Rewind. Pause. Push Play. Justin says, “Grab hold of the Word!”
April 28, 2011
Rewind: “Bible verses are high-powered doses of truth that mainline God’s wisdom into our reasoning. They convert the soul, teach the simple, rejoice the heart, and enlighten the eyes (Ps. 19:7-9). They teach, reprove, correct, and instruct, making us profitable in every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). They fill our minds with the kind of realities that produce prosperity and success in every good work (Josh. 1:8, Ps. 1:1-3)… They are our comfort in affliction (Ps. 119:50), our songs for the journey (Ps. 119:54), and our most valuable asset (Ps. 119:72); for when we read and study God’s Word, we’re cultivating a relationship with Him who made us, who loved us, who gave Himself for us on Calvary, and who rose again that we might inherit eternal life. As we study His Word, we’re listening to Him, conversing with Him face-to-face, as it were, as man speaks to his friend.” (from Robert Morgan’s 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, p 25).
Justin Neally, a senior graduating this may with his degree in sport management, shared with us on Thursday night about how important it is to truly grab hold of the power of God’s Word. For Justin, this concept took root in his life as the result of a friend’s challenge to memorize the entirety of 1 Peter 5:5-11. As graduation drew nearer and nearer, he was plagued by a myriad off questions: where am I going to live; what am I going to do; where is God leading me; am I making the right decisions?, and he struggled to find God’s peace, but through the continuous study, meditation, and repetition of this passage, Justin was constantly reminded of God’s power, fidelity, and grace…
“Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5-6
How often do you think about humility? Do you consider yourself a humble person? Did you just think to yourself, “yeah, actually, I am a pretty humble person,” or something similar to that? God’s Word talks a lot about having a spirit of humility, one that inspires you to unconditionally serve others, and, of course, to approach the Lord with reverence and awe. Justin said, in fact, that reverence, or a healthy fear of the Lord and all that He is, is one of three key characteristics of a humble person. In addition, humility says that you look upon Christ’s sacrifice as one that demands your own life, every single breath of it, in return; after all, once you accept Christ as your King, that life is no longer yours anyway. Finally, a spirit of humility includes accepting your place and being, if you’ll excuse the cliché, the best you that you can be. In other words, you take the gifts God has given you, and use them for His glory as the best engineer, teacher, pastor, or librarian possible, because, through it all, you are serving as an image-bearer of God. Above all else, seek to let Christ’s light shine through all that you do, because all else passes away, but Jesus will remain forever.
Anxiety is dangerous. Not only is it detrimental for your physical health, but it is also spiritually damaging because it serves to separate you from God. Here, Peter is quite clear; we are to take our anxieties – our worries and fears – and place them at the feet of our Savior and King. He alone is capable of rendering them powerless over you. You have been called to live for a higher purpose. So, what is it that’s pulling you away from Christ? Have you humbled yourself at His throne and given Him control over your life? Will you choose to do so now? Christ did not come down to earth, live among us, die at our hands, and rise on the third day so that we could walk in chains, slaves to the problems of this world. No, He died so that you and I can live in freedom. His arms are spread wide; will you put your worries in His hands?
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
Satan is anything but stupid; in fact, he is ingeniously clever. He uses our anxieties – ya know, the ones we were just talking about, the ones that are so hard to surrender to the Lord – to effectively pull us further and further away from God, because separation from the Light is his goal. But, regardless of Satan’s efforts, we are called to stand firm in the peace and knowledge of our faith, and rely on God’s promises of fidelity to His children. You can rest assured that when you are actively and genuinely seeking God, He will seek to affirm you, because you are running towards Him. Not even Satan is capable of taking away the hope and love of our Lord.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a long while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
There is power in God’s Word. Without that Word to guide and reassure us, we’re all lost. His Word is an everlasting affirmation of His presence among us. But, that Word is not passive; it demands that we make a choice. His Word requires that we humble ourselves before the holiness of God, that we surrender our worries to Jesus, and that we stand firm in our faith in the face of darkness. When you grab hold of the power of the Word, nothing can take that away from you.
“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35
“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the Enemy, at the stares of the wicked, for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger… but I call to God and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.” Psalm 55: 1-3, 16-18
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13
Push Play: You know those commercials for the Sleep Number beds or the Sertapedic mattresses? You know how they all say, “you’ll notice the difference in quality right away,” and “once you try it, you’ll never go back”? Well, if you ask me, scripture memorization is kind of like that. Your brain is a mine field of negative thoughts, worries, and temptations, and you’re walking around right now, dealing with problems, sorting through all kinds of questions, and (probably) surrounded by darkness, tiptoeing over those mines. Oftentimes, you end up stepping just a little too hard, or just a little further to the left than you intended, and BOOM!, there goes the mine… It’s unfortunate, but you’ve always lived in this world, and your mind has always been filled with mines, so you don’t really know to expect anything else. Scripture, though, plays the role of a bomb-sniffing dog in your brain. When you start storing God’s truth and wisdom away in your heart, you build up a defense against temptation and anxiety. And, trust me, as soon as you try it, you will notice the difference in quality right away, and you’ll never go back to the way things were before.
*Also, if you’re new to scripture memorization and looking for a place to start, try: Genesis 1:1, John 1:1, John 1:14, and John 3:16. They are short, sweet, and full of beautiful truth. (You can also check out Robert Morgan’s book, mentioned above.)