[Papercut Press] 2002-01-30 - God Gives Sunny Days

1 Corinthians 4:9 For I think God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.

Today in Philadelphia, it was 73 degrees on January 29th. I no longer am jealous of those of you who live in warm climates. I could not help but think about how beautiful it was outside, as I drove with windows down and the moon roof open, and it led me to remember that the beauty of the Lord far out shines any sunny day in winter that we might experience. But that has nothing to do with the devotional for today. It was an aside, which is something the Puritans were famous for and maybe this proves I read them too much. Today I intend to take a question I got yesterday from a devotional reader. I think the question is so important and I think many would ask the same question if they had the guts. So we are going the route of answering a question today and I intend, with very little editing, to tell you exactly what I wrote back to this bold and wise individual. Here is the question:

<< I do have one question for you and it's embarrassing because I'm 44 and have no knowledge of the Bible, to speak of. Where do I begin? I started to read the Bible, but I just don't understand what I am reading. I save each of the dailies so I can go back and read them. Also, how do you build your faith? >>

  1. Start with the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament. The first chapter is a challenge, but don't lose heart. In fact, I would key in on chapter 3 especially.But anyway, John is a great place to start. Don't set goals that are over-zealous. I do this all the time to myself, and whatever I have planned fizzles out because I miss a day or for whatever reason. Set reasonable goals like a chapter a day, and if you have extra time, look at some parts of the chapter that impressed you again. Or if your Bible has references to other chapters and verses of the Bible, look them up and see how they connect with the verses you read.

    Remember that Bible study is not a contest, race, or any sort of organized "must do." Even five minutes in God's Word is better than none. So if you have a moment, take it and if you are unmotivated, no matter, you might be motivated later. It is up to us to be as faithful as we can in what we do, can do, or are led to do. Especially when you are starting out, any use of the Word of God will simply produce more hunger for God's Word. As you get deeper into God's Word you will find that almost every chapter touches on some part of your life and that can only motivate you to read and study more.
  2. The second thing I would recommend is to pick one verse a week to memorize. I know we don't memorize any more in this world and many people claim that they have no capacity for it, but that is simply an excuse. I used to say the same thing and you would not believe, by simple diligence, how many verses I have hidden in my heart and soul, word for word in the 16 years I have been following Christ. I do more review now than adding of new verses. I would recommend you get a 3x5 card, write the reference (book, chapter and verse) on one side, and the verse on the other. You could use one from your reading or pick one that you find in the devotionals.

It doesn't matter where you start, you can't go wrong with memorizing Scripture. Start with the first five words or the first logical break in the verse, like a comma, and say it over and over as you read it (Repetition is the key to memorization.), then try to say that phrase with the card turned over.Oonce you get that one down, go on to the next phrase or few words, start linking them together, and soon you will have that verse in your heart. Keep working on it all week, even if it becomes easy after two days. Next week, pick a new verse but renew the first verse, and so on and so on. If you do this, by summer you might have 15-20 verses in your heart, word for word, and that alone, I am convinced, will change your life.(It will also make you a spiritual GIANT, because 95% of Christians who claim to be "born again," according to Moody magazine, can't quote five verses from the Bible.)

That's a start, and it is the bulk of what I might say in a devotional on Wednesday if it is OK with you. If not, that is OK also. The two other things I think I might add would be prayer and fellowship. Prayer because we need communion with God to grow in our walk with Him, and fellowship because we do not stand alone in the Christian faith. We have the advantage of having other Saints who can lead us and help us grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Probably more than you were looking for in an answer, but if you boil it all down, it is very simple. Start with the Gospel of John and commit a verse a week to memory. I believe you will grow in grace more swiftly than you could ever imagine or even hope. Thank you so much for writing to us.

Cheers, Tim

That is bulk of what I wrote in response yesterday to this question. I eliminated the first two paragraphs because they were of a more personal nature, but don't think this is a set-up. I don't ever recall getting an e-mail from this person before. Other than the first two paragraphs, you have, word-for-word, what I wrote back. I am never happy with what I write, but I can claim mini-happiness with this. My friends, the keys to growing in grace are so simple. In fact the simplicity is confusing to us "eduKated" (miss-spelled on purpose) Americans.

As followers of Christ, we read and study His Word, pray, and fellowship with folks like us. It is how we grow in grace. And frankly, it is that simple. This is building your faith. Yes, by summer, you also could have 15-20 verses memorized word for word. Follow the program above. it worked for me. I made it myself 15 years ago, and it works. In fact, I will tell you in much more detail how it has evolved if some of you ask me. But prayer, studying God's Holy Word, and fellowship are key to our lives as Christians. Without one of them, we are like a three-legged table which is missing a leg. It is bound to tip over. By God's grace, may we serve Him with all that we have.

Soli Deo Gloria,

T-

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