Monday, January 6, 2014

Treasures in the Heart

 This year, as in many years past, I decided to read through the Bible.  Some years I have made it and other years I have not.  My intentions have always been good but I needed something to keep me on track.  In reading another blog by Ron Edmondson, he recommended the "YouVersion" Bible app for smartphones, IPads, IPods as well as computers.  It is a good way to pick a plan, a version of the Bible and set up daily reminders to read your Bible.
     As I have been using it, the study I picked has taken me into the Gospel according to Luke.  Luke, a physician, was not a direct eyewitness to the events in the life of Christ, but he was a faithful recorder of the Good News who interacted with those who were eyewitnesses. Inspired by the Holy Spirit he wrote his account in order to assure his friend Theophilus that he could have "certainty concerning the things you have been taught" (Luke 1:3b).  This is a certainty for us as well.  That is the beauty of the written Word of God.
     In pouring through this Gospel account, I have come upon a phrase that is repeated by Luke at least twice.  First in Luke 2:19 when the shepherds came from the fields to see the baby, they told Mary and Joseph about the angels and their proclamation concerning this child.  Mary's response found in this verse reads:  "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart."  Then, in Luke 2:51, we see a similar response by Mary.  Jesus, who was twelve years old at the time, had stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Feast of Passover to talk with the teachers in the Temple instead of returning to His home with Mary and Joseph.  Of course, both of them were frightened when they could not find Him and returned to Jerusalem searching for Jesus for three days.  When they found Him in the Temple, Mary rebuked Him for causing them such concern.  Jesus responded to them saying He must be in His Father's House.  Neither Mary nor Joseph could fully understand all this, but we see in verse 51 what happened after this:  "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.  And His mother treasured up all these things in her heart."
     We can only imagine how Mary must have pondered the many miraculous things which she was witness to.  The coming of the angel to tell her of the birth of Messiah, the coming of the shepherds, wise men bringing gifts to a king, finding Jesus in the Temple with the teachers were all out of the ordinary pointing to the fulfillment of what God had told her.  She did what many mothers and fathers do.  She stored up and treasured these moments to think on them and ponder them.
     Back in my college literature classes, I learned that when an author repeats something we must take notice.  In this Gospel, Luke brings this to our attention both to point out Mary's meditation on the things of God and to encourage us to do likewise in our own study concerning our faith.  In Mary's case, she was living the very things foretold by the prophets and witnessing the miracle of God in the flesh.  For our sakes, God had Luke faithfully study what the eyewitnesses to Christ told him and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit record it that we may also ponder and meditate on the Word of God.  This is the purpose of the Bible.  It is the truth revealed to us in written form that we may have certainty in our faith.  Likewise, the Bible is the only foundation for life and godliness.  Paul wrote to Timothy some important words we would do well to follow:  " Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).  How do we handle the Word of truth well?  By study, meditation, and prayer, we can read God's Word and mine all the treasures He has for us.
     While Mary lived the Word of God made flesh and pondered all these things in her heart, we can read the inspired, true Word of God in the pages of our Bible.  It will change our heart and renew our minds.  We will find inspiration, joy, and most importantly, hope for tomorrow as we glean the truths set forth.  However, we have to be in the Bible in order for it to change us.  Like Mary, we must store up these treasures and think about them in our heart.  This is why God had 66 different authors record His inspired Word to us that we may conformed to the image of His dear Son.
     I would encourage everyone to find a Bible reading plan such as I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Then, utilize it daily.  Memorize the Word, pray the Word, and think on it day and night.  We are to teach it to our children, encourage each other with it, and correct one another under its tutelage.
     God has given us a rich treasure.  Like Mary, let us treasure all that God has given to us in His Word and ponder it in our hearts.  We will find our lives much richer for the time we devote to the study of God's Word.  Selah!

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