It is January 1st again. A new year and a new set of resolutions for many of us. For those who profess to walk with Christ, often the resolution is made to “read through the whole entire Bible this year!” It is a good resolution but I am going to suggest a different one. The one I would suggest is “Remember the Word of the Lord this year!”
To Remember implies knowing.
Now to be able to remember something, it is apparent that you will need to know it. You cannot remember something that you never knew. So in this blog post I want to encourage you to “Remember the Word of the Lord”, knowing that it will require you to actually read it to accomplish that task. However, it is more important that you remember it than that you read it. If you read it only and then do not remember it, you have gained little and may have lost more than you gained.
Here are 4 reasons why you should Remember the Word of the Lord.
The Word of the Lord instructs us.
God’s Word instructs us on what we should do. It gives us examples of good and bad so that we can learn what to do and what NOT to do. It instructs us in perspectives that the world might not share but which God says are good.
Romans 15:4 ASV For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope.
Acts 20:35 ESV In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
The Word of the Lord is forever.
God’s word will last forever. It is not going to go away. Philosophies and civilizations will come and go but God’s word is going to endure. The people building the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) wanted to make a name for themselves…an enduring legacy. They are no more but God’s word is still around
Isaiah 40:8 ESV The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Those who forget God’s Word encounter great sadness when they remember.
If we ever learned it, we don’t really “forget”, we simply ignore or bury that voice of conscience so that we may continue on whatever wrong path we find ourselves. Take Peter for example, his third denial as Luke records it goes like this.
Luke 22:60-62 ESV But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. (61) And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” (62) And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter was so sure of himself. He would never deny Jesus. Yet, when he uttered that third and final denial, before he went out and wept bitterly….He remembered the saying of the Lord. He remembered the Word of God.
How truly sad it is for us to commit sin and THEN remember God’s word.
Remembering God’s Word brings us blessings.
One of the blessings in remembering the Word of God is that it brings protection from sin.
Psalms 119:11 ESV I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Jesus must have taken David’s psalm to heart because in each of the temptations Matthew records in chapter 4, Jesus quotes from the Scriptures, specifically, the book of Deuteronomy: “It is written…” He answers Satan’s temptations with God’s Word and resists each one. We can too.
Another blessing in remembering the Word of the Lord (or “not forgetting”) is it helps us to continue on and endure.
Hebrews 12:3-6 ESV Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (5) And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. (6) For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
There are many passages the deal with the need to remember what God has spoken. These are just a few that I hope will cause us to realize that it is not just reading the Bible that is important but that it is also remembering the Words of God.
What other New Year’s resolutions would a Christian be wise to make?
This is a question that we ask ourselves from time to time. Especially when we are young(er) in life, say 16-24, and at a point where we are going to choose a career and make many choices (marriage, kids, education, where to live, etc) that will affect our lives for the next many decades, if God gives us that much time.
With the many verses that we could use, I would like to answer that question in broad terms with two verses.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, (Act 13:36)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)
David did something so simple: He served the purpose of God in his own generation.
We don’t have to do something big and grandiose in order to win God’s favor. We don’t even have to affect the whole world or leave a legacy that lasts throughout time. Simply serving God where and when you are is a good thing and one could argue that in so doing you will have a bigger impact than if you “tried” to serve God in some grand way. David made mistakes, but he was a man after God’s heart and so his repentance was never far away…neither was God’s word!
Psalm 119, written by David, stands out as a testament to the power of God’s word, its value, and its necessity in the life of the person who would follow God.
The other verse cited above, Hebrews 11:6, says basically that we need faith to please God. But what is “Faith”? While the word is used in a few different ways, this time it is used in regards to the “trusting obedience” that one who pleases God has. There are two components to faith then: Trust and Obey (Do you remember that song?).
Faith, of course, is not something that we just dream up. We don’t wish for something and then live our lives as if what we wished for, or what we want, will come to pass. Faith is dependent on a something solid (substance) and which we trust (are convicted about) to be true. (see Heb 11:1 KJV). I believe that one such item, and the one we have readily available to us today is God’s word, the Bible!
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)
If you hear it in the word of God, you can trust it to be so and, as it pertains to the commands, obey them and so show that you are living by faith. This is what living by faith means….living by what you read in God’s word.
Having faith in God that your sports team will win the next big game is NOT living by faith because God never said you would win. Having faith that you will get a raise at your next evaluation is not living by faith because God never said you would get a raise. Having faith that your new business will succeed is not living by faith because God never said you would.
If you doubt these statements just go talk to any Christian sports player, any Christian employee, or any Christian business owner and ask them what happened when they lost that game, didn’t get the raise, or lost their business. Did God fail them? Is faith not enough? When it is defined in such a way as to reward you or make your life easier, and yet not found in the Scriptures, then not only is faith not enough, it is not really faith.
So what does God want from me? The answer is simple: Live by faith.
The sports player follows the rules, treats his opponents with love (even as he competes against them), and knows that whatever skills he has, God gave him that ability. The employee works as unto the Lord not just when the boss is looking, doesn’t steal time or company property (e.g. pens, paper clips, tools) and the business owner is fair to his customers, produces a quality product, and shows integrity.
Why would those be examples of living by faith? Because the Bible references each of them. The Bible may not tell you how to drive a car (i.e. the skill) but it does tell you HOW to drive when on the road (i.e. obey the laws, be courteous, be wise and not foolish).
So when it comes to our life; do what ever you want that is “by faith”. Don’t choose a path that is unjust, don’t fail to show mercy, don’t fail to walk with God. (Micah 6:8)
The above should lead you to one inescapable conclusion: “I have to know what God’s word says to know what God wants of my life.”
I am not suggesting that you need to know it all by memory in order to answer the question. You can ask yourself right now, is there something in my life that God does not approve of? If you stop doing it, you are living by faith. Is there something that God would have me to do (honor parents, visit sick, etc.)? If you start doing it, you are living by faith.
Living by faith is what God wants of you. Now go live the life God wants for you!
If you would like to listen to a sermon on the idea of “living by faith”, click here.
Satan is not a being that you want to mess around with. I know that in many stories, songs, movies, etc Satan is presented in many different ways but seldom is he presented as Jesus and Peter portray. John 8:44
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
We know that Satan tempts us and Satan uses a variety of tools to accomplish his task. Sometimes it is a frontal assault as he did with Eve (Gen 3) challenging directly the words of God. Sometimes it is the influence of someone that we think we should be able to trust as happened to the young prophet of 1 Kings 13 where the older prophet lied to him-and he believed him. Still other times, it can happen in our own thoughts and concerns as happened to King Jeroboam (1 kings 12:26ff) when his fears of Israel reuniting with Judah led Jeroboam to build golden calves and lead the people into idolatry.
All of these are powerful forces and yet one question, if it had been asked, answered, and heeded, would have prevented the problems that these individuals faced later. That same question will help us too with the many different temptations that Satan brings our way.
That question is this: What did God say? Eve already knew but she got caught up in her own desires. Jeroboam also should have known how God hated idolatry and trusted that God would protect him even if the people continued to worship in Jerusalem. And the young prophet should not have listened to the older prophet. God was very clear to the young prophet and even if the older prophet seemed believable, or had an honest face, trusting God rather than men is always a good idea.
Today Satan does the same thing and we have the same challenge. What does the Bible say about how a Christian is made? What does the Bible say about the purpose of the church? What does God say about the type of life a Christian is supposed to lead?
Not only do most of the people in the world not come to Jesus for salvation, many of those who preach a gospel about Jesus do not preach the gospel which is the power of God but a watered down version of belief w/o obedience, and some Christians give into to the lie that they can live an immoral life and still be ok with a Holy God who is the standard of Morals.
Do you study God’s word? Do you read it? Do you ignore it? So many ignore it, I hope you are not one of them.
Do you have questions about the Bible? Ask me. A Bible question will get a Bible answer.
Good ideas are a dime a dozen but God’s word often directs us in ways that we, ourselves, would not think of. Even more important, some of those things that we think of as good ideas are not just bad ideas, they are offensive to God and His holiness. They are also ultimately harmful to us: There is a way that seems right to a man but the end is way to death. (prov 14:12) The Bible is filled with passages that show us the problems of doing what we think is a good idea.
Abraham and Sarah thought it was a good idea to bring about God’s promised son through Hagar.
Saul thought that holding onto some of the Amalekite animals for sacrifice to God was a good idea.
David thought it was a good idea to take a census of the people.
People during Jeremiah’s day thought it was a good idea to go to Egypt.
The leaders of Israel thought it was a good idea to crucify Jesus.
Ananias and Sapphira thought it was a good idea to lie to God.
The list can go on and on but each of these people could have avoided the problems, curses, and consequences if they had simply combined a desire to serve God with a knowledge of His will. Paul wrote of his people: For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (Rom 10:2)
God warned through Hosea that His people were destroy by a lack of knowledge; they did not know His word. He warned Timothy to study to show himself approved.
Often the zeal to do so is not the problem but the knowledge is. Of course, you could also argue that if one knew what God wanted of them, the zeal might diminish. In other words, we believe we are serving God when all we are doing is serving God according to our desires, not according to His. We don’t know His will and so we are unable to do so and yet, if we did know, would we be willing to serve?
I think a desire to serve God that is based on the recognition of our having sinned against Him and His Grace by sending His son to save us is a good foundation to build on. One may never know everything, nor is knowledge itself the goal, but it is part of our growth. We learn about Jesus by the preached Gospel, we are baptized in His name, and then we are taught the things he wants us to do (Matt 28:19-20) That last part is important too.
Paul wrote to Timothy so that “one may know how to behave himself in the household of God which is the church of God” (I tim 3:15)
Do you know how to behave in the household of God? If you do not read your Bible quite often, you may be as surprised as Josiah (2 Kings 22:1-13) to find out that you don’t!