Scriptural – the Bedrock for Spiritual Growth
February 1, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
Good morning. The final mark of our Marcs of a Healthy Discipleship Gorup Series. And the title today is Scriptural – the Bedrock for Spiritual Growth. Scriptural – the Bedrock for Spiritual Growth.
During Bill Leslie’s ministry as Pastor of LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, he had gotten to the end of his ministry and he started to get burnt out. He felt like the demands of his people were literally running him dry spiritually. And so, one day as he was walking through church, he came across a devote older woman in his church and his congregation. He began to share with her how he felt like a pump. And people were constantly pumping the life out of him. He felt spiritually dry. He felt like he was in a desert.
She responded to him and said, Pastor, with all due respect, didn’t you volunteer to be pumped when you prayed to be used by God? Don’t ask people to quit pumping. Drive your pipe deeper. You need to get down to where the water is again.
You know, sadly, so many Christians try to minister from a dry well. One of the plagues that has affected the church is malnourished Christians, Christians who are dry and burnt out. And I want to share with you that during those drought induced times of difficultly of your life, it is important for you to take the pipe of faith and drive it deep down into the Word of God and dwell richly upon His Word. I want to show you today that as Chrsitians, we should get into the Word of God until the Word of God gets into us. Now we use that phrase a lot at Brainerd and you are probably wondering, Pastor, where do you get the proof text for that? That is the text we are going to study today.
If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to Colossians Chapter 1. Colossians Chapter 3, sorry. You can go to 1, but we are not going to be in 1. Go to Colossians Chapter 3 Verse 15. And I want you to see that although this is the last mark of the Marcs series, it is of first importance. In fact, if you take all the marks away and leave one, this is the one you want. As we will see in Discipleship Groups, the Bible is our textbook. So Colossians Chapter 3 Verse 15. When you are there, say Word. The Word of the Lord.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
What Paul is showing us here is how to have a life pleasing to the Lord. And he gives us three handles that we can hang our hat on. The first one is this, a believer should have the peace of God ruling in his heart. And so a believer should have a heart that is ruled by peace.
Look at what he says in the text. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
The peace that Paul is talking about here is one that comes from Jesus Christ alone. He said the same thing in the book of Philippians, Chapter 4 Verse 7 when he said these words. “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard over your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
It is the peace OF Christ in the text because Christ earned the right to give that to us with His perfect, sinless life and sacrifice on the cross thorugh His death, burial and resurrection on our behalf.
I love what the New English Bible says or translates this verse as, it says, “Let Christ’s peace be arbiter in your hearts.” It is a vivid picture of what is happening here. What Paul is doing here is, he is using a verb from the Olympic arena and he brings it into Christianity. Another way to say this phrase would be “Let Christ be the umpire of your heart.” Or “Let peace be the umpire of your heart.”
Let me ask you today, is Jesus calling the shots in your life? Is Jesus directing your way in your life? Here is a good saying for you to remember, when Christ rules your hearts, peace reigns over your life. Write that down. When Chrsit rules your hearts, peace will reign in your life. The peace of God is the displayed in different ways, but I think the most impactful way and the way we see it the most pronounced is on the mission field.
I remember the time I went to Indonesia with David Platt many years ago. His brother, Adam and Rob Wilton, we were teaching at a seminary there. And I remember when I got there, it was a pretty challenging trip because we heard all the statistics about the country: 88% Muslim, 20% militant Muslims. Be careful. Lay low.
On the first day of us being there, we were eating breakfast in the hotel lobby. In fact, the entire time we were there, we never saw another American. Just to give you a perspective of the context we were in. So we were there in the hotel lobby eating breakfast and a man at the other table was eyeing us the entire time we were eating. And all of a sudden, before we finished, he walked over to our table and he leaned down and simply asked, “Are you guys Christians?” Now that is an odd thing to be asked in Indonesia. And we said, “Yes, how did you know.” He said, “Well, this man here is wearing a Christian t-shirt.” David Platt’s younger brother had a Christian t-shirt. Now we didn’t think anything of it because we were so used to it in America. But he had this Christian t-shirt and he said, “Guys, I have a video that I want to show you. Do you mind if we go to your room?” And we naively let him go to our room, right? So four Americans and this Indonesian man who was a beleiver. We went to the room and for the next hour, he played for us this video of Christians in Indonesia being persecuted, beaten, imprisoned for the gospel. And when he left, he simply said this to us, “Guys, lay low while you are here. God bless you.” And when he left that room, you can imagine what we did. We started to get anxious, started to get a little nervous. I started to question, am I supposed to be here? Are you sure, God, is this where I am supposed to be? Those were thoughts that go through your mind. And in the midst of this turmoil we were trying to wrestle with, David Platt goes and says something spiritual to us. He says, “Why don’t we start praying?” He wanted to get all spiritual on us. David, I mean, come on, you know. But we prayed. And it was amazing. A few anxious men who were uncomfortable at one point, all of a sudden began to experience the peace of God. And as we prayed, peace began to course through our veins.
And I was reminded on the mission field something that I have never forgotten. And that is, God’s will will never lead you to a place where His grace will not sustain you. God’s will will never lead you to a place where His grace will not sustain you.
What that means is, it is safer for you to go somewhere if God tells you to go than for you to stay behind.
Now there is a difference between the peace of God and the peace of the world. You see, this peace of Christ does not come from the world. It comes from only one source, Jesus Christ. You are not going to get it from material possessions. You are not going to get it from electing the correct political candidate or achieving particular socio-economic status or acquiring a certain job or obtaining the right relationship or spouse for your future.
This comes from the source of all peace which is Christ. Jesus said in His resurrected body, “Peace I give to you, or peace to you, My peace I give to you.” There is a difference between peace WITH God and the peace OF God. You see, at salvation, everybody has peace with God. Not because of anything we have done, but because of the resurrected Christ who we put our faith and trust in as the perfect substitute for our sins. That is how we have peace WITH God. But there is a difference between the peace OF God. You see, the peace OF God is played out in your life in three ways. When you begin to practice the presence of God, when you begin to obey the principles of God and you begin to engage in prayer. That is how we begin to have peace OF God.
Let me ask you today, do you have rest for your restless hearts? You will never find it from any other source than Christ. And so I ask you today to accept the free gift of peace from the Lord Jesus Christ through a relationship with Him.
So you are probably wondering, how do we have peace in our life? How does it rule over our hearts? Well, Paul tells us. A heart rules by His peace happens when a mind is filled with His Word. It is pretty simple. When your mind is filled with the Word of God, your heart is ruled by the peace of God.
Verse 16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing spiritual hymns and psalms with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The word of Christ refers to the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is both the words spoken about Christ and the word spoken by Christ. The totality of His ministry. It is actually the scriptures, is another way to say the scriptures.
The key word here in the text is the word “dwell.” It is another word that means to live in. It is another word that means to reside in. It is the idea that the Word of God should take abode in your life. The Word of God should take up residence in your life. It should permeate every aspect of your being, your thoughts, your actions, your deeds, your motives. And if you want to know another way to look at how to have Christ dwell in our hearts or the Word of God dwell in our hearts richly, Paul uses the same concept but says it a different way in the book of Philippians, just one book before.
So go back to the book of Philippians…I am sorry, the book of Ephesians, two books before. The book of Ephesians, Chapter 5 Verse 18. Paul is saying the same thing a different way. So let the Word of God dwell in your richly. Notice what he says in Verse 18. “Do not be drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit of God.” So to be filled with the Spirit of God is synonymous with letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.
And so how do we carry this out, Paul? Well, he tells us. Here is the pattern. When the Word of God is in your hearts, you will begin to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Notice, he doesn’t delegate this task to the clergy. He doesn’t say this is a sign only for pastors. He doesn’t say this is reserved only for elders. Who does he delegate this to? Not all at once, by the way. Who does he delegate this to? Everyone, right? Everyone is commanded, is expected to begin to sing and to speak the Word of God and to admonish one another.
Now, how in the world are we able to do this? We have to know the Word of God. You see, maybe the reason you aren’t speaking the word of God, you aren’t admonishing other people is because you are spiritually malnourished when it comes to the Word of God.
One of the tragedies in America, we have literate believers who are illiterate in the word of God. They don’t know the Word of God. And friends, if we want to see revival in this country, it is going to come with the return to the word of God. You think of history, all of human history, there has always been a reformation when the people return to the Word.
Think of II Kings Chapter 22 when Josiah finds the book of the Law for the first time in a long time. There was a reformation among the people. You think of Ezra when the people returned from the Babylonian captivity, they were exiles in a foreign land, they come back to Israel, they come back into the Promised Land. And Ezra gets up in the book of Nehemiah and he begins to read the Word of God and the Bible says the people stood for six hours standing and weeping because they heard God’s Word! Can you imagine that? These weren’t words on a page, these weren’t words on a scroll, this was the Word of God. They were hearing from God. God hadn’t forgotten them.
It is the same thing that happened in the Dark Ages in the Medieval Church when the monasteries had a return to the spiritual hymns among the monks. It is also what happened to Martin Luther. You know, the phrase of the reformation was solus scriptura, scripture alone. And Martin Luther, with the nailing of the 95 Theses to the door of Vitenburg, what he was doing there is, he found 95 ways that the church had diverted from the Word of God. That is what the theses are.
If we want to see revival in this country, I want to make a suggestion to you. We need to return back to the Word. And not just return to the Word, we need to live the Word. It is easy to Amen that, but it is harder to live that.
Walter Kaiser, the Hebrew historian and scholar said, “It is no secret that the church of Christ is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, junk food. All kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. And as a result, theological and biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its own physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are harmful to their physical bodies, yet neglect their spiritual bodies.”
You want to know what the problem is today with the American church? I believe it is two-fold. The first thing is, we have spiritual junk food being preached from the pulpits. And then we have apathetic Bible readers in the homes. Wouldn’t you agree? Spiritual junk food in the pulpits and apathetic Bible reading in the home.
What Paul is saying is, in order to let the Word of God dwell in you richly, you have to know the Word. And when you know the Word, you will have the peace of God begin to flow in your life because you are reminded of the Word of God.
And here is the outflow of that, when you know the word of God and the peace of God reigns in your life, you will begin to live a life for God’s glory.
Finally, he says we will begin to live a life, lived, or a life lived for God’s glory. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” You see, when you build your life upon the bedrock of scripture, it will begin to affect your words and your deeds and your actions and your attitudes and they will be pleasing to the Lord.
This word “word” can be anything that is spoken from your lips. It can actually be anything thought in your mind. Everything you think, everything you say. But then he says, “deeds.” These are activities you engage in. These are places you go. Things you do. Jobs you take. Items you purchase. Hobbies or activities you participate in. And what he is saying here is this, we need to make sure that everything we say and do is pleasing to the Lord.
The New Living Translation renders this verse this way. It is a pretty interesting insight. “And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus.” I like that. I want you to imagine that new technology comes out in a year or two where you have a tracking device on your wrist, it may be called the iwatch, I don’t know, but it is a device on your wrist that is able to track every deed, every thought, every action and every word that is spoken by you. And what it does is, it logs that on the web on a website that attaches everything you do and everything you say to your name. Every action, Robby Gallaty. Every word, Robby Gallaty. Every thought, Robby Gallaty. And the whole world can log in at any time and see everything you do because it is attached to your name.
Now, how different would you live? You see, because I think the reason you and I get caught up in careless acts and senseless words is because we think no one is watching us, right? We think no one hears us or no one sees us. But what if everything you said was not attached to your name, but it was actually attached to Jesus’ name? Every senseless act attached to Jesus’ name. Every careless word attached to Jesus’ name? Do you know, when you became a believer, you have lost the right to not be joined together with Jesus. That when we came to Christ, we were fixed together with Christ, we are unified with Him. We don’t have a choice of whether we want to or not, it is the truth. And what that means is, every negative word, every evil deed, every threat, every selfish act, every lie, every dishonest action is attached to Him. Every time you view pornography on the internet, it is attached to the name of Jesus Christ. Every time you are deceitful in business, it is attached to the name of Jesus Christ. Every time you are dishonest, it is attached to the name Jesus Christ. Every time you abuse your children or your spouse, it is attached to the name Jesus Christ.
What are you getting at here, Robby? What I want you to see is, there is no separation for the Christian between the secular and the sacred. You cannot compartmentalize your life to say, well, that is my church life and this is my regular life, because you and I both know, when you claim the name of Christ and profess the name of Jesus, your life is always on display for the world to see.
And so, Robby, how do we get to a place where we have the peace of God ruling in our life? We are living for the glory of God and we are dwelling on the Word of God?
Let me give you three walking points to help you practice what I have just preached. Let me give you three walking points. These are ways you can take this home and put it in your life.
The first one is this: I want to encourage you to begin to pray with expectancy. Pray with expectancy. Expectancy for what? To hear from God. I am about to give you the single greatest practice that will influence and affect your Bible reading time like no other practice you can ever start. Here it is, write it down. It is profound. Pray. That is right. Pray. How many times have you, like me, sat down or you like I, sat down, began to read the Word of God and then realize, we haven’t prayed for God to give us insight and illumination and wisdom about a spiritual book. I have done that many times in my life. Get a check from the Holy Spirit about half way through.
Friends, do you know what the Bible says? I Corinthians Chapter 2? The natural man does not understand the things of God because they are a folly or foolish to him. These things are spiritually discerned. So we need enlightenment and encouragement and illumination from the Holy Spirit to read this Spiritual Book. One of the greatest forms of worship you can ever engage in is to read and study the Word of God because God is not a God of confusion, He is always a God of clarity. And so before you begin to read, ask God to give you insight and wisdom.
Now a lot of our charismatic brothers and sisters would fault us as Baptists because they say, you guys just want to get together and study the Word for a long time and just read the Word, but we want to worship God. We want to sing to God and we want to worship God. And what they are saying is, and I get that, they want to experience God and they want to worship God through singing. But there is a problem with that. If you ask a Jew in the first century or if you were to follow Jesus to the synagogue in the first century, you would have realized if you would have asked Him, that the highest form of worship was studying the Word. A service in a synagogue consisted of this: 45 minutes of standing by the people, reading the Word of God and everyone stood there and listened. And if you were in those services, you start to realize half way through, people would begin to clap, during the reading of the Word. They would begin to clap. They would begin to cheer. They would begin to hoot. Some people would begin to cry. Why would they cry? Because they are hearing from God! God has not forgotten them. They are hearing from God. And then, when the reading is finished for 45 minutes, then they sit down and hear a 5 minute sermon.
Now, don’t get any ideas! It might have worked for them but it is not going to work for us. But anyway, they never sang before they heard the Word, they sang on the way home! They never sang to prepare themselves to hear from God, they sang in response to what they just heard. How are you going to sing about something you don’t know about? How are you going to praise the God you don’t hear anything about? They sang in response to God. And they realized that studying the Word of God was the highest form of worship.
Friends, if you are going to understand the Word of God, it is important for us to begin to pray for God to give us spiritual wisdom and insight. Now what may be rolling through your mind is, well, I don’t really know Jesus. You see, if I had known Jesus like the First Century apostles and I could have walked with Jesus like they could, I could probably worship Him better and I would probably know Him better.
Well, the Apostle Peter deflates that faulty idea in his book. So turn with me to II Peter Chapter 1. I want to show you what Peter says about the notion that people think, well, I wish I had been there. I could have worshiped Him better. I would have known Him better. Peter shows us that that’s all we need is the Word of God.
II Peter Chapter 1 Verse 16. When you are there, say “Word.” “For we do not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Do you know what he is saying? We were there. We saw it. “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on that holy mountain.”
What is he talking about? He is talking about the Transfiguration. He said, we were there. We had a front-row seat. “And we have something though more sure, the prophetic word to which you will do well to pay attention.” I love what the King James Version says, “We have a more sure word.” We have seen with our own eyes, we have handled with our hands, we have experienced it all, but what you hold in your hands, the words of God are more sure, it is a more sure prophetic word. And then he goes on. “It is a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes form someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
He is saying to the man in here today or to the woman who says, well, how can I believe this book? It is just written by a bunch of men. He said, no, men didn’t write this. God wrote this through the Spirit.
People always say, well, how do I know these books are the ones in the Bible and how do I know the books outside the Bible are not to be in this book, or shouldn’t be in this book? And my response to them is this: The most important thing to God is His Word. And He wants us to get His Word right. And He is omnipotent and He is Sovereign and He is providential and if God wanted another book in this Bible, He could have snapped a finger or blinked an eye and made it come in here. Friends, this is the more sure Word.
And what Peter says is, I have seen the miracles, I have experienced the raising of the dead, I saw Jesus in the resurrected form and I am telling you, what you have in your hand is a more sure Word, which is why it is important for us to get into the Word until the Word gets into us.
So the first thing is, we need to pray with expectancy to hear from God. Secondly, we need to commit to read and journal the scriptures daily.
When I went to seminary, I thought it was the closest I could get to modern day apostles. I mean, these were men who loved the Lord, had given their lives up to go into full-time ministry. They were learning the things about God. And I learned early on that many of the students or some of the students didn’t go to church on Sunday. And so I began to inquire, why are you guys sleeping in on Sunday? Or better yet, do you have a personal quiet time with the Lord? Are you reading a systematic plan to study the Bible? And many of them said, no, we don’t. We read enough of the Word in school. We read textbooks about the Word and so we get enough of God all we need. So we don’t need to go and have a systematic quiet time with the Lord. And you and I know, it is good to have Christian books. Thank God for them. But I don’t want to read what someone else says about another book. I want to hear from the author, right?
When I started dating Kandi, I realized she lived an hour and a half away from me. And so we couldn’t see each other except on the weekends. But every day after work, I would long for the time when I would get home and call her on the phone. And for a few hours, we would talk on the phone and I would whisper sweet nothings to the receiver. Probably not, but I thought I would say that. She said I wouldn’t say it, but I am going to say it. But we talked for hours and I longed to talk to her to tell her how much she meant to me.
And I got an opportunity to go with Tim LaFleur to go to Glorietta. And so I dated her for two months and I was gone away from her for three months. And about half way through my time in Glorietta, she decided to come up with my family.
Now, it was a special time for me because up to this point, I had not told her that I loved her. For three and a half months of dating, although I did love her, I wanted to wait for a special time to do it. And so she had come to the campus and on the way of her coming to the campus, I went out to the florist that morning and I bought a dozen roses. And I went out to the different people who managed the different departments around the campus and I gave each of them a rose with the instruction that when I walk into the building, give it to Kandi without saying a word.
And then I had a friend of mine go up to the top of the mountain overlooking the valley, taking the last rose and putting a couple of rocks around it so that it stood up overlooking the campus and I was going to read her a note that I had written to her. I will never forget Kandi’s face as we were driving through campus. We would go to the chuck wagon, which is the café. We walk in and I say, this is the chuck wagon. Someone reaches behind the counter and says, “Kandi, this is for you.” She said, “Wow, that is the sweetest thing I have ever seen in my life before. These people are really nice here.” I said, “Yeah, they are really nice.” Just wait.
We go to the Post Office and somebody reaches behind the counter. Kandi, here is a rose for you. We go to the book store. Here is a rose for you. We go to the high ropes course, here is a rose for you. There were so many people giving roses, that the last guy had forgotten. He was literally running across campus to meet me at my car, knocked on the window and said, “Kandi, here is this rose for you.”
And so she has got 11 roses in her hand. She is trying to figure out what is going on. And we drive to the top of the mountain. We get out of my car. I sit her down on a rock and I read this letter to her, I give her a rose. And the end of the letter says these words, “And these are all the reasons why I love you.”
Now you can imagine, that was a special moment for us. Guys, not to crush you, that is the only thing nice I have ever done, so don’t feel bad and Kandi can confirm that. She said, you haven’t done anything nice since then. I said, well, I got married, so I don’t need to. But anyway. That is a joke. That is a joke. But anyway, just trying to help you guys out.
But anyway, it was a good idea back then. And so I want you to imagine the same scenario, different participants. Kandi gets all 11 roses. We drive to the edge of the mountain and I say, Kandi, I am not going to go up with you. Actually, I am going to send you up by yourself. And so Kandi staggers up to the top of the mountain. She gets there. She sees the rose between rocks. And I am not there, but a young college student is there. And he has got a letter in his hand. He said, Kandi, I was sent up here to read this letter from Robby to you. He goes through the letter and he gets to the last line. And these are all the reasons why I love you. Does that have the same impact? No. Why? Because it is second-hand information, right? This is not a letter from me, written by me to her, this is a letter from me read by someone else. It doesn’t have the same impact.
Let me ask you a question, why in the world are you trying to read letters about God and you are not reading the letter from God? That is the beautiful thing about a quiet time, friends, is that you get up every morning to spent quiet time to hear from God and God alone, no one else.
There is nothing better than waking up early in the morning before the kids get up. And I don’t know about you, but I have to wake up early to get alone with the Lord without any distractions, right? There is nothing better than setting the alarm early, waking up in the morning, getting a cup of coffee and going to a quiet place and opening up fresh manna from heaven for my soul, and feasting on God’s Word.
I want to encourage you, read and journal through the Bible daily. If you don’t know where to start, we have a plan called F260. You can pick up a copy at the welcome center on the way out. We really want to encourage you and help you to do that.
Here is the final challenge for you. Pray with expectancy. Read and journal daily. Memorize the Scripture weekly.
People ask me all the time, what is the one thing I can do to see a significant impact on my Christian life. I said, if there is one thing you can do besides reading the Bible, it is memorizing the Word. I would say this is the single greatest discipline I have ever continued since I was a new believer. I learned it early on. I learned it from David, I learned it from Tim.
The problem is, we live in a culture today with ipads and iphones and mac books and notebooks and moleskins and every other contraption that hinders our memorization of the Word or memorization of anything. I mean, there was a day and age that you and I knew phone numbers.
So what we have to do is, we have to swim upstream in a culture that says, you don’t need to memorize anything and we have to go against the grain when it comes to Scripture memory.
Now, I know what you are saying. It is a common excuse that I use. Well, Robby, you don’t understand, I don’t have a good memory. And if anybody could have used that excuse, it would have been me. When I got off $180 a day heroin and cocaine addiction, my brain was fried. I don’t know if you guys remember the old commercial in the ‘90s with the egg in the frying pan. Do you remember that one? And they would…do you remember this commercial? They would crack the egg and put it in the pan and they would say, this is your brain and this is your brain on drugs. Well, that was me. Okay? I had every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t memorize scripture. My brain…my memory was so bad, my Mom tells the story of early on after I came back from rehab. I went to the fridge to get a 2 liter coke. As I was twisting the top off, I grabbed the glass from the cabinet. I poured some coke in and put the top back on, put the coke back in the fridge. I began to talk to her. Five minutes later, I walked back to the fridge, grabbed the 2 liter out again, grabbed another glass, twisted it off and I was about to pour and Mom said, “Robby, what are you doing?” I said, “What do you think I am doing? What does it look like I am doing? I am pouring coke.” She said, “What about this glass right here?” That is how fried my brain was at one time.
And so you can imagine how the hair on the back of my neck began to stand up and my forehead began to beat up with sweat drops when David Platt in our first meetings said, “We are going to memorize scripture together. The Book of Romans. We will start with Romans 1.” Great, what verse, David? He said, no, no, Romans 1, the whole chapter. And then I began to give him a dissertation about the neurological effects of drug and alcohol use on the brain. And David sat there with a smile on his face and he said, “I know. We will start easy. We will do four verses a week.”
Now I want to tell you something. That was the hardest season of my life to get this brain working again. I wrote the verses down. I read the verses. I read them before bed. I made flash cards. I made note cards. I read them when I woke up. I read them on the way to work. I even recorded them on a tape recorder and played them back to me because I was committed to memorizing scripture. And at the beginning, it was tough. But over time, it became more easy.
You know, I can’t prove this in scripture, but I will tell you this. I really believe this, that God unlocks an extra measure of grace to those who begin to memorize scripture. He doesn’t do it at first because everybody casually remembers a couple of verses. But you get into the six and eight and twelve verses committed to memory and it becomes easier over time. Can anybody attest to that? He doesn’t do it to those who just, yeah, we are going to memorize two or three this year and we quit. Two or three this year and quit. It is those who put in the work, right? And the effort.
And so I committed to memory, six months later, Romans 1, Romans 2 and Romans 8. On Easter Sunday, my parents had gathered together for our gathering on Easter. At the time, my family was all Catholic, from a different religion. They were far from the Lord at the time. And up to that point, they had thought this Christianity thing was just another fad for me, like baseball card collecting, comic books, stamps, magic, guitar playing and UFC fighting. And all those I tried. But they just thought this was another fad. And my Mom will go back and tell you that on this day, it was a spiritual marker in the life of our family.
After dinner, my Mom and Dad were there, my Aunt and Uncle were there, sister, paw paw was there and I simply got up after the meal and I said,
Mom and Dad, I just want to say something to you guys, if you don’t mind.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle of God, by the gospel of God, that was spoken about by the prophets and the holy Scriptures regarding his Son. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I long to see you that I might impart to you a spiritual gift to make you strong, that is that you and I may be mutually encouraged by one another’s fellowship. I do not want you to be unaware, Brothers, that I have longed to come to you but have been prevented from doing so up until now that I might have a great harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. I am obligated both to the Greeks and the Barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish which is why I am eager to preach the gospel to you also in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew then for the Gentile. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed by faith from faith just as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against lawlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth with their wickedness because what is made known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For God has revealed His invisible qualities, His eternal nature and divine power have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made and men are without excuse.
Therefore, God gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped a created image rather than the Creator who is forever to be praised.
When I got to Romans 8, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death,” friends, there was not a dry eye in the house.
And I don’t tell you this to impress you, but to impress upon you, it was the servant of God delivering the Word of God, empowered by the Spirit of God and leaving the results to God. And I want to tell you, four of those six people now are saved. Do you know what Scripture memory does for you? It increases the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit in your life. Write that down. Scripture memory increases the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit in your life.
If Christians should be known for one thing, it should be being a people of the Book. Friends, the Bible is our textbook. And so we should know it well.
Let me give you three challenges as we close. First of all, lets pray with expectancy to hear from God. Secondly, lets commit to read and journal the scriptures daily. And lets commit to memorize the scripture weekly.
Listen, to me. Try it for seven days. You will come back next week and say, Pastor, you were right. This is one of the things I can absolutely guarantee you will see a definitive difference in your life if you do this. Seven days. Come back next week. Pastor, you are right, or Robby, you don’t have clue what you are talking about. But I think it will be more toward the first. You know why? Because it changed me. It changed me.