What is most important: getting into the Word, or getting the Word into you? Of course, it is getting the Word incarnated into our very being so we join the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). The trilogy of devotionals, The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code and The James Code, are designed to do just that.
For many years, I served in the pastorate. I pastored in Hobart, Okla., in southwestern wheat farming communities; then in Ada, Okla., a county-seat town; then for 15 years in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the heart of a great cosmopolitan center; and then back to the concrete canyons and First Baptist Church in Dallas. No matter where I was, dealing with people, I learned there are only three relationships in life. There’s the outward expression, that relationship we have with each other in the social arena (church, home, office, etc.). There’s the inward expression, that relationship we have with ourselves. Some people call it self-worth or self-respect. We all have a relationship with ourselves. So much of what goes wrong with our outward relationships is a projection of what’s happening within us.
There is one other relationship, and it carries with it an awesome thought. It’s what separates us from all the other created order. We have the capacity to enter a relationship in an upward expression and know God through the Lord Jesus Christ in the intimacy of Father and child. The bottom line? We never are related properly to each other until we’re properly related to ourselves. In turn, we never are related properly to ourselves unless we are related properly to God through Jesus Christ, finding our self-worth in “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”
The three devotionals in the Code Series are strategic in nature. They were not written at random. They were penned with focus and prayer behind them. Their approach is strategic, not simply tactical.
The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know relates to our upward expression, that relationship we have with God. The subtitles are keys to these books: For 52 weeks, we take one verse of Scripture a week and memorize it. Scripture memory is such a forgotten art. The Joshua Code was written to get people into that devotional, upward relationship with God by getting the Word into them, not just getting the reader into the Word.
Next is The Jesus Code. It has more to do with our inward relationship. The Bible says we are to give an account for the hope within us, so it equips us in an apologetic way as evidenced in its subtitle: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer.
Finally, in strategic fashion is The James Code: 52 Scripture Principles for Putting Your Faith into Action. Once we’ve been properly related to God and ourselves, it’s the outward expression that gives credibility to our witness. The James Code is designed to get our faith into action. If we’re really walking in the Spirit, we won’t be wearing out the seat of our pants; we will be wearing out the soles of our shoes. The James Code is neither about faith and works, nor is it about faith or works. It is about a faith that works. Similar to The Joshua Code, it’s not about getting people into the Word of God but about getting the Word of God into us.
I recently preached at a local church in Dallas. As I signed The Joshua Code and The Jesus Code after the services, I noticed something I’ve seen at every book signing I’ve attended. Very few people who waited in line at that book signing had one book. I’d say the majority of them brought four to six books to sign because they were giving them as gifts. One aspect of these books is that they are the perfect tools to give to someone you know who needs to know the Lord or somebody who needs to get into the Word and grow.
These three volumes are synergistic in nature. As Romans 8:28 says, “things work together for good.” They build upon one another to develop in the lives of believers a more knowledgeable upward connection with God, an inner confidence within us to share the hope within and a boldness for putting our faith into action in the normal traffic patterns of life.
Finally, a brief but important word about putting faith into action: All the royalties for these books go to Mission: Dignity. At GuideStone, where I’ve served for almost 20 years, we’ve been on a mission to bring dignity to some forgotten saints—retired pastors and their wives or widows with an average age of 85. They pastored at some small church, never made much money, never were able to provide for retirement, lived in a church-owned parsonage—and had to vacate when they retired—and now are living near or below the poverty level. Mission: Dignity comes alongside these folks, and the neediest among them can receive $600 per month to enable them to live with a degree of dignity. As one sweet widow wrote me recently, “I get to eat tonight now, and it’s not just a piece of toast.” The good news is that all the royalties and proceeds from The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code and The James Code go to Mission: Dignity.
For more than 20 years, O.S. Hawkins served pastorates at the First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and in Dallas, Texas. He is president of GuideStone Financial Resources, which serves 250,000 pastors, church staff, missionaries, doctors, and other workers of various Christian organizations with their retirement needs. He is the author of more than 25 books, including bestselling titles The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code and The James Code, available in November 2015. He preaches regularly at events nationwide.
All proceeds from the purchase of The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code and The James Code are donated to Mission: Dignity, a nonprofit organization that assists families or widows of retired Baptist preachers. Mission: Dignity currently serves more than 2,000 families annually with the means to live independently, including funds for housing, food, medications and other necessities.