Scripture memory/ meditation

​Developing discipline, developing character

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8).

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3).

I had myself convinced that I’m unable to memorise Scripture. I told myself I’m not naturally gifted at memorisation, and that’s okay. I made excuses such as: “I know x,y,z in the Bible, so why must I know exactly where it is?” But God has challenged me on this. The Bible tells us that we should let the word dwell richly in our hearts, and that this makes our path sure. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. (Psalm 37:30-31).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3).

What’s in your heart?

Meditating on the Word and tucking it away in our heart is what brings change in our lives. We should see growth in our character through time, and the Word and Spirit are the two that bring this about. When we memorise Scripture, the Spirit is then able to bring the right Scripture to mind to guide us in any given situation.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11).

“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

Is the Word tucked up in your heart?

In Jesus’ time, Jewish boys were expected to have memorised the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), knowing it by heart by the age of 12! Jesus expected people to know the Law and be able to draw conclusions from it – memorising the Word, but also meditating on its meaning.

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28).

The Law also expected the people to memorise God’s commands, write them on their houses, and physically tie copies to their heads and hands to remind them of it. They were to teach the Law to their children, talking and thinking of it all day long.

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

Today’s education system is set up to have us forget – we cram all the information in for a term, are tested, and then forget it the very next term as we move on to new information. There is no building, there is no expectation to remember. How different from what the Scriptures above reveal about treasuring wisdom and knowledge, and what knowledge is more important than what God has revealed to us in His very Word!

We need to walk in obedience to God in all seasons of life, and God’s Spirit will guide us. In this season, God has challenged me to focus on Scripture memory and it is blessing me abundantly. It changes playing toddler games all day (which could feel rather mundane, rather quickly) into hours of worship. It invites God into my relationship with my son, and has me speaking truth over my boy. What a blessing for both of us!

Help for Scripture memory

I pray that God guides me into making Scripture memory a life long joy and devotion. I pray that I will pass this treasure on to my children and that they, too, will store the Word up in their hearts and minds. I pray for a change in our thinking as a church, and a change in what we value. Scripture memory takes time and focused attention, it means that we will have to sacrifice other activities and time wasters (Facebook, cough cough), in order to devote time to it – but what rich fruit it will produce! God, make memorising your Word a priority in our lives, and help us to simplify other areas in order to devote time to learning of you in your Word. Guide our memorisation with your Spirit.

In ending, I want to make it clear that we are not under the Law; we live out these spiritual disciplines from a place of sonship, as children who want to spend time with our loving Father. For me, Scripture memory (and meditation on it) is the area God has me focusing on and it is turning daily living into abundant life as it transforms my heart and brings me into His presence. If God is highlighting it to you also, then I suggest starting small – try memorising one verse you love each week.

Soaking up the Word

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Discipline, what a beautiful word

​​Developing discipline, developing character

I’m not good at routine. Those of you who are familiar with Meyers Briggs will understand why when I say that I’m an NP – big picture, last minute, don’t like to feel trapped by plans, pioneer. This is part of my God-given DNA, but sadly I’ve also used it as an excuse to neglect some of what are known as “the spiritual disciplines”.

I didn’t like fasting; one of the “spiritual disciples”. You got to read how God addressed that in my last post – and how I’m coming to love it because of the fruit it produces.  But this is the whole point of the “spiritual disciplines” – to produce fruit of righteousness within us, developing our character and pushing us towards God. They help us to disciple our mind and body to focus on the things of God, rather than the things of this earth.

Scripture has a lot to say on discipline. We are to discipline/ train ourselves, and God also disciplines us as a loving Father. Some of the disciplines give life to us and refresh our souls from the start, others feel painful as we enter into them, but they all bear fruit of righteousness.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (Hebrews 12:8)

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. (Proverbs 3:11-14)

I want to train myself for righteousness with even more dedication than a professional athlete training for their next event.

I recently enjoyed reading this article on What are the Spiritual Disciplines. It focuses on what can and cannot be a Biblical spiritual discipline, rather than prescribing a list. I also love that it reminds us that we are not under the Law; we live out these spiritual disciplines from a place of sonship, as children who want to spend time with our loving Father.

The Bible also teaches us that we are to train up each other, and those of us with children are to train them up, too. But how are we to train up others, if we first don’t train ourselves? We need to get experience in order to become teachers!

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8).

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, (Titus 2:3-4).

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

What training would the Lord have you grow your muscles in? What disciplines do you need to get back into? Are you trying to discipline your children, without disciplining yourself in the ways of God? Do you need accountability – such as a Bible study group to study the Word, or a walking partner with whom to pray and intercede? Ask God how you can draw closer to Him through discipline.

The fruit is worth the effort; train those muscles in the things of godliness!

Fasting

Developing discipline, developing character

God sure stretched me last season, but what sweet fruit it produced and is continuing to produce! God disciplines us in many ways because He loves us; read Hebrews 12:5-11 if you don’t believe me! God’s discipline develops our character, producing godliness and righteousness.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

Producing sweet fruit

I’ve never been a fan of the spiritual discipline of fasting, but it was one of the avenues God used to shape and direct me this past year. I’m finding the more I faithful heed His call to fast (and do the fast HE chooses), the more I enjoy them and, indeed, look forward to them.

At the moment my fasting isn’t the one we all think of – abstaining from all food – I think because I’m still breastfeeding a little one. God calls us to fast from all sorts of things. Some of the things He has asked me to fast from include: my phone for a month (which I use for business, too!), milk in tea/coffee, caffeine, sugar, eat only soups, eat only vegetable and grains, fast lunch etc. Glenn often gets called to fast from YouTube, or Facebook. Others I know often get asked to fast from T.V. or social media.

The purpose of fasting can very greatly. You might fast to from a hunger to draw close to God. You might fast as an act of repentance and to find healing for your soul. God might ask you to fast so that you can devote more time to interceding for others, or He might ask you to read through certain Scripture and dwell on His Word. We can’t put God in a box! This is why we must walk in step with His Word and His Spirit.

Time in the Word

I’ve also found that there is no one way that God directs or works in my fast. Sometimes the breakthrough happens only at the end. Sometimes breakthrough comes when the fast is still only an intention for the coming week. This last time God gave me prophetic dreams, daily images, and words. Sometimes He calls me to intercede for others, and sometimes for my circumstances.

If you are hungry for God and truly want to live your life solely for Him, then I suggest asking Him what He might want you to fast from and when to do so. Maybe He wants you to intercede for your spouse or children. Perhaps He wants you to put Him first in your life again. Maybe He will speak to you about your next step, or maybe you will be asked to give up something in your life for Him.

Caffeine free zone . . . for a time!

And when the start of the fast is hard, remember the fruit that it is producing in you!

Below I’ve listed some fasting Scriptures, but Isaiah 58 is the one I come back to over and over again when I think of fasting. It shows that our heart motive is what God looks to more than anything else, and it also calls our attention, once again, to caring for the poor and lowly.

‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? (Isaiah 58:3-5)

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,  if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:8-11)

Here are some Scriptures (not a complete list) that involve fasting:

  • 2 Samuel 12:23 – David fasted as he interceded for his son, but acknowledged God’s sovereignty in the situation.
  • 2 Chronicles 20:3-4 – Fasting as a nation to seek God’s help and intervention.
  • Ezra 8:21 – Humbling the people before God and seeking His protection for their journey.
  • Esther 4:16 – Seeking God’s favour on behalf of Esther as she went before an unbelieving king on behalf of her nation.
  • Joel 2:12-14 – Calling the people to repent and seek God’s mercy.
  • Matt 6:16-19 – Fasting is done for the Lord, not for man, accolades, or praise. We are to fast with all humility, seeking only God’s attention.
  • Matt 9:14-15 – There were times when Christ called His disciples not to fast, but celebrate His presence with them.
  • Luke 18:12 – Fasting is worthless before God if our heart is not right.
  • Acts 13:3 – The church in Antioch were fasting and worshipping God as a congregation. From the fast, they felt they were to set apart Barnabas and Paul for a specific work, and sent them off.