Christianity 201

October 8, 2018

Verses to Memorize

As you get older it gets increasingly difficult to memorize verses of scripture. However, recently, I decided to memorize the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, which began haphazardly trying to remember who gets what!

Sheila Wray-Gregoire is a Canadian author and blogger who writes about marriage, family life and parenting and probably counts women among the sizeable majority of her audience. Her blog is called, To Love Honor and Vacuum. She wrote and posted this in 2011.


…I wrote a post complaining that we are “dumbing down” church and school, and don’t require kids to learn mastery of anything anymore. I asked what we could do about it.

And I decided maybe it was time I did something, rather than just complain. And so I’ve put together this list of the 50 verses I think are most important to memorize. I know many families want to memorize verses together, but they don’t know where to start. Here you go. One a week for a year. Even if this is all you ever memorize, you will have God’s word in your heart for the most important verses, I think, in the Bible. I’m going to type the list with the verses first, and then at the end include a list of just the references, if you want those to just copy and paste.

Why not make little memory verse cards out of 3×5 cards, and keep them at the dinner table? Then every night you can go over this week’s verse. By the end of the year, you’ll have all of these memorized!

I chose these because they’re a cross-section of doctrine, promises, and comfort. You may want to add others, or to substitute. Feel free. Consider this a starting point, not anything definitive. I hope you you find it useful! All verses are from the NIV.

God

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 40:28
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Salvation

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Ephesians 2:8,9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Assurance

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart ,and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Christian Life

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Psalm 37:4,5
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this.

Proverbs 3:5,7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Luke 16:13
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

1 John 4:7,8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Philippians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Confession/Temptation

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.

Mission

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Bigger challenges:

If you want to memorize whole chapters, here are my top 5:

Isaiah 53
Psalm 23
1 Corinthians 13
John 15
Psalm 139

These chapters are all important; I have left them out of the top 50 verses because I couldn’t choose just one or two verses from any of them. The whole thing is great. So if you’re up for a family challenge, memorize all of one of them!

Look at it this way: if you spend one year memorizing the fifty verses, and the next year reviewing those fifty and memorizing a chapter, and then go back to those fifty verses again to make sure you have them down, and then the next year go back and do a different chapter, and so on, over the course of ten years you’ll have 50 verses and 5 chapters so committed to memory there is no way anyone could ever forget it.

And I think knowing fewer verses, but knowing them inside and out, is sometimes more beneficial in the long run than trying to make yourself learn a verse a day or something.

So print this out and use it with your family!

Happy memorizing!

December 2, 2017

Texts Worth Memorizing

Today we’re paying a return visit to the blog Preacher Smith written by Missouri pastor David Smith. At his church they have been working to memorize 45 scripture texts this year. (A tough assignment as you get older!) As of October they had posted 40 of these, so I’m not sure what the last five were. Take some time to look at these. Ask yourself, ‘Why are these important?’ Or, ‘Out of all the verses available, why did they choose these?’ See if there’s any passages here you’re unfamiliar with and perhaps spend more time looking at those, or look them up online to get the fuller context. Is this a type of project that you, your small group, or your church could consider for 2018?

The First 40 Texts in The C45 Project

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him … (Ephesians 1.3-4a NIV)

▪ Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Have respectful fear of God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2.17 CEB)

▪ … make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life … (Matthew 6.33a KNT)

▪ He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8 NASB)

▪ … imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11.1 NLT)

▪ … the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin … (Exodus 34.6-7a NRSV)

▪ … yet by no means clearing the guilty. (Exodus 34.7a NRSV)

▪ … your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6.8b NIV)

▪ … offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to this world’s pattern, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12.1-2a)

▪ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14.6 CEB)

▪ My grace is enough for you; my power comes to perfection in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9 KNT)

▪ Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16.13-14 NIV)

▪ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1.1,14a NIV)

▪ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3.16 TNIV)

▪ Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. (John 20.29b NRSV)

▪ … even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. (1 Peter 3.14-15a TNIV)

▪ Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience … (1 Peter 3.15b-16a TNIV)

▪ Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51.12 CEB)

▪ The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145.18-19 NIV)

▪ Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119.105 NRSV)

▪ God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart … (Psalm 46.1-2a CEB)

▪ … God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. … Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2.36b,38a NIV)

▪ Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5.21 NIV)

▪ … I may have all the faith needed to move mountains — but if I have no love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13.2b GNT)

▪ … the only thing that counts is faith working through love. (Galatians 5.6b NRSV)

▪ “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1.17 NIV)

▪ I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14.13-14 CEB)

▪ I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. (Luke 6.47 NRSV)

▪ Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart … (Matthew 11.28-29a NIV)

▪ The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6.24-26 NRSV)

▪ Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6.4-5 NRSV)

▪ You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19.18 CEB)

▪ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1.27 NRSV)

▪ Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. (Revelation 21.5 CEB)

▪ My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect … (James 1.2-4a NRSV)

▪ Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 13.1 NIV)

▪ … if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong. (1 John 1.9 CEB)

▪ … let us draw near to God with a true heart in the full assurance of faith … hold fast to the unwavering confession of hope … consider how to provoke one another to love and good works … (Hebrews 10.22,23,24 TCV)

▪ I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work. (John 4.38 CEB)

▪ … choose this day whom you will serve … but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24.15 NRSV)

October 21, 2017

Living in the World or Living in the Word?

Ps 119.18 Open my eyes that I may see
    wonderful things in your law.
19 I am a stranger on earth;
    do not hide your commands from me.

Today we’re featuring the writing of Smith Wigglesworth. Yes, that was his name; a name well known to people in the Assemblies of God or Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, but best known in Britain where he was a Pentecostal evangelist. He died in 1947, but he was a prolific writer and his work continues in print in a long list of books. Many people claimed miraculous healing through his ministry.  In 2013, we did an entry on him in our quotations series which you can find at this link. The following is the March 17 entry in Smith Wigglesworth Devotional (Whitaker House). It’s a shorter entry as we were on a tight deadline today.

Life in the Word

Psalm 18.30 As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.

Scripture reading: Psalm 119:9-28

In the days when the number of disciples began to multiply, there arose a situation in which the Twelve had to make a definite decision not to occupy themselves with serving tables, but to give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.  How important it is for all of God’s ministers to be continually in prayer and constantly feeding on the Scriptures of Truth. I often offer a reward to anyone who can catch me anywhere without my Bible or my New Testament.

None of you can be strong in God unless you are diligently and constantly listening to what God has to say to you through His Word. You cannot know the power and the nature of God unless you partake of his inbreathed Word. Read it in the morning, in the evening, and at every opportunity you get. After every meal, instead of indulging in unprofitable conversation around the table, read a chapter from the Word, and then have a season of prayer. I endeavour to make a point of doing this no matter where or with whom I am staying.

The psalmist said that he had hidden God’s Word in his heart so that he might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11). You will find that the more of God’s Word you hide in your heart, the easier it is to live a holy life. He also testified that God’s Word had given him life (v. 50). As you receive God’s Word, your whole physical being will be given life, and you will be made strong. As you receive with meekness the Word (James 1:21), you will find faith springing up within. You will have life through the Word.

Thought for Today: I find nothing in the Bible but holiness, and nothing in the world but worldliness. Therefore, if I live in the world, I will become worldly; on the other hand, if I live in the Bible, I will become holy.

July 25, 2016

The Watches of the Night

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
 – Psalm 119:148

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
– Psalm 63:6

I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
 – Psalm 16:7

Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
– Psalm 4:4

Sunday morning at one of the two churches in which I am involved we continued in a series about the rhythms (practices) of the Christian life. The subject this week was meditation. The website AllAboutGod.com tells us that,

In the Old Testament there are two primary Hebrew words for meditation: Haga, which means to utter, groan, meditate, or ponder; and Sihach, which means to muse, rehearse in one’s mind, or contemplate. These words can also be translated as dwell, diligently consider, and heed.

I was surprised that much of the sermon looked at the opposite — if that’s the right word — of meditating on God’s Word, and that is worry and anxiety. There was an interesting quotation from Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life:

Surprisingly, if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate on the Word of God. Worry is when you take a negative thought and you think on it over and over and over. When you take a passage of Scripture and you think on it over and over and over, that’s called meditation.  (emphasis added)

I hadn’t considered that, but it’s true. We can obsess over various family and health and economic concerns, so we already know, so to speak, how to obsess on God’s Word, God’s character, God’s creation.

Of course, some people suffer greatly from panic attacks. Sometimes anxiety issues run in families. I was glad to hear this discussed also. Too often mental health issues are not mentioned at church.

And then there were the scriptures about “the watches of the night.” It was suggested that the Psalmist had trouble sleeping. (I wondered if perhaps he simply needed to relieve himself several times in the night. Various things can wake us up. Then we have trouble getting back into sleep.) In the scriptures above, these times are used as opportunities to meditate on God’s word, and hear from Him. It may also be a time we are most receptive and free from distractions.

I’ve mentioned here that I sometimes breathe Psalm 100 and the Lord’s Prayer as a way of taking some calming, deep breaths and getting back to sleep.

Unfortunately a number of practices of the Christian Church have been co-opted by other groups. (When is the last time two people walked up your driveway and they were Baptists, not Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses?) It’s the same with the terminology around meditation. It’s seen as a New Age practice. The word is currently guilty-by-assocation. But the principle is clear in scripture.

Rick Warren continues:

No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on Scripture…If you look up all the times God speaks about meditation in the Bible, you will amazed at the benefits He has promised to those who take the time to reflect on His Word throughout the day. (PDL p. 190)

We’ve previously written about the decline in scripture memory, and how this can be seen as a barometer of the spiritual health of the church. This is part of the challenge we currently face. You can’t meditate on what is not already in your mind and heart.

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.
 – Psalm 1:2*

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
 – Psalm 119:11


I know the author of “God Leads His Dear Children Along” was talking about the “night season” of life we pass through, but I couldn’t help but think about this song as I considered the watches of the night:

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.


All scriptures NIV except * NLT

June 11, 2015

The Word in Song

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Col 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

While I also love the hymns, I am grateful for the new songs that God has birthed in the present generation of worship leaders. It was through the “choruses” that most of our churches started using in the 1980s that I committed a lot of scripture to memory, as well as through the music of the early Jesus Music pioneers such as Andrae Crouch.

But lately I haven’t been finding as many songs that have resonated with me as strongly (see the sidebar at right for some we’ve used here) and haven’t been posting as many with the devotions.

I once asked my kids, after a particularly long devotional time, if they could tell when it was the author speaking, and when it was a scripture quotation. They claimed they could. I think it’s a reasonable response, the scriptures speak with a greater authority. (Maybe there was something in my voice that would read them differently, too; I don’t know.)

This is probably true of worship songs as well. There is a greater authority when the lyrics draw directly from scripture (or parallel a scripture narrative as in this example). Plus, we gain a vehicle which makes memorization easier. The Scripture In Song movement, which originated in New Zealand, was a great example of this, and back in the day hundreds of songs copied that format.

(I think that modern worship music is suffering from a bit of lethargy right now, which is why we’re seeing so much lyrical borrowing from classic hymns, but we’ll save that for another time. They’re also being forced to survive commercially producing material that gets airplay on Christian radio.)

Today we crave teaching, sermons, books, podcasts, etc., but earlier generations of Christians didn’t have all these things; they simply craved the word. The imagery in Ezekiel 3 is a little hard to swallow (bad pun, as you’ll see) but we’re told,

2So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. 3He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth. 4Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.…”

One of Eugene Peterson’s titles is Eat This Book, and the picture of letting the Word fill us and nourish us and sustain us is something that should challenge us.

I wrote a few months ago how I struggle with this, how I need those sermons and podcasts to shove me off the dock into the water of God’s Word (see the indented section next to the picture). Those things are good, but only if they land somewhere connected to the Biblical texts.

If they only propel you into further consideration of some man’s ideas or agenda, they aren’t accomplishing anything; you would do best to immerse yourself in the text itself; to go to the source.


 

Read more: In a very short C201 post, I explored the four benefits that scripture promises us.

 

 

October 17, 2012

50 Verses To Memorize

Sheila Wray-Gregoire is a Canadian author and blogger who writes about marriage, family life and parenting and probably counts women among the sizeable majority of her audience. Her blog is called, To Love Honor and Vacuum. Really. Her name came up in conversation yesterday and that led me to look beyond her recent blog posts for something that would fit here, and I found this one from nearly two years ago.


Last week I wrote a post complaining that we are “dumbing down” church and school, and don’t require kids to learn mastery of anything anymore. I asked what we could do about it.

And I decided maybe it was time I did something, rather than just complain. And so I’ve put together this list of the 50 verses I think are most important to memorize. I know many families want to memorize verses together, but they don’t know where to start. Here you go. One a week for a year. Even if this is all you ever memorize, you will have God’s word in your heart for the most important verses, I think, in the Bible. I’m going to type the list with the verses first, and then at the end include a list of just the references, if you want those to just copy and paste.

Why not make little memory verse cards out of 3×5 cards, and keep them at the dinner table? Then every night you can go over this week’s verse. By the end of the year, you’ll have all of these memorized!

I chose these because they’re a cross-section of doctrine, promises, and comfort. You may want to add others, or to substitute. Feel free. Consider this a starting point, not anything definitive. I hope you you find it useful! All verses are from the NIV.

God

Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 40:28
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Salvation

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.”

Ephesians 2:8,9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Assurance

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Isaiah 40:30-31
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart ,and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Lamentations 3:22-23
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Christian Life

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Psalm 37:4,5
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this.

Proverbs 3:5,7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

James 4:7
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Luke 16:13
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

1 John 4:7,8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Philippians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Confession/Temptation

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it.

Mission

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 25:40
The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matthew 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Bigger challenges:

If you want to memorize whole chapters, here are my top 5:

Isaiah 53
Psalm 23
1 Corinthians 13
John 15
Psalm 139

These chapters are all important; I have left them out of the top 50 verses because I couldn’t choose just one or two verses from any of them. The whole thing is great. So if you’re up for a family challenge, memorize all of one of them!

Look at it this way: if you spend one year memorizing the fifty verses, and the next year reviewing those fifty and memorizing a chapter, and then go back to those fifty verses again to make sure you have them down, and then the next year go back and do a different chapter, and so on, over the course of ten years you’ll have 50 verses and 5 chapters so committed to memory there is no way anyone could ever forget it.

And I think knowing fewer verses, but knowing them inside and out, is sometimes more beneficial in the long run than trying to make yourself learn a verse a day or something.

So print this out and use it with your family!

Happy memorizing!

May 15, 2011

Psalm 139: He Knows us Full Well

Today in our worship time, we had a reading of Psalm 139 that reminded me of an early Michael W. Smith VHS video where he reads the Psalm from memory.  Searching for it today, I found this first, it’s a composite of Michael doing the same thing at Creation 2002 with crowd shots at the annual festival. 

I have to be honest here, I’ve memorized a lot of scripture over the years, but never an extended passage like this.  Beyond what the text itself says about God’s intimate knowledge of us, I’ve always been challenged hearing Michael W. doing this because there’s something about the reading of scripture from memory that has a certain power that you don’t get from reading from a printed page.

Here’s the same text from the NLT:

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!…

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

And the same text from The Message:

 1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
   I’m an open book to you;
      even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
   You know when I leave and when I get back;
      I’m never out of your sight.
   You know everything I’m going to say
      before I start the first sentence.
   I look behind me and you’re there,
      then up ahead and you’re there, too—
      your reassuring presence, coming and going.
   This is too much, too wonderful—
      I can’t take it all in!

 7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
      to be out of your sight?
   If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
      If I go underground, you’re there!
   If I flew on morning’s wings
      to the far western horizon,
   You’d find me in a minute—
      you’re already there waiting!
   Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
      At night I’m immersed in the light!”
   It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
      night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

 13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
      you formed me in my mother’s womb.
   I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I’d even lived one day.

 17-18 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
      God, I’ll never comprehend them!
   I couldn’t even begin to count them—
      any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
   Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! …

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
      find out everything about me;
   Cross-examine and test me,
      get a clear picture of what I’m about;
   See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
      then guide me on the road to eternal life.

…Later on, I found the original one I was looking for.   Won’t hurt to listen to it twice, right?  This one ends with the classic worship song, Thy Word.

January 16, 2011

Psalm 23 Continues to Comfort

Doug Koop is the editorial director of Christian Week, Canada’s national Christian newspaper.  This appeared at his blog under the title, Why Psalm 23 Comforts Christian Souls

Psalm 23 is often on my mind. This is partly because the well-known shepherd’s psalm is source of great comfort to many. Partly it’s because as a boy I memorized it in old-fashioned King James English. And it stuck. I can still recite the words by heart. They come quickly to mind especially during hard times, especially in the dark watches of the night when sleep is elusive and the cares of life weigh heavily.

To repeat a psalm like this verbatim is not the same as saying that I know it by heart. I like that phrase, “by heart.” It somehow imbues a mere collection of words with great meaning and significance. It implies deeper understanding and more profound belief.

Psalm 23 has a powerful reassuring effect on many people, myself included. And although it is the Scripture of choice for funerals, it’s really about life in this world. It describes a perfect, pastoral setting and speaks to the yearning of every human heart. We all want our every need provided. Everyone wants to be protected. Everyone wants a soul at perfect peace. Everyone wants to live well.

But everyone also knows that the world we inhabit is rarely this hospitable. Many people lack even their daily bread. Hostility harries both innocents and aggressors. Those who live in great comfort and safety are still at risk for distressed spirits. There are very few truly righteous people in this world, which can be a very hard and lonely place.

Perhaps the reason why this psalm is so comforting is precisely because it speaks a strong message of hope in full awareness of the harsh realities of our deeply troubled world. It acknowledges want. It embraces the vexatious presence of enemies. It admits death.

The key to its comfort is that Psalm 23 confronts these situations with the mighty hope of a loving God. Its core message bombards the power of evil with images of bounteous provision, total protection, glorious honor and a soul at peace amidst even the most severe of circumstances.

Sustenance, deliverance and restoration speak to our most basic human needs, addressing the deepest desires of our heart and the yearnings of our very beings. It satisfies them with good things.

The psalm ends on a note of casual confidence—calm assurance—in the benefits of knowing God and living according to His will and ways. I like that word “surely.” The psalmist concludes with shameless certainty that the pathway of those who put their trust in the Good Shepherd leads to eternity in His loving presence, and that their legacy will be heartening to others.

“Surely,” writes the psalmist, those who follow the Lord leave a trail of goodness and mercy in their wake. They are harbingers of comfort and joy. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

~Doug Koop, Winnipeg, Canada

October 9, 2010

Salvation Verses

I’m continuing my way through The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels.   It’s interesting to go from Philip Yancey’s What Good is God, which is a book literally as big as all the world in its scope, to return to the question of living out faith in North America, which is rather mundane by comparison.

While Yancey finds authentication for his faith in seeing firsthand what God is doing in the church worldwide, Hybels finds fulfillment in sharing his faith with the people you and I run into every day.   Both books together have made for a great weekend.

My big takeaway today has been Hybels’ concept of memorizing a Salvation verse.   This is not a life verse; it’s not a Bible verse for which you’ve taken personal ownership.   (Hopefully there are about 66 books’ worth of other verses, too.)  No, this is the verse which for you embodies all that Christ has done on our behalf in pardoning our sins and inviting us to enter into His life.

Neither is Hybels suggesting a methodology.   This is not advocating that you know the “ABCs of Salvation;” “The Four Spiritual Laws;” or “The Bridge Illustration.”  (For more on those, consider this blog post.)

Rather, this is Hybels suggesting that with all the force of scripture, we should be able to verbalize the hope that we have in Christ in a single verse.   One verse.   And for him, that verse is Titus 3:5 –

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.  (NASB)

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.  (KJV)

But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.  (Message)

As an alternative, he sugggests John 1:12 –

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God  (NIV)

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  (NLT)

(And also Romans 10:13, which I know you know.)

Like Hybels, I would encourage you to memorize a salvation verse.   Not just John 3:16, but challenge yourself to look for something different that encapsulates the core of the Gospel.

I’ll end with one I found quite some time ago;  I Cor 15: 2-4 –

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures… (NIV)