Retain God’s Word
In part one we discussed reading and studying the Bible, the Word of God. In this section we’ll add the next key to making God’s Word our own; which is to retain it in our minds. In the book of James there is a verse that tells us how to receive God’s Word and then segues into the next step.
…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
I hesitated to use this verse because of the phrase “receive with meekness.” Today, we equate the word “meek” with the idea of being a doormat. Note well: the Bible sometimes uses words differently than we do. The translators did their best, but occasionally there was no English word to match the original meaning.
In this verse, the quality of mind called “meek” can be simply defined as “free from haughty self-sufficiency.” It means to acknowledge that we aren’t as bright as God. It goes further and implies that God is more interested in our best interests than are we. So, when His Word disagrees with our opinions, we accept His Word. We do what He says rather than what we feel like doing.
If you wish to study this word for yourself, check out the very first time it’s used in the Bible. Then start in Exodus and read about the meekest man on the face of the earth. Are you going to call Moses a doormat?
James 1:21 contains an interesting phrase, “the engrafted word.” Some versions of the Bible have, “the implanted word.” As we receive God’s Word it is our responsibility (with God’s help) to graft it to our minds, to plant it in our hearts. Then this Word can start to become a living part of us. This is what it means to retain God’s Word.
Remember those Pharisees who didn’t allow the Word to abide in their hearts? The Bible speaks of people today who have the same failing:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be inconvenienced! Remember, the Pharisees were “very religious;” they were the preachers and teachers of their day. But their fruits are described in verses twenty-nine and following.
The benefits of retaining God’s Word in our minds are as spectacular as the problems caused by failing to do so. Let’s take a look at the very first verse in the Bible that I ever consciously memorized:
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
To live in sin is to live in separation from God. As we hide God’s Word in our hearts we will be far less likely to stray from God’s side. We can walk in fellowship with God. This, I have found, is an excellent place to be. Remember, God is more concerned about our best interests than we are.
Isaiah 55:8, 9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Meekness is realizing the truth of this verse. But…as we train our minds to think God’s thoughts, our thinking will be higher – more perfect – than we can currently imagine. We’ll see, in later studies, that we can also bring our ways (actions) in alignment with His. We will manifest God’s power in our lives.
Have you ever listened to a Bible teaching by an accurate, dynamic teacher? Did you notice that the weight of the burdens on your shoulders grew less? There’s a reason for this.
So then faith [believing] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Hearing God’s Word preached will actually increase your believing, your trust in God. But, when you have the Bible abiding in your mind you can preach the good news, the gospel, to yourself as many times a day as you want! The more of God’s Word that you retain in your mind the more you will be ready and able in every situation. You will be imitating Jesus Christ in Luke chapter 4. He faced every temptation with: “It is written.” Jesus had God’s Word abiding in his heart.
So, where do we start?
It’s like the old saying, “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” In our case, the journey of a lifetime walking with God can begin with a single verse.
Back when I was a lad – before the invention of electricity – I wrote down Psalm 119:11 on a
stone tablet 3 x 5 card. Each time I thought of it, I took it from my pocket to read and consider. By the end of the day I had it memorized. The next day I picked another verse. On the weekend I reviewed all of the verses I had looked at that week.
With every verse I also memorized the reference (“Psalm 119:11”). That way I could find it again! There are few things more annoying than a person who “quotes the Bible” but can’t find the verse to prove it.
I know what you’re thinking – isn’t there a pill I can take that will do this for me? How about a smart phone app?
It’s true that, for many tasks today, there is an electronic helper we can use. You might, however, want to try the old-fashioned method. Many have noted that there is something about actually writing the words that helps drive it into our mind. The important part, though, is that it gets into our minds. Electronic aids to memory are marvelous – I use them myself. But having the Word of God in your smart phone is not the same as having it in your heart.
There are number of ways to select verses when we’re starting out. You could pick one from your daily Bible reading. If there’s a problem in my life I wish to overcome I could search for an appropriate verse. We must always be sure, however, to pick verses that we clearly understand.
Here are some suggestions:
Is your life full of turmoil?
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Are your circumstances making you afraid?
I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Do you have money problems – too much or too little? Read the context below and memorize verse 13.
Philippians 4:11, 12
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Maybe you’re struggling with health issues. Here are two to consider.
Who [Jesus] his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes [sufferings] ye were healed.
3John 2 [3rd John has only one chapter!]
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Whatever verses you might pick, never forget that God wants you to succeed. If you fall short – if you miss a couple of days (or years) – get back on your feet and keep plugging away. God is on your side.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.