Monday, January 25, 2016

KEYS TO A BLESSED LIFE: Scripture Memorization, Part One

When one becomes a person of a certain age, any discussion around the topic of memory opens up a king size can of worms!  It's true, even for the sharpest of us, short term memory can be a challenge. I get a mental brain freeze it seems, every time the temperature fluctuates outside!

So why then would you want to read about what some say is almost impossible as we age--memorizing scripture!  Please hear me out.  Recently, I've encouraged you to get in touch with your inner spiritual child, by doing elementary things you once enjoyed in your early Christian life.  Things like reading and meditating on God's Word.  It follows then that Scripture memorization would be a logical next step!

I have to admit, I often stand in awe of my pastor and others who are able to  spout out scripture (verse and text) with such ease and in great volume with so little effort.  But I know from my own experience that this is not evidence of mental acuity, but of consistency and hard work.  It's a discipline! Something that you just have to keep working at.  So I plod on!

 Here are My Top Three Reasons for doing so:

1. Scripture memorization keeps me connected to God.  Living in God's presence is my top priority.  It should  be the goal of every Christian.  Because God is a Spirit, the only way I can do that is to feed (meditate) on His Word,  hidden in my heart (Ps. 119:11).  This Word keeps me spiritually focused, intact, and in touch with Him no matter where I am or who I'm with!

2. Scripture memorization provides divine counsel and guidance for every situation ( Ps. 119:24).  I can't tell you how many times I've  prayed about a decision I needed to make regarding  my ministry, finances, relationships, and matters so insignificant to others that it seemed not worth the thought.  I'd ponder over these things and suddenly a scripture would pop in my mind and give me clarity on the issue?

Or perhaps someone decides to call me out of the blue and ask for a word of counsel, comfort or encouragement.  What do I do then?  No time to dig for sermon notes or the bible.  The Holy Spirit comes to my aide and enlightens me with just the right words to say!  But if I hadn't made a mental deposit beforehand I surely couldn't have made a withdrawal when it was needed! 

3. Scripture memorization gives me daily power for living in this fallen world. You know yourself that the world is not getting better.  It is so easy to get discouraged, to throw up your hands and give up!  But for as many negative and pessimistic circumstances that come my way and tries to sway me from the truth of my faith, there's that many more scriptures I can draw strength from.   All I have to do is hide them in my heart!  Praise God there's a Holy App (scripture) that fits every need!

Well, hopefully one of these reasons will motivate you to try Scripture Memorization for the first time or help you to get Back to the Basics and start afresh.  Next week, I'll provide some tips and resources to help you get started.  In the meantime try memorizing this simple one to whet your appetite!

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for  my path (Psalms 119:105)


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Monday, January 18, 2016

KEYS TO A BLESSED LIFE: Meditating on Scripture!

"I will mediate on Your precepts
and contemplate Your ways" (Ps. 119:15)
Last week we discovered the simplicity of finding God's best for us by reciting our ABC's: Reading and appreciating His Word.  I'd like to continue that thought if you don't mind.

Reading God's word is only the beginning to a blessed and bountiful life!  It is important that you understand what you read so you can obey what the Word says (Psalms 119:34) 

Sermons are great motivators for holy living; music and worship wonderful tools to usher us into God's presence.  But what do you do when you get there?  Your mind must be joined with the Almighty in a supernatural way (Isaiah 55:8) to receive the power you need to live a blessed life! 

This only happens when you  read God's Word and then stop long enough to think about what it says.  This is called Scripture Meditation.  Unlike Transcendental meditation, it is not an emptying of the mind, but filling it with the precepts, principles, and thoughts of God, Himself! (2 Timothy 3:16).

As before, I don't want to jump into our Biblical Alphabet without a few practical helps.  Meditation is above all, a mental discipline! Don't be discouraged or frustrated when you find it difficult to concentrate.  In many ways you are deprogramming yourself from all the junk the world has been distracting us with for years!  It may take awhile to get the hang of it! Don't give up!

--A quick review from last week: Find a quiet place, unplug from all technical devices and find a translation of the bible that you actually understand! (I suggest New Living Translation, Good News, or Living Bible if you 're just beginning to read  faithfully or the NIV as a good jumping off place for other translations you might desire later!)

--Don't rely too heavily on notes or commentaries from Bible experts.  Meditation is about listening to what God says to "YOU" about what you have read.  Besides Bible scholars will often conflict in their meaning about a passage.  Their words are not inspired but God's Word is!!

Now taking a few more letters from our Bible Alphabet let's go further in and deeper down into His word with some Meditation Techniques:

P ray for help!  Meditation of Scripture is the ultimate target in Spiritual Warfare.  The enemy doesn't want you to know God's word and you will not be able to understand it or obey it without the Holy Spirit's help. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

R ead God's Word for yourself.  Read thoughtfully, patiently, repeatedly, selectively, purposefully, and always PRAYERFULLY! (Ps. 119:15)

T hink about what you have read.  This is where I admonish you again to read in small doses, a few verses at a time. We want God's word to saturate not drown you! I also warn against an old tactic some have used:  Open up a closed bible and wherever the pages fall, start reading! This is a sure fire way to be misled and misinformed regarding bible context and true understanding.  

P ray again and again.  As God begins to talk to you through meditation you must listen carefully.  Be prepared to confess sins you might not have been aware you committed.  Ask for courage to fulfill His desires that may conflict with your own.  All are necessary for the critical next step!

O bey what God has told you to do.  Now this is where you need not do a lot of thinking!  Obey immediately, obey with confidence, obey trusting God for the results and/or consequences! For one to know what to do what is right and not to do it is a sin.  (James 4:17)


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Sunday, January 10, 2016


"Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in Your law."
Psalms 119:18
A new Me for the New Year!  How many times have I heard that already? There are many who pride themselves on being cutting edge.  They can't wait to get their hands on the newest gadgets or trends to satisfy old itches, but what they usually find out is that none of them quite do the trick!  Well, here's some old school wisdom....when all else fails go back to the basics!

That's what my pastor has challenged his congregants to do this year, return to reading, meditating, and applying the Bible to every situation in your life! Start by reading Psalms 119 in its entirety to discover all the benefits of the Bible then follow this handy little guideline for future enjoyment.  It's as easy as learning your A B C's.

To get the most out of your Bible reading create a Quiet Zone, some place where there is no distractions.  For a specific amount of time (doesn't have to be long) unplug from all technical devices (smart phones, land phones, televisions, etc.)  Rid yourself of all these habitual pulls on your attention.

 Next find a comfortable spot to read, some place you can sit upright!  You want to be comfortable but not too comfortable (the Enemy would love to put you to sleep!) Keep a pad and pencil close by to write down spiritual reflections from your reading or even those pesty intrusive thoughts (example: Need to pick up my prescription later today).  You'd be surprised what comes in your mind when you try to focus on godly things!  These are just the preliminaries! Now let's get to the basics!!!

A sk - the Holy Spirit to Help You!  Pray for guidance, wisdom and understanding of the Word.  The Bible is a supernatural book. Without supernatural help --prayer and the Holy Spirit--there is no way you can read and make it useful in your life. (I Cor. 2:14 ) Ask God to lead you to a Bible reading plan suitable for your needs that will keep you motivated!

B egin reading on a small but consistent basis! You can't expect to achieve all God has for you with a hit or miss method of reading.  It is better to set a goal of reading one or two verses of a bible book daily than to try to read two chapters a day! Small, manageable but faithful feedings on God's word  is much more nourishing than gorging oneself once a week!  (I Peter 2:2)

C ultivate an appreciation for the value of bible reading! You will invest time, energy and money on anything you feel gives you a good return! Bible reading is a sure thing --you just can't lose!  We've talked about the time investment (unplugging from friends and pleasures and plugging into the Word.) We've mentioned some energy investments.  Physically making the effort to  arise early, stay up later, or rearrange your schedule.  You also need to prepare a place; engage your mind and body in order to actually do bible reading!  But for some, you may have to add a monetary investment!

We in America are blessed because God's Word is "free and available" in so many ways!  There are many radio and television programs that send free or for a small monetary donation,  God's Word in the form of cd's, devotionals and books.  But the more you read the more you will grow in God's grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).  

Cultivation in God's Word requires appropriate tools: For example, you'll need  a good translation of the bible suitable for your understanding.  It should have wide margins for notes and of a quality that will last over years of usage! If you're a "Technical Geek," you might want software programs or apps that enhance your reading, like  scripture translations from their original language, or concordances, dictionaries, atlases and maps.  All of these will cost you something--but not as much as your ignorance!

So Let's Get Back to The Basics with a Plan to Read the Bible Daily~ This is only the beginning so Stay Tuned next week for more keys to Living a Blessed Life!


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