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I couldn’t believe my eyes. No offline versions? I had not thought about downloading a Bible because I was nearly always connected to the internet and never far from my Smartphone. But I now was in the middle of the Caribbean on a ship with no internet. And, I left my paper version behind due to space and weight.
I must admit I felt a little panicked.
Most of you are thinking, “Relax, it’s only a week. You’ll live.”
And I did. There have been many times in the past that I have gone days without looking into God’s word, but just the idea that I couldn’t access the Scriptures when I wanted, was pretty upsetting.
All the while I was at sea, I could still scroll through information that had previously been downloaded to my phone. Things like past posts on Facebook, pictures I had taken, and old emails were kept right in its system and I could access them without an internet connection. But alas, I had not stored away a copy of the Bible on my phone, and now it was out of reach.
I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11 NIV
Truth be told, I have stockpiled a fair amount of God’s words in my heart over the past few years. In the process, I have formed a connection with God and His Holy Spirit that didn’t exist before. I now hear Him more clearly. Often, He speaks His words to me just when I need encouragement as in “I am with you always.” At times, I hear Him express words of action, reminding me to “love my neighbor” or “never grow tired of doing good”. And more than I like to admit, He calls me back to His path saying, “Do not be wise in your own eyes.”
That last bit reminds me I need the Word to live well in this world. Even now, I am reminded that Jesus who was fully God, yet also fully man used God’s Word to rise up over the temptation Satan threw at Him. See the story for yourself here in Luke 4. And in John 8:28, Jesus tells us that He does nothing on His “own initiative.” He lived in submission to God’s Word, and in doing so, He showed us how to live a holy life in a worldly place.
What is the process of hiding God’s Word in your heart so that you can follow in Jesus’ footsteps?
I suppose there are many ways to engage God’s Word, but one that I have found helpful is to look into small sections of it at a time. I use a method called SOAK: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Kneel.
I copy a small portion of Scripture into my journal. When I take time to write it out in my own hand, it causes me to slow down. It’s like a bike ride versus a car trip. I notice things going five miles per hour that I would never have seen going seventy. It may be a word or phrase that draws my attention and calls me to pause and think.
That’s where Observation comes in. This is where I will stop and take a longer look at the scenery. I may look up the word in the dictionary or lexicon. Perhaps I will cross-reference to see where the same idea shows up elsewhere in the Bible or seek out commentaries to see what others thought about the verses. I may even have seen something similar in my own experience that brings the thoughts to a personal level.
Which brings me to a ‘selfie’ moment. All good adventures call for some pictures. This is where I put myself in the lesson. How do I Apply what I have seen in my life? Is God teaching me something? Is He showing me a different perspective? Is there action I need to pursue now or information I need to store away for later?
Once I determine how the words of the Bible apply to me, an action may be required.
Kneel may not fit my bike ride scenario perfectly, but it may be the most important destination when it comes to looking into God’s Word. This is where I respond to what I have learned. Do I submit to God and His ways? This is a key step in hiding God’s word inside. I must respond to its teaching and make it part of who I am. My actions are what connect God’s word with my heart.
I’m not sure that I can even imagine a life without a connection to God. If you feel like you are disconnected, I urge you to take time to look into the words of the Bible. These days, you have access wherever you are on the device that is probably in your hand right now. Just one tip—Be sure to download a copy.