The Blessings of Loving God’s Word
“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.” Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
During the pandemic, I have been watching a show from time to time. Daytime, nighttime, lunchtime, anytime! You might say I have become obsessed with catching up on all the seasons I have missed — and there are several.
I’m reading episode synopses and finding fresh things to talk about with my friends who have been die-hard fans for years. When I wake up in the morning, I am often thinking about the last episode I saw and wondering how it will resolve. It used to be that shows were only available once a week, and you had to wait to have your fill of your favorite sitcom or drama. But now, with streaming services, you can watch an entire season if you’re willing to stay awake.
Isn’t it crazy how something I’m watching, that has nothing to do with my life, can take so much of my time and mental energy? It’s like I’m meditating on the show. Thinking about the characters. Relishing the beginning of romance. Pondering the mysteries of the storyline.
We can get stuck on streaming, meditating on storylines that have little to do with real life. It’s so easy to get distracted with what our devices offer so easily. We gravitate toward entertainment, just like kids do. But the Bible directs us to a different path than modern media does. As today’s key verse says, we are to:
“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” (Joshua 1:8).
Ideally, what is supposed to be filling our minds and the topics of our conversations? What should be influencing our behavior? The Word of God. Not Netflix, Hulu or YouTube. Although you can find the Word of God in these places, you’re more likely to find something else.
The words in the key verse were spoken to Joshua as he was about to assume leadership from Israel’s man of God, Moses. Joshua was about to become the CEO of Israel, Incorporated. He was going to have more work than he had hours in the day, yet he was told to meditate. He was supposed to take time to understand the Book of the Law — and we are too.
The Word of God is to shape what comes out of our mouths. The orders and judgments from Joshua’s leadership had to be consistent with the Book of the Law. We may not be heading up a nation, but we are influencing people around us. We are told to meditate on the Word of God.
Let’s get real. This takes more effort than kicking back and streaming our favorite shows. Streaming services offer us endless choices that captivate our imaginations. It’s all about us and our preferences.
The Bible, however, is about God and His preferences. When we choose to love God’s law and delight in what He delights in, we unlock a “prosperous and successful” life. Psalm 37:4 says it this way, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (NIV).
One thing that has helped me meditate on God’s Word during this pandemic is reading through Psalms and Proverbs with my daughter. It’s amazing how relevant these books are today. More than ever, with so many channels screaming and streaming to capture our attention, we’ve got to focus on the Word of God. Inside the pages of the Bible, there’s not only romance, drama, war and comedy — there is the path to everlasting life. That’s something that binge-watching can never deliver!
More Than Dust and Bone
“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
Remember who you are.
These are words I spoke to my children countless times when they were younger. I wanted them to remember they are children of the Almighty God. I knew if they remembered this truth, they would be better able to live this truth.
Genesis 1 and 2 read like this kind of reminder to me. A reminder I needed when my heart was broken and I could feel everything good slipping away from me. I felt so insignificant. I was trying to move forward after the deep pain of betrayal. I kept asking, “Is it even possible to heal from something like this?” As we navigate a world full of hurt and hearts so often full of shame, these first two chapters of the Bible feel like God whispering to us: “Remember who you are. Remember how I designed you. Remember all I’ve called you to be.”
When God formed, shaped and painted this world and its creatures into being, His goodness seeped in with every thought and touch. And when He was done, Genesis 1:31a says, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
I love that God declared Adam and Eve to be exceedingly and abundantly good, even though the actual ingredients He used to make them were seemingly so very humble and basic. Dust and broken-off bone don’t seem like the most promising of beginnings.
Left on their own, these ingredients would amount to nothing. Insignificant. Unacceptable.
But chosen by God and then breathed on and touched by God, they became the only part of creation made in the image of God. They were “nothing,” turned into the most glorious “something.” They were made to be a reflection of the image of God. These image bearers made an invisible God’s image, visible.
And I don’t want us to miss the significance of Genesis 2:18 when God says He will make a helper suitable for Adam.
The Hebrew word for suitable is נֶגֶד neged, meaning “what is in front of you, in your sight, before your face in your view.” So, this word “suitable” gives meaning to the kind of help Adam needed. Beyond just needing help to work the garden or someone uniquely designed to be able to carry children so they could bring forth life, Adam needed a visual — something in front of him to view.
This seems to me to be a reflection. Not like a mirror reflecting only what you place in front of it. No, this is more like a reminder that what is standing in front of him is a reflection of God’s image.
It seems Eve, in being a helper suitable for him, was to be a reminder of who Adam was — a human made in God’s image. A reflection of the glory and goodness of God. It’s a reminder Eve would have needed as well. And together, they were to fill the earth with the glory of God. Not to just be fruitful and multiply it with children. But to multiply evidence of God Himself. (Genesis 1:28)
Their design in the image of God declared to the world, “God is worthy of praise!”
And their design declared to each other, “Remember who you are. You are of God. From God. Made in His image. Loved from the depth of God’s unfathomable Father’s heart. Treasured beyond imagination.”
This is the Divine Echo. This is what Adam and Eve were called to, and it’s what we’re called to as well. Not just married people, but every person with a beating heart. And the more we remind each other of who we really are, the more God’s goodness and glory will echo throughout the earth.
We aren’t just dust and bone.
We aren’t what we’ve done or what’s been done to us.
We aren’t the worst of what others have said about us.
We are the very breath and touch of God. Designed and loved by God. A reflection of the glory and goodness of God.
These are the truths I needed to remember about who I am. I am so much more than the sum total of my hurt and pain and insecurities. Maybe it’s what you need as well … so let me whisper to your soul, “Remember who you are.”
“How dark the gold has become, how the pure gold has changed … The precious sons of Zion, weighed against fine gold, how they are regarded as earthen jars, the work of a potter’s hands!” – Lamentations 4:1-2 NASB
Sometime around 1663, Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer finished a painting now known as Woman Holding a Balance, one of only thirty-six paintings he completed.
A Vermeer specialist recently described how this painting provides glimpses into seventeenth-century life. The only person pictured is a woman thought to be Vermeer’s wife. Holding a balance, she prepares to weigh gold and silver coins. Weighing coins was common at that time, the only way to learn their real value.
To understand Vermeer’s symbolism, we must consider a painting about the Last Judgment seen behind the woman. While the woman and her balance might seem dominant, the painting within the painting reminds us that God is weighing our lives. Counting gold also was important in Bible times. Gold could be used to honor God but also to form idols. And it symbolized worldly riches and wrong pursuits.
In the time of Jeremiah, many people focused on gold and forgot about God. In imagery similar to Vermeer’s symbolism, they once were “worth their weight in fine gold” but had become mere clay (v. 2 NLT). All their value had faded away.
God continues to weigh people and nations in His balance, to evaluate what we value and what is important to us. He measures where we invest our time and resources.
Make sure that you seek first the Kingdom that will never fade. Invest in the riches that cannot tarnish. Focus on God and His Kingdom.