I left off my last letter on our relationship to Christ with the thought that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of the path. When we finally apprehend God's power and presence in our lives, we are humbled at his goodness, lovingkindness, and righteousness, and we long to place ourselves under his care and protection. That still leaves us with the question "how?"
Become a woman of the Word.
The Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ are inextricably linked. You cannot know Christ without knowing the Word. Saturate yourself with it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Allow the Word to penetrate your heart and mind so deeply that your secret thoughts become the words on its sacred page.
- Saturate yourself with the Word: Some years ago I heard a message on the fear of the Lord from a man that I greatly respected. He spoke of reading quantities of God's Word as being vital for maintaining the sense of God's presence and power in his daily life. Being a word girl, that struck me as odd. Deeper was better, in my mind. Didn't Paul exhort Timothy to "study to show thyself approved?" It was many years before I started reading large portions of the Bible on a daily basis. I chose Grant Horner's Bible Reading System but any regular plan will work. After just a few weeks I began to experience the "blessing of kings" recorded in Deuteronomy 17:19-20. Daily, mindful reading of God's Word is now my top priority.
- Search for Christ in His Word: What do I mean by mindful reading? I keep one question as my focus every time I open God's Word: "What does this passage reveal about my God?" I'm not reading just to run my eyes over the words, or to find "something for today", I'm looking for Jesus! When I read Ephesians 4:32, I'm not thinking "Rule number 407: Be Kind. Check." Instead I'm seeing kindness as an integral character trait of my beloved Lord. He's shown me kindness time and again, even when I didn't deserve it. His kindness shines in the Gospels, when He walked among us as a man. He values kindness in His children. Because kindness is important to Him, it becomes important to me.
- Meditate on the Word: There are dozens of effective methods for meditation. Because this is such a vital topic, I'm going to save it for another letter. Training your mind to think biblically is one of the most important disciplines you will ever undertake. I'd encourage you to take the time to read Soul Nourishment First by George Mueller sometime in the next day or two.
- Memorize the Word: The Holy Spirit uses the Word to search and speak to your soul and spirit. The more of that Word you have stored in your brain, the greater His latitude for working in your life. You will use the Word to defend your heart and mind from attacks from the Evil One and to share your faith in Christ. Know your sword. Keep it sharp. Keep it polished.
- Obey the Word: There is great danger in knowing the Word, and not keeping it. God doesn't measure our input, he measures our output. We'd like to think that reading, meditation, memorization, and church attendance are what God is most concerned with, because those are fairly easy tasks to check off a list. These are, instead, seeds. When we allow God to turn up the soil of our hearts, these seeds have the potential to produce a rich harvest.
- Place yourself under the authority of a Bible-preaching church: Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is vital, but so is our corporate relationship as a member of a church. You need the preaching of the Word, an opportunity to minister the Word, and the fellowship of others committed to becoming women of the Word to continue to grow in grace. I love to listen to sermons on the internet, but that isn't church. Christ has an eternally deep love for his bride. Don't snub or neglect her because she isn't particularly beautiful in your eyes right now. The church isn't a restaurant with a tantalizing menu and trained staff to meet your every need, it's a family dinner. Pitch in. Cook. Do dishes. Hold a baby in your lap. Sweep the floor. Surround yourself with the love (and craziness) that is family.
We practice these disciplines not to work ourselves into God's favor, or even because we can accomplish the work of grace in our life, but because that is where Christ meets us and changes us into His image.
I'll write you another letter soon about meditation, and it's twin sister, prayer. Those are vital topics that are an integral part of our relationship with Christ.
I love you, my little French horse!