What's a living epistle?
I've always struggled with Scripture memory. I remember watching and listening to my sister memorize huge chunks of Scripture as she progressed through the ranks of "Girls Auxiliary." We moved before I had to go further than step 1 - "maiden." I am sure that was God's divine intervention to save me and my family the humiliation of being the first person to "flunk out" (of get kicked out) of GA's!
I'm totally frustrated with my attempts to memorize Scripture. Using the ESV Bible online, I did finally figure out how to get the Scriptures I wanted to memorize on my ipod. It's awesome to listen to them while getting dressed in the morning. The funny thing is though - the "address" isn't a part of the listening experience. And, I have NOT figured out how to get the verse to keep repeating. So, it goes from one verse to the next to the next. Like it starts out with Deuteronomy 6:5 and goes right into Ecclesiastes 8:8 then to Isaiah 44:20, etc. Sound pretty neat and I love hearing the Word of God, but it's not doing a thing for my Scripture memory.
Next to confessing with my mouth and believing in my heart that Jesus is my Savior and Lord, learning how to study the Bible inductively is the best thing that ever happened to me. In a 2.5 day training, I learned about observation, interpretation, and application. Things like slowing down to observe what the Bible (God) was saying by asking who, what, where, when, why & how questions. Then learning to examine the answers to these questions and how my attitudes and behaviors were lining up to the truths discovered...WOW. I learned the importance of understanding what was being said before and after a passage of Scripture and the setting in which the words were being spoken....CONTEXT. Context rules! Who knew?
Suddenly, the Bible went from something I thought was boring, outdated and a mystery to a letter from God....the very Words of God...recorded and preserved through the ages just for me! God shares His heart - His longings and desires for me/us. He reveals His plans and purposes for our lives. Here, in His Word, I have discovered that the One Who spoke the World into existence wants to be personally involved in every detail of my life - if I will let Him. It's a wonder!
Studying inductively helps me remember the book in which particular passage of Scripture can be found and sometimes I can even go to the chapter. Very exciting for someone who struggles with Scripture memory! But a secret goal of mine is to be a walking Bible. I want to so know God's Word so that when I speak it's 90% speaking the words of God. Well, how can you do that if you can't even memorize God's Word? Totally frustrating! Shouldn't I just give up? NO - but maybe.....just maybe I should change my approach. Here's what I'm thinking...
As I study God's Word, I want Christ to so work in my heart and life that Christ Himself is actually taking the very Words of God and through His Holy spirit...carving them on my heart. I want to become a letter of Christ - a living epistle. I want God's Word to so reside in me, be at home in me and be such a part of me - that I live the words out. And while I may NEVER get to the point that I can quote Scripture after Scripture - complete with each address....oh sweet Jesus - help me to SPEAK these precious Scriptures with my life.
"You are our letter...read by all men...being manifested that you are a letter of Christ...written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Co 3:2-3