Meditating on Scripture

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In the sermon today, we heard an important reminder from Joshua 1:8 —

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.

I gave several suggestions to help you meditate on scripture that I’ve listed again here:

  • Listen to a sermon.  Send time listening to God’s word being taught and discuss it with your family or small group.
  • Post scripture.  Write scripture on cards and place them in places where you spend a lot of time during the day so that you are reminded of scripture throughout the day.  Post them in your car, by the kitchen sink, at your desk, in your wallet.
  • Talk about scripture.  When you are with family or friends, enjoying a meal or on a walk, read a verse of scripture.  Take turns reflecting on the verse together.
  • Listen to scripture.  There are lots of great ways to listen to scripture.  You can listen to verses being dramatically read at a number of online sites including Bible Gateway.  Listen to songs with the words taken directly from scripture from groups such as Seeds Family Worship, Sons of Korah (Psalms) and Forever Grateful Music.  Another great site with musical and visual art to help people meditate on scripture is The Verses Project.  Calvary Kids has put the book of James to music and teaches through a chapter each year on Wednesday nights. It’s a great way to learn scripture along with your kids.
  • Select scripture randomly.  If you don’t know where to start, let God direct you. Choose a random number between 1 and 66 (or use an online site) and read the book of the bible that corresponds to that number.  For example, 15 would be the book of Ezra.  Ask the question, “Why would God have chosen this passage for me today?”
  • Discuss scripture.  Ask your family, friends or small group these questions, “If you were to hang a scripture verse on the outside of your door for everyone who passes by to see, what scripture verse would you want to hang up and why?”  “If you were going to hang a Bible verse on the front door facing inside so you would read it before you left the house, what would that scripture verse be and why?”
  • Memorize scripture.  Don’t outgrow the power of memorizing scripture.  Our verses for this series, Joshua 1:8-9, were some of the first verses I memorized as an adult. It’s a great place to start.  Try memorizing a verse every day for a week and see what happens.

Meditating on scripture — it’s challenging, but it’s simple.

Blessings,

Jim

Elisabeth Elliott Tribute

Margaret Ashmore Drawing of Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliott, pioneer missionary and Christian author, entered the presence of Jesus on Sunday, June 14, 2015, after a long battle with dementia.   A prolific author, her most famous book, Through Gates of Splendor, told the story of five missionaries (including her first husband Jim Elliott) who died while trying to reach the Auca people in Ecuador.  Splendor had a significant impact on me as a young adult as I encountered men and women in the pages of the book who were willing to give all in the service of Christ. And, not only did they give all but they considered their sacrifice worth it in the service of their Savior.  Jim Elliott famously wrote in his journal, 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep

to gain that which he cannot lose.

The day of her death, I just happened to re-read These Strange Ashes, the book detailing the first year of her life as a single missionary woman in the jungles of Ecuador and the faith lessons that she learned.  Each lesson ultimately centered on the the sovereignty and goodness of God — in other words, how she learned to submit to the assignment given to her by God.  But, she wrote about submission to God’s will with a full understanding of the cost.  She wrote,

To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss. The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.

I had the opportunity to meet her, but I only really knew her through her many books and articles.  Through those vehicles, she was a teacher and an encourager.  More often, she was one who rebuked me as she asked the Lord to “deliver us from our sad, sweet, stinking selves!”

She ends the most recent epilogue of Through Gates of Splendor with these words that are a fitting match to the current sermon series:

We are not always sure where the horizon is.  We would not know which end is up were it not for the shimmering pathway of light falling on the white sea.  The One who laid earth’s foundations and settled its dimensions knows where the lines are drawn.  He gives all the light we need for trust and obedience.

Christianity Today has an excellent summary of her life here, with a lot of links if you want to learn more about her extraordinary life.

All is well,

Lisa

(picture from elisabethelliott.org)

Giving An Account

canstockphoto5414832I received an email recently with a question I am asked a lot.  A summary of the question is:

The Bible says we are seen in God’s righteousness (Phil. 3) but I don’t know how to make sense of that idea with verses about how we will one day give an account for our actions (Heb. 4:13, Matt. 12:36, Rom. 14:12). It sounds like God sees us as clean and separates our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) but then remembers it all again in the end which doesn’t sound like he actually sees us as clean, or perhaps we’re allowed to wear God’s righteousness, but only until judgment.

Here was my response:

On judgment day, we will have to give an account – for the good things that we have done.  As for the sins, they will show up as simply blanks.  Anything bad is removed, but there won’t be any corresponding good.  For example, if a person spends 10 years of her life living in adultery but confesses her sin to God, on judgment day that adultery will not show up.  But those 10 years will be essentially blank of good deeds and therefore there won’t be any reward.  That time will appear wasted.  In that sense, she will be held accountable for not having done good during that time, but her sins won’t be revisited.  He truly has forgotten them and removed them from us.

Jim