This weekend’s “If I were teaching” post is going to focus – albeit very briefly – on the scriptures. In the chapter (10 Life-Charged Words), I focused on three keywords:
- SCRIPTURE: The sacred writings of the Bible.
- LOGOS: A ground, order, knowledge; the animating principle of divinity; the Word incarnate.
- GROUND: Foundation, basis, the earth beneath our feet, what we stand on, the source of gravitational pill, a basis for belief and action.
Let’s begin with a recap of the previous 5 weeks, in case you want to catch up:
- “New Weekly Feature” – introduces the concept.
- Then “JESUS” – explores who Jesus is and who Jesus is to us.
- The Good Wine of “Excellence”.
- “Passion” is a sure sign of life; “Passion,” I wrote, “lights up everything else around it.”
- “Capacity” – Eye has not seen nor ear heard….
What I really want you to do (because I just did this myself) is to get a copy of 10 Life-Charged Words and read chapter 5. It turns out to be extremely helpful and, while this doesn’t happen to me often, I am still extremely pleased with the writing! The book is only $7.99, and if just a few of you ordered a copy or two it would do a lot to increase my “author cred” at URB.
I seek you with all my heart;Psalm 119:10-12
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
This scripture is just a snippet from Psalm 119, which turns out to be not only the longest chapter in the Bible but also a carefully structured and illuminating commentary on the scriptures themselves.
We can also read this as an opening prayer:
“I am seeking you God, with my entire being. Please help me to follow your ways and walk in your paths. Your word, the contents of the Bible, is something that I hold close to my heart. Exploring and knowing your word, God, is a huge help as I try to avoid disappointing you. I want to give you all the praise and glory, Lord. Continue to teach me everything you want me to know. Amen.”
When I was a child, my Grandma Lily played a game she had devised to help establish the scriptures as a life-charged resource in our lives.
When we would visit we would ask to see her “Promise Box.” It was a small, carefully constructed container with a close-fitting lid, stuffed with literally hundreds of tightly rolled scrolls of parchment paper.
One of us would fetch the box, take off the lid, and pick up the pair of ivory-handled tweezers from inside. All we could see was a pattern of circles, each parchment standing upright and each containing a separate promise from the Bible.
Then grandma would say, “Pick a promise, children,” and we’d take turns doing so. I will never forget the sense of anticipation. It was as if light were leaking from the tightly rolled scrolls, and we’d release that radiance into our lives when we read the precious text:
- “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
- “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)
- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
We may not have memorized every promise in Grandma’s box, but the ones we did learn equipped us to leave charged with the life that can only come from God, speaking into our hearts via the scriptures…
Questions for discussion:
- Is there a scripture verse – or passage – that you hold close to your heart? Even if it’s not memorized, share the gist of what it means to you.
- What is your “go to” Bible, and when did you get it?
- If someone asked “why” do you read the Bible, how would you answer?
- Do you think of the Bible as a collection of individual books or as a complete story?
- Do you wish that you knew the Bible better? If so, how might you go about learning more?
One day I was sitting at the dining room table doing some work when I noticed two carpenters in our neighbor’s front garden. They were about to instal a new front door assembly. One stood in the middle of the grass holding the frame while the other fetched some tools from the truck.
The man holding the door had one hand on the frame and the sun – directly over his shoulder – shone directly through the opening and into my eyes. It looked as if he was about to step through, into the wash of light, and disappear – like a character from the Chronicles of Narnia – into a parallel reality.
There is a sense in which immersing ourselves in the scriptures is a portal, a gateway, a powerful connecting point. Jesus, “The Living Word”, describes himself as “The Gate” in John chapter 4. The scriptures can be our passport to a spiritual consciousness that leads us into both a deeper understanding and a more profound experience of knowing God.
The lens of Jesus:
But everything in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, needs to be read, and prayed over, and studied, and discussed, and applied… looking through the lens of Jesus, poured through the filter of his understanding of God’s love.
Jesus said as much when he was asked about The Greatest Commandment. When we love God with all that we are, and when we love our neighbor the same way, Jesus said, all the law and the prophets (everything else in the scriptures) hang on these two ideas!
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”Matthew 22: 37-40
We started this study in the context of Jesus. There is no real life, no “life that is truly life,” no “more and better life than you ever imagined,” no “the way, the truth and the life” outside of Jesus. Certainly no “Life-charged life.”
Additionally, if we want to know Jesus, if we want to immerse ourselves in the richness of the Jesus life, then we must become life-long students and lovers or the scriptures.
“Oh, the best book to read is the Bible; the best book to read is the Bible. If you read it every day, it will help you on your way… OH! The best book to read is the Bible.”
Yes, my Sunday school chorus from 1960 is still stuck in my brain! And my heart too, it remains in my heart. – DEREK