This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free, compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from the heart of Sister Maria (from Mozambique; had been imprisoned under severe circumstances. Because of the danger to her at the time of this writing, she has made use of a pseudonym), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. (Psalm 69:1-4)
These are the words of David, the man after God's heart, but at the same time the fugitive king of Israel, calling out to God while fleeing his enemies. He called to God in times of peace and in times of persecution.
I often thought of these verses when I was imprisoned. I was also reminded of Jesus' warning:
'You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them... Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.' (Mark 13:9-11)
I am so glad that I memorized so many scriptures beforehand, for when my turn came to be persecuted for Christ, they really sustained me through all the difficult times.
'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly' (Colossians 3:16).
If that is the case, you will always experience the previous verse 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be thankful' (Colossians 3:15).
A moment of introspection: Many are the days when God's Word upholds, enlivens, guides, corrects, challenges, and brings peace within, as we internalize the words of grace and power, majesty and strength. In my own experience, I have often been reminded of God's assurance in Psalm 37:23-24 "If the LORD delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand." I keep "eating" (or memorizing) His words and they are indeed a joy and rejoicing in my heart (Jeremiah 15:16). When I am growing weary, Isaiah 40:31 enlivens my bedraggled reverie and thoughts, and sends them and my hope in the Lord soaring. Hebrews 12:2-3 also come to mind "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." The words of Scripture interject themselves, day by day, as I go about my responsibilities. Why do I hide God's Word in my heart? Psalm 119:11 answers that accurately: "I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You." From moment to moment, how do I know if what I do sins against God? The Holy Spirit brings God's Word to mind, guiding me (Psalm 25:4-5; 32:8), correcting me (Isaiah 30:21; 2 Timothy 3:16), challenging me (Romans 6:11-12; James 1:22-25), and brings me peace amid troubled times (John 16:33; also see Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."[NKJV]).
Sister Maria eloquently said why she was so glad that she had memorized scriptures in her own life. What reasons could you give (Psalm 40:8)? Would you prayerfully hope that God would answer your petitions? Consider, then, these words: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:7, NIV). Do we seek wisdom from on high? The author of the book of James (James 1:5) says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him." In the Holy Scriptures, God has given us wisdom aplenty. In fact, someone recently said that if we seek wisdom, we should read the book of Proverbs over and over, until we are so familiar with it that God can bring to our mind all the wisdom contained therein. A daunting task? Think of the affirmation the apostle Paul gave at the end of Chapter 3 of his letter to the church at Ephesus; God is indeed "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us..." (Ephesians 3:20) How daunting a task would that be, when God is able to do so much more than we expect, "according to His power that is at work within us..."
God teaches us and guides us as we store up the divine wisdom. We delight to do God's will. How do we do this through memorization of God's Word? James tells us: (James 1:22-25 [ESV] "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." We memorize God's Word, and then act upon it. God's Holy Spirit helps us. Please see the devotional entitled, "Bible Memorization - I Have Hidden Your Words" for ways to store God's Word in our hearts, that He might in His timing and for His good pleasure bring them to mind, so that we may act on them. We, too, can be so glad that we have memorized God's Word. Sister Maria, thank you for your testimonial and your encouragement. We are indebted to you.