Friday, December 26, 2014

The Necessity of a Devotional Life

"The young believer must understand that he has no power of his own to maintain his spiritual life.   No, he needs each day to receive new grace from heaven through fellowship with the Lord Jesus.  This cannot be obtained by a hasty prayer, or a superficial reading of a few verses from God's Word.  He must take time quietly and deliberately to come into God's presence, to feel his weakness and his need, and to wait upon God through His Holy Spirit to renew the heavenly light and life in his heart. Then he may rightly expect to be kept by the power of Christ throughout all the day and all its temptations."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Keys to Application

Application, really and truly applying what we have learned through Bible reading and memorization is the hardest part of this whole process. Impossible in fact. That's why the Holy Spirit is so imperative in our life. John 14:26 says, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." He is our Helper. He will teach us the things we need to be working on. And He will remind us of these things in the time of temptation. It is only by His strength. Only through His power.

And oftentimes, I have fallen into the pit of believing that this should happen all at once. That I should be able to apply all these amazing truths to my life right now, perfectly. I mean, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I should be completely transformed in a day, right? As much as I wish that were true, it is not. Application never ends! His Spirit guides us little by little. Think of it. If we were working on applying everything that we need to be like Christ, we would be so completely overwhelmed! For that reason, God reveals little by little, one step at a time, drawing us closer to Himself by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, how can we apply these amazing truths? A couple suggestions:

1. Pray -- This is your number one solution to your dilemma. And this doesn’t mean a half-hearted whisper to the Lord in the morning. Persist in prayer. As my pastor pointed out, the people during Jesus' time who wanted healing went to extreme measures to get it. Drilling holes in roofs.  Daring to touch Him. Traveling for days just to get to Him. Disregarding the words of naysayers. This is what we must to do in our prayer lives too. Persist. Persevere. The answer will come, but we mustn't stop praying.

2. Meditate -- As these thoughts continually dwell in our mind, the Holy Spirit can easily use them to prompt us to action. Be thinking about the things that you need to apply.

3. Watch -- Be attentive. This process of application is not passive. You must be consciously aware of your actions, and looking for ways to apply God's Words.  Is there anyway right now you could be serving your neighbor or lending a helping hand, according to biblical truths?  Be watchful at all times.  Chances to apply His Word lie all around you; you must only open your eyes.

4. Read God's Word -- The more you read, the more His thoughts fill your mind, the more you will want to follow Him. You will be daily inspired to persevere in the walk of faith. You will be filled with renewed vigilance. And you will find, subtly, that His character rubs off on you. The more you read, the more you study, the easy this application process is.

I hope these ideas were helpful and inspiring to you in your own application walk!  May God alone be glorified in your life my dear!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Power of the Spoken Word

“With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth.” ~Psalm 119:13

It is important to memorize and meditate on God’s Word.  It is important to read and study His precepts.  But that is not all.  We must also take this knowledge and declare it with our mouths. His Words should flow from our lips like honey.    I like what the Pulpit Commentary had to say about this verse:

’Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ The ‘word’ hid in the psalmist's heart (ver. 11) could not but rise to his lips on fit occasion, and be set forth before the people for their edification - more especially as there was an express command binding upon all Israelites to teach the Law to their children and dependents (see particularly Deuteronomy 6:7).”

So why should we speak the Word aloud? Why should we declare His judgments?

1. Declaring God’s Word verbally brings glory to God.  What is the focus of the Scriptures?  God Himself!  So, when we declare the Word, we declare God’s character.  We sing His praises.  We declare the wonders of His mouth.  That is honoring and glorifying to the King.

2. Speaking the Word helps us better comprehend it.  I have found this to be true in my own life, as I read the Bible aloud.  As we engage our eyes, ears, and mouth, instead of merely our eyes, the mind is able to better understand the Scriptures spoken.  Additionally, as we teach the Word of God to others, it becomes clearer in our own mind.

3. As you engage all three senses, the mind can remember it more easily.  This is true in memorization as well as simply reading it.  The more we read aloud, the easier it is to remember and recall it.  Similarly, as we share the spoken Word with others, we will remember it better.  The more we teach, the more we remember.

4.  Declaring God’s ordinances to others as you converse encourages them.  Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  The Word of Christ should dwell in us and be used to teach and admonish one another.  I can recount many a story where a verse that a friend spoke into my life encouraged and uplifted me.  You can do that too for others.  Richard Greenham once in The Treasury of David, said, “Above all, be careful to talk of that to others which you do daily learn yourself, and out of the abundance of your heart speak of good things unto men.”  Let us use our words to edify, by declaring the statutes of the Lord.

5. Since God’s Word has such power, merely quoting it can have a life-changing impact on a believer or non-believer.  As Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”  Since God breathed the Word so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” God’s children will be impact by the spoken Word (2 Timothy 3:17).  God’s Word also has the power to save:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Do not underestimate the power of God’s Word. Especially quoting it aloud.

6. Speaking God’s Word scares away the devil.  The sword, the offensive weapon we have been given in this spiritual battle is the Word of God.  However, Satan cannot read our minds. One of the most powerful ways to cast out Satan and his evil spirits is by speaking the Word of God alone.  Declare the Scriptures. Stand on His promises.  You will be victorious.

7. When conversing with others, Scripture turns the conversation back to God.  We are called to live for God in everything, including our conversations with others.  What better than Scripture to fit the call of Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  A life that is truly surrendered to God will want to talk about the Scriptures and exalt the name of the Almighty Lord.

We can read the Word aloud during our Bible study time.  We can share it with others.  We can declare it to combat the lies of the devil.

Proverbs 18:20-21 reminds us that “From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

Remember that the tongue is powerful.  We can use it to restore or to kill both ourselves and others.  May we use it wisely, remembering that there is power in speaking the Word of God aloud.  Let us do it often, to the praise of Christ.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Key to a Transformed Life

[Below is an article I wrote for English class.  I hope you enjoy it!]

Despite Stephen’s situation, falsely accused of blasphemy against his God, Christ’s last words, “And lo, I am with you always,” flooded his mind and gave him serene strength (Matthew 28:20).

“Are these charges true?” The question erupted into his peaceful thoughts. Pausing but for a moment to recall the stories he had studied, Stephan began to recount the Jews’ history, focusing on God’s greatness. During the last moments of his life, not only did God’s Word penetrate Stephen’s mind, but he quoted Scripture directly eleven times. For years before this, he had prepared himself by diligently memorizing Scripture. As a result, God’s Word provided him the supernatural strength he needed to persevere through his overwhelming trail and also furnished a deep knowledge of the Word (Acts 6:11-7:60). In a similar manner, Scripture memory completely transforms the hearts, minds, and bodies of Christians even today.

Amazingly, merely memorizing Scripture can change people into the likeness of Christ. Removing all doubts, Paul explains, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding...the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image...” (2 Corinthians 3:18). To imitate God in everything, believers must passionately pursue His face and let it transform them into His likeness. Although simply reading gives believers a glimpse of the glory of the Lord, those who memorize freely behold His majesty, as His words flow incessantly through their mind. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 asserts, “All Scripture is given...that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” By memorizing these life-changing Scriptures, Christians place His image within themselves and He completes them. Only by diligent Scripture memory can a child of God sincerely imitate Him.

Astonishingly, God’s Word provides the strength and hope needed to valiantly persevere through trails. Memorizing Scriptures unlocks the vat to this power. As spoken by one who endured severe trails: “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92). David’s declaration perfectly depicts a woman imprisoned by the Japanese in a concentration camp. While there, she somehow managed to acquire a copy of John, which she began to memorize. Later, coming to interview the detainees, a reporter scrutinized their dejected faces and zombie-like appearances, surprised to find among them the same woman’s brightly shining countenance. “I wonder if they succeeded in brainwashing her?” someone asked. “No,” replied the reporter, smiling, “God washed her brain” (Graham 44-45). Similarly, Scripture committed to memory upholds and strengthens Christians in times of trouble.

Psalm 119:11 as paraphrased by The Message reveals David’s disciplined actions in order to conquer temptation: “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.” David stored the invaluable treasures of the Word in his heart and gave himself the most powerful antidote against sin. Even in the very first temptation, Satan attacked the validity of God’s Word with the question: “Did God really say this?” If Eve had hidden Scripture in her heart, she would have instantaneously quoted that Word, and walked away free from the forbidden fruit. As Christians fill their minds with truth through memorization, the enemy’s deceit will not imprison them. Clearly, Scripture memory gives a person freedom from sin’s power over his life.

Memorization takes a believer deeper in his knowledge of and love for God’s Word. Often when I memorize a passage, I learn more through the process of memorization than merely reading it. I distinctly remember perusing over Colossians this summer, and not understanding its full meaning. However, as I memorized it, the blur dissipated. Had I not memorized Colossians, I would have missed many breath-taking truths. In the words of St. John Chrysostom, “To get the full flavor of an herb, it must be pressed between the fingers.” Similarly, as a man familiarizes himself with the Scriptures, “they reveal their hidden treasures and yield their indescribable riches” (Chrysostom). By digging deep into Scripture through memorization, God’s children gain invaluable treasures through the knowledge of God’s Word.

Over and over, in history and Scripture itself, we see the power of Bible memory. Ten times in Psalm 119 David expresses his delight in God’s Word, as prompted by diligent study and memorization. He has understood the words of his Lord and encountered their immeasurable benefits. Similarly, if God’s children today will diligently hide His Word in their hearts, He will bless and transform them beyond their greatest dreams. I see this in my own memorization journey, as Scripture completely transforms me. This daily discipline has instilled within me a fervent passion for memorizing Scripture. As a result I have researched and begun writing a book on the value of memorization. Bible memory transformed countless lives, and I pray it will continue to change people even today, for the glory of Christ.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

God's Word Worth a Million Dollars

So often, we lose sight of the preciousness of God’s Word. We have access to so many copies that we tend to take it for granted. I personally have about nine Bibles sitting on my bookshelf. Because they are so readily available, we forget how precious and treasured these words really are.

I like what John Wesley says: “I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book.” Don’t you realize? This Book has the key to eternal life! It tells the secrets of heaven. It provides meaning to life! Pause for a moment. Think about that truth. How great is the Word of God!

Imagine that a package came for you in the mail today. On the envelope, it announced the cure for all evil in the world. Curiously, you open it. Inside is a simple book. You wonder how in the world a book could hold the secrets of good and evil inside its pages, but you begin to read. With amazement, you find that not only does it give the answer for your problems, but it gives you meaning and purpose. It provides a means to gain supernatural strength. It gives you the key to living forever. How would you treat such a book? Wouldn’t you guard it with your life?

I know that I personally would pay millions for a book that gave illuminated my purpose in life and gave me a source of help and comfort in every trail. I would sell everything I have if only to own this book. If it contains the secrets of life, I will go anywhere; do anything, simply to know the secrets therein.

And, this is exactly what the Word of God does. It offers to us the meaning of life. It gives us answers to the source of our existence. It offers wisdom. It provides strength. It imparts the secrets for everlasting life. It guides us on the most amazing journey ever. Yet how few of us treat it as if it were worth a million dollars!

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible sums it up so well: “The word of God, the doctrines contained in it; which, coming out of the mouth of God, and spoken by him, carries in it weight and authority, commands reverence and respect; and ought to be considered as indeed the word of God and not of man; and so of more value than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. The truths and doctrines of the word of God are not only comparable to gold and silver for their intrinsic worth and value; but are preferable to them, and to be received before them: David had his thousands of gold and silver, but he esteemed the word of God above them all; and willingly suffered afflictions, that he might understand it better.”

Listen to how Psalm 19 describes the Word: 

“…perfect, converting the soul;
…sure, making wise the simple;
…right, rejoicing the heart;
…pure, enlightening the eyes;
…clean, enduring forever;
…true and righteous altogether”
(Ps 19:7-9).

Wow, wouldn’t you like to lay your hands on a book like that? And yet you have one, right there on your bedside table!

Right after these verses in Psalm 19, David offers the conclusion that we all should come to: “More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” We hold in our hands the most amazing book in the world. Let us treat it as precious, and value it as worth more than much gold. Let us seek it as we would a great treasure, for it certainly is the most valuable pearl to be found.  Let us learn to love His commands “more than gold, more than pure gold” (Psalm 119:127). Let us treat this book as if it were worth a million dollars. Because it is.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Nourishment of Meditating on God's Word

“There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on His Word spiritual strength for labour in his service. We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. . . . Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? 

Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God's Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .” ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

God's Word Gives Peace and Protection from Sin

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.” ~Psalm 119:165

This same word “love” here is used elsewhere in the Bible to mean the sort of love a husband and wife and a mother and her son show for each other. This is not just “I love carrots” sort of love, this is an “I love my wife” sort of love. It is passionate and intimate. This sort of love causes a lover to want to spend time with the thing (or person) he loves. This is how we are to love the Scriptures.

In this process of spending time in the Word of God and memorizing it, out of our love and desire for it, we will experience great peace and our steps will be established, as the verse says.

As Isaiah 26:3 adds, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”  When we choose to meditate on the Scriptures, as we fix our minds on the covenant and promises of our God, we experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When his Word is the delight of our soul, when we love His Word, that love will cause us to keep our minds focused on Him, giving us, in the words of Matthew Henry, “perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events.”

Oftentimes, I believe we stumble because we lack peace. We lack a complete trust in God. We are discontent with the world around us. We think that we can do it on our own strength. We lack peace. But when we pursue the Word with our whole heart, spending every spare moment in its pages, whether meditating on its truths or reading its word, sin will no longer cause us to stumble. Albeit, we may begin to fall, but as the Word of God settles and begins to grow in our hearts, then we will never fully stumble. And even if we do (by not fulfilling the command to memorize, or blocking out the Bible), the Word of God through Jesus Christ is right there to help us back on our feet.

Think of it this way: If you were headed to the palace of the king, to dine with him upon the most scrumptious delicacies the world can imagine, would you stop by a Big Boy on the way there, knowing if you did you would be unable to eat at the king's table? Of course not! We have no desire for a mere hamburger, when something so much greater awaits us. It is the same with sin and God's Word. As we realize in far greater depths though memorization and meditation the promises that lie in store for those who believe, we will come to disregard the pleasures of the sins of this world. We have something so much better in store for us.

To put that in spiritual terms, as Psalm 37:31 says, when “the law of his God is in his heart; None of his steps shall slide.” Memorizing God’s Word protects us from the sin that causes our steps to become unstable, our work unprofitable, and our spirit unspiritual. When His law (referring to the whole Bible) is in our heart and on our mind, strengthening and establishing us, our steps shall not falter or fail. We see our reward. We know our destination. And we press toward it, leaving those things which are earthly in the dust. If we choose to place God's truths upon our heart and mind the Lord will use them in mighty ways to keep us from the sin that so easily ensnares us. Our job is simple. Memorize God’s Word.

Friday, November 28, 2014

God's Word as Our Way of Escape

When John Crawford was in the Navy, he often caught sight of a game called anchor pool that the fellow sailors played. Each player would bet what time the ship would drop anchor, and throw in some money to back his claim. The person closest to the time that was recorded in the logbook gained all the money put into the pot. With nothing to do, this game seemed appealing, and John did want to please his fellow sailors by being a good sport. His friends encouraged him to join, and it seemed harmless enough. But he knew his friends wanted his money more than his company, and the lust involved with gambling was not godly or something that Jesus would be pleased with.

As the temptation grew, John knew he must solidify himself against the temptation. And he knew just the thing; the Word of God. He choose to steel himself with Proverbs 13:11, which says, “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase,” and Proverbs 23:5: “Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.” These verses fortified Mr. Crawford against the momentary temptations, but they also proved valuable to him throughout his life, helping to establish a pattern of integrity and honesty.

Memorization provided John with the tools he needed to fight back sin. He used the Word of God to strike the temptations of evil in his own life over the head with a sledgehammer. Whenever they popped up, he just bopped them back down again. In this manner, he was strengthened in Jesus Christ and able to have an effective ministry.

Memorizing God’s Word is the tool that keeps us from sin. Here's today's challenge: What is a sin that you struggle with? Lately, I've been struggling with thoughts occupied on things other than the Person of Jesus Christ --too many. Now, I want you to find a verse or passage that reminds you to do the right thing. For myself, I choose 2 Corinthians 10:5: "casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." It may be helpful to choose a couple passages. Think of God's Word as the ammunition you can use to cripple the devil and your flesh. Now you need to hide God's Word in your heart. Write it on a note card and carry it with you wherever you go, reading it whenever you have a chance. 

Then, as the temptation creeps in, fight against it using the Word of God. Remember, it is your offensive weapon; your sword against the flesh and the devil. As in the case of John Crawford, God's Word is the tool we need to fight back sin. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." God's Word is one of the ways of escape that God has provided for His children. 

As Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." Let us hide God's Word in our heart, so that we might not sin against our Holy and Just God.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Treasures in Heaven

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~Matthew 6:19-21 

Where are you laying your treasures?  Take a look at the way you spend your time.  Is it focused upon yourself or focused upon earthly things?  Today, resolve to use your time and talents to lay up treasures that will never be destroyed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prayer is a Gift

"Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.”
~Psalm 119:149

When I read this verse during my study of Psalm 119, the Lord reminded me of something that I had been learning through my study of Daniel. This week, we were asked to memorize Daniel 9:18-19: “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.” Notice here that Daniel did not come to the Lord in prayer because of his righteous deeds, but because of the Lord’s great mercies.

It is not because of any righteousness of our own that we cry to Him. We should not expect Him to answer us because we are worthy of it, but because of His great mercy.

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible puts it a hundred times better than I could:
“Not according to his own merits and deserts, or works of righteousness done by him, for the sake of which he did not present his supplications to God; nor according to his love to him, which often waxed cold, and he in a poor lukewarm frame of spirit; but according to the lovingkindness of God, which is always the same, and which is a great encouragement to faith and hope in prayer; that since God is gracious and merciful, kind and bountiful, plenteous in mercy, and ready to forgive, on a throne of grace, and full of love, yea, love itself, invariably the same, he will hear, and saints shall find grace and mercy to help them in time of need”

1 John 4:10 adds, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It is not because we have loved God; indeed our love is so unfaithful that it merits rejection and death. But God’s love is so great toward us that He hears our cries and answers our prayers.

We can boldly approach the throne of grace not because we have earned the right, but because we have a God who loves to bestow His gifts upon His children. As Ephesians 3:12 says, “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” It is by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we can approach God with freedom and confidence. Prayer is not a right, but a gift.

Our righteous works are as filthy rags. By their merits, we deserve nothing. We have no strength in and of ourselves. Rather, through our prayers we must throw ourselves down before God, pleading for His undeserved mercies.

Remember as you come before the thrown of grace today, that you have no right to be there. It is only by God’s grace and through His mercies that you have the privilege of speaking to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let this knowledge transform your prayers, taking the focus off of you and onto Him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

God's Word Still Applies

“Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.” ~Psalm 119:152

Many refuse to read the Word of God, saying “it’s too old” or “it’s outdated.” They believe the messages found therein no longer apply to mankind. But that’s not what David thought.

The “testimonies” that he devoted himself to were given the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. Back then, the Jews were an uncivilized group, just wandering around. In David’s time, they had a king; they had beautiful palaces, and great places of learning. Surely the messages given to those newly freed slaves no longer applied to such a cultured group of people. However, through the diligent study of God’s commandments, David had been long ago convinced. He knew that the words that he read were not passing or temporary enactments, but eternal laws, decreed and laid down forever. God’s Word had proven itself true to him over and over, despite the years between its writing and his reading.

David’s son Solomon studied the Word diligently as well, and this is his conclusion: “I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

Numbers 29:13 reflects on the character of God: “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” What God has said still holds true today, because God’s Word never changes. He cannot lie, and what He promises He will fulfill, no matter if He promised it yesterday or three thousand years ago. We can stand on His Word and its applicability to our lives, just as much as to the lives of the original audience.

As if in confirmation, Psalm 111:7-8 adds, “
The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.”
We have no reason to doubt. Even today we can trust that the Word has a message for our heart. Because it is living and active, the Spirit uses it even in this modern generation to convict and teach. It still has the power to transform lives. According to Barn’s Notes on the Bible, “They are based on eternal principles of right; they will never be changed. Such a conviction will do much to keep the soul steady and firm in the trials and uncertainties of life. Whatever may change, God's law does not change; whatever is new, that is not new; whatever will vanish away, that will remain.”

May we run to the Word, trusting that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. May we glean from His testimonies, remembering that it applies just as much today as it did when it was written. Let us thank our God that He gave us a treasure written especially with our generation in mind. What an amazing God we have!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Transformed Minds

“My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words.”  ~Psalm 119:139

I believe that God’s Word transforms us from the inside out.  As we read of God’s mercy and love, some of that same mindset rubs off on us.  The more we dig into the mind of Christ by studying His words, the more like Him we become.  We subconsciously begin to adopt the same mindset.  We've heard it said “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” (or something like that).  It’s the same with the Scriptures.  If we make Jesus Christ our best friend and spend as much time as possible in the Word, we will be transformed.  As we renew our minds, with the Scriptures, our thoughts, actions, and words will be changed.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  Where can we see the glory of God manifested?  God’s Word!

Colossians 3:10 says something similar: “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”  This new self is renewed (changed, transformed) by the knowledge of God.  Where perhaps could this knowledge be attained?  The Scriptures, of course!
Now, because of the fall, our minds need transforming.  We inherently hate those who hate us.  Even my three-year-old sister (well, three at the time) understands this.  A young man got a little annoyed with her, because she kept nagging him. After that, she kept saying “I don’t want to sit next to him” and just generally had an attitude of dislike.  That’s human nature.

But to show love for someone who hates us, that’s from God.  In his everlasting mercy and compassion, God loves everyone, both friends and enemies.  Romans 5:8 demonstrates God’s immaculate love: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Indeed, as 1 John 4:8 says, God is love!

Thus, as David spends time with God, through the Word and prayer, his mind was transformed.  His thoughts began to be aligned to the will of God.  And it wasn’t that he wished the best for his enemies (as Psalm 119:139 says) because he knew it was the right thing to do.  He genuinely wanted them to know God.  In fact, he was zealous for this.  His heart was burdened with sorrow because these people had forgotten God’s Word.  Remember, this wasn’t something he just did naturally.  Rather, he adopted this mindset because of the many hours spent in the Word of God.

You and I too have fleshly ideas and perceptions.  Our minds are set on ourselves.  We think of the things of the earth.  We’re focused on the temporary.  We need a different mindset.  As Christians, we must strive to think differently than this world.  Indeed, Romans 8:8 says, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” 

Philippians 2:5 lays the standard: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

But because of our fleshly nature and sinfulness, we keep turning our focus back to ourselves.  We keep turning our focus back to ourselves and back to worldly things.  And, as Romans 8:6 says, this leads to death.  We need God’s grace and His Spirit to transform us, using the Scriptures.  We must, as Paul said,  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3).  In order to do this, we must be reading the Scriptures.  If we want to become like Christ, daily Bible reading is imperative.  This is the key to unlocking a life free from worry, pride, anger, and bitterness.  We must be diligent studiers of the Word.  We must let it transform us.  Are you?  Are you and I adhering to the command to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).  Open the book!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Refreshing Word

"We can be tired, weary, and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy,  power, and strength." ~Charles Stanley

Will you and I turn to the sparkling fountain of life when our strength fails us?  Will we turn to the Word of God to refresh our weary souls?  Turn to Him my friends, and watch as you are revived by the power of the Scriptures!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Ardent Pursuit

Psalm 119:131 says, “I opened my mouth and panted, for I longed for Your commandments." 
David eagerly seeks the Word of God.  Some men lust after women.  Others after food.  The psalmist fervently desired the Word of God.  It is his one and only longing.  It fills his thoughts and consumes his mind.  He is so obsessed, if you will, with the Scriptures, that he cares about nothing else.
I know it sounds little bit extreme, but I believe this is how it should be with us.  If you think about it, there is nothing more worthy of our desire.  The only thing that will satisfy us fully is the Word of God and the God of the Word.  These are the only things that will bring us life.  God’s Word guides and instructs.  It leads us on the path of righteousness.  Really, it is more valuable than much gold.  Don’t you think that we should be focused on something valuable, and worthy?  What is more worthy than the Word of God (by Word here, I mean both the inspired Word of God given to us in the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ, who, as John describes, is the Word)?
We too should ardently pursue the Word, by reading and meditating on it daily.  By it we will grow and mature in our faith with the Lord.  As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  Beyond that, we will also learn about the God of the Word.  As a result, His praise will flow from our lips, as sparkling water from a fountain.
Although, because we live in this world, we will not be able to spend all our time with the Word, we should be able to devote our free time to its pursuit.  How much time do we spend on the internet?  How about the television?  These things do not satisfy us, they are not worthy of our pursuit.  Maybe we should consider trading them for something that will really edify us: God’s Word.  And even when we don’t have the time to physically sit down and read something, we always have the verses we’ve memorized available for meditation.  Whenever we find ourselves with a free moment, let us spend it with eternity in mind.  May we too open our mouths and pant with longing for the Word of God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Life-Giving Power of the Word Part 2


God's Word is our spiritual food, having the power to sustain us and revive us, in the same way that the physical food that we eat gives us strength.

Jesus compared God’s Word to bread: “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”’” (Matthew 4:4).  Although some days we may not want to read God’s Word, I believe it is an important discipline, because it gives us life. How many times to you skip out a meal simply because you don’t feel like eating? Or how many times do you forgo feeding yourself because you are too busy to take time away? Oh, you may have missed a meal or two, but you usually make it up with snacks or an extra big meal later. It should be the same way with the Word of God. Because of the nutrients that it gives us, we should not let anything distract us from it.

Paul writes in 1 Peter 2:2 about how God’s Word is to us like milk: “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”  Have you ever watched a hungry baby? She will cry, throw fits, and refuse any consolidation until she gets her food. Her single-minded purpose is that food. So strong is her desire for it that it is her only waking occupation. This is how it should be with us as Christians. We should desire these life-giving nutrients, as a deer pants for the water, not giving up until we achieve our purposes. We need the Word of God for our very life. Yet how often do we miss opportunities to draw from its sparkling fountains!

The word “desire” in the Greek means “to have a yearning desire for” or “to long after.” Our heart should be drawn to the Word, in such a way that we do not want to leave it. It should be our passion. When we desire something, it is constantly on our thoughts, and every time we are not with it, we wish we were.

When comparing God’s Word to the food that we eat, it is important to remember that just as we chew and digest our physical food, we must properly digest the Word of God. By meditating on the Word and memorizing it, we can really glean from Scripture and receive the nutrition it can give us. It must become part of us. Then, as it nourishes us, it will change us, the same way our food can change our physical appearance (just picture in your head the starving children in Africa, and you’ll see what I mean).

So, if we were to measure our intake of the Word of God by food standards, would you be healthy –or starving? Do you long for the Word the way a baby longs for its mother’s milk? Are we taking the time to feed our spiritual body, which will live forever? Let us examine our lives in light of these words, and choose life.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Life-giving Power of the Word

"My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word." ~Psalm 119:25

This verse reminds us of the life-giving power of the Word. To me, someone who won't read God's Word is like someone who refuses to breath. If you take a short run, you always pause after the end to catch your breath. If you carry a heavy chest of drawers up the stairs (which I have had to do more times than I can count), you always stop at the top to breathe. Never once have I heard anyone skip breathing, with the statement, "I don't need to breath, I can live on my own" or "I simply don't have the time to breathe" or "I'm to lazy to breath today, I'll make up for it tomorrow." Why do we choose to continue breathing? Because it is necessary for life.

We must be reading and meditating on the Word because we need it for survival as Christians. Some may laugh it off, saying that they've never seen anyone up and die because they didn't read God's Word. However the death of a believer is often spiritual rather than physical. And it is almost always slow and barely even noticeable. We see many young people leaving the church today. I believe part of the reason is because they have failed to acknowledge the source of life and drink from its fountains. They have not absorbed and digested the nutrients found there through Scripture memory and memorization.

What about you? Are you becoming lukewarm in your love for the Lord? Have you acknowledge the true source of life? You feed your physical body three (or more) times each day, and yet this body will only last for a century at most. How much more important than to glean nutrients and life-giving power form the Word, to feed your spiritual body, which lives forever?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Prevailing Prayer

"Prevailing prayer takes the Christian to the mountain and enables him to cover heaven with clouds of blessings, and earth with floods of mercy.  Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord.  If you would like to reach to something higher than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer.  When you open the window on your side it will not be bolted on the other." ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Revival of the Word

"I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word."
~Psalm 119:107

The weight of this world drags us down. Living in the flesh is hard. We are afflicted from every side. Pressed, crushed; without Jesus Christ, that is. You see as it says in 2 Corinthians 4:8,9, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

 In this world, we will be troubled, as Jesus said, but He left us with peace. How do we attain this life-giving peace? Isaiah 26:3 reveals the answer: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

How can we stay our mind on the Lord Jesus Christ? By meditating on who He is, as He has revealed Himself through His Word. By thinking on verses such as Isaiah 12:2, which says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” We have no reason to fear, because God is our strength.

 Meditating on this and thinking about this makes our fears suddenly seem smaller, our worries not as important, and our problems insignificant. Why? Because our God is so much bigger than these things! Sometimes we need to take a moment and “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). 

As you spend time meditating and reading the Word of God, you will find one thing is true. It gives you life. It breathes purpose into your longing soul. It reminds you of the One who loves you more than life. David agrees in verse 93, “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life.”

 Jesus Himself confirms this in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” I love what Martin Luther said: “The soul can do without everything except the word of God, without which none at all of its wants are provided for.”

 The only way you can truly know the life-giving power of the Word for yourself is to experience it. Read it. Meditate on it. And watch as the peace of God fills your heart and mind; watch as its words breathe life into your affliction and revive you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

God's Word is Forever

Psalm 119:89 says, "Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven."

David is acknowledging an important fact: that God's Word endures forever. Science is constantly changing, and theories keep "developing" as more scientific evidence is found. Humans keep changing their opinion. For example, evolutionists used to believe that that animals "evolved" from one kind to another. However, because they are unable to prove this claim scientifically, they have changed their theory. Now they believe that the animals simply "jumped" from one kind to another. This is a great example of man's opinion being changed.

On the other hand, God's Word never changes. It will stand in its original form forever and ever. As it says in Genesis 1:25, "God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, and everything that creeps along the earth according to its kind..." From the very beginning, God said what science has proved.

Psalm 119:160 sums up this topic well,
"The entirety of Your Word is truth, and everyone of Your righteous judgments endure forever."  As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, "All flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever." This verse brings up an important point of application. The wealth, power, and glory of a man will fade away. He himself will also fade away. But the Word will not. Nothing we do on this earth to build our store of earthly riches or gain popularity will last. It will all fade with the setting sun.

Instead of choosing to invest our time in worthless things, maybe we should look for investments that will last into eternity. Is there any such thing?  Yes, treasuring and obeying the Word of God. The investments we make in God through His Word, through reading it, memorizing it, loving it, and keeping it, will last forever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Neglect of the Scriptures

"The greatest cause of neglecting the Scriptures is not want of time, but want of heart, some idol taking the place of Christ." ~Robert Chapman

Prayerfully examine your heart.  Is there some other idol taking first place in your heart, causing the Scriptures to fall by the wayside?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Panting for the Lord

Psalm 42:1 says "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God."

I've been told that when a deer is thirsty, he does not notice you until you are very close up. He has single-mindedness, thinking only about his need for water. We are to do that too. We are called to be so consumed with our King, that we cannot think of anything else, we don't turn aside from the path, but keep our eyes focused on Him.

How, practically, can we do this? Although not an exhaustive list, here are a few ideas I came up with, through the Spirit's leading.

-Read His Word. If we desire a deep and lasting passion for the Lord, we must learn about His character. We learn this in His Word. It is there that we really develop a love for the Lord. I encourage you to read His Word every day. Set a goal for yourself (ex. 15 minutes of Bible study and 10 minutes of prayer), and make it your top priority. This time sitting at the feet of our Savior should be the highlight of our day!

-Pray. I cannot stress this point more. This is the thing that really draws us close to our Savior. When we are in constant contact with the Perfect One, He will make us like Him. Set aside a time to pray, but then pray throughout the day as well!

-Memorize His Word. When we are memorizing His Word, our King can bring it up later, reminding us of His promises and character.

-Meditate on His Word. When we are thinking about Christ and His commands, our mind is focused on Him, and looking to heavenly things.

-Sing praise songs. Praising Him again reminds us of His character, and as we meditate on Him, singing His praises, we grow to love Him even more.

It is my prayer that all of us would pant for Jesus, just as a deer pants for the water!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Asking, Seeking, Knocking

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Luke 11:9

Our God IS and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. When we are persistently asking, seeking, and knocking, He will answer, because He loves us!

Now, I want you to look at the verses following Luke 11:9:
"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (10-13)

I think so often we view God has someone up their in the sky, who delights in punishing us. But that simply is not true! He is our Father, and what kind of Father would deny good gifts to those who ask?

John 3:16 highlights about all else God's love for us. What kind of mean God would send His own flesh and blood to die for us on the cross!

So, you may be asking, Why aren't all our prayers answered? What about my Grandmother, or my best friend's salvation, or the new car I asked for? Those are good questions, and I will try to answer them with the following verses.

First, let's look a couple verses from chapter 11 for some solutions:

"And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs." (5-8) 

 So from this verse we learn that we must be persistently asking the Lord, not just once of twice. As we pray for the salvation of a friend, it may take months, or even years. Don't give up! Keep praying for them. Someone I know prayed for her grandson's salvation for 15 years! Talk about persistence! Keep asking, seeking, and knocking until the answer comes.

 Another answer lies in this verse:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says 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 55:8-9) 

Sometimes the Lord has other plans in mind (like for your grandmother). But cling to this: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28 (Emphasis mine) 

God promises that all things will work out for good! Plus, He is a all-knowing God who wants the best for us. He can turn evil into good. Let us trust these matters into His almighty hand.

Now for that car: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3)  You see, one of the fundamentals of prayer is that you ask for things that align with God's will. When you want a brand new car so that you can show off to all your friends, that doesn't fit in with God's will. Now, oftentimes He will answer these wants, according to His wisdom. But I have found that when He does this, they are most often come when I have been obedient to Him and abiding under the shadow of His wing. He really His a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. But we must be diligently seeking Him, everyday.

And finally, the most important concept in prayer, faith. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:5-8) 

 We must believe that He can and will answer our prayer. Matthew 17:20 says "So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.' " So many of the times when Jesus heals people, it is because they had faith. So must we.

Finally, let me stress to your the complete importance of prayer. It changes lives! Prayer isn't to be our back tire but our steering wheel (Elizabeth Elliot). It isn't the preparation for the war, it is the war.

I encourage each of you to spend 5-20+ minutes in prayer today, and see how great the Lord is!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Read the Word?

As I studied this week, one verse in particular really stood out to me.

"Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments."
Verse 73 of Psalm 119 recognizes a very important principle. It answers a question that many of us have: Why should I read the Bible? Why should I keep His commands? The answer is because He made and fashioned us.

Please note that this is only an illustration and an inaccurate representation of the workings of our Lord. Let's say that you love sail boats, and want to make a toy boat of your own. You carefully carve its body from wood and cut out its sail from cloth. You paint it bright red, and along the side, in big white letters, you paint your name. One day, you decide to take your little boat to a local pond, to see it float about in the water. After gently placing it down in the pond, you step back to watch it go. Soon though, another little boy comes down to the river's edge, picks up your boat, and starts to walk away with it. Are you going to stand by and watch him steal your boat? No! Rather, you will run after the boy. And what will you tell him? "That's my boat!" Why don't you want anyone else taking your boat? Because it's yours. You made it.

Now, let's say that one day you decided you were going to take your little sail boat on a journey up the river. Are you going to just let it go off by itself? Or are you going to guide that boat? You will certainly want to guide that boat, but with what? What about a long red string tied to one end of your boat? Would that help you guide it?

You see, it is the same way with God and us. He formed us, and wrote His name on us, proving once and for all that we are His. Is He going to just stand around and let another come and take us? Why not? Because He made us and we belong to Him. And because we are His, He can do whatever He wants with us, and we must follow, just like the little boat. But here's where God's conduct differs from that in our story. He gave us a choice, allowing us to choose which way we went; which guide we followed. We could choose to wander off by ourselves, or we could choose to strap His guide string to us and follow His leading. His red guide string is none other than the Word of God.

If you bought a completely custom made one of a kind sports car, you would want to know how to run it properly, right? You wouldn't just play around with all the gadgets, would you? Rather, you would look for an instruction manual. And where might you go for one of those? To the creator and designer of the car, of course! After all, because he made the car, he knows more about it than anyone else.

In the same way, who but our Designer knows how we run? Who knows more about us than anyone else and knows all about how we should be properly taken care of? None but God Himself! And in His wisdom, He has given us an owner's manual to the body we now live in: God's Word. It lays out the steps for the best possible experience both here on earth and in heaven.

So why should we read God's Word?
#1 Because He has made us and owns us. Just like we might be jealous for our boat, God is jealous for the hearts, minds, and bodies of His children.
#2 Because He knows us than even we ourselves, for He made us and crafted us.
#3 Because He made us and loves us. He wants what's best for us. He wants us to run smoothly, and that is why He has given us the Scriptures, as a guide for life.

Are you seeking answers? Turn to the One who made you. Are you struggling with something? Turn to the One who loves you. Do you need some guidance? Turn to the One who fashioned you. He will give you the answers you are searching for, the love you are needing, and the guidance you are seeking. Read His Word.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Blessing

"Blessed are the undefiled in the way,
Who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
They also do no iniquity;
They walk in His ways."
~Psalm 119:1-3

How do these men remain undefiled, pure, having no iniquity? They seek Him with their whole heart. They walk in His ways. They keep His testimonies. They walk in His law.

We wonder why we're not more like Christ, crying on our beds, wondering why we didn't say the right thing, or sin in this way yet again. The answer is in these verses. We desire to be like Christ, yes? We want to become like Him, and the key is right here. Seek His Word, and keep what you find therein. Look at what you see in God's Word and follow Him. Walk in His law. Don't just read it, but align your steps by it. In this way, you're steps will be purified by the fiery furnace of the living Word. Your heart will be pierced by the convictions that lie within God's testimonies.

And in the end, you will receive joy, peace, and the gift of abiding in Jesus. I can tell you, that gift cannot be traded for all the gold in the world, or the whole state of Texas. Don't trade anything, not video games, not grades, not television for the preciousness of being like Jesus Christ.

Seek Him through His Word, and the Bible promises that you will find Him. Do you want to be blessed? Walk in the law of the Lord. Do you want to be blessed? Keep His testimonies. Do you want to be pure? Seek Him with your whole heart. Do you want to be without iniquity? Walk in His ways. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

God's Statues, Our Songs

"Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage." ~Psalm 119:54
Let's pause on this idea of a song.  Many songs are jubilant and cheerful (especially the kind that David would sung).  They are heartfelt and passionate.  They bring a smiles and jubilance.  Many times, especially in David's day, songs praised and worshiped the Lord.  God's statutes can be sung as a prayer to God as well.  The Scriptures lift up our soul and put a smile on our face.  they praise the Lord.  And just like a song, they must be spoken verbally in order to receive their full impact.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it this way:

"Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away."

God's Word too provides comfort and quiet, in the midst of the turmoil's of this world.  We can turn to the Word for peace and it will silence our heart.

Many times, when I'm stressed with school, or have a to-do list a mile long, I'll go to the Lord through His Word, and it will calm my soul and still my thoughts.  It gets me back to focusing on the right thing: Jesus Christ.

So with this in mind, let us turn to the statutes of the Lord to be our song.  May we use them and sing them throughout our day.  May we meditate on them and sing the verses we have memorized as we go about our chores.  May His Word be our song.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Looking at Eternal Things

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way." ~Psalm 119:37

How often do we look at worthless things as Psalm 119:37 talks about? Oh, we might not consider television, video games, the computer, social media, or our iPhone, as "worthless" things, but do they really matter in eternity? Will be proud of the choices we made today when we're worshiping at the feet of our King in heaven? The pulpit commentary defines worthless things as the vanities of the world, like wealth, honor, power, and glory. Things things which will all fade away, these are eternally worthless. They only distract us from our real purpose in life, exactly what Satan wants to happen. So let's choose to defy him.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Let's turn from looking at evil things, and look instead to Jesus, by reading His Word and meditating on His truths. Gills Exposition of the Entire Bible says this about the last line in Psalm 119:37,

"'and quicken thou me in thy way;' so as to walk and even run in the path of truth, in the way of true religion and godliness; and, instead of looking upon vanity, press towards the mark for the prize; keep Christ in view, while running the race; and look to things unseen, and not things that are seen; and set the affections on things above, and serve the Lord fervently; all which is done when God quickens the hearts of his people, and the graces of his Spirit in them."

Let this verse become the prayer of our hearts, that "we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jewish Boys and Memorization

If we were to study Jewish culture during New Testament times, we would discover that customarily, boys memorized the first five books of the Bible between the ages of 6 and 10. That’s 5,852 verses total, which means 1463 verses a year, or an average of 4 verses a day. Many of us have trouble even reading through Leviticus and Numbers, but these mere boys learned to retain it in their memory.

By age 14, many of the boys could boast of the knowledge of the whole Old Testament, Genesis to Malachi. To accomplish that feat, they needed to memorize an average of 12 verses per day from the ages of 10 to 14.

Not many of us memorize twelve verses in a month, and we are much older than 14.  Their diligence puts us to shame.  We claim to love the Word of God, yet are we devoted to it?

We say memorizing the whole Bible is impossible.  Yet these boys memorized the entire Old Testament in a mere eight years.  Shouldn't we be able to memorize the entire Bible in twenty years or so?

According to Never Thirsty, there are 31,173 verses in the entire Bible.  There are 7,300 days in the next twenty years.  That means that if we memorized five verses each day for the next twenty years, we will have memorized the entire Bible.  If we memorized approximately two verses a day, we could have the entire Bible memorized in forty years.  So why wait?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Meditating on God's Creation

How much time do we spend thinking about what God has created and made? Very little, I'm afraid. Yet when we really take time to ponder His creation, we find that "since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20).

"When He utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: 'And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.” -Jeremiah 10:13

He makes lightening for the rain. Who would think that the rain needed lightening? And what about thunder? What is it good for? Isn't peace and quiet preferable to loud noises? But no, God choose to connect loud noises with bright flashes and pouring rain in our mind to highlight His amazing power.

Glance around the room. How many colors do you see? How many different textures and sights meet your eyes? Do you think that this was all man's reckoning? By no means! God's creativity is beyond comprehension. Think of how many different things He has made. How long it would take us even to design something like the world we live in. And yet, God's spoke it all with a word. Yet even through all this, order and peace reign supreme (that is, until the fall). But even after the fall the order in this world is amazing! The whole thing with the moon and tides, who on earth would have been able to come up with such a design? No one on earth, but only God.

Have you every thought about the power of God's voice. Simply uttering it, He makes a multitude of waters in the heavens. I wish I could do that.

Look all around you. Everything you see was created by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). I encourage you to take some time today to meditate on the splendor of your King's creation. Praise Him for His wonderful works. Meditate on His matchless creativity and organization. Marvel at the wisdom of your King.

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