SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 11:18-21
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
By Sarah E Martin
I was again hearing the words spoken to me my whole life. From flannel graphs in Sunday school to today’s sermon preached from Genesis 3. I had heard this story before. I was a guest in my friend’s church which met in an old chapel with all the traditional trimmings—pews, hymnals, and the smell of old wood. The pastor preached on the Fall, the fateful turn of humanity’s tale when man’s faith in God shattered, and so did everything else.
Sin entered the world, and what was formerly home and belonging became unreachable and lost. God’s voice was no longer the only one we listened to. As the pastor told this story, he delivered a powerful presentation of the gospel. He made connections within Scripture that drew out a certain angle of the light of the good news that my heart just happened to need to hear that week.
You would think that after all these years, I would cease to be amazed by the Bible’s message and all the ways we can see it from Genesis to Revelation. You’d think that eventually, I would graduate and perfectly embody all of its truth in each corner of my life and wouldn’t need it poured into my ears over and over again. But, reader, I do. And so do you.
Though the stories never change, the essential message that we are broken and Christ is the answer remains the same, and God continually delivers it anew to us as we walk along the way. He’s made us to need his Word like we need food, to come to life as his Spirit helps us hear what we couldn’t before. Every verse of the Bible tells us that to be alive, to be sustained, to remain vital, with fresh life pouring and flowing through us, we need words.
Though I had heard it countless times, I have a tendency, symptomatic of being human, to let even the most sacred truths sit filed away, archived like a thing I’ve collected rather than the living, breathing thing it is, “dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Heb. 4:12). If this happens to the gospel in your life, you will quickly begin to work and strive for what Jesus has already done for you, placing a yoke that isn’t his, and therefore isn’t freedom, back on your sore shoulders.
But hearing the pastor deliver God’s Word afresh both humbled me and lifted me in the way that only Jesus can do. The truth is that mankind failed, and we continue to fail. But God sent his son, Jesus, to become like us and to do the unthinkable by taking on our curse so we might be free. And looking to him in faith is all it takes to be healed. That’s it. I don’t know about you, but I would be crushed if it wasn’t for this good news sustaining every moment for me.
This is the good news we need to hear and receive every day—that we’re sinners, and Christ is our savior. Whether it’s from a pastor, a minister, a family member or a friend, hearing the gospel spoken out loud, taking shape in another person’s words is life-giving to our faith. When was the last time someone spoke these words out loud to you? When was the last time you spoke them out loud to someone else? Or even to yourself?
When the enemy tempted Jesus with his twisted words, challenging him to use his power to satisfy his hunger, Jesus responded,
“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4)
It is easy to forget the power of words. In the daily onslaught of messaging and information, words can gradually become common, misused, and drained of their worth. But Christians can’t forget our need for the words that come from the mouth of God.
In the beginning, God spoke, and a cosmos of life and light and earth and stars erupted out of nothing, spread across all existing space, and continues to expand to this day. The words of God began life in the most literal as well as spiritual sense. It shouldn’t surprise us then that it is the Word of God that sustains the life in us. When we believe in Christ, God puts a new spirit in us that is living, active, and sustained by God himself. His words and our abiding in them is what feeds that life.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
Was the last time you were strengthened by someone speaking the gospel to you in their own words? Ask the Lord to bring to mind someone you can encourage with, or perhaps share with for the first time, the simple gospel.
Sarah E Martin is a sister, aunt, daughter, and sometimes a globe trotter. She has a background in English literature, and a devotion to good tea. When she’s not writing or studying, she is attempting to learn the names of her backyard birds, or planning long, unhurried walks in her favorite places. She believes that Jesus is the answer to bringing all our stories together, and is the one who satisfies our ache for home.