If you were God, and you could send a gift to help us - the people who live on earth - improve life, what would you send? Money to help the poor? A wise doctor who could cure cancer and other incurable diseases? World peace?
While pondering this a bit, you might decide that Jesus was probably the best gift that you could send; after all, Jesus does heal people, he does bring peace, and he offers eternal hope and everlasting security: all very good things. You might just decide that God's gift was good, and join the millions of others who have opened the gift of a relationship with Christ and improved their lives. If you haven't yet, I hope you do.
I also hope that you won't think, after opening that very special gift, that the party is over! Here's why: there's a whole big pile of presents still waiting to be opened, and if I were God, which I'm not (thank goodness!), I'd be wondering why my kids didn't want to open the rest of them!
My studies led me into John 17 this week. This is the chapter that includes Christ's famous prayer to His Father, just before His death and resurrection. The first part of verse 14 seemed to jump off the page to me; Jesus says, "I have given to them the Words which You have given Me; and they have received them." (John 17:8 & 14) What impressed me was this: that the gift Jesus chose to give us was the Words of His Father. Christ gave His disciples every Word He heard His Father speak, and stated in the same prayer, "Your Word is truth" (John 17:19). Clearly, God's Words are very precious.
For those who feel they cannot hear God, this has huge implications. If the one thing Jesus gave us when He came to earth was the Word, and if we have this Word meticulously, even inerrantly preserved for us today, then it is impossible NOT to hear from God! The Word is indeed "near you, in your mouth and in your heart." (Romans 10:8) The only thing we need to do - you guessed it - is open it!!
"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word...
the Word which you hear is not Mine
but the Father's who sent me."
Amazingly, so many believers fail to open the largest, most obvious gift given to them. This present sits neatly on our bookshelves or even prominently displayed on our coffee tables for all to see, but we rarely get beyond looking at the cover's beautiful "packaging." We don't have time, we don't understand it, we fear what it - the truth - might do if we allowed it to penetrate our hearts. And so this precious gift, God's Word, is ignored. We have an opportunity to communicate with the most powerful and influential Person ever known, and instead, we walk away.
In contrast, there is currently a YouTube video-gone-viral of believers in China opening a box of Bibles for the first time. They rush to receive a Bible, then a hush comes over the assembled group as they kiss the books and hold them close to their hearts, some with tears of joy. Desperation, while unfortunate, creates deeper desire.
In fact, God had to humble the Israelites with hunger in the wilderness to create just such a desperation. Deuteronomy 8:3 reads: "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." We should be like a ravenous man seeking food as we devour the Word of God!
The Bread of Life
The Word is, quite literally, living and active. (Hebrews 4:12). It is the bread of life that sustains us. In fact the Word, says John in the first chapter of his gospel, is God. (John 1:1-3; see also John 6:33-35). Christ presented us, through God's Words, with the manifested heart and desire of God in the earth. And beyond that, Christ became the embodiment of the Word in its entirety, and is called the Word (Revelation 19:13), because He obeyed the Words of His Father perfectly. Jesus fulfilled every Word the Father had ever spoken, prophesied, or commanded. (See 2 Peter 1:19).
As Jesus demonstrated, the Word of the Lord is precious enough to die for. We simply must hear the Word; life is not worth living without it! This Word is powerful enough to give life to our mortal bodies and resurrect the dead. Knowing the Word - knowing Jesus - gives us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) In other words, we have not just the "survival gear" we need to get through this wilderness called life, but also the supernatural anointing to transcend this life and walk in godliness and communion with Him, as Enoch did.
When you need a father or a mentor ... He is in the Word.
When you need healing or deliverance, it is in the Word.
When you need physical strength, it is in the Word.
When you need a friend who understands, He is in the Word.
There are innumerable gifts to be given in His Word.
In short, to know God is to spend time with Him, receiving the one gift which has the power to transform spirit, soul, and body. He who receives the testimony (the words) of Jesus certifies that what He says is true. (John 3:33). As Jesus taught the scribes, the first commandment is to hear and to love the Lord. (Mark 12:29-30). To listen and obey, to allow God to inscribe His Words on our hearts, is the greatest thanks we could ever give Him.
c.Deborah Perkins, 2014. All Biblical references NKJV.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.