A little over a month ago, when Kelley and I began to make some major transitions in our life together, we quickly realized that a great deal of uncertainty surrounded our next steps. We both felt like where God wanted us long term was much clearer than what our next season would look like. It was a very weird place to be in, but during this time God has really deepened our knowledge of the Gospel, and increased our ability (only by His grace) to apply it to daily life.
Theologically and practically I feel like the last month of our lives individually and together have been very rich. Definitely not free from struggle, in fact it has been full of struggle, but God has restored and deepened our joy in the midst of the struggle. During this time, we have been going through the Psalms of Accents as a church, I have been studying the Book of Ephesians still (probably pound-for-pound the best book in the Bible... just sayin'), and also I picked up a book by C.J. Mahaney called, The Cross Centered Life. If you have never read it, you should and here are a couple reasons why:
- It is about keeping the Gospel the "main" thing in your life. In I Corinthians 15:1-3, Paul tells the Corthinthian church that one thing is of the utmost importance, and it is the Gospel. We all need to be reminded of the Gospel constantly!
- It is small and short, only 85 pages, and it will dominate your world.
- It leaves you wanting more Jesus!
1. Memorize the Gospel
Now, I know that some of you just went, "Really... I stink at memorizing". That's okay because about half the people in the world do, so you have some good company. Don't give up! Work at it because God is not keeping a scorecard. I promise you will not regret giving a good effort here.
Why should I memorize? Psalm 119:11 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." What a great reminder that as we tuck away the Word of God in our hearts, there is a greater propensity for us to stay focused on the glory of God and honoring Him rather than trying to rob Him of His glory, which is at the root of sin. Having verses/passages accessible throughout the day is priceless. If you are like me, I float in and out of proper perspective constantly throughout the day and need to be roped back in. There are many other verses that speak to memorization that I would encourage you to cross-reference if that didn't suffice, but for time sake I won't go into all of those.
Which verses/passages should I memorize? Good question. If you already have some favorite verses/passages that center on the Gospel, I would start there. If you don't, not to worry I will give you some below. Now, I recommend more than just simply memorizing verses/passages. For me, I have found it more effective for my heart to meditate on (mull over, think on) and pray through verses/passages that I write down on note cards throughout the memorizing process. You can do this in your quiet time in the morning, on your commute to work, during your lunch break, and/or when you pray with your family at night. Kelley and I have even been reading a verse before we bless the meal at dinner time. It is just a simply way to keep these verses front and center in our day. Memorizing is definitely a discipline and you will have to have a plan if you want to take more successful steps in this area. Come up with a plan that works best for you and ask the Holy Spirit to assist you during this process. You will be surprised at the progress you will make!
Here are some of the verses I recommend (start small and work up to larger passages):
2 Corinthians 5:21
2 Corinthians 8:9
I Corinthians 15:3-4
Praying for your joy!