I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay;
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way
What are your New Year’s Resolutions?
I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on your plans, but according to my friend, Gerry Lewis, 25 percent of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after one week and 60 percent of people abandon them within six months. The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 ten separate times without success. Wow!
So do you want next year to be different? You’ll probably need some help, especially if you’re wanting to make real changes in your life, and even more so if you want to make changes in your walk with God.
In addition to the normal issues with trying to make life changes, spiritual changes are even more challenging. Why? Because there’s a war for your heart! Proverbs 4:23 says they we have to guard our hearts above all else because our life springs from our heart!
Have you ever wanted to know God in a more personal way? Have you ever intentionally tried to know Him? If we are His children, He speaks to us through several ways, including “the still, small voice”, Bible teachers and yes, even preachers! But how do you know that the “word” you heard is really from God, as opposed to feelings of indigestion? I know of no better way to hear God than to spend time reading the Bible! You can discern His voice with the Bible, weighing every other “word” you think you may be hearing. He’s the God of Truth. He’ll never contradict Himself!
So where do you start?
Check out the Bible App (iOS, Android, Windows8, and Blackberry) or head over to YouVersion.com if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet. Sign up for a free account and choose from one (or more!) of their Bible reading plans. They have plans for just a few days to plans that last all year. They have plans to read through the entire Bible in a year, or just parts. Pick a plan, then take a look at this practical article: http://ow.ly/GzHTd.
Not only will the Bible App help you with planning your Bible reading, it can remind you to read your Bible at a particular time of day. The App will even send you an email if you’re running a few days behind … and suggest ways to catch up! You can even share your reading plan with friends and help each other!
And for some additional incentive, the Bible App is offering a 21-day challenge! #BibleFor21
In 2015, I’m going to change things up a bit. The past few years I have read through the whole Bible. In 2015, I’m going to slow down a bit and read the New Testament in five minutes a day, five days a week. Join me! Follow me using the Bible App and let’s be as iron sharpening iron as we sharpen each other!
Bible reading isn’t about reading the Bible. It’s about getting to know God in a deeper way. Don’t end 2015 with no more knowledge of God than you do here at the end of 2014.
So what’s your plan?
Happy anniversary to my wife of 26 years! Although it hasn’t been a perfect 26 years, it has been the best 26 years of my life.
Who would have known 26 years ago that we would still live in Texas with a ministry history unlike anyone else we have ever met? Who would have known in 1994 that my vow to never again be hurt in a bivocational position in a church would result in a 13 1/2 year hiatus of my stubborn disobedience? Who would have known that after those 13 1/2 years, I would finally repent of my attempt to call the shots in my ministry … and end up in the pulpit one week later to pastor that church for 6 1/2 years? Who would have known that we would close the doors of the first church that I pastored? Who would have known that the people of that church would be so gracious and love us and support us to the very end?
Who would have known that I would experience so many failed “bad fit” jobs?
Who would have known that we would enjoy two children so much, and lose one in miscarriage? Who would have known that my wife would go back to college and earn a Master’s Degree (on the Dean’s List) while working full-time as a Literacy Coach (and not a classroom teacher)?
Who would have known that both of our fathers would experience major health issues, and that my mother would go to be with Jesus? Who would have known that my dad would later meet and marry a woman who would love us as her own … and that we would love as our very own?
Who would have known that my wife would stand by me through the good times and the bad, through sickness and health?
Who would have known?
Only a patient, though Sovereign Father Who loves us both more than we could possibly love each other. Only a God Who continues sustain us through it all. Only a God, to whom we pray would be God in our lives and marriage.
Happy anniversary, Amy! Let’s do it for another 26!
Last week, I talked about the importance of reading the Bible in 2014. I hope you took to heart my encouragement to get started with a Bible Reading Plan. But as important as it is to read the Bible, it isn’t enough. We must also spend time thinking about what we’re reading. That’s the purpose of memorizing Scripture.
“But I have a bad memory and I can’t memorize things.”
Sure you can! What is your address? What’s your phone number? What’s your social security number? What’s your birth date? What’s your anniversary date? What are the lyrics of your favorite song?
The reason we memorize these things is that we attach a value to remembering them. In other words, we remember those things we deem to be important. At the risk of being blunt, the reason you don’t think you can memorize Scripture is you don’t think it’s important. Ouch!
OK, I’m not talking about memorizing entire chapters or even books of the Bible – though there are many people who have done that! As a matter of fact, the first Bible passage I ever memorized was the 23rd Psalm; we did it in Sunday School when I was eight years old. And I remember it today – all of it. Why? Because our Sunday School teacher told us she would give us a trinket if we would do it; and we valued the trinket. I don’t remember the teacher’s name because it’s been 30-something years since I last saw her. But I do remember the chapter because I often will recall the verses in times of need.
How to Memorize Scripture
Memorizing Scripture is no different than memorizing anything else. Seriously! All you do is find a verse or two that you want to remember such as John 3:16. Read it in several translations and choose one. Begin reading the words slowly. Write the words down on a piece of paper, including the verse reference (think of the chapter and verse numbers as the verse’s “home address”). Write the words and reference on a sticky note or an index card. Post the note on your bathroom mirror where you will see it when you brush and floss your teeth. (You may remember that I compared the importance of dental hygiene and reading the Bible last week). Twice a day, look at the card and read the reference. Then read the verse and read the reference again. Do this the entire time you’re brushing and flossing. If you do this twice a day and include flossing, you will spend about five minutes a day running the verse and reference through your mind. Periodically go back through the verses you have memorized in the past. The result? You will be absolutely amazed at how many verses you can remember over the course of a week, month, year, and a lifetime! Encourage your family and friends to ask you what verse you’re currently memorizing. And ask them the same thing!
So, where are you going to start?
May I suggest a few?