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Siesta Scripture Memory Team, Verse 5+

I have a confession to make. I’m really struggling with the memory thing this year. Of the four verses I’ve chosen this far, I’ve only fully committed one to memory. I sincerely want to memorize these verses, but my brain keeps getting distracted by other things.

To fix this, I’m going to spend the rest of the year memorizing a passage from God’s Word, adding one new verse from the passage every other week. I’m thinking the continuity factor, one verse attached to another to another, will help me keep up.

The passage I’ve chosen is Matthew 7:7-29. There are 22 verses in this passage. I only need 20, but I already have the first two mostly memorized, so they won’t count toward my grand total for the year. Of course, I’ll keep working on the four verses I chose in January and February. I will memorize them.

Matthew 7-9Matthew 7 is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Verses 7 and 8 say, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” In the following four verses, Jesus uses a simple analogy to help us understand why we can trust God to give us the good things we need and how we are to act in response:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

God, the perfect Father, loves us, His children, even more than good parents love their children. Even good parents are flawed, yet they provide the things their children need to the best of their ability. God is not flawed, and He is more than able to provide. Therefore we can trust Him. We can go to Him at any time and ask for what we need. (And then, because He is perfect, we can trust His answer. If He says no, there is a reason—a reason that will ultimately work out for our good. We know this because God loves us. We are His children.)

I’ll be memorizing verse 9 as Siesta Scripture Memory Team, Verse #5: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”

What verses are you memorizing right now?

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team, Verse #4

Ephesians 6-18Today is the 15th of the month. That means it’s time to begin work on a new Siesta Scripture Memory Team verse. My choice this time is Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

In other words, talk to God about anything and everything His Spirit brings to mind at any time, all the time.

I. Just. Love. This.

Paul is encouraging us to talk to God, our constant companion, just like we would talk with our close friends.

To understand what this entails, stop and think about those close friends for a minute. What drew you to each other? What keeps you communicating whenever you get together? Why are you close friends?

It seems to me the essence of genuine friendship is shared interest. Mothers of young children like to get together to talk about their kids and the adventure of raising them. Book lovers like to talk about their favorite or the latest books. Christians like to talk about Jesus and what they’re learning about Him through God’s Word. Sports fans like to talk about their favorite teams. You get the idea. We meet people when something brings us to the same location. We talk about general things. If we have common interests and bump into each other often enough, we eventually become friends. If we don’t have much in common, we find other people to talk with. If we’re friends for a long while and some of our interests change, we remain friends because now, along with all our other interests, we’re also interested in each other’s lives. We care what happens to each other no matter what else has captured our attention. Friendships like this are the best!

The thing is: God is interested in absolutely everything that we’re interested in because He loves us that much! Even if the thing we’re interested in is something He’d rather we not be interested in because He knows it’s not good for us, He’s interested in listening to our thoughts about that thing because, if we’re talking to Him about it, He can help us understand why we might want to rethink our interest in that thing. He wants what’s best for us.

What’s more, He wants what’s best for everyone around us. When we talk to Him about people we care about, He cares, too. In fact, He already knows what’s going and how He’s going to handle the situation to help the person we’re concerned about. When we talk to Him about the situation, He gives us confidence and peace. He may give us direction, too, if there’s something we can or need to do.

Because God loves us so much and because He has wisdom to share and the ability to change what we cannot, it’s good to talk with Him “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” And because His Spirit is the One Who directs us to pray, it’s good “to be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” When we’re alert to God’s presence, we’ll notice His Spirit’s prompts to pray. We’ll talk to God about all kinds of things every single day. Our friendship with God will grow. We’ll care about what He cares about because we’ll love Him so much. Our friendship with Him will grow to be the best we will ever enjoy. And then we will discover, if we haven’t already, that enjoying that very friendship is the reason we exist. God created us for relationship with Him.

And it all starts with prayer. This must be why Paul told us to pray. It’s why I’m memorizing Ephesians 6:18. Will you join me?

Father, thank You for Your incomprehensibly-detailed interest in our lives. We know You love us. We love You, too. Please keep us alert to Your presence. Remind us often to pray. Amen.

Book News and Giveaway: If you found this post helpful and would like to know more about praying “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests,” I recommend my new book, Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually to you. Click here to purchase it from Amazon. Or you can click here to enter a giveaway for two free copies (one extra for the winner to share with a friend).

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team, Verse #3

Colossians 3:1

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”Colossians 3:1, NIV

Today is February 1st, so it’s time for a new Siesta Scripture Memory Team verse. My choice is Colossians 3:1. This verse is transitional in the book of Colossians. In the first two chapters, Paul tells his readers what it means to be a Christian, to live in Christ, to be part of His Kingdom. In chapter 3, he begins telling them what this looks like practically. In other words, he moves from the spiritual explanation to the practical application. Concept #1: set your heart on Heaven, where Jesus is, sitting right beside our God.

I like this! If my heart is focused on the world, I may be tempted to live for it, to yield to its temptations, to try to fit in, to hoard its treasures. I may even find a way to convince myself that this is what God wants me to do. It’s a vulnerable way to live.

When I keep my focus on Heaven, though, on following Jesus, on dwelling in God’s Presence, on building His Kingdom on earth now in anticipation of what it someday in Heaven will be, I want everything I do to honor Him, drawing me and, prayerfully, those around me closer to His heart.

As far as practical application goes, I think this is a great first lesson to strive to apply. I invite you to memorize this verse with me over the next few weeks. Or I hope you’ll choose a verse that’s speaking to you now to commit to memory. I’ll post my next verse on February 15.

Father, please help us remember to always keep our hearts set on Heaven. We live for Jesus. Amen.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team, Verses 1 and 2

Wow! Just wow!

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Beth Moore’s Siesta Scripture Memory Team or not. In case you haven’t, every other year, Beth Moore invites women from everywhere to join her in memorizing Bible verses. I’ve been participating since 2009, so this is my fourth year. If you would like to learn how you can participate, click here. It’s not too late!

DSC00284eIn years past, I’ve written blog posts about the verses I’ve chosen, explaining why I’m memorizing each verse and inviting readers to memorize with me. I am going to do that this year, too. I’m just a little behind because a) I was in Northern California on January 1 and b) when I saw how many women are already participating this year, I was completely overwhelmed and almost changed my mind.

Don’t get me wrong. I am so excited to learn that nearly 21,000 women from all over the world are memorizing Bible verses together this year. God will use that to build His Kingdom and to bless each one of those lives–along with the lives of everyone they know. This is phenomenal!

But I tend to disappear in a group as big as three, so the thought of a group of 21,000 . . . My mind had to think about that. At first, I figured if I was going to vanish anyway, then maybe I should just memorize my verses privately. I wondered if it was really necessary to post them on Beth Moore’s site.

Then I realized that a) as one of God’s children, I’m one of a much larger group than that! Yet God still sees me, still values my life. I never disappear from His view, no matter how big the crowd. Wow! Just wow! and b) if I don’t post the verses, I may give up before the year is over. My verses may or may not disappear in the midst of all those comments, but I’ll know they’re there, so I’ll want to continue memorizing throughout the year and c) maybe, just maybe, one of the women who “happens” to post about the same time I do will see the verse I chose and read it just when she needs to get that message from God. God will use this whole adventure in ways we can’t even comprehend. I do believe that!

So . . . I’m in! And I hope you’ll join in, too. Memorizing Scripture is always a good thing.

Here are my January verses:

1. “We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.”Proverbs 16:33, NLT

This verse made me laugh, then it made me think. It’s not really about gambling. We do our best to make right decisions, to do what we think God wants us to do, to serve Him in whatever way we think He is leading us to, but ultimately, God is in control. We don’t have to fear making mistakes that will throw God off course. We don’t have that much power. God’s will will be done.

2. “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed I do not even judge myself.”1 Corinthians 4:3, NIV

I found this verse this morning, and I want to remember it. How did Paul get to this place? How did he get over worrying what others thought of him or being hard on himself? I’m not there yet, but I know it’s where God wants us all to be. He loves us. We live for Him. If we’re seeking His favor, no other opinion matters. We can (or should be able to) serve confidently. I’m hoping that memorizing this verse will eventually make it true for me, as it was for Paul.

  • What Bible verse are you currently trying to memorize?

I’ll write about a new memory verse on February 1.

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Psalm 91:4 on My Mind

NewOMM“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”Psalm 91:4, NIV

This week’s On My Mind verse is a good one to have in our heads during times of stress. Whenever we are feeling overwhelmed, we can take a deep breath, remember these words, and focus on God’s loving care. We can imagine ourselves snuggling deep into the feathers where God will keep us warm and safe and sheltered. Baby chicks are safer when tucked under their mother’s wings, yet she and they are still vulnerable. But in God’s care, we’re safe.

Psalm 91-4This verse reminds me of another. Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 both record Jesus saying, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Our God longs to gather us into His shelter and refuge. But He won’t force us to seek this from Him. He’ll wait until we choose to duck under His wings.

This gives us another reason to learn Psalm 91:4. It will remind us of God’s offer—of what He promises to us. When we get busy and tired and feel panicked or threatened, we can choose what Jerusalem did not. We can seek the shield and rampart of our God.

Father, teach us to dwell in Your presence where You promise so much. We choose You today and always. Your care is more than enough for us. Amen.

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1 Samuel 17:47 on My Mind

NewOMMThis morning I read, once again, how Jesus used Scripture to defend Himself when Satan was tempting Him. (See Matthew 4:1-11 if you are unfamiliar with the account.) Jesus saw Scripture as an essential life tool. We can see from His discussions with Pharisees and others that He had great portions memorized and ready for use. We know He would have studied it as a child. Can you picture Him doing the hard memory work? I think I often take it for granted, figuring that as God’s Son, His brain would have come preprogrammed. That probably wasn’t so. Instead, Jesus, even as a child, recognized the value of His Father’s Word and made the necessary effort to remember it. We are wise to do the same.

1 Samuel 17-47Today’s verse is a good one to keep in our arsenal. We can use it whenever we are tempted to worry:

“All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give all of you into our hands.”1 Samuel 17:47

These are the words David spoke to Goliath and the Philistines. The rest of Israel’s army was cowering in fear, but David stepped up armed with five smooth stones and faith in God’s ability and desire to save. God enabled him to take Goliath out with just one stone. (Click here to read the full story at BibleGateway.com.)

When we’re tempted to worry or to let fear paralyze us where we stand, we can remember David’s confidence that the battle is the Lord’s. We don’t need superhuman strength, the latest technology, or miraculous abilities. We have God. Whenever we find ourselves doing battle in His name, we can trust that He is there to fight for us, just as David trusted.

Father, as we memorize these words this week, stamp this truth in our minds and on our hearts. You are God. You love us. You are there. The battle is Yours. Amen.

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Hebrews 10:24-25 on My Mind

NewOMM“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Hebrews 10:24-25

Let’s make a game of these memory verses. As we focus this week on the words, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” let’s really do this. Let’s consider all the people we know, the people we encounter frequently, and let’s brainstorm ways to encourage them. Then let’s follow through using our favorite ideas! We’ll be committing two new verses to memory and putting them into practice at the same time. I’m thinking this will make both activities more memorable all around.

In reading these verses and reflecting on them for this post, I see one idea built in. The author of Hebrews is encouraging readers to keep meeting together because he (or possibly she) is concerned about those who’ve stopped meeting with other Christians regularly. Let’s build on this by reaching out to those we’ve started to miss. Not in a guilt-inducing way. In fact, we don’t even have to mention church attendance or small group activities. All we need to do to encourage such a person is to reach out in friendship. Send a card. Make a phone call. Invite this person to lunch. Sometimes just knowing that someone has thought of you and has wanted to spend time with you is all it takes to motivate a person who has left to come back. And even if the person chooses not to return, at least that person will be encouraged to know that someone cared.

  • What encouragement ideas come to mind at first glance?

Father, the Day is approaching. Only You know when it is. As we wait, though, teach us to love. Help us to encourage each other and to do good deeds. Give us creative ideas and the resources to follow through. For the good of Your kingdom and the glory of Your name. Amen.

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Psalm 86:11-12 on My Mind

NewOMMThis week, I’m trying to memorize Psalm 86:11-12. Won’t you join me? Or leave a comment to let me know what you’re memorizing. (I may want to memorize that next!)

“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”Psalm 86:11-12NRSV

Notice that the Psalmist makes two requests, yet longs to do four things. He asks God to:

  • teach him His way and
  • give him an undivided heart.

He wants to:

  • walk in God’s Truth,
  • revere God’s name,
  • give thanks to God, and
  • glorify His name forever.

Lord, the Psalmist longed to live fully for you. Please give us everything we need to do so, too. You are worthy, Lord, of all we have to give—our undivided and grateful hearts most of all. Thank You for teaching and providing, so we may walk with, revere, give thanks to, and glorify You alone, forever and ever! Amen.

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Acts 10:43 on My Mind

NewOMM“He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.”Acts 10:43, NLT

God had to get creative in order to help Peter learn this lesson. It started with a vision of forbidden-to-be-eaten animals that a voice from Heaven ordered Peter to eat. God presented the vision three times.

While Peter was still trying to figure out what the vision meant, a group of Gentiles came to his door, asking Peter to be Cornelius’ house guest. Cornelius was a Gentile, but he had met the one, true God. He needed someone to introduce him to Jesus Christ, though, to welcome him into the Christian faith, so to speak. God told Cornelius to seek Peter; God prepared Peter’s heart for Cornelius. (You can read the whole story here at BibleGateway.)

You see, eating in a Gentile’s house was just as forbidden as eating the animals in Peter’s vision would have been. But Cornelius’ men arrived at just the right time for Peter to understand God’s message: Jesus came for everyone who believes in him! Peter’s words to Cornelius found in Acts 10:43 suggest to me that once Peter understood his vision, he came to see the testimony of the prophets (found in our Old Testament) in a whole new light, recognizing God’s desire to reach all people, not only the Jews.

As we grow closer to Christ throughout our lives, if we study God’s Word regularly, God’s Spirit will shed new light on familiar verses granting us deeper understand of God’s will and His ways, too. We put the information into our brains; God’s Spirit, at just the right time, reveals more of its truth.

That gives us two reasons to commit this verse to memory this week! First, we learn the verse so we’ll remember that salvation is available to everyone who believes, but like Cornelius, they can’t believe unless they hear the message from someone, perhaps from someone who looks like us.

Second, we learn the verse so we’ll remember why we study God’s Word each day. God may not always grant us new insights, but we can trust that He’s preparing our hearts for whatever understanding we will need, understanding that will come at just the right time.

Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and rise again, so that everyone who believes can be saved. This is the best news ever! Please give us the opportunity and the courage to share it as often as we can. We do want everyone to know.

And help us to study Your Word faithfully, knowing that Your Spirit will grant us all the understanding we need, right when we need it to fulfill Your purposes. What an honor it is to be used to further Your goals. We love You, Lord. Amen

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Isaiah 60:20 on My Mind

NewOMM“Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.”Isaiah 60:20

This is a great verse to memorize for dark times. All may be well for you right now; I hope it is! Even so, this world tends to bring us trouble. I don’t say that to be negative. Just to plan ahead. Just in case. Of what we hope will never come to pass. If we commit Isaiah 60:20 to memory now, God’s Spirit will be able to help us recall it if then ever comes to be.

And if somehow it doesn’t, this verse will remind us to be thankful for that.

If you are going through a dark time now, I pray the words of this poetic promise will comfort you. This. Too. Shall. Pass. Keep hoping and trusting in Jesus. Your days of sorrow will eventually end.

Father, You know the needs of every person reading this today. Please comfort and encourage those who are going through dark times now. Fill their hearts with hope. Let them know You are with them now. And please help the rest of us to remember the words of Isaiah 60:20. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” He also promised He has overcome the world. Someday His everlasting Light will chase all darkness and shadow away. We can count on this. Amen.