July 31, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Your strength will equal your day.”
“Every day the Lord Himself is near me
with a special mercy for each hour;
All my care He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Power.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
As your days, your strength shall be in measure,
This the pledge to me He made.”
Carolina Sandell Berg
“O my Strength, I watch for You;
You, O God, are my fortress,
My loving God…O my Strength,
I sing praise to You;
You, O God, are my fortress,
my loving God.”
Today’s Study Texts:
“He (Jesus) went on to open their understanding of the word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, ‘You can see now how it is, what is written.’”
“What Is Written”
“The Lord does not shine upon us, except when we take His Word as our light.”
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
In what ways has studying the Bible transformed my life?
How have I found guidance in my life when I studied Scripture?
“What though no answering voice is heard?
Thine oracles, the written Word,
Counsel and guidance still impart,
Responsive to the upright heart.”
“The Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.”
After my Uncle Mel passed away a number of months ago, my mother got a call from my cousin who told her that one thing he wanted to make certain was given to my mom was her mother’s Bible.
Let me be clear, this was just one of several Bibles that grandma had. And each one was underlined and marked-up because my grandmother was what I love to call, “a person of the Word.” Not only did she commit to memory many passages of Scripture, but Bible study was something grandma loved. I can’t ever remember her watching T.V. But I can certainly remember as she got up into her nineties, sitting in a comfortable chair with her Bible open on her lap. John Bunyan, the author of the loved book Pilgrim’s Progress, shared the fact that he “was never out of my Bible.”
Growing up around individuals who studied the Bible a great deal was truly a blessing in my own life – even as a young girl. However, I wouldn’t be honest unless I admitted that many times my “study” was truly hit and miss. I’d just go to my favorite text, read for a few minutes and then I was off to take care of what I believed to be, at the time, more valuable endeavors.
However, as I have noticed, if I want to really get a benefit and blessing from the words of Scripture, I need to take it in…I need to feast on the Word. As one person said, “There’s more to (spiritual) growth than knowing what the Bible says; nobody is ever nourished by memorizing menus.” If we want to gain the nourishment found in healthy food, we have to put it in our mouths, chew on it, swallow it and digest it. It is the same with the Bible. For as author William Romaine so correctly concluded, “The longer you read the Bible, the more you will like it; it will grow sweeter and sweeter; and the more you get into the spirit of it, the more you will get into the spirit of Christ.”
Since Transformation Garden began over ten years ago, there are two things I love to hear from all of my Garden friends, more than any other. The first comment is this, “Here in the Garden, I’ve come to realize just how much God loves me and this knowledge has transformed my life.” The second comment is this, “I love studying the Bible verse-by-verse. I’ve never studied the Bible this way before and each day, I can hardly wait to turn in God’s Word to our study text for the day.”
I have to tell you that there are days when this last comment could have come from my own pen for I’ve had times when I’ve gotten up early in the morning, even before the sun has come up, because I was so eager to get working on a particular devotional and open God’s Word which I know will reveal some unexpected nugget of nourishment that gives strength to my spiritual life. The great reformer Martin Luther, in sharing ways to get the most from studying the Bible advised that we should, “Pause at every verse of Scripture and shake, as it were, every bough of it, that if possible some fruit at least may drop down.” This thought was also made by J.A. Bengel who correctly noted that we must take each text and apply ourselves to the study of the entire text and then we should apply the whole text to our own lives. As Robert Horn points out, “If the Bible is to get into us, we must get into the Bible.”
It is with this great advice as our backdrop that I want to turn to our study text for today, Luke 24: 45, 46 and this time I’m using a special Bible translated from the Aramaic. I chose to use this version of the Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts because it offers great clarity to the words of Dr. Luke. “Then He (Jesus) opened their (the disciples) mind to understand the scriptures. And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and it was right.’” How I would have loved to be at that Bible study. Just think of being in a circle with close friends with your open Bible knowing that Jesus was opening up your mind so you would understand His word. With God’s spirit in our hearts and the Scripture in our hands, we will find we have all we need.
But Jesus didn’t just “open the minds” of His dearest friends to the truths found in Scripture. He also told them that “what is written is right.” And that wasn’t all, for by comparing Jesus’ life and the words He spoke with the record left by Moses and the Prophets along with the Psalms, there is contained a pattern which does not contradict itself even though the words were penned thousands of years apart. As Thomas Watson so eloquently stated, “Nothing can cut the diamond but a diamond; nothing can interpret Scripture but Scripture.”
How thankful we can be that just before Jesus left this earth, He gathered His closest friends around Him and encouraged them with the promise that He would open their minds as they studied the Scriptures and as their minds were illuminated from above, they would recognize what was truth. May our words today be those of the early Christian scholar Origen who prayed:
“Lord, inspire us to read Your Scriptures and meditate upon them day and night. We get You to give us real understanding of what we need, that we in turn may put its precepts into practice. Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless, unless rooted in Your graceful love. So we ask that the words of Scripture may also be not just signs on a page but channels of grace into our hearts.”
“How precious is the book divine,
By inspiration given!
Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine,
To guide our souls to heaven.”
“Father of mercies, in Thy word
What endless glory shines!
For ever be Thy name adored
For these celestial lines.
O may these heavenly pages be
My ever dear delight,
And still new beauties may I see,
And still increasing light.
Divine instructor, gracious Lord,
Be Thou for ever near,
Teach me to love Thy sacred word,
And view my Saviour here.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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