Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

December 2021 Issue

Keep Christ in Christmas

From the November 2021 Issue

God’s Word… Written on Your Heart

God’s Word… Written on Your Heart

Donald Jackson is a skilled artist and calligrapher. He’s the official scribe to the Crown Office of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. From his hand comes all of the official state documents for Queen Elizabeth II. But his greatest accomplishment is for another Sovereign—it’s the creation of a hand-written illuminated Bible.

Jackson dreamed of this project in childhood. As an adult, he sketched out a concept of what this Bible might look like, then he traveled to Saint John’s Abbey in Minnesota to ask the monks there to collaborate with him. On March 8, 2000, Jackson penned the first words on a page of vellum: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Writing with quills made of feathers dipped in 130-year-old Chinese ink, Jackson and his team took a year to complete the Gospels and the book of Acts. In the following decade, they copied the rest of the nearly 775,000 words in the Bible. Finally, in December of 2011, Jackson wrote the word “Amen” on the final page of Revelation.

These texts have a life of their own and their life is a mirror of the human spirit and experience.

He said, “Now that I have inscribed the final Amen, I realise that over the long years of this task, a boyhood dream, I have gradually absorbed an enduring conviction of the pin-sharp relevance of these ancient Biblical Texts to the past, present, and the future of our personal and public life and experience. These texts have a life of their own and their life is a mirror of the human spirit and experience.”

Today, the St. John’s Bible is on display at the Alcuin Library on the campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. It’s bound in seven volumes and weighs more than 165 pounds.1

This is a modern project, but the process of copying Scripture by hand is virtually as old as the Bible itself. In the Old Testament, scribes passed along the Scriptures by making exact copies. Think of the eager church members who copied Paul’s epistles as soon as they arrived. Throughout the Church’s history, monks have inscribed and preserved the Word for us.

But listen, I want to suggest this as a personal, biblical habit for you and me!

In Deuteronomy 17, Moses listed directives for the kings who would one day oversee the nation of Israel. Among the instructions was this one: “When he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book…. And he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel” (verses 18-20).

Copy God’s Word

Throughout the Church’s history, monks have inscribed and preserved the Word for us.

Notice the incoming king was to copy God’s Word so he’d have his own hand-written version. To some extent, all the citizens of Israel were to follow that example. In Deuteronomy 6:9, families were urged to write Scripture on the doorposts of their houses. At the end of Deuteronomy, they were told to write the words of Scripture on whitewashed stones for public viewing (Deuteronomy 27:2-3).

If you came to the study in my house, you’d see a little pile of tablets. Whenever I read a book, I copy things that impress me to help me remember what is in that book. In a similar way, my first step in preparing sermons is to write my main passage word-for-word using pen and paper. Something wonderful happens as I take time to slow down and write out a passage of Scripture. New details stick out. Phrases I’ve skimmed over for years jump out at me. It’s as if the words I’m copying flow from the paper through the ink and into my heart.

Focusing on God’s Word without distraction for a few minutes a day is a wonderful anecdote to the frantic pace of our technological world. It’s good for your soul and for your mind. Many people have never tried sitting down and copying Scripture into their own notebooks, word for word. But it’s a glorious practice that slows down your pace and shores up your heart.

Carry God’s Word

Focusing on God’s Word without distraction for a few minutes a day is a wonderful anecdote to the frantic pace of our technological world.

Having copied the Word, the king was to carry it with him. Deuteronomy 17:19 says, “And it shall be with him.” Everywhere he went, those Scriptures were his lifelong companion for wisdom, guidance, and strength.

In his book, Reading for Preaching, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., wrote about visiting death row in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. He struck up a conversation with “a smallish African-American man whose wire-rimmed glasses and intelligent expression made him look a little professorial.” Plantinga asked how he spent his days. Picking up his Bible, the man said, “I spend a lot of time reading our book. I’m glad it’s so big. I’ll never get to the bottom of it.”

Then he said, “You know, there are 2 billion of us Christians in the world, and everything today that any of us does that’s any good has something to do with our book. And I have a copy of it right here in my cell!”2

You can have “our Book” with you all the time too. Proverbs 4:21 says this about God’s words of wisdom: “Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart” (NIV). Carry God’s Word around with you, and don’t let it out of your sight.

Commit to God’s Word

Moses’ third command was for the king to commit to God’s Word. According to Moses, there were great reasons for this: “That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20, NLT).

When you copy, carry, and remain committed to Scripture, you’ll learn to fear God in a fresh way, to obey Him with greater joy, to treat others with newfound respect, and to avoid sin in even the smallest way. It will help you reign in life through Christ Jesus.

Permit me to ask you some personal questions. Do you want to grow in the fear of the Lord so all of your other fears will shrink? Do you want to grow in humility and increase your love for others? Do you want to grow in the confidence of a secure future and a lasting legacy?

You can do that by following the royal law of Deuteronomy 17—the rule given for kings.

We can help you with that. This month’s special resource is Romans: The Written Word Journal that will allow you to write out and think through the book of Romans at your own speed. This is a project we developed for Shadow Mountain Community Church, but we’re now ready to share it with everyone. Elsewhere in this issue you’ll find a full description along with instructions for getting your copy.

The book of Romans has 433 verses, so if you copy just five verses a day in the notebook we’ll send you, you’ll finish it in under three months. You will have copied out in your own hand one of the key books in the Bible. In the process, perhaps you’ll develop a new lifelong habit, a new tool in your pursuit of mastering the Bible and letting it master you.

No book has ever impacted the world like the Bible. Its influence is stronger every day; its reach grows wider. The Word of God is His wonderful gift to help you be everything you’ve always wanted to be, everything God created you to be. The Bible isn’t meant for us to study so we can be smarter. We study it so we can be better, richer, happier, and more useful to Him.

So copy, carry, and commit yourself to God’s Word.

It’s a habit fit for a king!


1“The St. John’s Bible,” The Saint John’s Bible, 2021, at https://saintjohnsbible.org/.
2Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Reading for Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2013), 9-10.

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