the LORD!

ACT before you ASK

I’m working on a prayer journal system that will hopefully be a tool in keeping me organized and on task in my quiet time.  Right now, it’s a tool, but also a project, as I am in the process of tweaking it to make it function for me.  You might remember that last year, I began putting a little prayer journal together for the sake of memorizing the creed and rosary.  I did a series on prayer that included some of the insights the Lord gave me while putting it together, and I’m thinking this is going to be a similar series by the time we finish with it.

20140524-081414-29654093.jpgLast year, a dear friend sent me a little journal, which had remained empty and unused until last week.  I’ve put it to use as my Beta version, and when I pick it up, I remember her in my prayers.  (She is one that I thank God for in my Thanksgiving…as well as one I intercede for in my supplication) …but I’m getting ahead of myself.   By the way, I LOVE how God made this journal with sunflowers!  It’s like my prayer life has a theme…and seeing sunflowers reminds me to pray.  How great is He!?

I started putting my journal together by following the ACTS model of prayer, that is, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.  As I continued it kind of morphed into what I call ACT before you ASK.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m don’t deliberately make myself focus, my prayer time can sound whiny, and childish.  I do not want my prayer life to be marked by this.  I want my prayer time to be intentional, where I focus on the Lord and my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude and praise for Him, and marked by faith and trust.

I divided my journal into six sections as such:

Adoration – Where I record the names and attributes of God that I collect as I go.
Contrition/Confession- Where I spend time in self-examination and confess the sins that the Holy Spirit reveals to my spirit.
Thanksgiving – Where I remember to thank the Lord for what He is accomplishing in my life.

Application – Where I record my God whispers…times when the rubber meets the road…those little (or big) things that jump out at me in my daily Bible reading, prayer, or personal interactions with others.
Supplication – Where I keep a record of people that I pray for on a regular basis.
Knowledge – Where I keep a record of portions of Scripture and Bible truths that I have committed to memory and know by heart.

My daily quiet time follows this model pretty closely, with my daily Bible reading fitting right between the two acronyms.  I think I’ll make a separate post for each of my sections so I can show you better how I put this system to work for me.  I haven’t completely made up my mind whether I will prefer a bound journal, like the one I’m using right now, or if I will eventually move to a 3 ring binder system.  I can see benefits and downsides to both, and I may eventually use a combination of both.  It is providing me with more opportunity to create, and draw, and color.  For now, my dividers are homemade, laminated bookmarks that fit the book.  Each divider has prompts that keep me on track, and the cool thing about them is, if I don’t want to take my whole journal with me, but need the prompts, I can remove them from the journal, put them in my Bible, or purse, or whatever I’m carrying, and tote them along with me to use as needed.

More to come…