Blessed is He, the Lord God, who humbled Himself to talk to us who are but dust and ashes. And blessed is He for ordering His holy prophets, to record His words for us, so all was kept for us in the Holy Bible, a benefit for our souls and light for our path.
The Holy Bible is the book of books or it is ‘The Book’.
When we say ‘The Book’ only, we mean the Bible of God, His words by which He talks to us. It was inspired and told by the Holy Spirit through the words of His holy prophets. “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Pet 1:21) . Therefore, in the Apostles’ Creed, we say about the Holy Spirit, “who spoke in the prophets.” And as the Apostle says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim 3:16).
The Holy Bible is a message presented to you, and who does not rejoice with a message from God?!
St Anthony the Great received once a message from the Emperor Constantine. His disciples greatly rejoiced but the saint put the message aside. His disciples were astonished and became enthusiastic to read the message. So St Anthony said to them, “My children, why do you rejoice so much for a message received from a man? Here God has sent us many messages in the Holy Bible and why don’t we receive them with the same joy and enthusiasm?!” After that, he read the Emperor’s letter and replied in order to bless him.
And you, if you receive a letter from a person who is dear to you, don’t you rejoice and read it time after time...? Isn’t it appropriate for you to do the same with a message that you receive from God...?
God’s message that is sent to you, uttered by the Spirit and spoken by the prophets who were led by the Spirit, is a word full of the Spirit. We understand it through the Spirit and live it. It is, as the Lord said:
“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:63).
It is food for our spirit. We are nourished by it and have life...
And as the Lord said in Deuteronomy (8:3), and was again repeated by the Lord Jesus Christ: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Bread is food for the body and man is not just a body but he has a spirit, and the spirit is nourished by God’s words which are found in His Holy Bible.
In the Holy Bible, we have our daily bread because we live “.. by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God .” It is the bread of life and the nourishment of the spirit.
It is probably part of what is meant by the phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The man of God rejoices in the Bible: “... But his delight is in the law of the Lord,” (Ps 1:2) and he meditates on it day and night. The word “delight” indicates that God’s commandments are not a burden and not an obligation, but are the cause of one’s delight...
His relationship with the Bible is permanent and continuous. He meditates on it day and night.
Do not take it as if it was said to the monks only, but to all. The Lord said it to the leader of an army who was burdened by responsibilities, leading hundreds of thousands of people... In the Lord’s commandment to Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ successor, God said to him:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh 1:8). Imagine a very busy leader like Joshua, with all his great responsibilities, and still God says to him, “ This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”!..
These words are not directed to Joshua only but to each one of us. Therefore, the First Psalm says about the righteous man that.. “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:2).
David the Prophet was a king, a leader and the father of a big family, with great responsibilities. And in spite of all this he says, “Your testimonies are my meditation”, and, “ Your law is my meditation.” And he talks about his relationship with God’s commandment and law by saying: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure”, and, “Your words are sweeter than honey in my mouth.”
How did David find the time to meditate on God’s words day and night and the words of the Lord became his lesson and his meditation?!
Our fathers the saints, used to learn by heart many books from the Bible, and so the Bible was revealed in their lives. Would that we organize more competitions on learning verses from the Holy Bible. I remember once that I said to the people:
“Learn the Gospel and the Gospel will protect you. Learn the Psalms and the Psalms will protect you.”
By learning verses, you will be able to repeat them within yourself, meditate on their meaning and their depth in any place: at home, at work, on the road, amongst people.. and so we befriend the Bible and its words and it becomes our best companion..
To learn verses, repeat them, and meditate on them, is a virtue and to act according to them is a greater virtue.
Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ said: “...Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Mt 7:24). And the priest, in the Litany of the Gospel says, “Grant that we become worthy to hear and perform according to Your Holy Gospels”...
The word “worthy” has a deep meaning because truly, who are we to be worthy of hearing God’s words and to be trusted over His Commandments?!
I would like to see your personal Bibles showing signs of being in use.
To show that it is getting old with underlined parts reflecting your readings and use of them.. They are all memories and contemplations that entered the mind and the heart and became part of life.
Read and contemplate, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Mingle the reading of the Bible with your soul and enter to its depth.
Do not be satisfied just with the literary meaning.. Through contemplation, you will find that one verse is like a wide sea that has no limits. As David said:
“I have seen the consummation of all perfection. But your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps 119:96).
David said this at a time when all he had was about nine biblical books, while we have the whole Bible including the New Testament and all the books of the Prophets. Each word is full of depth and a treasure for contemplation.
The Holy Bible is not only a source of contemplation but also a source of consolation.
In each case of one’s psychological state, there is a verse in the Bible that comforts his heart and satisfies him.
In his grief, he finds a word of solace and in his joy, he finds his delight in it. In his affliction, he finds a solution and in his difficulty he finds peace. In his despair, he finds verses about hope..
The words of the Holy Bible are effective. You might read some of them and say to God, “Lord, there is no doubt that You said these words for my sake.”
Therefore, take God’s word as if it is a personal message directed personally to you.
Specifically to you , and “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” The Spirit spoke through the prophets for your sake, specifically.
It is an epistle that He sent to you and not to the Romans or the Corinthians. When the Emperor Constantine sent a message to St. Anthony, his children were happy. So he said to them, “God, the King of Kings, sent us many messages. How come you did not rejoice in them in the same way?”
The Holy Bible is not just a message of consolation but also a weapon:
For each sin there is a commandment that you can place before it . You will find that the sin becomes weak while you gain strength from the commandment.. How strong is the word of God, even when brief.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12).
Satan, in the temptation on the mountain, could not stand the words of God and could not respond to any of it..
The word of God will be a witness against us on the last day, if we do not carry it out.
If we did not know, we would have an excuse. But what is our excuse now having God’s words explaining every thing to us?! God’s words were never just for knowledge but for life.. Therefore let us act according to His words..
God’s word will follow us in every place we go, echoing in our ears and troubling our conscience if we don’t act according to it. All the excuses given by the mind, which is controlled by the desires of the soul, will never be of benefit for us :
At the same time, God’s word in our mouth is an evidence of our spirituality and our religious faith.
There are people who, when they speak, their talk is full of the world’s words. And there is the one who, when he talks, the language of the Bible shows. Due to him repeating phrases from the Bible, his expression becomes used to it and it affects his style of speech, therefore: “The book of the law does not depart from his mouth.” And whoever hears him says: “Your speech betrays you” (Mt 26:73).
Let us encourage our children to be accustomed to using and reciting verses from the Bible by saying a verse for everything they see, whether it be a book, a tree, a pen, the land, the door, the table.. whatever...
The child who is used to this adopts the language of the Bible in his conversation and his life. Therefore he does not know the language of sinners, the language of the world, and so he would not sin...
David said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11).
The words should be put in the heart, the centre of emotions, love and feelings and not only in the mouth or in the mind, the centre of knowledge. When God’s words are in the heart, one would not sin because the commandment of God has been mixed with our feelings. How beautiful is the Bible saying about the Virgin Mary that: “She kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
Our mother Eve is one of those who sinned because they hid God’s words in their minds and not in their hearts. Our mother Eve was asked by the serpent about God’s commandment. Her answer was accurate and very precise but at the same time, she broke the commandment and sinned.
Read the Holy Bible and be sure that every time you read it, you will find something new, because God’s words are rich and full of goodness. They are an everlasting source of contemplation, therefore we find that David, who experienced this fact, says:
“I have seen the consummation of all perfection, but Your commandment is exceedingly broad” (Ps 119:96).
It means that there is a limit for each perfection, but as for God’s commandment, there is no such limit due to its depth. As God has no limits, so is the depth of His word. No matter how much you contemplate on it, you find that these contemplations open before you unlimited spheres.. It is continuously new; new in your mind and for your understanding. Therefore, Jeremiah the Prophet said: “Your words were found, and I ate them” (Jer 15:16).
David the Prophet says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;.. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey comb” (Ps 19:7,8 and 10).
Be certain that every word you read from the Bible will have its effect on you with its strength and influence, even without explanation or preaching.
It is enough for God’s word to be mentioned to convince any person without argument or much effort. It is enough to mention God’s word to make one feel that God is present in the middle and to feel a special grace. This word gives light to his path.
The Holy Spirit that inspired the word gives strength for the word to be carried out. We remember that when the multitude heard the word on the day of Pentecost, it was said about them that.. “They were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).
St Paul also said to his disciple Timothy: “...and that from childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation...” (2Tim 3:15). One finds in it the divine guidance, as David the Prophet said: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). He even said more than that:
“Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (Ps 119:92).
Therefore we notice that our Coptic Church has given great attention to the Holy Bible.
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