We started the book of James in Sunday school yesterday. One of the things that continually amazes me about God’s word is it’s ability to transform and come alive. No matter how many times you have read a particular passage it is always faithful to meet you in a new and different way.
James 1: 22-25
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
not forgetting what he has heard….
The verse from Hebrews 4:12 is never more crystal clear when it describes Gods word as “living and active.” In those moments when you are delving into the word and you have a small revelation and then the conviction comes and you think to yourself….DUH!
Sometime the refiners fire is hot and painful, other times it is like a small whack in the head!
I love it when the writers of scripture use visual images. As I was reading the words about looking in a mirror and then turning away and immediately forgetting what your face looked like, what came to me was my unwillingness to memorize scripture.
I know it’s important.
I know God want us to hide the word in our hearts.
I know that I should be meditating on it day and night, but I’m just lazy…it seems like to much work!
Now I am not saying that I do not have plenty of scripture stored up in my brain. There are many beloved scriptures that have been implanted on my heart and they are there forever. However, that mirror imagry was a gently reminder that it is something that I should be doing all the time. I don't just brush my teeth on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I do it every day.
Over the course of the last few months, longer than that really God had been working on me. I think it was a Beth Moore study I was in once and she said something to the affect of “I might not go willing but I can be dragged!”
Well God has been dragged me along and I have been digging my heels in for some time. I think the last straw was the image of forgetting what my face looked like when I turn away from a mirror.
Questions ran through my head.
Who do I want to see when I look in the mirror?
What thoughts do I want to have in my head?
What do I have stored up in my heart?
I can tell ya there are thoughts in my head that the world places there that are hard to shake off!
But if I fill my head with God’s word then it will be so full there will not be room for anything else.
A steady diet of God’s word and a regiment of implanting that word in my heart will insure that when I turn away from the mirror I will remember my face and I will remember God’s word.
Here is the hard part. It will not happen if I do not make it happen. I can not magically insert a SD card in my brain and download the entire biblical library and instantly access it like so many of you do on your smart phones. Wouldn't that be wonderful if we all had photographic memories. Well since I’m not a computer and since I don't have a photographic memory if I want to have God’s word written on my heart and have it ready at any moment then ….DUH!
I have to memorize it.
Can I just say that I hate it when the truth hurts!
The next verse I will be adding to the old memory banks is this one from Romans.
17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
This verse has special meaning to me and when I finally yielded my stubborn refusal over to God I knew exactly what scripture I had to begin with!
In biblical times they did not have the written word at their fingertips like we do today. The tradition was to pass the scripture on through oral recitation. Most of the time there was only one scroll. It was a treasured scroll that was kept protected and housed in the synagogue or house church. It was up to the church leaders and the students to be able to recite the scriptures at gatherings and worship services.
How did they do this?
They had it memorized. Can you imagine having the entire Torah committed to memory. It sounds like a near impossible task but the bottom line is that God really does call us to lean His Word and hide it in our heart.
That means I must memorize scripture.
As I said before God has been giving me sign posts for several months through the books ((Francine Rivers “Mark of the Lion” series) have read as well as movies (The Book of Eli) that highlight the importance of scripture memorization yet I still resisted.
So this morning I got my index cards out and I have written out Romans 4:17. It is sitting right next to the keyboard as I type. I have it written on my bathroom mirror in dry erase marker so I will see it every day when I look at myself.
I also find it no coincidence that we are approaching the Lenten season and God has laid this message before me just a few day before this time of preparation and reflection as we head to the cross.
So what was the last scripture you memorized?
Do you have any wonderful techniques you use to hide God’s word in your heart?
8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.