Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 18, 2020
My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. Psalm 119:28, NKJV
There’s nothing like a great meal. This morning, as I read and reflected, my stomach started to rumble with hunger. Just like clockwork, the library door opened and there was my sweet wife Rita with a small plate of soft scrambled eggs, nicely enhanced by melted goat cheese and sautéed spinach. It was like manna from heaven! The first few bites started to curb my hunger, and then I began to savor each and every bite of the savory, satisfying, and simple feast.
Have my words made you hungry? Words can do that. Just as my body needs the nutrition and the taste of a good meal, so my soul hungers for morsels of love, hope, wisdom and grace which have been prepared by God. The Psalmist spoke of the gourmet feast that awaited him in the Word of God: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path” (Psalm 119:103-104). The honey from the Lord’s hive of wisdom complements all the other intense flavors that await the palate of faith.
The whole of Psalm 119, from which that passage is taken, is a celebration of the wonder and beauty of God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon called these writings the “golden alphabet” because they are, he said, more valuable than gold. All other currencies of worldly wisdom are cheap counterfeits compared to the profound, but practical precepts from God. They not only bring delight, but they offer a path through life. They are spiritual nutrition offered by the One who knows exactly what we need. When digested, they bring strength and peace to our soul. And Jesus, the living Word, is the One who curates them for each of us.
“Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather let my soul soak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!”
Jesus was the Word become flesh (John 1:14), and He invites all of us to experience His life. Just as the Israelites depended on manna from heaven during their trek through the wilderness, so He is our Bread of Life, and His life and words will help us make our way through the struggles we might face. The written Word (Scripture) and the Living Word (Jesus) work together to give us wisdom for living. All of us who are followers of Jesus need this wisdom for our own life, as well as for guiding and leading others on the right path.
Dallas Willard, one of the great spiritual leaders of our time, describes the transformational power of the Bible and the need to experience it, not just believe it:
“Sometimes in churches we work to get people to affirm stuff, even though they don’t believe in it like they believe in gravity. So somebody will say, ‘I believe that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative Word of God. But the Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive, yet they are not giving. So, do they really believe that the Bible is the authoritative, inspired Word of God? Well, at one level, they think they do, but the most important level of belief is their mental map of reality. What are those perceptions that actually guide how we live, what we do? Because that is simply how reality looks to us. What we want to do is not simply teach doctrine and get people to affirm it. We want to help people have the same mental map that Jesus had of how things are.”
The point, Willard is saying, is not just to gather good teachings and memorable quotes from the Bible, but to live its message and let it change the way we think and feel. In his words, we need to let it help us form a “mental map” of reality that reflects God’s own perspective. That mental map will transform our lives and it will give us a perspective that will help us transform the lives of those we serve.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
Spirit of God, apply your word to my heart and transform me by your truth, in Jesus’ name, amen.
What wise way of living is the Lord leading me to consistently live out?
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The written Word (Scripture) and the Living Word (Jesus) work together to give us wisdom for living. #wisdomhunters #nurture #truth #Jesus
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