Wow, that just sounds like a lot of verses, doesn’t it? Well it is, and anyone who memorizes 20 Bible verses should feel some pride in their accomplishment, and hopefully even more, some change inside their heart from storing God’s word there. I know by this time last year I was feeling it. Not always in a pleasant way (that is to say, sometimes it went against the grain in a big, even painful way), but always in a way that was beneficial. My verses from last October 15 were the perfect example of this:
New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Up to this point I had two “rules” (entirely of my own making) in memorizing Scripture. One was that I had decided that each of my verses would come from a different book of the Bible, and my second was that I would memorize all verses from the NIV1984. In fact, one of the first things I learned from my first year in Scripture memory was that there is a big difference between the NIV translation and the NIV 1984. Did you know that? I didn’t, til last year. I also learned more about lots of translations, but I digress… I had broken (or softened on) one of my own rules already by choosing two verses from Romans, so why not throw out the other one by memorizing this passage in a different version, The Message? Try it on for size:
The Message (MSG)
27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
31 “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”
Tough stuff, if you really think about it. So as the Lord would have it, I was working on the verses at a particularly difficult time, when my Dad was nearing the end of his battle with cancer, and to make matters worse, there was a good bit of interpersonal stress going on in my life. Oh I was feeling slapped in the face, sisters! I felt that I was being given a very hard time, and I was responding with the energies of prayer for that person, just as it said! Oh I was so ready to giftwrap my best coat and make a present of it!
And then it hit me.
It may be true that I was being slapped in the face, but I had done my fair share of slapping. I might have been given a hard time, but I sure had given others a hard time. And I had been doing that for a long time, all the while I had been feeling persecuted. Yikes.
You see, God’s Word can do that to you. When you really work on it, not just the mechanics, not just getting the words down, but really letting it penetrate. It can help you see yourself and those around you more clearly. In the true Light that illuminates everything.
Well this was all just a bit of foreshadowing for this year, studying the Sermon on the Mount. Oh sisters, I feel like I am a different person than I was before this. At least I hope I am. What I know for sure is that I see things in a different way than I did before, and I hope that lens is through the eyes of Jesus, and with the heart of Jesus. No, I will never truly have the real eyes or heart of my Savior, and unlike Him, I fall and fail daily, multiple times daily, but, well, I’ve never felt so content to be so weak, and I’ve never rested so fully in Him. Thank you, Lord!
So my dear friend Cara, who in December 2010 sent me an email inviting me to join her in this Scripture memory thing, and then who decided sometime in 2011 that in 2012 she would memorize the Sermon on the Mount and possibly asked or possibly allowed me to tag along, has been cavorting about Italy for the last few weeks with her Mama, and I have been left alone (with my dear friend Peggy, who also–like me–can’t seem to function without Cara around) to work on the verses I posted last time, and review the previous two chapters of Matthew, 5 and 6. It has been a glorious time of steeping in the Word. So I’ll repost the last set of verses for now, with the happy news that Cara has returned to the good ol’ USA, and we will have a new set next week.
7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Also, I have been inspired by Peggy and Linda (in their comments last time) to revisit and possibly-commit to memory my verses from last year. So far that is as far as I have gotten, the re-commitment part.
The Lord bless you and keep you, dear ones. Please leave a word and/or your verses below. I love you!