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.

Advertisements

Let My Heart Be The House

There are steadfast hearts that still beat strong
In the valley of their torment
There are hearts with walls built all around
Misfortune and pain to prevent
There are mended  hearts in the aftermath
of healing from sorrow and pain
But let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Let my will to yours comply
Your plans that are good, meet the hopes that I had
As you set to purify.
I cannot fulfill my hopes and dreams
By trying to dodge Your plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I keep in my heart that’s become your abode
Soothing balm for the traumas of strife
Wonderful words filled with healing and hope
Oh your wonderful words of life!
I ponder these words and lean closer to hear
Whispers of your infinite plan
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign.

I know there are deep seated habits in there
And flashbacks of long ago frights
That cannot coexist with the love and the grace
That dwell in immaculate light
And so I present, with complete confidence
This heart, to redeem for your own
Make it into a house that becomes your abode
For the sake of your will alone

Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
Make my will to yours comply
Take the good, take the bad, take the weak and the strong
Wise, foolish – purify
Let me take my seat at your nail scarred feet
As you take up your domain
Let my heart be the house that becomes your abode
And let your Spirit reign

L Hedges
6-2015

Prayer Journal: Thanksgiving Tab

20140614-164756-60476810.jpg

The last couple years, I have participated in “Thankful Thursdays” on facebook.  This is an area that I have come to firmly believe is necessary for joy, and an attribute that I want to develop into my quirky personality.

Thanksgiving is the key to a joyful and contented heart.  How often I lose my key.  Do you do this?  Seriously, I know this works, I’ve seen it in action…yet I forget to be thankful, and am frustrated at my lack of joy.   I want to have a joyful, contented heart; how easy it is to slip into envy and discontent if the door of our minds are locked to the joy that thankfulness brings.

Since I already have a naturally optimistic bent, you would expect that thankfulness would come easy for me.

Yeah.  Not.

While I am naturally optimistic by nature, I also am terribly idealistic, and I expect things to work out like I envision they should.

Yup.  One of those.

Much of the time, with effort on my part, I can make things happen.  But obviously, not all the time.  I am bitterly disappointed when things fall short of my ideal, and I tend to fall (as Anne of Green Gables would say) into the depths of despair.  How easy it is to slip into the devil’s trap of comparison, envy and discontent when the door of my mind is locked to joy.

There is a reason that I choose thankfulness to follow contrition and confession in my quiet time routine.  After the confession portion of my prayer time, I tend to still be a little bit raw.  Really, this should not be surprising, after all, I’ve just examined myself, and admitted my sinful thoughts, actions, intentions and omissions; that is, those things I’ve done and failed to do that have offended my Father.  I’ve brought it all to Him, offered it up, and asked him to forgive me, and now…well…like I said;  I feel a little bit raw.  So, as I remind myself of His precious promises of forgiveness and restoration, and experience the grace that He pours through my broken heart, I begin to praise Him for:

20140614-164754-60474814.jpg

  • Answered Prayer – Those petitions I have brought before His throne, favors granted, and His provision, including those things that He has withheld from me, or things for which He has chosen to make me wait while continuing to ask.  This part of my prayer time is a real hurdle while I’m suffering with my disappointment and impatience, but it is so necessary, for me, in developing the ability to follow Ephesians 5:20.
  • His mercy that is new every morning – that is, His sparing me from the ultimate penalty of sin, and His faithful, steadfast love through the years. (Ps 25:6, Lam 3:23).
  • Who He is – going back to adoration, and incorporating thankfulness…reminding myself again of the attributes of God, and thanking Him for all that He is to me, for me, and with me. (1 Cor 16:29, Ps. 34:7)
  • My loved ones – family, friends, spiritual leaders, etc. (Eph 1:6)
  • His grace and the indwelling of His Spirit that frees me from sin’s bondage.  Because of His grace, I am not enslaved to sin.  I have the choice to do what is right, and experience victory through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  (1 Cor 15:57)
  • The presence of His Spirit with me. I know He is with me when I experience the fruit of His Spirit in my life.  I continue to pray that my life produces the fruit, evidencing that I am His child, and He lives and reigns in me…by faith…so that everything I do can be done in His Name and for His glory. (Col 3:17)

Thanksgiving does not come naturally, it has to be cultivated!  Because I need frequent reminders of the importance of being thankful, the back of my divider is filled with Scripture reminders of the importance of developing thankfulness with an acronym of sorts of the word “gratitude”.  I have tried to keep these verses at the top of my memory, as I work on this attribute…or rather, as I allow the Lord to develop this attribute in my life.  I don’t have them all memorized, but reading through them in my quiet time has cemented their truths into my routine, and I like to think they are there for when I need them.  As I’m giving thanks, I try to write something down in this section, so that on my down days, when it’s difficult to think of something to be thankful for (I can be a big baby, did I tell you that already?), there is a list of things that I can remember and thank God again.  This is an act of obedience for me, so sometimes I need a little prompt….this totally works!

Act before you Ask
Adoration Tab
Confession/Contrition Tab

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you ask for

I feel bad for Thomas.  He has a forever negative reputation for being human like me.
So, he needed extra proof…so do I some days.
So, he was skeptical…nothing wrong with that, is there?  Aren’t we told to be wise as serpents..innocent as doves?  How can we be wise if we believe everything we’re told.

If you are like Thomas (and me), and won’t believe until you can see and feel  His wounds for yourself, don’t be surprised or dismayed when you are given the opportunity to do so, because, if you ask, there will be opportunity.

These thoughts have been rattling around my wee brain for several days.  While relating to Thomas’ request, it was as if I heard the Lord speak to my heart; You don’t even know what you’re asking, Lyn.  Do you really want to feel my wounds?

This is what my wounds feel like:

  • When the weight of your burden brings you to your knees;
    —Remember, I also fell under the weight of my own cross, and needed help bearing it.
  • When your body is wracked with chronic physical pain;
    —Join Me in My scourging.  I suffered similar physical pain from strikes, stripes, and blows.
  • When your ideas, and ideals are held in derision. Your very motives of your deepest thoughts and desires are suspect.
    —Experience the same pointed, piercing thorns that were forced into My brow.
  • When the work of your hands is belittled, or scoffed.
    —Feel the nail prints in My hands.
  • When the path that you walk is misunderstood or held in suspicion.
    —Remember the wounds in My feet.
  • When your support system crumbles.  There is no one you can trust, no one who understands, you feel forgotten or overlooked.
    —Participate in the loneliness and grief I felt when even My own Father turned His back on Me.
  • When your heart is pierced by reckless words or actions of those you love;
    —Plunge your hand into the wound in My side that had gushed forth blood and water for you.

Be careful what you ask for…but if you mean it…here I am.

 

“Happy?”

wpid-IMG_20131126_154851.jpg

Before we left for Canada in 2011, I gave my oldest daughter a plastic rosary that was given to me at RCIA when we learned about prayer.  As we crossed the Confederation Bridge into PEI Canada, we got a telephone call informing us that our first grandbaby was in the hospital, due to a collapsed lung.  We would later find out that this was her only working lung, as they discovered that her left one was missing a valve that connected it to her heart.  To say that his baby has seen her share of medical professionals, hospitals, and stethoscopes, would be a severe understatement.

My daughter still has this rosary, and her children have taken to it, handling it, sleeping with it, and sometimes wearing it around their neck.  Today, Grammie Reward #1 (baby with the heart issues) had it, and was using the crucifix as a stethoscope on her Momma.  She would place the cross on her Momma’s chest, and say “Happy?”  then move it to another spot on her chest and ask again “Happy?”

Watching this Sacramental being used in a way in which she had become familiar, was both heart-gripping and profound.  Every once in awhile, I get a little glimpse of the Father’s heart.  Today was one of those times.  I’m telling you…I got a serious case of Holy Ghost bumps.

In my mind’s eye, I saw the Great Physician holding the stethoscope of the Cross over our hearts, and using it to gauge its intentions, motives, and attitudes.  And he asks “Are you happy?”

And I think sometimes, all too often, he hears something that causes Him to check further…”was that a murmer of discontent?  Impatience?  Pride?  Hmmmm…this heart is not happy”, and so he begins His procedure, removing those things that are not healthy, and repairing and rebuilding what is broken.  “Heart surgery” is painful, so He sends His Holy Spirit to comfort us as we heal, and He sends His Son…His love letter…the Word to console us to teach us His ways, so that when we have our next “checkup”, he can again examine us and find a happy, healthy heart.