In 1995 I visited southwestern Russia. The Iron Curtain had crumbed in the years leading up to that life-changing visit. Americans, who had long been disallowed from visiting, were then free to openly evangelize the communist country.
We went from village to village sharing the Gospel. Many, many listened as we offered hope through Jesus. Multitudes received Christ as Savior. In several villages, everyone who heard the Gospel responded. Person after person prayed, asking God to forgive their sin and save them from eternal destruction.
In Communist Russia, Bibles had been outlawed and burned. In 1995, we were free to give Bibles to Christians and new converts.
In one small village, I was invited to visit an elderly lady. She was bed-ridden. Although it was a hot summer day, the wood stove blazed in the little cottage, and her tiny body was hidden under multiple blankets and quilts.
Among her handicaps was her inability to speak. She was mute, presumably a result of a stroke. Through an interpreter, I learned that the lady was a believer. She had trusted in Christ as a child and she could recall the time soldiers came to take her family’s Bible. But in the village where she lived, someone was able to hide a Bible which they carefully took apart. They secretly distributed the segments among the other believing families. When one family finished reading their section of the Scriptures, they swapped with another family.
In that hot Russian cottage, I handed that dear lady a whole Russian-language Bible. As she embraced the Bible, she clutched my hand in hers. I can still recall thinking that she had the softest hands I’d ever felt. She held on, and wept, and kissed my hands. I had given her the gift that she had been dreaming of for decades.
I’ve got piles of Bibles. You probably do also. We may take for granted the treasure that we can hold in our hands.
This week, I’d like to challenge you to hold that treasure in your heart! Memorize it! Rehearse it. Meditate on it, considering its profound truth!
Here’s an easy one...
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, ESV).
When do you need a flashlight? When it’s dark, right! Where’s the flashlight? I never have it when I need it! So, when life is the darkest, we can carry the light of God’s Word with us. Memorize God’s Word! Be ready for the dark days ahead.
“This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:8-9, CSB).
Memorizing Scripture isn’t about being a better Christian. It’s about being strong and courageous. It’s about surviving and thriving!
When I get to heaven, I’m going to look for the elderly Russian lady. Maybe she’ll be skipping along a path beside the River of Life. I want to know her life’s story. I’ll not be surprised to find out that she and her family did not just read those sections of the Bible, but that she memorized large sections of the Scriptures! With the Psalmist she’ll sing, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11, NKJV).
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor