Memorizing Scripture

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee.”
Psalm 119:11 KJV

“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.”
Colossians 3:16 KJV

A wonderful spiritual activity that has been lost in our modern Christianity is Scripture memorization. A couple of generations ago this was not the case. Parents and Sunday School teachers encouraged children to memorize large portions of Scripture that often included several chapters of the Bible at one time.

In the western educational system of today students are not often assigned poems to memorize and then recite to the teacher. Somehow rote learning has fallen on hard times.

Training the mind to memorize is a very beneficial mental activity and can be most rewarding in spiritual matters as well.

The Psalmist tells us that having Scripture memorized or hidden in our hearts can aid in resisting temptation to sin.

It is to be noted that when Satan tried three times to tempt Jesus to sin that the Lord responded each time with Scripture. Paul told the Christians at Colossae to be rich in Scripture memorization.

Various para-church organizations have Scripture memorization programs that can be used by us to enrich our memory banks with the Word of God.

Seeking to commit chapters of Scripture to memory and not simply random verses is a real challenge and highly profitable to our spiritual growth.

Why not get started today with some familiar portions of Scripture such as Psalm 123121 or John 14. You find the passage that is well known but not yet totally committed to memory and spend 15 minutes a day working on it.

Such exercising of your mind will pay dividends in several ways—the most important of which is spiritual growth. You have nothing to lose and much to gain if you start today to hide God’s Word in your heart.

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To Know Him

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife,
and she conceived and bore Cain, and said,
‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.’”
Genesis 4:1 (NKJV)

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power
of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow,
attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Philippians 3:10-11 (NIV)

“…that you may know…what is the exceeding greatness
of His power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of His mighty power 
which He worked in Christ
when He raised Him from the dead…”
Ephesians 1:18-20 (NKJV)

“And He said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’
But he said, ‘I will not let You go unless You bless me!’”
Genesis 32:26 (NKJV)

“There is a world of difference between
knowing the Word of God
and knowing the God of the Word.”
Leonard Ravenhill

I have many times in these devotionals made a distinction between the Jewish and the Gentile notions of knowledge. I once read the story of an Oxford don who wrote a brilliant work on the biblical doctrine of reconciliation. Sadly, he was divorced three (?) times and always at odds with his fellow professors. A Jewish scholar would say that the man had no true knowledge of reconciliation as judged by his life.

To “know” something or someone, as Jews understood the term, meant to actively engage with the subject or person. When Genesis speaks of Adam knowing Eve it refers to intimate relations.

So when Paul speaks of desiring a powerful knowledge of Christ he does not mean he wants to have a detailed theological perception of Christ. He craves a powerful experience of the enormous strength it took to raise Christ from the dead.

As we look at all that Paul accomplished as a minister of the Gospel he must have had an enormous portion of divine energy operating within him. YET he has an insatiable appetite for even more divine energy to operate in his life.

With all that you seek from your Father in heaven, seek what Paul refers to above all else. Cry out today to know this divine power. Lay hold of the Lord and do not let go until you feel His presence deep in your heart.

Be persistent, be earnest, be demanding if you will, but always be consistent in your objective to know Him. Yes, pray that your burdens be taken from you, BUT pray incessantly that your knowledge of the Good Shepherd would increase more and more until that glorious day when you see Him face to face.

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“There Were Others…”

“There were others who were tortured,
refusing to be released so that
they might gain an even better resurrection.
Some faced jeers and flogging,
and even chains and imprisonment.
They were put to death by stoning;
they were sawed in two;
they were killed by the sword.
They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,
destitute, persecuted, and mistreated—
the world was not worthy of them.
They wandered in deserts and mountains,
living in caves and in holes in the ground.”
Hebrews 11:35-38 (KJV)

All people are wired to want the “good life”. We desire to have health, wealth, and freedom from sorrow. Sadly, such a self-centered view of life is very immature. As children, we believe that when we are grown up we will do just as we please, but the realities of life soon knock that dream off our horizon. We may hear voices in the wilderness of life calling on us to join their ranks and have abundance. But as we mature, we soon learn to turn a deaf ear to their empty promises of a safe and serene existence.

The earlier part of Hebrews 11 describes how some of the Lord’s people led a charmed existence. We might envy them as we sort through the broken, shattered lives we lead. Why can we not shed off the painful parts of our existence and grasp hold of a life such as we read in the first half of Hebrews 11? Why do we suddenly turn from the good life described in Hebrews 11:1-34 to read the words, “There were others…” beginning in v. 35?

Is it sinful to desire release from sorrow and dark times? Is it rebellion against the Lord to strive for a better more tranquil existence than what we presently have? No, not at all! However, when desiring turns to demanding, we move from submission to rebellion.

Never fear asking for relief from the painful aspects of life. We are free to ask. Yet, we know, our wills must submit to our Father in heaven. If the cup does not pass we must drink it to the last drop as our beloved Good Shepherd did in Gethsemane.

Rise up my dear reader and may you engage the enemy in the power of the Lord. Know that the ultimate victory is ours as we live to fight another day. Paul gives much-needed encouragement in Galatians 6:9 (NIV),

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time
we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.”

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An Inspired Sinner’s Prayer

‘Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51:10 KJV

In various Christian Gospel tracts and books the authors have often composed prayers for the reader to offer to the Lord as they seek forgiveness for their sins. Such prayers have been helpful to countless thousands of readers over the years.

What has surprised me as I have read these prayers is the fact that no writer has ever thought to use prayers of repentance we find recorded in Scripture. Why this is so is very difficult to understand. Prayers like Psalm 51 are full of instruction on how to draw near to the Lord for the first time in your life or when you have been trapped in some gross sin.

I believe in spontaneous prayers and I believe in prayers such as you find in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. But I am especially drawn to prayers recorded in Scripture. As you read the Bible there are inspired prayers of thanksgiving, worship, and repentance among other subjects.

I encourage you to read the Psalms and portions of scripture such as Ezra 9Nehemiah 9, and Daniel 9 to assist you in learning the art of prayer.

The Bible is a divine flashlight that we may use to shine on the path of prayer and help us develop our prayer lives.

A model prayer taught by our Saviour to the disciples is recorded in Matthew chapter 6 as follows:

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”

This prayer includes worship V.9, submission to God’s will V.10, petition for our material needs V. 11, repentance and confession of sin V. 12, petition for assistance in holy living V. 13.

May you find your prayer life enriched today as you study the prayers of the Bible and are instructed by them.

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Peace In Christ

“I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

When life is smooth sailing it is easy to fix our eyes on the blessing of a peaceful journey in life. We have five senses that connect us to this life. We have taste, sight, touch, hearing, and smell to give us input from the physical world. That is a lot of information and processing it takes considerable mental effort.

When it comes to the spiritual world we do not have such vivid and continuous information for our minds. We do not touch, smell, hear, see, or taste the spiritual world all around us. Angels are close by ministering in various ways but they are unseen and unheard. The Holy Spirit resident within us is similarly unseen.

So the unseen spiritual world lacks the immediate connection that we have to this world and that is the problem. Faith bridges the gap between the physical and the spiritual.

As we read in Hebrews 11:1

“…faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.”

In today’s verse Jesus instructs us to find peace, comfort, strength, stability in Him when life here gets difficult. He also tells us to remember He has overcome the world with all its trials and tribulations. Our Saviour conquered every enemy of His people and the last enemy that He shall destroy for us is death. As we read in 1 Corinthians 15:26 NIV

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

Through reading the Gospels our eyes feast on the Captain of our salvation. In those pages we observe His mighty power, His great tenderness, His unfailing love. The most encouraging portraits of our Lord are found in the pages of Scripture. Go there daily and fortify your faith and then go into this sin cursed world and live in His victory.

“Take heart” Our Lord has gained the victory for us and in this truth we shall prevail.

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