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?
Jer 10:2 Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations…
Do not learn the way of the heathen God says. How hard it is to live in a culture that says that it is “Christian” but lives in a way that shows it is clearly not.
Our styles of dress, venues of entertainment, ways of speaking, goals and purposes for life are all things that the world has an opinion on. The problem is that the world’s opinion is not going to promote the Glory of God.
We need to consider these things, but not by asking the world what is acceptable. We need to ask God what is acceptable.
2Tim 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
We can learn from God’s word what things are good works and what are not.
We may not agree at this moment on what types of dress or entertainment we should avoid but…if we can agree that God has an opinion on the matter and search the Scriptures to see which things are spoken about, then I believe we eventually will agree.
It may not be easy to avoid the influence of the world. It may take work to learn what God wants (i.e. reading more than a couple of chapters from the Bible every so often) but the change in your life will be worth it and the praise you will get from God will be worth it too!
2Cor 6:17-18 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
When someone talks to you about the Word of God, do you imagine a book…or do you imagine a person?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Joh 1:1)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14)
I am intrigued by the usage of the the word “Word” for both Jesus and what we commonly call the Bible. Actually, it is more accurate to say that the phrase “word of God” also applies to the teachings that come from God. But then Jesus also came from God. It is as if God said, “I can tell you” or “I can show you” and He choose to do both.
Jesus is not just the messenger but the message as well. Moses said that God would send a prophet that we need to listen to and those who do not listen will be cut off. (Dt 18) Jesus taught that he was the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except by him (John 14) and so it is important that we listen to the Word. No, it is not important…it is essential.
We all have ideas of what God says or wants us to do…but if you really want to know what God wants from us, why not consult his Word? Paul wrote to Timothy that:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:14-17)
The Word of God is not just words on a page, it is living and active….it teaches and corrects, it teaches and equips. But it can only do that for those who choose to expose themselves to it.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
It can be painful or challenging to us to learn things we need to correct. Sometimes being convicted about this or that activity causes us a lot of difficulty but it is all for our own good…our eternal good.
This post has one purpose…encourage you to read your Bible! Listen to Jesus!
This Sunday’s lessons dealt with the quality of self-control, specifically self-control in our thinking process. We normally think of self-control as being something we do in our words or actions but the best place to exercise our self-control is in our thoughts before they turn into words or actions.
Ideas are important and they even have substance. Perhaps I make too big a deal of it but since an idea is a “noun”, that is a subject, something that exists, at least in theory then they have weight. We can’t say that any idea by itself is without the potential to be used for good or bad.
In our journey through life, as a Christian, we should be aiming to get back to where we were before our life was corrupted by sin. Granted, we will not arrive there until we reach Eternity’s shore but the aim and journey of trying to become more like God and make our nature more like God’s is still what we should be doing. Of course, God is pretty clear that our thoughts are not His thoughts…
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. (Isa 55:6-8)
That our thoughts are not God’s does not mean that they cannot be. That we need to forsake our thoughts I think argues for the fact that God wants us to think more like him, develop the heart that He has and let our character be more like His Holy character. The question is: Will we be more like David who said: Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! (Psa 139:23) or more like Adam who said: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Gen 3:10)?
We can’t really hide from God and our thoughts are well-known to him:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Heb 4:12-13)
Even to the point of discerning thoughts and intentions!! Those pesky motives that we sometimes forget about or that we allow to confuse even ourselves. Our thoughts do matter. Take for example what Jesus said in Matthew 5
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mat 5:21-22)
It seems that His audience had heard something similar to what we have heard: If I don’t actually kill the guy, it is ok if I hate him. Jesus is not stating a higher law in these verses but rather restoring the laws Moses wrote back to the place where they should be. He is letting the people know that the traditions and teachings of the Rabbi’s missed the heart of the Law.
“And this is the case of the manslayer who flees there, that he may live: Whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past—as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies—he shall flee to one of these cities and live; lest the avenger of blood, while his anger is hot, pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and kill him, though he was not deserving of death, since he had not hated the victim in time past. (Deu 19:4-6)
Read all of Dt 19 to get the fuller picture but basically, if you killed someone by accident, you could be found not guilty and not subject to the vengeance of the avenger of blood. However, we cannot miss that this guilt or innocence rests on a key phrase “since he had not hated the victim in the time past.” No grudges, no animosity, no doubt that he had not set a trap, no hate. the idea of ‘in time past’ goes back three days and some versions so translate it.
We cannot allow hate to control our lives, or lusts, or covetousness or any such thing and these ideas come from the heart.
And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mar 7:20-23)
I will continue discussing this in the next few blogs and expounding on the lessons presented today. As I have opportunity, I will link to them when I get them loaded. Until then, like the song we teach our children: Be careful little mind what you think!