February Recap

For Christmas I was given a “Growth Book,” something I had heard about online and asked for. It’s a way to follow your growth for the year, allowing you to track your goals, reading, prayer requests, God’s faithfulness, and reflect each month where you’ve done well or where you need change. There are many blank pages for journaling or taking notes from sermons or podcasts — or however else you want to use them. It has been a help to me to record these things and visualize progress. Read more

January Scripture Memorization

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty,
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD,
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In your hand is power and might;
In your hand it is to make great,
And to give strength to all.
Now, therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name.”
1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (NKJV)

Around Christmastime, my mom texted me and my sister to see if we could learn these Bible verses together. I agreed, and it took me the whole month of January to learn them completely. (I find memorizing harder the older I get!) Read more

Scripture Memory

Typically, when my blog is dry, my journal is full. That’s been the case this last month. I’ll try to do some short posts over the coming days to catch up on some things.

One of the blessings of a sermon series going slowly, verse by verse through a book of the Bible, is it gives you time for in-depth reflection on the verses. We’ve been studying Romans at church and are in Chapter 5, just having finished verses 1-5. I have memorized these verses as we go because it’s quite easy after listening to the sermons to have these words on my heart and to then memorize them.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5 (NAS)

I am reminded again of the value of Scripture memory. It gives my mind something to think on that is good and true (Phil. 4:8). It hides God’s Word in my heart to help me not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11).

Look at Romans 5:1 above. It’s an incredible verse that tells us how to have peace with God! Isn’t that what anyone would want?! Unless someone is simply denying the existence of God, I imagine they would want to know that they can have peace with Him and how that is accomplished:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have peace with God through Jesus Christ, being justified (made right) by faith in Him. We can be assured of this and have confidence of it and then go on in His Word to learn more and more about this. But right there is the starting point! Isn’t that amazing?! This is the peace we all need.

Then we had dinner with a family Saturday night, and I could see that this person was a living example of Romans 5:3-5, having been through tribulation, but filled with great hope, having character that is being proven. We were able to see the way the Spirit was so visibly working in their lives. It was beautiful.

It’s wonderful to keep learning Scripture to remind us and reinforce what God is teaching us in His Word. It will not return void (Is. 55:11).

I’m participating in the Scripture memory program for 2015 at Beth Moore’s blog. We’re memorizing a new verse twice a month so that by the end of the year, we’ll have at least 24 verses hidden in our hearts. It’s a very manageable pace. You can find it here if you want to participate, too!

The Law and Grace

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament in my yearly Bible reading and am currently in Deuteronomy. At the same time, our church is going through a series on the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.

I have been trying to memorize the Sermon on the Mount in short sections as they are preached each week. This gives me from January – June to learn the three chapters, using weeks where we have our Missions Festival or Easter services to review and catch up. Many of these verses are familiar, so it hasn’t been too hard to memorize, and it’s been such a beneficial exercise to have these verses being written in my heart and called to mind during the activities of daily life.

It is interesting to be reading about the Law in the Old Testament and then studying Jesus’ teaching to His disciples in the New Testament. Jesus gives us a higher standard in our personal relationships in His Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said…” [giving some command from the law, such as “you shall not murder” or “you shall not commit adultery,” etc.], “but I say to you…” [a new and higher way for that law is given, such as likening anger with murder or lust with adultery, etc.].

As I’ve read through the Old Testament Law, with its many details, and about the sacrificial system in place then, how thankful it makes me for Jesus! Through the Law, we see that we are sinners, that we could never keep it perfectly! We sin, intentionally and unintentionally. And Jesus became our single sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:1-18)! He came to earth, took our punishment for sin in His death on the cross, and rose again that we might have new life in Him. It was a complete and finished work that He did on our behalf. Through faith in Jesus, we can be born into new life in Him.

Jesus not only provided salvation from sin and death through His death on the cross and His resurrection, but He also gives His Holy Spirit to those who believe to help them know how to live and follow Him. We obey, not out of sheer commands to do so, but out of the joy and delight in Who He is and what He has done for us!

I’m also reading a parenting book right now called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. It contrasts the law and grace and our children’s need to understand grace and the gospel of Jesus Christ as the way through which they find life. It shows how rules can build a law-based method of parenting that keeps our children from understanding this lavish love and grace of God by which we are saved. I’m only 80 pages into it, but it echoes so much of what I believe, and challenges how much I act otherwise with my own children at times!

So these are some thoughts I’ve been pondering as I read lately. They are not too well developed here. I’m finding when I read several chapters of the Bible at a time (as when reading through the Bible in a year), I don’t spend as much time meditating on small portions of Scripture, but I do love getting the overall themes and tracing different concepts through the Bible as I read. What a beautiful Word God has given to us in the Scriptures! Thank you, Jesus.

Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

 Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:24-26 “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” 

10,000 Reasons

Psalm 103:1-10

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, 
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

I love this song, 10,000 Reasons, by Matt Redman. Maybe it’s because it resonates with the words of Psalm 103 which I love. Have you heard it?

 

Psalm 103:11-22

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!