By Joe O'Neal
So, the other day I had to visit the dentist for an 8am appointment. Nothing major, routine stuff. Still, hanging at the dentist’s office isn’t my favorite way to start the day.
I thought about how to use that time, figuring maybe I could listen to a podcast and try to disappear to a happy place, far away from the whirring and whining of dental instruments. But I was pretty sure having headphones in would be frowned upon…
Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase. I had been challenged recently to memorize more scripture in 2018, and not just verses, but whole passages in context; not so much a resolution for the New Year, but a practical discipline to engage in all the time. So, I thought, what better way to get my mind off of my mouth then to focus on memorizing the first few verses of Colossians 3? I opened the Bible App in the waiting room and began reading.
Fast forward and I’m roughly one month and 13 verses into Colossians 3. If that doesn’t sound like much, I agree. It’s a slow process for me. Reading, re-reading. Writing it out. But even though I’m only 13 verses in, it’s already been a rich process and I wanted to share what I’m learning so far in hopes that it would encourage you as well.
1. Memorizing and meditating on scripture remind me of what’s true.
Like a compass that points truth North when everything else spins around, God’s word reminds us of what is true, even when the busyness of life, the noise of the world and the accusations of the enemy seem overwhelming.
There’s a phrase that I keep reflecting on over and over from the very first verse of Colossians 3; “If then you have been raised with Christ..” (Col 3:1) You see, when Christ died, I died. When he rose, I rose. New life is mine, raised with Christ. This is the victory that is mine in Christ as I learn to “put to death what is earthly in me.” (Col 3:5) What’s true about my identity is that I’m firmly established in Christ, who has accomplished all for me and will now empower me with his own life to become more like him. Scripture reminds me of what is true.
2. Knowing scripture reveals Christ more fully and increases my intimacy with God.
God’s word keeps me connected to and abiding in Christ. When I see him as the passage describes him, as resurrected King, sitting at the right hand of God above, as the one who has bought me and brought me into relationship with God and who has even now become my very life and guarantees me a future with him; (Col 3:4) when I see him accurately as he is, then I can worship him more deeply and grow in my relationship with him.
3. Committing God’s Word to memory gives language to the Holy Spirit to speak to me in a hundred different situations.
I’m not sure just how many times I’ve had one or more of these verses pop into my head at various times during the day. I can tell you, it’s been a lot. When I need to hear from God, his Spirit speaks his word to me. Words that have helped me resist temptation. Words that have brought me great encouragement when I’ve failed. Words that have reminded me of the glory of Christ and his victory on my behalf. The very words of God, brought to my mind by His Spirit, helping me become more like Christ.
If you’ve made it this far, let me leave you with an invitation to join me in memorizing a passage of scripture this month. It can be at the Doctor’s office, the school pick-up line, the airport, and a thousand other places.
Maybe you’ll study Colossians 3:1-17 or maybe you’ll choose a different passage, but whatever it is, as you put God’s word into your head, it will filter down to your heart and be expressed daily through your hands as you put the truth into practice.
Do you want to grow in your intimacy with God and hear his voice? Do you want your life to look differently? Hide God’s word in your heart. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. He will speak to you through it and draw you to himself.