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Wisdom is the saw we use to cut our way through life. Without sharp saws, life is like cutting through a piece of oak with a butter knife.  So how do we sharpen our saws? Answer: By spending ongoing time reading and meditating on Proverbs. 

All of us make decisions that have great implications for the future. What we decide to do impacts our families and other people to whom we are connected.

It can be scary to consider how much impact our decisions have on the future, especially when we consider that eternity is at stake. What you do today, might influence where your children spend eternity. 

And it is by no means a given that we make good decisions. People with good intentions make disastrous decisions every day.

So a central question becomes, “How do we avoid walking into the airplane propeller of bad decisions?”

The answer is “wisdom.” Wisdom is skill for living rightly. Wisdom is how we navigate life. 

But like any skill, wisdom is not automatic. It must be learned over time (Phil 1:9-11, Romans 12:2). The skill of wisdom is learned by spending time in God’s Word, especially Proverbs. The book of Proverbs was given for the express purpose that we might develop discernment. 

2  To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
3  to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
4  to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—Prov 1:2-4

  A handy aspect of Proverbs is that there are 31 chapters: one for every day of the month. If the date is the 21st, then read Proverbs 21. When you do, take time to identify and reflect on at least one verse. For example, Proverbs 21:1 reads:

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31

This Proverb reminds us that no matter how much we prepare for important events in our life, if God is not on our side, then all our labor is in vain. Proverbs 21:31 is a call to prayer. 

Two questions follow. The first is, “How long do I have to study Proverbs in order to grow in wisdom?” The answer is, “The rest of our lives.” I believe that all of us – – especially those with leadership responsibilities —  need to read a chapter of Proverbs daily until we die or Jesus comes back. Wisdom is that important.

If you’re a bit of a contrarian (like me), you might counter – – “So you read Proverbs every single day?” The answer is “no.” I miss lots of days. But I have a general habit of reading Proverbs. Sharpening my wisdom saw in Proverbs is a “go to” spiritual discipline that I have practiced over the years.

I would think that if — on average — you read the day’s chapter of Proverbs 3 out of 7 days every week (42.86% of the time) you would be on a good pace. The important thing is to observe the habit of reading Proverbs the rest of your life.

If you are looking for resources on Proverbs, I would make two recommendations:

  1. Dan Phillips’ book, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs is excellent. (For more see here). 
  2. Derek Kidner’s pithy, Proverbs (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries) is also gold. 

 Some of the below posts may jumpstart your thinking on how to read Proverbs.

See also:

Dig for Wisdom Like Its 1849 (Prov 2:4-5)

What Questions Did You Ask Yourself Today Based on Proverbs 12?

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom (Prov 9:10)

Why Grooms Should Make the Wedding Dresses (Prov 24:3)

Be Thankful for Your Wife on the 31st  (Prov 31)

Derek Kidner on Understanding the Genre of Proverbs

We Know You Don’t See Your Blind Spot. Duh. It’s a Blind Spot. (Prov 17:10)

Even in Laughter the Heart May Ache (Prov 14:13)

A Chapter of Proverbs Today the 29th (Fear of Man Will Prove to Be a Snare) (Prov 29:25)

On Not Grabbing the Dog’s Ears (Prov 26:17)

The Sluggard is No Freak

If Your Boss is Atilla the Hun (Prov 27:18) 

The Meaning of Proverbs 17:6 – On the Beauty of Grandchildren

Two Classic Pillars of True Old Testament Religion (per Derek Kidner) (Prov 2:5)

Feeling Overwhelmed and Undermotivated? (Prov 6:6-10)

Where There is No Fear the People Perish: One of the Most Misapplied Verses in the Bible (Prov 29:18)

Who Are You? Don’t Be Too Sure You Know! (Prov 16:2)

Tim Keller on Proverbs

Before You Make this Loan, “Ask How God is God’s Credit?”  (Proverbs 19:17)

Dream Big and Be Excited to See God Direct Your Paths in Unexpected Ways (Prov 3:5-6)

A Guide to Proverbs Within Proverbs (Prov 3:3-12)

Why the Circle Doesn’t Always Remain Unbroken (Prov 16:28)

Leaders Know How to Pick Up a Crumb and Carry It Into the Next Room (Proverbs 30:25) 

Don’t Let Failure Give Way to Failure (Prov 24:16)

Sharpen Your Wisdom Saw Today (Read Proverbs 18)

Frame On Why We are Sometimes Contentiously Foolish (Prov 20:3)

There are Two Ways to Deal With a Lion

The Fear of Man Lays a Snare (Prov 29:25) 

A Time to Use the SW Word (Prov 10:19)

Ever Fall on Your Face Like Kurt Warner? (Prov 16:18)

Mark Twain: A Lie Can’t Get Half Way Round the World Before the Truth Even Gets Its Boots On (Prov 26:20)

Gossip Affects Your Spiritual Waistline (Prov 18:8)

Facing Some Orcs in An Adventure You Didn’t Ask For? Persevere (Prov 24:16)

If All Your Friends are Named Beevis, Guess What Your Name Is (Prov 13:20)

Set the Bar for Spiritual Disciplines Low 

Teaching Our Children to Work 

 

Easily, my most important educational choice was deciding 25 years ago to systematically memorize Scripture.

The first principle of Scripture memory is to "repeat to remember." Wear a rut in your mind with the words of Scripture. Here is a brief summary of the system I use for memorizing Scripture. I originally learned this approach from Jim Jeffery in the Fall of 1990, though I have adapted it over the years. My system shares similarities with An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture.

Repeat to Remember

My system for Scripture memorization is divided into two parts. First, I repeat to remember.

After identifying a verse to memorize, I say it aloud. Ideally, I interpret the verse with the inflection of my voice and attitude of my heart as I say it. But there is some “chanting” involved. The idea is to wear a rut in my mind with God’s Word. My goal is to to say the words of a verse so many times that they are as second nature as a phone number or address.

I “repeat to remember” using the following regiment for each verse I memorize:

  • Day 1- 25 times
  • Day 2 – 20 times
  • Day 3 – 15 times
  • Day 4 – 10 times
  • Day 5 – 5 times

So by the end of the 5th day I have repeated a given verse 75 times. As can be seen from the image to the right, there is nothing fancy about my system. I write the verse out and tally each repetition. The image shows that in July of 1991 I was memorizing Matthew 20:37-40 followed by the 10 Commandments.

On the first day, I often look at the verse while quoting it. If it is a longer verse, I memorize it one phrase at a time. I also look closely at it on the page and form a mental snapshot of the verse. I don’t mean to imply I have a “photographic memory.” I don’t. But the combination of repeatedly vocalizing the words of the verse, hearing it as I say it, and picturing it in my mind, all serve to engrave the words on my memory.

On days 2-5, I still need to look at the verse again. But it grows easier to remember each day. If I struggle to remember a verse when reviewing it, I may quote it additional times.

Saying it aloud is important. The discipline of vocalizing each word aloud means that I also hear it.

When I am memorizing verses, I also incorporate quoting the texts into the fabric of ministry. For example, I have recently been memorizing Paul’s wonderful prayer in Colossians 1:9-14. So even as I followed the formal regiment for memorizing those verses, I have repeated or paraphrased it many additional times during my own times of prayer and counseling sessions.

ScripturememoryfrontAt other times, I incorporate verses I am memorizing into conversations or counseling sessions. I simply say something like, “Recently, I have been memorizing Colossians 1:9-14. In those verses, Paul prays . . .” Sharing verses in conversation models a commitment to God’s Word and shares the content of particular passages.

Review to Retain

Second, having repeated to remember, I review to retain.

After I have completed the sequence of saying the verse 25-20-15-10-5 times across consecutive days, I write the verse on a 3×5 card and review it daily. Ideally, I review a particular verse:

  • Daily for 45-60 days
  • Weekly for a year
  • Monthly for 2-3 years
  • 2-3 times per year for life

This is the back of a Scripture memory card.When I make a mistake in reviewing a verse, which I often do, I correct the mistake and say it the right way more than once. If I really struggle quoting a particular verse, then I put it through the “repeat to remember” sequence again.

Of course, there are many other memory techniques that can be employed including using music or association techniques. But in my experience, long term Scripture memorization comes down to repetition. Intentionally repeat a verse 4-500 times across several years and you will remember it.

Systematic long term memorization of Scripture requires only minutes on any given day. I took a break while writing this to review 10 verses. It took me one minute and twenty-two seconds to recite them. It was a minute and twenty-two seconds well spent.

See also:

Memorize a Psalm in Order to Be Moved

Previously, I answered questions several question from Elaine about heaven. Yesterday, Elaine let me know that she is wondering how we know the Bible and God is real and not just realistic fiction.

Dear Elaine,

The question you discussed with your dad – –  regarding how we know the Bible is God’s Word – – is a beautiful question. It is such an excellent question that in the Westminster Confession of Faith (approved in 1647) your question is answered in the fifth statement.

By the way, don’t ever let anyone tell you that every question is a good question. There are many terrible questions. I have asked some of them myself! One of these days, you will ask me a bad question, and I will say, “What an awful question!”

But this time you have not just asked a good question. You have asked one of the great questions the Church of Jesus Christ has ever considered. I am so proud of you and thankful for you.

Now you need to think really hard about the answer. It’s a grownup question and it deserves a grownup answer. So get rid of your cat for a few moments and think.

The answer given in the Westminster standards as to how we know the Bible is God’s Word is a “wordy” answer – – MAYBE JUST SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH AND LET ME BREAK IT DOWN INTO 6 REASONS — or, if your dad reads the paragraph aloud to you, plug your ears until he is done and wait for my explanation. It will make sense when you hear how I break it up into bite size pieces. Here is what they said in 1647:

  1. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

As I said, this answer is much easier to understand if we just break it up into parts. The confession says that we know the Bible is God’s Word because:

(1) the testimony of the church  – Men and women for 2,000 years in the church have agreed that this is God’s special message to us. This is not the most important reason we believe the Bible is God’s Word. But it is a great help! Maybe watch this video about how excited people are to get Bibles.

(2) And the heavenliness of the matter – The Bible speaks directly to some of the most important questions we can ever consider. If you read other ancient books they do not deal with life’s big questions with anything close to the wisdom of the Bible. Scripture answers our questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? What happens after we die? (And we have way more copies of the Bible than of any other ancient document!) By the way,  the Bible answers other questions that aren’t so tremendously important, but still they  mean a lot to you. For instance, “Where do cats come from?”

(3) the majesty of the style – The style of the Bible is so beautiful. Have your mom or dad read John 14:1-6 from the King James version. Or read Hebrews 1:1-4 from the King James. You will need helping understanding those passages, but just in hearing the beauty of the style one begins to understand this is no ordinary book. I know your grandfather well Elaine. And if you read John 14:1-6 to him right now, he would get tears in his eyes. And the reason he would be emotional is because the Bible speaks so majestically to the questions that are so important. Or try this. Read Isaiah 9:6-7. This passage was written 700 years before Jesus. And the passage is so completely beautiful that it inspired one of the greatest works of music ever! When Handel’s Messiah was performed in front of Queen Victoria she was supposed to remain seated while everyone else stood. Queens didn’t have to stand up. But when this great work of music was performed – – and the reason it was written is because the Bible is so majestic – – she stood up. Today people all over the world stand when Handel’s Messiah is performed. And they stand up because they agree with Queen Victoria that the music and message are unspeakably beautiful.

(4) the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole – Even though the Bible was written across 1,500 years, it all is woven together into one beautiful message: From Moses (whose sister hid him in a basket, just like you would hide your little brother James) to the Apostle John who was so very close to the Lord Jesus. You know the story of the book of Ruth. By itself, Ruth is one of the most beautiful stories that was ever written. But then we see that Ruth’s baby Obed was the grandfather of King David – – and from the grandchildren of David (who was 1,000 years before Jesus!) we have Jesus. No one could make that up! (Tell your mom to read this post. She will like it).  Some day you and I will meet Ruth – – we really will – – and we will be able to talk to her about her baby –which will seem a little silly because Obed is all grown up. I suspect you and I will agree that Ruth is even more beautiful than we expected. But we will all be worshiping Jesus. (Your mom will also like this post).

(5) the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvationThe Bible tells us how we can be sure that we have eternal life and that we will be together with God’s people on the new earth for all of eternity. Don’t forget that the Red Brick’s are meeting at the 5th Tree on the Right side. If you read this post, you will be reminded about what we mean by the gospel and you will also see a picture of another little girl from church standing next to you dressed like a cat!

(6) our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts – BUT MOST OF ALL – – when we read the Bible the Holy Spirit assures our hearts that the Bible is God’s Word. Said another way, the Bible is self-authenticating – – Scripture shows us that it is God’s Word. This is important because if you believed in the Bible solely based on what your pastor or parents said, then they would be the authority.  The Bible is final authority. And we have assurance this is so because the Holy Spirit works in our hearts so that we are persuaded.

Some day, rather soon, I suspect, you will meet someone who will tell you that he does not believe the Bible is really God’s Word. Ask him, “Well, have your read the Bible?” Then say, “Why don’t you pray Psalm 119:18 and then read the Gospel of John? After reading it, tell me what you think.”  If the person who says he doesn’t believe the Bible is God’s Word refuses to prayerfully read the Bible, then you know they don’t want to believe it is God’s Word. (See also: Because the Bible is what it is, it can do what it does!)

You and I can be sure – – along with other Christians for 2,000 years – – that the Bible is God’s word to us. We have a message not from outer space, but from “beyond space!”

One of the greatest privileges of my life is to be your pastor!

 

 

 

 

American football judge.By the powers vested in me by . . . I hereby announce that you can start your Bible reading plan on December 16. Consider this post your license to cheat by beginning to read through the Bible now.  If you need a Bible reading schedule, try this one.

For motivation to read through the Bible in 2015, we need go no further than Psalm 19. C.S. Lewis said that he considered Psalm 19 the greatest poem in the psalter. Whether or not we agree with ranking the Psalms, one can see why Lewis was so enamored with Psalm 19. In it (Psalm 19:7-11) we are reminded that God’s Word:

  • “Revives the soul” – Feel dead inside? Read God’s Word.
  • “Makes wise the simple” – Big decisions ahead? Look to Scripture
  • “Gives joy to the heart” – Feeling melancholy with long days? Rinse your minds with the Word of God.
  • “Gives light to the eyes” – At a dark place? Let God’s truth illuminate your path.

Read through Psalm 19 – – or better yet Psalm 119 – – and purpose to read the Bible in the months to come.

But, “Alas,” you say. “I would be hard pressed to keep up with reading through the Bible in 2015.”

This is where I, Chris Brauns, ordained by Spring Creek Church in Pewaukee, WI, can be of great help. I am announcing a special blessing whereby you are allowed to start reading through the Bible as early as December 16. This is your green light to leave the starting blocks before the 2015 gun sounds: cheat.

Personally, I plan to use a schedule published by Faith Baptist Bible College (my wife’s alma mater). However, in celebration of Christians freedom, you are allowed to choose an alternative schedule. Look around on the web.

I haven’t started cheating yet. But will do so soon. If it makes you feel better, print this off and put it in your Bible to officially document that you have permission. The key is to start now. Get a jump on the new year. Take a swing at 2015 before it even makes the climb in Times Square.

Job And His Friends - Ilya Yefimovich-RepinWhich “Job” questions are most important for pastors when preaching Job? Are there any “Job questions” in the below list that aren’t important?

Immersed in Job as I am, one notices a number of questions that come up in “evangelical” literature. The discussion of these questions is lengthy! Some of these questions may make us mad – – and some should make us mad- – but be assured: these questions are repeatedly and increasingly discussed in evangelical circles. And, to one degree or another, they are important! How we come down on some of them will shape how we face the inevitable suffering of life.

These are not all of the questions – – these are just the ones that I can come up off the “top of my head” after studying Job in recent months. Remember – – this is a blog – – a working document where I jot down some of my thoughts when studying. I welcome your comments, though I may wait until the series begins in October to address them!

  1. Is Job historical? Did the events really take place or is the book a “thought experiment”? Is it important for those with a high view of Scripture to believe that the book is historical?
  2. Is “the Satan” Satan? Or is he a different adversary?
  3. Did God know how Job would respond in advance or was God also waiting to see what would happen?
  4. Is it important to identify the leviathan and behemoth as biological creatures? Or is it legitimate to allow that they resembled actual creatures with characteristics of ancient mythic creatures?
  5. Is the book of Job making the point that there are reasons for suffering though they may be beyond our comprehension? Or is the book making the point that sometimes there just aren’t reasons for suffering?
  6. Did the character Job say chapter 28? Or is this an interlude – – a comment by the author?
  7. How appropriate is it to immediately point to Christ from the text of Job? Is it responsible exposition of Scripture to proclaim Christ as the solution to Job’s longings (as in 9:32 ff, 19:25 ff) or was this merely Job’s unrighteous longing for someone to defend him?
  8. When preaching Job, how much time should be spent in presenting a theodicy?
  9. What is the place of Elihu? Should he be lumped together with the other “friends” or is it possible that he is a prophetic voice?
  10. How important is the dating of the book of Job?
  11. Did Job influence Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant?
  12. Did Job believe at all in an after-life? Is he longing for “resurrection” at points? Or did he have absolutely no conception of the after-life?

Below is my current bibliography for Job. An * indicates those sources I have consulted the most in recent days, or am at least alluding to with the above questions.

*Anderson, Francis I. Job. Edited by D. J. Wiseman. Vol. 13. The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1976.
*Ash, Christopher. Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. Preaching the Word. Wheaton: Crossway, 2014.
*Clines, David J.A. Job 1-20. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 17a. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 1989.
———. Job 21-37. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 18a. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 2006.
———. Job 38-42. Edited by David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, and John D.W. Watts. Vol. 18b. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, 2011.
“Credo Magazine » Reflections on the Loss of Our Daughter (Fred Zaspel).” Accessed May 1, 2014. http://www.credomag.com/2013/11/13/reflections-on-the-loss-of-our-daughter-fred-zaspel/.
Estes, Daniel J. Job. Teach the Text Commentary Series. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013.
Guinness, Os. Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror. San Francisco: Harper, 2005.
*Hartley, John E. The Book of Job. Edited by R.K. Harrison. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
*Keller, Timothy. “My Faith: The Danger of Asking God ‘Why Me?’” CNN Belief Blog. Accessed June 15, 2014. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/04/my-faith-the-danger-of-asking-god-why-me/.
*———. Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering. New York: Dutton, 2013.
*Kidner, Derek. The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes: An Introduction to Wisdom Literature. Downers Grove: IVP, 1985.
*Longman, Tremper III. Job. Edited by Tremper III Longman. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012.
Peterson, Eugene H. Job: Led By Suffering to the Heart of God. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1996.
*Piper, John. The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2002.
*Trueman, Carl. “Any Place for the God of Job?” Reformation 21, February 6, 2013. http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2013/02/any-place-for-the-god-of-job.php.
Tsevat, M. “The Meaning of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Union College Annual 37 (1966): 73–106.
Viberg, A. “Job.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, edited by T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Steve Carter, 200–203. Downers Grove: IVP, 2000.
*Walton, John H. Job. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
*Wilson, Gerald H. Job. Edited by Robert L. Jr. Hubbard and Robert K. Johnston. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2007.
*Yancey, Philip. “A Fresh Look at the Book of Job.” In Sitting with Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job, edited by Roy B. Zuck, 141–49. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
Zuck, Roy. Job. Chicago: Moody Press, 1978.
Zuck, Roy B. Sitting with Job: Selected Studies on the Book of Job. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

The Westminster Standards (Longer Catechism) gives this concise and beautiful statement regarding how we know that the Bible is God’s Word.

Q 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity, by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Break it down:

The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God – The Bible is God’s Word because it says so. You might be inclined to object that this is a circular argument. And you would be right if you did! Ultimate authority must be self-authenticating (See the Frame link at the end of this post). Otherwise, the authority to which one appealed when verifying itself would be the authority. The Bible, then, is God’s Word because it tells us its God’s word. This is a circular argument, but it is not “narrowly circular” but broadly so. Consider the rest of the statement.

A number of aspects of Scripture demonstrate the basis on which Scripture is self-authenticating:

  • by their majesty and purity,
  • by the consent of all the parts,
  • and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God;
  • by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation

Having pointed out the clear and compelling beauty of God’s Word which grants assurance that it is the Word of God, the Westminster answer to the question quickly clarifies:

but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Which is to say – – only the Spirit, working in conjunction with the Word, can give us assurance that the Bible is God’s Word.

See also:

Presuppositional Apologetics by John Frame

 

You won’t learn to sweetly savor the Word of God by randomly opening up to Bible passages. Do that and you might find that the first verse you come across is Job 7:16. Instead, learn to savor the sweetness of God’s Word by being under Christ-centered preaching.

The central thought of today’s sermon was that the preaching of the Word helps people sweetly savor the truth. When Paul tells Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed, his immediate application of that truth is that pastors (and by extension other leaders) should rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness. Hearing the Word proclaimed is indispensable.

We cannot savor the Word on our own. Those who do not hear the Word clearly proclaimed will not savor the truth. Sitting under Word-centered preaching is essential.

This does not mean that we do not believe in the doctrine of the perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. The Bible is accessible for all who read it. Yet, even then, we must be under the preaching of the Word so that we can learn to savor the Truth. We need to be like the Bereans who were more noble because they eagerly received biblical teaching, yet examined the Scriptures for themselves to see if the Word was accurately proclaimed (Acts 17:11).

In church this morning, to make the point that it does not work to just open the Bible and read the first passage we encounter, I “randomly” opened up to a passage of Scripture. The first verse that caught my attention was Job 7:16 which reads:

I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.

Obviously, that verse, taken out of context, is not going to seem sweet to the soul. And yet it is in the midst of an incredibly important segment of God’s Word (and all Scripture is important!). I am looking forward to preaching from Job in the fall, and I know God will use the preaching of Job to encourage suffering people.

Again, the point is that if you want to savor the Word of God even more — do yourself a favor and watch or listen to the this sermon by Kevin DeYoung. I also highly recommend Kevin’s excellent new book Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me.

Scripture memory should begin with gospel verses. Which verse of Scripture do you think should be memorized first? Do you agree with my choice? Tell me in the comments.

Memorizing Scripture is one of the most beneficial practices you can ever adopt – – watch the below video from John Piper and you will hear a powerful argument for doing so. But which Bible verse should be memorized first?

Of course, there is no one answer. But the first verse you memorize should probably be a gospel summary verse. We should begin with the good news of how we can know God. (See what do Christians mean when they reference the Gospel or Good News).

I started my system of Scripture memory over 23 years ago. The first verse in my system is Ephesians 2:8 from the KJV. Every time I work through another round of reviewing my verses, I write the date on the card. I have long since moved to writing dates on the back of this card. But it is fun to see all the times I reviewed and meditated on Ephesians 2:8 since October of 1990.

Consider Ephesians 2:8-9:

For by grace are ye saved through faith. And that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If you sink this verse into your soul, you will be unsinkable. I quote that verse to myself often when I preach the gospel to myself (see this post on preaching the gospel to ourselves).

Someone has said, grace is:

God’s

Riches

at

Christ’s

Expense”

Like any gift, the gift of salvation is a package that must be opened. We open the gift of salvation by faith – – by deciding to receive the gift of eternal life.

Salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” God is the one who does the saving. If we did anything, we would brag about it like an NFL defensive back after making a big play.

I could think of some other choices of verses to memorize first – – but let me hear from you?

And why not write your verse on a card and say it over and over again?

See also Choosing Verses to Memorize

 

Avoiding Mirrors

Chris —  January 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

Yesterday, when I was getting ready for the day, I noticed a spot on my sweater. The stain wasn’t real bad. There wasn’t actual food debris.  Rather my sweater was discolored in an area about the size of a nickel.

The spot on my sweater bothered me while I combed my hair (17 seconds) and brushed my teeth (118 seconds).

I contemplated changing sweaters which would have required  38 seconds. This being the winter months, what with static electricity and all, I might have needed to do hair maintenance (4 second) and I was reluctant to invest that sort of time. So throughout brushing my teeth I wrestled with whether or not to change my sweater given that it was bothering me but realizing the kind of commitment a change of clothes would require.

Then a great realization hit me about my internal turmoil over looking at the spot on my sweaters. If I avoided mirrors the rest of the day, the spot on my sweater wouldn’t bother me at all.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25 ESV)

In a recent interview, Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary explained that if you give up inerrancy you forfeit the truth of God’s Word.

There is no safe place out of an unashamed biblical inerrancy,” Mohler said. He contends that those who waiver on inerrancy but still think they can hold orthodox theological positions about the Trinity, or God’s sovereignty, for example, don’t have solid ground to stand on. Mohler calls such in-between places “halfway houses”—positions that are ultimately transitory, in the direction of error.

Read the whole thing here.

See also:

The Reliability of the New Testament Documents

The Necessity John Murray Stressed

How the Bible is Relevant for Today

How do we know that the Bible is God’s Word?