“I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.”
Psalm 119:11 NIV
Today my time in the garden will be spent walking the many pathways that are lined with beautiful flowers. Each and every species is beautiful and fragrant. In the garden of my heart flowers from every season bloom continuously. The uniqueness with which God has created each flower starts my mind spinning in amazement as I take in the diversity of God's floral creations. The round purple globe of the tall alliums, the searing red, yellow and orange torch of the red hot poker, the unfolding layers of each magnificent rose in so many different colors, the delicate dainty flowers of the white candy tuft and sweet violets. I especially love the wonderful fragrance of the lavender clusters of lilac. Each flower reminds me that I too am wonderfully and uniquely made from the imaginative hand of my heavenly Father. I am also reminded that even when the path of my life twists and turns like a garden pathway, it is my heavenly Father who knows the path ahead and has a unique plan for my life. It is a plan designed to bring him glory and to give me a hope and a future.
As I reflect on my sixty plus years, life it has been basically good but not perfect. There have been years of plenty and years of not so much. There have been days of harmony and days of discord. There have been days of sorrow and grieving and days of happiness and joy. There have been days of concern and worry and days of solid unshakable trust. I know that the ups and downs and the hills and the valleys of my life have been uniquely designed for my personal spiritual growth and development. Even when life has changes for the worse, I am reminded that God is NOT the enemy but sin is the culprit!
As I lift my eyes to the heavens, I see a gorgeous periwinkle blue sky. The sky is flawless and I am reminded that my loving Heavenly Father is also flawless in his faithfulness to me. His faithfulness gives me divine hope for both today and tomorrow. He is a Father who is good all the time. Even in the midst of trouble my Father still remains good.
God’s goodness to mankind is available in so many different ways. Creation shouts loud and clear that God's hand created our world for our use and our pleasure. God has also given us his Word, it is a road map that shows us the way into his heart. The Bible is full of wisdom regarding every subject; it is full of knowledge regarding all of things we need to know for today and the future. Above all, God’s plan of redemption is revealed to us in the Bible. The promises of God are found in the Bible and those promises are precious and sure. God’s Word reveals to us all of his many attributes, proving that he can be trusted. God’s Word reveals to us his plan for his creation from beginning to end. All of God’s provisions are his means of reaching out to mankind and each gift resonates with his goodness. God’s provision for all he has created is amazing. He has not left us alone on this earth without direction or hope. God knows that our brief life on this earth will be empty and meaningless without him. So as a result of his goodness, we have a hope and a future! We are surrounded by the goodness of our creator. God continues to reach out to all of us in so many ways; we need only to reach up to him.
Today I am experiencing a holy moment as I reflect on the goodness of God. It is his goodness that creates time and space in my life to be used for learning. These good days are woven into my life on purpose and are designed to be used as days of preparation. In the last few years I have been experiencing a time of blessing and balance. Life is hectic but God has seemly given me a period of grace. My mind is clear and uncluttered and my responsibilities seem to be less demanding. The last few years my joy has been full and my life at this particular time is good. But I know full well that life can change on a dime!
So today, here in the quietness of the garden, I am experiencing a moment of revelation as the Holy Spirit speaks softly a new thought into my listening ears. He whispers, “Paula, this time of peace has been set apart by God for you to do your homework. You must do your homework because sooner or later there will be a test.” So I ask, “What homework?” The Holy Spirit begins to reveal that homework is hiding God’s Word in my heart so that I might not sin against him. Past experience tells me that when my back is against the wall, that is when my real nature comes out. This can be ugly! When my life becomes difficult and problems and pain drag me down I am at risk. I become especially vulnerable to Satan when my emotions are raw and my trust is faltering. Doing my spiritual homework now will counter Satan’s attack later. Jesus responded to Satan by quoting scripture during his time of temptation. It seems to me that if it worked for Jesus, it might indeed work for me as well.
Doing my homework now during days of peace gives me an edge on a future moment when life may tumble down on top of me like a dead limb falling from a tall oak tree. God’s homework assignment for me is to read his Word and store up the treasures that are to be found only in the Bible. It is through reading his Word that God gives me spiritual knowledge and understanding. God’s Word will give me direction and comfort to be used later in my time of need. During times of fear, if I have been reading the promises of God I will be the reminded that I must choose trust instead of fear and that God will never leave me or forsake me. If I have been reading about how much Jesus loves me, when loss comes I will be filled with comfort. When desperation threatens me, if the truth of God’s Word has been hidden in my heart it will give me hope. When Satan attacks me, I will know that he is the enemy not God. In times of brokenness, that which I have learned during times of peace will bring healing to my soul. I will remember in times of fear that it is His name, Jesus Christ that is higher than any other name on earth!
Reading God’s Word equips me with the full armor of God so that I can take my stand against the devil’s potentially disastrous schemes. God’s Word teaches me to put on and buckle around my waist the belt of truth. God’s Word is truth. I am told to wear the breastplate of righteousness for protection. God’s Word teaches me about righteousness. I am to wear shoes of readiness. God’s Word will prepare me for days of trouble. God’s Word teaches me how to access God and receive his grace in my life and his peace in my heart. My shield of faith comes only from knowing the Word of God. God’s Word teaches me to reach out and receive the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word. God’s Word is without a doubt my armor for the days when Satan would have me believe there is only sorrow and that God is not good.
Yes, today for me is an “ah-ha” moment! It is a moment when I recognize that reading God’s Word, hearing God’s Word, memorizing God’s Word, studying God’s Word, listening to music that is based on scripture, and yes, even praying God’s Word back to him are all ways that I can do my spiritual homework. What I put into my mind will either strengthen me or weaken me during days of discouragement and trouble. As believers, we are to think on things that are lovely and of good report. Those things a found in God's Word.
Could it be that our loving God deliberately gives us all prolonged moments of peace so that we can use that precious time of calmness to prepare for future trials? After all God knows the test that lies ahead and he loves us and wants us to be prepared and to succeed! How can you and I trust a God that we are only slightly acquainted with? If we do not know the promises of God How can we trust in those promises? How can we receive strength from God’s Word if we have never read the Bible? Oh yes, for me, this is indeed an “ah-ha” moment!
In addition, I am reminded that each day I live I am one day closer to the return of Jesus Christ. What will be required of me between now and the time that Jesus returns for his church? In these disturbing times of trouble, without a doubt these semi-peaceful days are days for all of us to do our homework so that we will be able to withstand any test that may come our way! God cares about all that concerns us. At some point in the future, all of us will encounter a time when life will test us but we must remember that God will be standing close by to see if we will lean upon him and his words during our time of testing. This day and every day God offers us amazing opportunities to prepare ourselves for the test ahead. We dare not neglect doing our homework.
1. How much time do you spend reading, hearing, or memorizing God’s Word?
2. When do you most often seek God? In times of peace and blessing or in times of trouble and distress?
3. Do you have enough of God’s Word hidden in your heart to carry you through a time of trouble?
3. Do you have enough of God’s Word hidden in your heart to carry you through a time of trouble?
4. How can you implement a homework plan that will teach you more and more about God’s Word?
5. Do you see the value in using peaceful times to prepare your heart for a time of testing?
6. Do you see that knowing what God’s Word says will better equip you to trust God and fight Satan in times of trouble?
Do not despair if you have trouble memorizing God’s Word. Memorizing God's Word, word for word, chapter and verse is always good to do but that is not the only way to hide his Word in our heart. When we repeatedly read God’s Word much of what we read will be retained even if it is paraphrased. We will also begin to remember the principles that are found in God's Word. We will hide his laws and his commands in our heart as well.
For example you may not know word for word that John 3:16 KJV says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” But you do know and understand the message of that scripture. You know that God’s Word teaches that God loved this world so much that he sent his only Son, Jesus to die so that we would not have to die for our sin. We know that if we confess that we are a sinner and believe in God’s Son and his sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin we will live eternally with God because of his gracious free gift of salvation.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Your Word is an amazing gift that you have given to me. I pray that I would use the peaceful times in my life to better equip myself for difficult days that may be ahead. Father for those who are in the middle of times of stress, sorrow, and despair I pray that they will find strength from your Word and that those words will comfort and sustain them during their time of testing. Give them insight and understanding as they read and recall your Word. I pray that they would feel your love and comfort. God, I am challenged today to learn more and more of what your Word teaches. I pray that I will hide your Word deep in my heart and store up in my mind your thoughts. Help me to be diligent about doing my homework now so that I might not sin against you during days of adversity. You have told us that in this world we will have trouble but you Father have overcome the world. I thank you Lord for your holy Word that will help me to also be an overcommer.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.