“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have but do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:13-15 (NIV)
What a great reminder for our place as believers in the world in which we live. We should look different and activate our faith by casting off the fears of man so we can be the living examples of what it looks like to experience the peace of the living God. We’re called to set apart Christ as Lord and be prepared to give an answer for that living peace, that hope the world is starving for. So how do we do that, practically?
I’m going to address the second part today and hope it stirs up someone in the family of faith. You have been given all you need for godliness, and it’s found in the Living Word. Here are five reasons memorizing that Living Word will help you be an effective disciple:
A woman asked me one time if I knew I would go to heaven when I died. At the time, I was not born again. I replied that you cannot know that for sure. She replied with 1 John 5:13….”I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Isn’t is interesting that I remember the exact verse twenty-one years later? It’s because it changed my life.
Testimony begins with story but it does not end there. That woman has testified to me through her life and her story. But it was her ability to quote just the right WORD to me at just the right time. The Spirit enabled her, because that is one of His jobs (John 14:26) The Holy Spirit brings to remembrance what He teaches us, but it is our choice to put the time in and set our minds at that Word so we can be ready.
The call to be prepared to give a reason is not just about salvation. How will you answer when the world questions you about cultural issues? Will you just say “I feel ……” ?
Will we answer, ” I think….” ?
We can offer those responses and we all have feelings about issues. But eternal things will happen in the spiritual realm and lives will be changed when our reasoning is the truth of God’s Word.
Paul told the church at Thessalonica he was thankful that they had received the word of God when they heard it from him…and accepted it as more than words of men, but from God – a word “which is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thes. 2:13)
We need to receive and take to heart the Living Word. We know we are called to be more than hearers, and that starts here. Actions will follow our true beliefs and true beliefs come from the heart. Those who truly yearn for the truth of God will invest in that Word, which is an act of receiving all He has for us.
The Israelites struggled so often with obedience because they forgot. They forgot the works of God. When it was not visible to their eyes that God was at work, they stopped believing and chased after their own desires. This is why it is so important in the Jewish traditions to tell stories and pass down the faith. When we memorize scripture and go over what we have put to memory – we are REMINDING our spirit what we really believe. We are choosing to speak and THINK on the goodness of God instead of the outer circumstances we see. We must choose to remember WHO God is in the midst of struggle. So we memorize verses ABOUT His goodness as we walk through the valleys of life.
That phrase “at work in you” from the Thessalonians text is beautiful. The Greek used there is “energeo” which means to “produce.” Because the Word is truly alive and active – it ALWAYS produces SOMETHING. This is what it means that “it never goes out void.” Even when you don’t think you are getting something out of your reading time, you are. It’s alive. But we take it a HUGE step forward when we memorize it, because that leads to meditation.
King David was committed to meditating on the statues of our God. This practice carried him through his faith struggles because he treasured the law of God. Meditation on the Word, for me, is to toss it around in the mind until a concrete lesson settles in the heart. I repeat it over in my head or speak it out loud throughout a day or week and allow my heart to consider what that living Word means for me.
Meditation is how the Word moves from the head to the heart.
As the Word moves to the heart, and we choose the discipline of thinking on that word, it finds its home there. Right in our heart. This is the beauty of living out Colossians 3:16. For when the Word dwells in our hearts richly, Christ becomes our richness.
Three of the first verses I put to memory are found in the beautiful Psalm 119.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (vs. 9-11)
There is this hiding – this tucking away – that protects our life. How can we stay pure today? Temptation is on every side. In Genesis we are told that sin is crouching at our door step – wanting to master us. No wonder Paul continuously exhorts us to stay alert!
We must hide ourselves in Christ and we must hide HIS TRUTH in our hearts, so that “we might not sin against” Him. In Psalm 19, David asks the Lord to keep him from “willful sin.” Breaking away from willful, habitual sin takes complete surrender, accountability and the power of the Holy Spirit. May we seek to keep from that hard, hard road by preparing ahead of time to be alert, run from temptation and guard our hearts so that we do not even ENTER willful sin.
The Word is alive and active and extremely sharp. It’s beautiful, life-giving and filled with hope. And when you begin to feast on that Word, Christ can bring even those things which feel dead back to life in your spirit.
May you know that God loves you, and He gave you His Word to express that love. Be blessed today!