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Handling the Word of God 8 May 2011 Elder Frederick Lan

Today we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible, the most faithful and accurate translation in the English language. Let us thank God for His precious Word which He has inspired and preserved for us.

But what does it mean for us individually in practical terms?
Joshua chapter 1 verse 8 gives us practical instructions on how we should handle the Word of God. The first thing to note is the regard for the Word of God. Joshua was instructed thus, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night….”. It is the acknowledgement that this is indeed the very Word of God. And that this God is the God who created the heavens and earth and upholds them by the word of His power. Several pertinent questions arise – What does the Word of God mean to us? Is it mere mental assent? Do you realise that when you open the Bible to read, it is God Himself speaking to you? Yes, it is the thrice-holy God speaking to us. In Isaiah 6:1-3 we read these words, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” When Isaiah came before this thrice-holy God, we read his response in Isaiah 6:5 thus, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Such was the prophet’s sense of awe and reverence before “the LORD of hosts.”

Do we have such a sense of awe and reverence when we come before God in the reading of His Word? Do we rush through in the morning in the cursory reading of God’s Word as a routine morning duty? If this is our case, let us learn to ‘be still’ before God and listen to Him speaking to us as we read His Word, praying with the psalmist, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psalm 119:18).
Having acknowledged that it is the very Word of God, we must then treasure it in our hearts. Is the Word of God precious to you? Do you seek after it wholeheartedly? Hearken to the words of Psalm 119:2, 34, “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart…...Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” Wise king Solomon with reference to the Word of God tells us in Proverbs 2:3-5, “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” Next, we observe the reflection upon the Word of God. Joshua was told, “….but thou shalt meditate therein day and night….” This is the natural consequence to the treasuring up of the Word of God in our hearts. It is not only treasured up but kept hidden in the heart. Today, we refer to the hiding of God’s Word in our hearts scripture memorisation, a spiritual exercise in line with the teaching of Psalm 119:11, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” We memorise the Word of God, not because we are told to do so on Sunday during the Worship Service but because we delight in doing so in obedience to His Word. As such, we memorise it not only during the Worship Service but daily seek to reflect upon it and continue to memorise new verses as the Lord speaks to us in our daily reading of His Word. The psalmist cries out in Psalm 119:97, 103 thus, “O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day…...How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” The Word of God also keeps us from sinning against Him, be it in thought, word or deed. It is a preventive measure against sin being “.…a Lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The psalmist cries out, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?

By taking heed thereto according to Thy word.” (Psalm 119:9) He acknowledges the key is in the Word of God and so he resolves thus, “With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments. Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:10-11)
With the memorisation, we recall the verse memorised and reflect upon it in our daily discourse with every given opportunity. This is called meditation. It is the reflection and recollection of the Word of God. We must learn to saturate our hearts and minds with the Word of God which “….is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) And in Ephesians 6:17, the Apostle Paul refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit”, our ‘effective and offensive weapon’ against our adversary, the devil who “…..as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9) The term ‘meditation’ is completely different from the so-called meditation that one hears or reads in the media which has captivated the minds of some Singaporeans, even among the ‘so-called elite’. Christian meditation must be based on our reflection on the Word of God, which is the truth of God and which abides forever! Matthew Poole, the renowned Bible commentator reminds us that meditation is to “diligently study, and frequently and upon all occasions consider what is God’s will and thy duty.” Conscientious reflection upon the Word of God would result in the clear reflection of the Word of God in the daily affairs of one’s life. Joshua as he prepared to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land was encouraged by the Lord thus, “….as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest”. (Joshua 1:5-7) And in the following verse he was instructed to reflect upon the Word of God in his life so that “this book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth” and to “observe to do according to all that is written therein” with the promise “for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” James reminds us thus, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)

After you have read, do you make it a habit to reflect upon the Word of God? The Lord Jesus in Matthew chapter 5 likened this as being “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Therefore, the call to us from the Lord Himself is, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Dearly beloved, the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible certainly serves as a timely reminder for us to acknowledge that we have before us the very Word of the thrice-holy God which should cause us to resolve in our hearts to love His Word, to reflect and to obey it in our daily living as an expression of our love, devotion and commitment to the Lord.

“Give me the dear old Bible as my guide each day, Be it my help and comfort on my pilgrim way, Until the gates of glory I at last shall see, The dear old Bible is good enough for me.
Give me the dear old Bible as my teacher true, Precious the words of promise, old, yet ever new; On every page the love of God I plainly see, The dear old Bible is good enough for me.

Give me the dear old Bible as a shining light, That will illumine me and guide my steps aright, Be it my sword to drive away the enemy, The dear old Bible is good enough for me.
Give me the dear old Bible when my life shall end, When in the vale of shadow it will comfort lend; It shall endure for time and all eternity, The dear old Bible is good enough for me.”

(By Haldor Lillenas)