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This Monday (2/1/2021) begins a four part series of blogposts about being anchored in relationship with God. I recently finished reading through the book of Acts. In Acts 27, Paul and his companions were shipwrecked. During one particular night of a storm they faced, they let down the anchors because they knew they were near shore.

And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.

Acts 27:29

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life that I’ve prayed for daylight. There have been times that I’ve prayed just to make it through the storm. There have been times that I’ve prayed to get by to the next day.

It is instructive that the sailors let the anchors out when they wanted to slow the drift of the ship in the storm. That’s what an anchor is for. In some cases an anchor keeps a ship in place in a body of water. In other cases (like the one above) an anchor isn’t strong enough to keep a ship in place, but it is strong enough to slow the ship down in a storm.

As I considered this story God reminded me that in the storms and trials of life, I needed to be anchored. I need to be anchored in my relationship to God.

Now, ultimately it matters far more that God has a hold on us than it matters that we have a hold on God. God is the One keeping us (1 Peter 1:4-5), God is the One saving us (Eph. 2:8-9), God is the One giving us rest (Matt. 11:28-30, and God is the One caring for us (1 Peter 5:7).

But with that said, we are responsible for seeking God, for trusting God, and for depending on God. We cannot expect to experience God’s strength, peace, and hope if we neglect the spiritual disciplines that God has provided for us to know him.

In these four blogposts I’m going to reflect on one spiritual anchor each week that keeps us in right fellowship with the Father. Today’s post reminds us to be anchored in God’s Word.

There is nothing more important for your spiritual life than spending time in God’s Word. God’s Word is vitally important as an anchor for our souls.

We need the anchor of God’s Word because when we read God’s Word, we are privileged to experience God’s own thoughts.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-10

With his Word, God spoke creation into existence. With his Word, God spoke life into man. With his Word, God became flesh (Jesus is the Logos, Word of God).

When we read, hear, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word we are thinking God’s thoughts. That very act serves as an anchor for our souls to the One True God who alone is Lord and King. It is God speaking to us that leads us to worship and know him.

God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship.

John Stott, The Contemporary Christian, 174.
We need the anchor of God’s thoughts because his Word is guaranteed to last.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

Peter quotes this passage in his first epistle. Peter was reflecting on believers who are facing trials to grow and be strengthened in the Word of God.

There are many things in this world to distract us, disrupt us, or defeat us. But remember this. All those trials, difficulties, challenges, and circumstances have a shelf life. One day they will not be. For that matter, one day your job will not be, your cell phone will not be, the internet will not be, etc.

But the Word of the Lord will last forever.

When we read, hear, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s Word we are thinking thoughts that will stand forever. Being anchored in the Word of God is being anchored to something that is guaranteed to be around for eternity.

According to research, there is nothing better for your spiritual maturity than God’s Word.

Our study of churchgoers included the measurement of more than sixty factors characteristic of biblical spiritual development… Our statistician applied sophisticated procedures to our data to produce a rank-ordered list of correlations. The number one factor, or characteristic, most correlated to the highest maturity scores is the practice of “reading the Bible.” I almost had to laugh when I saw this. Sometimes we complicate things. The simple discipline of reading the Bible has a major impact on Christians.

Brad Waggoner, The Shape of Faith to Come, 68.

So if you want to find an anchor for your soul that will stabilize you anytime (but especially in trying times), read the Word of God.

Here are some recommendations for being anchored in the Word of God:

  • Read the Bible daily. If you aren’t reading the Bible regularly, start today. Read a chapter a day. Or pick a Bible reading plan. I use the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan on my ESV Bible app.
  • Study the Bible regularly. Take some time at least once a week to dive deeper into God’s Word. Maybe take the passage of Scripture your pastor preached and read it over again. Think on it. Look up the passage in a commentary, and study the Bible.
  • Memorize the Bible consistently. We have challenged our church to memorize at least one verse of Scripture each month. For January 2021, our verse is Psalm 90:12. For February 2021, our verse is 1 Peter 2:24. You can see both verses below. I challenge you right now. Memorize them.
  • Pray the Bible intentionally. One of the most spiritually helpful books I’ve read is Don Whitney’s Praying the Bible. I would commend it to you. But you don’t have to read it to pray the Bible. As you read Scripture, use the stories, commands, convictions, insights, and lessons that you read to guide how you pray for those on your prayer list. We’ll spend more time on the subject of prayer in a couple of weeks.

Here are two verses I challenge you to memorize. If you do, you will be glad you did because you are memorizing words and truths that will never, ever, not even in a million years, go away.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 

1 Peter 2:24

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Governor Cooper issued a stay at home order on Friday for the state of North Carolina through the end of April. Social distancing and isolation are real. I realize that many of us will still be working. I also realize that many who remain at home are responsible for children or aging parents. But all of us will be affected by these bans.

We can no longer join friends or spouses for lunch at a favorite restaurant. We can no longer meet with our children’s friends for playdates. We can no longer meet together for worship services at our local churches. I could go on, but you are very well aware of these isolating circumstances.

I’m not here to debate the validity of the isolation, nor am I going to bemoan the difficulty of it. Rather, I would simply like to point out that God has used isolation as a tool for spiritual development for thousands of years. How can you be sure that God uses this situation in your life as a means of growth and development?

Here’s a short list of the ways God worked through people in the Bible while they were in places of isolation:

  • In the isolation of prison, God helped Joseph overcome bitterness and pride in preparing him to rescue his family from the famine.
  • In the isolation of the wilderness, God developed the heart and patience Moses would need to lead Israel during the exodus and their wilderness wanderings.
  • In the isolation of shepherding, God taught David the importance of worship and knowing the Good Shepherd.
  • In the isolation of famine, God taught Elijah his need to trust God for his daily needs.
  • In the isolation of captivity, God taught Daniel and his three friends the power of prayer and keeping the faith.

This is just a sampling. Throughout Scripture, God used isolating circumstances to get the spiritual attention of his people. Maybe he’s doing that with you and me today.

I reached out to some folks this past week with the question, “How are you managing your isolation?” I received a litany of responses. Here are some of the things people are doing to manage their isolating circumstances: housework, yard-work, serving family and neighbors, FaceTime with kids and grandkids, reading, writing, cooking, gardening, making art, playing music, studying, watching streamed worship services, writing down and sharing inspirational thoughts, walking, praying, exercising, making face-masks for hospitals, spending time with family, playing games, doing puzzles, extra devotional time, and schoolwork. These responses were great! Many of these activities provide natural stress relief. They help us deal with isolation while keeping us from desolation.

What can we take away from biblical examples and comments above to grow during this time of isolation? Here are several recommendation:

  • Set aside time each day to unplug and be quiet. It is tempting to constantly search for the latest COVID-19 update or binge watch tv. And these things aren’t necessarily wrong. But we will grow in the quiet with God. To be quiet and unplug for a period of time each day might require some aid from a spouse. Don’t be afraid to ask for some time alone.
  • Read the Bible and pray. Often, my time to unplug and be quiet is my time for prayer and Bible reading. They go together. Make sure you are reading the timeless and universal truths of Scripture and communicating to the only One who is sovereign.
  • Connect with others through communication. That we are socially distant and isolated does not mean that we cannot have any social interaction. Make time daily to talk to those in your life who matter most (parents, children, grandchildren). Call a neighbor. Text an acquaintance. Message someone you know. I’ve reached out to dozens of people in various ways in the last several weeks. My aim was to encourage them, but I’ve come away from nearly every conversation encouraged myself.
  • Find some good activities to relieve stress. The things people are doing to manage isolation are great. See the excellent list above provided by some of my friends. While all of these may not work for you, I would encourage you to find one (or several) that you can put into practice. Not only are these activities likely to reduce your stress, they can be God’s means for personal growth and development over the next weeks.

This time of isolation does not have to lead to desolation. It can lead to spiritual fruit in your life. By embracing the positives and opportunities of this situation, God can use these days to bring us closer to him. That in itself would be worth the isolation.

If you are in need of prayer or conversation, feel free to reach out. I’m happy and available to pray for you or chat with you. Message me through the social media platform that directed you to this blog or comment below.

Photo by Claudel Rheault on Unsplash