For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
~ Romans 15.4, ESV
Welcome to mile-marker 17 of our #encourage marathon. (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)
Someone out there has a starving soul. It might even be you.
What is your reaction when you misplace your cell phone? What do you do when you leave home without it? Do you feel a spike in your stress level?
Because we use our phones for everything. It’s a source for music, books, news, communication, information, weather, and navigation. We can get help instantly in an emergency (as long as we have a signal). We can even monitor our home security systems. It’s become a valuable tool and a lot of people would feel lost without it… unfortunately.
Now, what would happen if your only bible went missing? (And don’t say you’d use the Internet!) Just imagine that your one point of access to the Bible was lost or taken from you. What would you do? Would it bother you? Would you panic? Would you go out and try to get another one? Would you hunt frantically for it?
What if our country was taken over by Muslims and you were imprisoned with no bible? (I highly doubt they’d let you have one.) Would you have passages stored up in your mind and heart to encourage you during that dark time?
Today’s passage lists two things that work together that we might have hope: endurance and encouragement of the scriptures. The two have a symbiotic relationship. One can know the scripture and take a lackadaisical attitude to what is written there. Then, when trials come, they say that the scripture is no help because they have done nothing to apply it beforehand. They fall flat because they lack endurance. On the other hand, one can possess a strong will, but without proper knowledge, they lose their motivation. We need both endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures for our spiritual survival.
Imagine running a marathon without having eaten for 3 days. How strong will your body be? Or, maybe you did eat, but your entire diet consisted of potato chips, gummy bears, and ice cream. How well will you run if you are starving or full of junk food? You may have trained hard for the marathon, but you neglected to care for your body’s nutritional needs. You will be far less successful than the person who has done both. (You might not even make it!)
The Bible is the nourishment our soul desperately needs. Devotionals, hymns, and sermons are like appetizers or spices—the draw us to the meal, they whet our appetite, or they enhance our appreciation for the meal—but they are not the main dish. We need the word every single day, just like we need food on a regular basis.
Why is knowing God’s word so important? There are at least 4 reasons:
- It tells us about the God we serve.
- It reveals God’s promises.
- It provides examples of the faithful (and the doom of the unrighteous).
- It gives us HOPE.
Think of these things like amino acids, minerals, protein—just as those things are necessary for the body, so God’s Word is necessary for the soul.
You never know when the time will come when you need the solid rock of God’s promises. You might get that earth-shattering phone call today. Don’t wait until the bomb explodes. Don’t wait until you’re in the dark pit. Don’t wait until you find yourself imprisoned without a Bible. Commit the word to your heart today, right now.
Meditate on it.
Talk about it.
Listen to it.
Write it down.
You might feel a lack of desire for the Word in the same way a child whose diet consists of sugar does not want meat or vegetables. Go on a “sugar” fast and make time to focus on the Word. You’ll be amazed at how it begins to appeal to you far more than anything else.
Feed your soul and run the race.
I have written several posts on the subject of God’s Word. Here are a few:
Please continue to join me on Facebook, Twitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share the image or verse reference on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.
Make some time to copy down these posts. You never know what little eyes are watching. My 6-year-old daughter has been asking for copies of what I’ve written down, and every so often I catch her writing down her memory verses on one of her drawings. Don’t just be encouraged, but encourage others in the race!