Reading Scripture to Know Jesus

I chose Robby the Robot. It was the children’s bible-study award night at church. As an eight-year-old, I received the most points for inviting people to church, memorizing scripture, and participating in activities. The accomplishment made me ecstatic. From the word "go" of the competition, I was driven to complete each task. Family would often see me wandering around the house, saying the verses aloud, and having others quiz me. When the day came to choose an award, toys were spread out across tables, and I was the first in line to pick my prizes. Robby was an inflatable robot that sat on a wheeled platform, complete with remote control. While flimsy and temporary, he lasted far longer than anyone expected. But you know what didn’t? My memory of Bible verses.

Almost forty years later, I can’t tell you a single verse I memorized. At the young age of eight I had memorized scripture with the express purpose of garnering the prize, not a deeper relationship with Jesus. As soon as I moved on to the next interest in my life, scripture held no sway in my decision-making, and eventually I abandoned reading and memorizing scripture.

When the time was ripe, a single scripture, Hebrews 11:1, opened my soul to my need for the Savior. "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." For the last twenty-five years scripture has been a pillar—alongside prayer, fellowship, and witnessing—that stabilizes my faith. God’s Word educates me, challenges my sinful patterns, and aids me to stand firm when trouble comes.

Jesus set the example of how important scripture is as I face trials. He quoted the Old Testament prophets to establish his authority. He stood firm as Satan tried to tempt Him when he spent forty days fasting in the desert (Matthew 4). Finally, I have come to the place where scripture is interwoven into my daily living. It never ceases to amaze me how scripture continues to unfold in my life.

Recently my family visited the beach, and I rose early to see the sunrise. Each time the pink edges of light peeked over the horizon of the ocean, it caused the clouds and water to catch fire. I was in awe at the power and beauty in each sunrise. It was on one such morning that a friend called as I was admiring the sunrise. You see, I’m memorizing all of Romans 8 with this friend, and she called me for our weekly review. She too had visited the coast, and so we compared our experiences. Specifically she pointed out the verse that talks about creation being subjected to frustration.

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the

creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who

subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay, and

brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21, NIV).

“Creation is still beautiful,” she said.

God desires my heart to turn toward loving the created world and those who live here. God could have turned our world into an ugly mess, reflecting the brokenness that seems to be all over the daily news. Some days it seems very similar to the abused planets and evil dwellers in the Marvel movie multiverse. Instead, the Creator continues to seek to redeem creation, and wows me with beautiful sunrises and other notable vistas. This helps me because I tend to dwell on the frustration part and not the hope named in Romans 8:20. My friend’s insight into the scripture helped me see more clearly that frustration has a purpose—to deliver me from the things that hurt me, and to bring me closer to God.

There is so much hope in knowing that I am not alone because of God's unending presence. That I don’t have to depend upon my own ways of thinking to sustain me when I face challenges of many kinds. The habit of turning to scripture has helped me take a stand against a relentless Enemy. I desire to equip others with the same arsenal of hope. Now, as I meditate on and memorize scripture, I choose a deeper relationship with Jesus. Knowing Him grows, changes, and sustains my life, which has a lasting effect.

FOR FURTHER THOUGHT

If you are just getting started learning about Jesus, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to begin. At the age of twenty, I sure did. The good news is, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV). Therefore, scripture reading is one of the best ways to get to know Jesus at a deeper level.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I asked those who were further along in their faith than I was. As a result of their wisdom, they opened my eyes to both the character of God and my character. Though it seems like it, God doesn’t withhold biblical meaning from me, yet sometimes I just don't fully understand some of the passages. Still, it is so fun when scriptural truth clicks into place.

Reading in different translations can lend insight. Though I am memorizing Romans 8 in the New International Version (NIV), I love the eye-opening exuberance of The Message paraphrase. “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Romans 8:15-17 MSG). “Grave-tending,” in particular, hits home with me today because I tend to focus on the losses I experience rather than the spectacular presence of God with me.

TRY THIS

When encountering scripture I ask the following questions:

· What is the scripture saying to those whom it was originally addressed?

· How does the scripture apply to me?

· Is God revealing a truth I can implement in my life?

Do you have a favorite translation or a passage that really speaks to you? We would love to hear how scripture is alive and active in your life. I utilized the Navigator Topical Memory system, which also provided bible-study to go along with the verses I was learning. Forming the habit of scripture reading can take time, yet it is worth it. Remember that it is about WHO you are getting to know and not WHAT you know that matters most.

PRAYER

Lord, it seems I am still just getting to know you. Open my eyes to your presence throughout scripture, and strengthen me with your Word. Amen.


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