Pay Attention

11:06 PM


You know how you'll be doing your normal Bible reading, not really thinking about it, and then a verse jumps off the page?  Recently, I was reading Isaiah 48, the last chapter for the day, and suddenly I noticed a verse that I had no memory of seeing before:

"Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!  Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea."
Isaiah 48:18

I must've read this verse five or so times, but I never really paid attention to it -- and this is exactly what this verse speaks about.  We may read the Bible every day, but if we are not careful to keep our minds and hearts turned on as we read, we miss the whole point.  It doesn't matter if you haven't missed a day of Bible reading in ten years; if you are not meditating on it, energetically searching for the truth, then you might as well not do it at all.  

Paying attention to God's commandments is so rewarding; this verse summarizes these benefits as peace and righteousness.

Peace Like a River
"I've got peace like a river / I've got peace like a river / I've got peace like a river / In my soul..."

I've sung this song more times than I can count.  I've sung it so many times that I hardly even think about what it means.  This song is good, but it doesn't explain why I have peace like a river.  But Isaiah 48:18 says that this peace comes from paying attention to the Word of God.  How does the Word of God give peace?

First of all, the Word of God came to give peace between God and man.  It is through knowing and believing the Word of truth that we are reconciled to God.  "And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near." (Ephesians 2:17)  "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)

Scripture also gives us assurance of salvation.  You've probably doubted at some point whether or not you were truly saved.  What affirmed your faith?  For me, it was Scripture.  I couldn't find assurance in memories of praying a prayer or in the good things I had done.  I could only find this full assurance in the Word of God, which told me that it was all the work of Christ and nothing I had done.  I could now truly know that I have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

Finally, the Word of God gives peace, because we know Who is sovereign over the past and the future.  When I fail, I can learn from those mistakes and then move on, because I can trust that God used my failure for His glory.  So many times, I worry about what will happen.  I worry that I won't be able to fit my day in 24 hours, that I'll get a low grade, that my family will die in a car accident.  Sometimes, these worries overwhelm me, pulling me down and attempting to drown me in a sea of anxiety.  And then the Word of God appears before me and I grasp it with all my might.  It is my only hope, but it is more than enough.

"...when all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay..."
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"

Righteousness Like the Waves of the Sea
This summer I will go to the beach.  Experience (as well as just plain common sense) tells me that when I run out into the ocean, I will get drenched.  The best word to describe me then will be "wet".  In the same way, when I run to Jesus, His righteousness will wash over me.  I will be soaked in it, making it the most obvious thing about me.

Knowledge of God's Word leads to righteousness.  In and of itself, it will not make me (see Romans 7).  It will simply make me aware of my sinfulness and the holiness of God.  But when I carefully look at Scripture, I will be pricked (Hebrews 4:12).  I will not be able to stay where I am.  I will be forced to choose between the path of light or darkness.  "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)

It is so important that we be in the Word of God regularly if we want to grow in holiness.  When believers study the Bible, they will know the right thing to do (see James 4:17), and they will have the desire to do it.  There's just no way around it.  It will make a difference in your life.  Knowledge will lead either to righteousness or to greater punishment on the Last Day (see Luke 12:47, 2 Peter 2:21, and Hebrews 10:26-27).  This is one reason why it is so important that you be trusting in Christ for your righteousness as you study Scripture.

The Word of God also gives us motivation to do what is right.  When your flesh is fighting for the wrong, trying to make excuses, the Holy Spirit will remind you of verses that you have learned, and you'll have difficulty excusing that.  You need to know His Word if you want to obey it.

God's Word is powerful.  Once you come into contact with Scripture, you'll never be the same.  May it bring peace to your heart and righteousness to all your ways.  Christ alone will quench your thirst.  

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10 comments

  1. Thank you for this, Anna! Such a needed reminder.

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  2. Anna! This was really good!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  3. Wow! I never really saw that verse either. Thanks for the reminder--especially about peace!

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  4. Hi, Anna! I had a quick question that I really need an answer on since I am a first-timer with the Bible Bee study. So for the whole Explore and Navigate thing, is that all I have to memorize? (I am in the Senior division!) That really isn't a lot if you look in the first week study where they lay out the memory passages. I thought there would be a LOT more. Is there something else like an online course I am missing?

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  5. Hi,
    Sorry that it has taken me so long to reply -- I've been out of town.
    I'm a little confused with the Explore/Navigate thing, but here is a list of the Senior memory passages:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15y4x72Xp_REME_UdCFOzjgQLJCYbzAonU5hSqarCrpM/edit?usp=sharing
    It's 14 passages = 57 individual verses.
    No, I don't think that you're missing anything. The Discovery Journal and the memory passages are all that you need to do.
    Hope this helps! Let me know if this doesn't make sense.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, I got this about a week ago and your list was the same one I had looked at.
      But I was wondering WHAT I should study and memorize specifically besides those verses. See, being my first time, I don't know what the test will bring or if I can get in the competitions, what that will bring. What would you suggest I study and for how long? Thanks so much again for being a such a great help to me!

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    2. I'm going to answer this in a blog post (as long as you don't mind)! :)

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    3. No, not at all! :)

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    4. I mean, I don't mind!

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    5. I'm so sorry that it took me so long to get this post published! I've had a lot going on (and so has my proofreader-sister). But here's the post: http://sweeterthanhoneyblog.blogspot.com/2017/07/extra-studying-for-bible-bee-2017.html

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Thanks for making my day!