First Mennonite Church
January 18, 2015
Living With the Living Word
Psalm 19:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13
The Bible is indeed a library containing many books, covering many topics. And although it is true to some extent that many people have used the Bible to suit their own ends, the Bible has also been a great source of inspiration to bring about change to the immediate surroundings of many.
Just recently I read the story of Margaret Ahmed in the city of Jos in Nigeria. Close to her house was an abandoned warehouse where drug addicts gathered. She was afraid for the safety of her two young daughters and was compelled to do something about the situation. In 2011, three days before Christmas, Margaret decided to intervene. Although Margaret is never at loss for words, when she approached the group of young men, she had a hard time trying to find her voice. When she finally managed to speak, she said to the young men, “I want to be a mommy to you.” The young men only stared at her. She continued talking, suggesting the reasons they might have for doing drugs. She promised to come back. On Christmas day she did not go to church. Instead, Margaret cooked rice, chicken, and cake for about 50 people and took the food to the place where the young men hung out. When Margaret arrived, the young men had cleaned the place, although it still reeked with human waste and flies buzzed all over. She served them the food. She kept visiting them. She engaged them with Scripture to show them the value of life and hope for the future. The young men told her that when she was with them their urge to do drugs was reduced. They said that she loved them without judgment, unlike society and even the church. Bible study was part of her weekly program with them. And Margaret claims that the Bible has played a major role, not only in transforming the lives of the young people, but in her very life. It was the Bible that moved her to compassion and gave her confidence that these young men could change. In December of last year when this story appeared in the Mennonite World Review, some 40 young men had quit drugs. Some had influenced other young men to stop also. Some sought to learn a trade, others were going to the university and to a nursing school, while another was farming on a land he rented.
This week I was listening through a podcast of my friend Willi Hugo from Guatemala. He tells the story of Mardoqueo and Lorena in Ciudad Peronia, one of Guatemala City’s most violent barrios. Mardoqueo and Lorena are pastors at Beloved Land Church. The city of Peronia is overrun by gangs. Rapes, murders, extortion, kidnapping, and fear were the daily bread of Ciudad Peronia. Mardoqueo and Lorena prayed and believed God wanted them to do something about the huge and dangerous problem. They gradually developed relationships with gang members. The day finally came when they witnessed the first conversion and baptism of a gang member. Then others followed. The church of Mardoqueo and Lorena established a recovery program. It included weekly Bible studies, vocational training, and a community garden. Today, many who were gang members are productive citizens. Some of them are selling fresh produce and other food items to the community at a reduced price. Mardoqueo and Lorena are convinced that God’s love makes the difference. “A spark of love can light a larger light that can transform the lives of many,” says Mardoqueo.
I rejoiced reading the testimonies in two of the responses I got. It made clear the Bible has played an important role in your lives. How your mothers used Scripture to encourage and to direct you in life. How the Bible gave you strength when you were ill and injured. There are certain passages in the Bible that serve like a rock on which we find strength. There are certain passages in the Bible that give us hope, confidence, assurance, and peace. Yet, just as food in the pot does no good to the hungry, so is the Word of God if we do not delight in it. I want to invite you to take a closer look at Psalm 19 and allow it to change our view of the Word of God.
We all can have an idea of what the perfect vacation would be like. Most likely it would be at another place where you will be served with the best amenities. We also might have an idea of what the perfect house would be. Most likely it would be large and furnished with all the modern appliances.
When the psalmist discovered that his soul, that is, his entire life, experiences renewal, satisfaction, and true joy in the word of the Lord, the only way he could describe the Word is that it was perfect. The Psalmist did not see the law of the Lord as burdensome or too difficult to live by. The Psalmist delighted in the word. The First Letter of John, chapter five and verses two and three read: This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
I have spoken to people who have told me that they cannot commit themselves to God because He demands too much. They seem to believe that the Christian life is a life of deprivations. Psalm 19 reflects a different perspective. The Psalmist describes the Word of the Lord as the fountain of wisdom, as the source of good news that gladdens the heart. The Psalmist considers the Word as the rising sun in the morning, which dissipates all darkness and allows clear visibility. The Psalmist believes the Word of God is trustworthy, pure and eternal. It guides to righteousness. Hebrews 4, verse 12 is clear about the word of God. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The Psalmist describes the decrees of the Lord as more precious than gold, even more than purified gold and sweeter than honey from the honeycomb.
What is our view of the Word of God? If the Word of God is to have a special meaning in our lives we must begin to change our view of it. Instead of it being a book only good on Sunday, we must begin to crack it open during the week also. If we view it as a book too difficult to understand, we should ask God to help us understand it. James says: Is someone lacking wisdom/understanding, ask God and He will give it you abundantly (James 1:5).
Let us take time to read and meditate on the Word of God. Commit yourself to God promising to make room in your busy schedule to read a verse, a chapter, or a Psalm each day. Find delight in the Word. Savor the sweetness of God’s promises to you. Rejoice and praise God when you find a treasure more precious than gold. When you need guidance or affirmation on the decisions you have made, seek the Lord in prayer.
For those of us who have young children, let us keep teaching the Word to our children. Quote Scripture to them. One of you wrote, “My mother used to tell me, ‘God is love.’ How beautiful those words sounded in the voice of my mother!” And for us all who are called to move forward, to overcome something in life, here is a verse that brought and still brings strength: I can do all things in Christ who gives me strength, says Paul in Philippians 4:13.
Indeed the word of God is alive and active, especially if we live with the Word and act upon it. Amen!
 An excerpt of Dave Klassen, Christmas With Drug Users, Mennonite World Review (December 8, 2014, pp. 1, 2)