5 Reasons to Memorize the Word of God

may the word dwell

“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:

1.REASON

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.

2. RECIEVE

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.

3. REMIND

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.

memory verses

4. PRODUCE

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.

5. PROTECT

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.

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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!

-Ginger

 

 

 

The Church, Politics, & a Call to Christians for the Coming Days

For many years the church has remained silent or shy at best regarding certain issues or specific sins clearly described in the gospels and the Old Testament. This is for various reasons, and it certainly does not include everyone. Some believers or churches/denominations at large have been very vocal, and in some of those cases it was not for the good of the gospel. There are times when silence itself can restrain the spreading of the gospel and it will be of utmost importance that believers know what they believe, why they believe it and how to express that belief in educated and loving ways.

This post, the first in many months because of an earnest time of seeking the Lord, is to encourage the saints to prepare for the days ahead. The church can no longer respond in defensiveness, anger or ignorance if we are to maintain that we are the light of the world. Should we meet our Maker and carry sheaves of fruit with us, having lived honest and holy lives as we answer to how we represented Christ, we better be prepared.

We cannot depend on our pastors to hold the only staff of faith. We cannot depend on social media to make our comments known. We can no longer, as a body of Christ, depend solely on bible teachers to tell us what the Word of God says.

Church – we will answer for what we did with the knowledge God has given us in His Word. Individually.

A faith grounded in the statements of another believer, no matter how faithful that person may be – is no faith at all. Opinions formed through the opinions of other leaders are not your own. We have one compass always pointing North and that compass is the Holy Spirit. We cannot continue to spout the convictions we overhear because those convictions will be shallow armor to the schemes that will be set up against you. Our convictions must be deeply grounded in Scripture if they are going to hold us up in times of trial. And this is key: The Holy Spirit will never lead a believer in any direction that is contrary to the living Word of God.

We have got to STOP REACTING and start proactively preparing the way of the Lord.

There are times of silence, and for the believer, this time is most fruitful when we learn to listen to the Holy Spirit. Believers with any discernment can read quite easily people who have spent time in the presence of the Lord. Their countenance is different. There is a quiet peace – a waiting for the appointed time to speak for the Lord, not for themselves. Their words may be few, but when they occur they are wise, piercing of truth.

When we speak, we are called to season our speech with salt. Just as we don’t pour a whole container of salt over our food, there are wise ways to obey this calling….and unwise.

Unfortunately, I’m sure we have all seen comments on social media or via the latest article in which the anger and defensiveness of Christians is so loud we can hardly read what they are saying. Anger will not save this world, church. And just like the boy who cried wolf, we better know that when we cry out – it might be the only time we are heard.

Politics will always cause a stir quite simply because the separation of church and state sounds good on paper but its foundation is flawed. Born again believers in Jesus Christ carry Him every single place they go. We cannot ever separate from our faith. Ever. We don’t cut out that piece of pie when we enter government buildings or schools. It’s who we are. Secondly, we cannot expect unbelievers to live by the law of God that we ourselves are only able to obey with the help of the Holy Spirit. Why do we keep expecting certain politicians to honor God when they do not know Him? Why are believers so shocked by sin, ignorance or apathy of those who have yet to be saved?

Why are we turning to rage instead of prayer? I fear it is because we do not have a clear understanding of our weapons of warfare or the discipline to use them. But worse – that we are not truly a praying church.

Just like anger, politics cannot save our world. We should pray for believers to be appointed to leadership and there will be times to stand for our faith in the public square, but we WILL NOT WIN THIS FIGHT on the political playground.

Jesus is our King and he does not wear a political party button. The other party – if you have chosen one – is not your enemy. Satan would just love for us to keep running tired circles around the same arguments with believers in another political party who may just happen to mansion right next to us in heaven.

We can and should honor every authority that God has placed over us. That is obedience and God calls for it. But when the time comes that those authorities ask us to deny Christ or the laws that surpass any man-made law, we cannot rightfully do so and call ourselves Christian.

Many sins have become what the world and many in the church see as cultural issues. What the church is calling culture wars are spiritual wars. This war started when Eve took that bite. The word sin will become more and more offensive to people, just as offensive as the name of Jesus Christ. If we are going to stand by sin being sin – we better know where to confirm that in the Word of God so we can “give a reason for the hope we profess.”

Every single thing – every single issue – that once was black and white WILL BECOME GRAY in this world and in the church. Satan is pouncing on pastors and Christian leaders to work confusion in the ranks. He will always try to start with leaders so the flock will follow. This is why we must test everything we hear against the Word of God. Just because someone has multiple books published and a large following does not mean they have not been deceived.

Sin cannot be excused by love or grace. We absolutely do NOT have to choose between truth and grace and love. That is a lie. To call something sin does not mean we do not love. In fact, if we love someone, we will speak that truth just as Christ spoke unpopular truth to ears unwilling to listen. Yelling does not count. Defensiveness does not work. We must be prepared.

Can we learn to speak only after we have read up on the subject we intend to discuss and  spent humble time on our knees?

While we remain silent, the world will get louder and louder. The Lord is calling His people to prepare for the way of the Lord. To be careful about when we speak and when we remain silent, so He can give us the right words at the right time. That time is coming, church. Our witness and our words matter, even in a sea of words. We need to know what we believe and decide to stand for Christ today, before we are placed on the front lines.

You don’t wait for the battle trumpet to put on the armor and study the opponent’s strategy. Preparation is now. It will mean everything in the days ahead.

That Time I Cheated on a Test & Why I Will Tell My Kids About It

We were about sixty seconds from the bell and the teacher walked into the hallway. The boys behind us asked if we wanted to look at the paper. I remember one of my friends shrugging and taking it. She passed it forward. Myself and another friend glanced a quick look before the teacher returned. Our first mistake: LOOKING.

Of course because we only had seconds and the same page, my two friends and I happened to memorize the same three answers. We must have done poorly on the rest of the test, because the teacher noticed our identical answers on those questions.

I grew up walking the straight line. Oh, I messed up. But I was wired for obedience. Yeah, I have legalist probs.

If my curfew was midnight, I was home at eleven. I was the girl who pre-read the entire chapter for 5th grade science. Nerd. My husband once said I was the kid that drove all the other kids crazy. My senior year of college, the girls in my sorority asked me to pull the alarm just so I could have one great adventure. Couldn’t. Do. It.

My Dad even told me once to loosen up and have more fun.

So the day arrives when we will get the test back. I had no idea what was about to happen.

Our teacher said we would be having a different kind of class that day. One chair sat in the front of the room. He called up one of my friends. The questions began. None of us were still quite sure what was going on.

We were on trial.

“Did you see any answers to this test prior to test day?” My palms start to sweat.

“Did you see any friends with copies of this test?”

“Did you know you answered some questions exactly the same way as your close friends?”

——–> I’m about to tell you why this was probably the best teacher I ever had. See, he knew me. He knew my character. And he knew, more than any failed test or report to the principal, what would BREAK me most was the loss of that character witness.

The entire class of my peers were listening and watching. The ones who knew I was the church girl. The Bible-study leader.

My turn came. He asked the questions.

I don’t remember exactly how we all answered. It didn’t really matter. Everyone knew.

Of course the others kids thought it was really funny. They didn’t really care if I cheated once.

I did.

My teacher didn’t call out the students who may have cheated regularly. He called out the leaders. And he said more in that choice than he could have said by talking to me personally. He applied discipline according to the student, and that is a teacher who changes a life.

He asked me that day in his own words and his own way how important my witness for Christ really was.

I could justify the fact that it wasn’t premeditated. I only glanced. I don’t even know where they got that old test. But then…I acted. I chose. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I cheated. I was as guilty as anyone.

I didn’t need that test. I could have stayed home that day and gotten my A. Amazing how we often succumb to temptation for that which will not pay the most dividends.

They say life is the total sum of your choices. This was only one of mine, and I’ve made many since. I can tell you they never again included even considering to cheat. In some schools you would be kicked out immediately.

After my trial, that teacher never said another word about it. He gave us back our test and life went on. I don’t know that I ever told him how that decision called me to account and changed the way I saw the power of every little decision.

I’ve just begun to teach my kids about choices. How every choice has a consequence. How you don’t get that choice back. The choice to take the drink. To get behind the wheel. To text while driving. To repeat the gossip…and be overheard. To show up late and lose that job. To give away what you can only give away once. Or to glance – just quickly enough to act on it.

I will tell my kids about my mistakes, mostly because I think GRACE is the best message of all. They need to see that as much as we want to do good, we can’t always BE good. I’m introducing the need for a Savior.

But also because kids today may need more than anything to understand and face real life consequences. They need to see from me that if they don’t do that thing I ask, I will follow through on discipline. Because in this world – you don’t often get the teacher I had. Mistakes can be the hardest teachers of all.

I’ll tell them I cheated and how I wanted to take it back, but I couldn’t. And then I get to tell them about a loving God who loves us just as we are, mistakes and all. He sees our potential – our call – our purpose…..just like that teacher did.

God sees the very best in us even when we cannot. This is one prior student who is thankful for a teacher who did the very same thing.