This Will Change Your Life in 2016

Everyone is busy arguing about New Year’s resolutions – whether you should set goals or whether goals are not the answer and other things are more important.

I’m not going to tell you whether you should set New Year’s resolutions or not. But I do want to tell you about one thing you can do in 2016 that will invite God to work incredible changes in your life.

Over the summer, I had the privilege to meet and talk with an inspirational man of God – Cliff Barrows. Just in case you don’t know who Cliff Barrows is, let me fill you in.

Cliff Barrows met Billy Graham in 1945, and he and George Beverly Shea were music program directors for the crusade ministry. Their team did 417 crusades in all 50 states and 185 countries over 58 years. They shared the Gospel with 215 million people in live audiences. Mr. Barrows has also announced “The Hour of Decision,” a Billy Graham radio program that airs every week, for the last 65 years. He is 93 years old.

When I met Mr. Barrows, the Spirit of God just seemed to ooze out of him. Everything he said was filled with such wisdom, scripture, and poetry. I got to spend almost an hour and a half across the table from him, just listening. He told me that the key to life is hiding God’s Word in your heart.

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

Mr. Barrows cannot see well anymore, now that he is in his 90s. He looked at his wife Ann as he told me that it is one of his greatest sorrows that he can no longer read the Word of God himself. Instead, he listens to endless audiobooks of the Bible, and Ann reads scripture to him for hours each day.

Seeing the love Mr. Barrows has for the Word of God inspired me. I decided sitting there with him that I wanted to start hiding God’s words in my heart with more intentionality. Mr. Barrows suggested the Navigator’s Topical Memory System. 

Here is the link: http://bit.ly/1LQKVZ7

The Navigator’s system comes with nifty little flash cards and memory tips that can help you memorize. However, being a college student, I didn’t want to spend $15 on some cards, so I pasted the list of verses and topics it includes into a note on my phone for easy access.

Each time I start a new verse, I type it into another note in my phone and try to reference that note as often as possible until I have it memorized. I am going pretty slowly. I’m about six months in and have only 18 verses memorized.

But since I have started intentionally memorizing God’s word, I have seen my life change. When I am working on a verse, I see my sensitivity to God’s spirit skyrocket. The Holy Spirit brings God’s words to mind right when I need them in my daily life.

“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

Don’t fall into the trap of memorizing verses to memorize verses. There is no benefit in that, and your motivation will soon wear thin. Memorize verses with the intention of learning, chewing, understanding, and applying what God says.

“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

Memorize verses because you are in love with their writer and want to get to know Him. Memorize verses because they have meaning that is applicable to every moment of your life. Memorize verses because you want to see God work in your life.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

The memorization process is different for everyone, there are even several apps you might find helpful, but remember to keep it simple. God will use it to change your life.

2016

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7 Promises God has made You

God makes more than 3500 promises to us in the Bible. 3500! I wonder if I have even made 3500 promises over the course of my life?

I wish I could list all 3500 of God’s promises. If I were to post one of God’s promises everyday, I wouldn’t finish for the next 10 years. I can’t imagine how such an undertaking would help me to realize God’s truth in my life!

God’s promises should be the air by which we breathe. Today I’m going to share seven, one for each day this week. Let God’s truth seep into your heart. Search out the passages, study them, cling to them, live by them – they are God’s promises to you!

“I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27 THE MESSAGE

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36 ESV

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud ‘no’ to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.”  James 4:7-8 THE MESSAGE

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,
ready to rescue you.
 Psalm 34:17 THE MESSAGE

“But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;

    great is your faithfulness.
 ‘The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

    “therefore I will hope in him.'”  Lamentations 3:21-24 ESV

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.'”  John 14:13-17 ESV

“Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
That’s right. Because I, your God,
    have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go.
I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic.
    I’m right here to help you.’”  Isaiah 41:10,13 THE MESSAGE

Jesus said yes to the cross so He could say yes to us for all eternity. Bask in God’s yesses to you. Be God’s yes to the world. If you want to learn more about God’s ultimate yes to you, check out: Peace with God.

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30 Minutes in the Life of Barabbas

Once inside, Barabbas breathed a great sigh of relief and thankfulness to be free of the mob of people who had descended on Jerusalem for the Passover festival. It was now almost past midday, so he hurried through the opulent interior of the temple – everything was polished to perfection, gold overlay and filigree seemed to be in every place at once, rich carpets and curtains adorned the walls, and great tables and chairs of Acacia wood filled enormous meeting rooms.

On his way, Barabbas passed dozens of priests and scribes. Many knew him to be the son of a chief priest and delayed him with greetings and hellos. Frustrated with his slow progress, Barabbas came to a broad wooden door, which he barely managed to push open. Inside he found his father at last. “Awe, Barabbas, you have finally come!” his father exclaimed. “I am famished! Where have you been?” Barabbas stepped into the chamber. It was a stone room filled with shelves containing hundreds of scrolls and a desk at one end. Colorful carpets covered the smooth marble of the floor and a small window opened out into the court. Barabbas loved the heady smell of the ancient articles and the way the golden light illuminated the dank room.

“I could hardly get through the streets!” he gasped as he struggled to shut the door and went to his father. He handed his father the basket before sitting tiredly on the floor at his feet.

Barabbas declared in wonder, “Father, I can never remember seeing this many people in Jerusalem at once. I fear the city might burst and fall apart like an old wine skin it is so full!” His father laughed heartily and nodded in agreement with his son.

“Yes, well, Passover is a unique time. Jerusalem opens her arms in peace to people from all over the known world, so they can come and celebrate the work of God.” His father opened the basket and took out a loaf of challah bread, a pile of dates, a handful of nuts, and a chunk of cheese. Barabbas looked on hungrily. “Come, Barabbas, share this meal with me,” his father encouraged. In the midst of eating, Barabbas looked up at his father’s desk and noticed the intriguing ancient parchments alongside his notes.

“What are you working on, father?” Barabbas queried.

“I am studying the manuscripts of Genesis,” he replied. Barabbas nodded, he had heard of Genesis long before this, but he was still puzzled.

“But why are you studying Genesis right now, father?” Barabbas continued. His father sighed and then answered tonelessly,

“I’m studying the stories about the beginning of Israel, so tomorrow during the Passover I can recount them. I’m going to tell about Moses and how God used him to rescue all of Israel from the Egyptians. I will tell the stories of our history and who we are. Passover is a time to remember them and praise God.” Barabbas was silent for a long moment. Then, he nodded his head and smiled.

“I’m glad God helps us,” he declared. At this, his father’s eyes brightened for a moment and he patted his son on the back. It was not long before they finished the small luncheon. Then, his father directed Barabbas,

“Go home and help your mother prepare for tomorrow.” Barabbas rose up obediently and gathered the basket from the desk. He headed toward the door of the workroom and then looked back at his father saying,

“Goodbye, Father! I wish I could study Genesis with you.”

“Goodbye, son.” Barabbas strode hesitantly back into the outer passage of the temple, and pushed the heavy door shut behind him.

~

Things had not stilled at all when he exited the temple building. In fact, even more people than before seemed to crowd around him. Just beyond the pillars, a young man bargained with a temple merchant, trying to purchase a lamb for the Passover meal. The merchant was charging an outrageous price because it was the last day lambs would be available to buy for the feast.

Nearby, a woman assisted an elderly couple trying to walk into the temple. Her child ran around the trio wanting to see everything at once. Next to them, a young boy sold grain for Thanksgiving Offerings. Barabbas weaved through these people and thousands more as he retraced his steps out of the temple complex. As he descended the steps of the temple and traipsed into the city, Barabbas glanced back, wishing he could stay in the temple to watch all the happenings of the next few days. He loved the excitement, which seemed to fill the place. He decided right there, as he glanced back at the glorious temple behind him, one day he would have a place there serving God like his father.

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