"Nothing here is new except in the sense that it is a discovery which my own heart has made of spiritual realities most delightful and wonderful to me. Others before me have gone much farther into these holy mysteries than I have done, but if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame." (A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Monday, June 5, 2017


"The answer was so simple..."

As the Holy Spirit continued His work of transformation in my heart and life, I sensed His leadership to renew a “spiritual discipline” in my life (actually into my daily routine), a practice that had been an extraordinary blessing in years past: memorization of the Word.  Honestly, I have noticed that I don’t remember the names of people quite as quickly and easily as I used to (not in any way attributable to my age, I’m certain), so I was a little concerned about my ability to return to memorization.

Well, He was there to help me (as He always is).

I first refreshed my mind with the awesome promises of Psalm 1 and Joshua 9.  I had memorized these passages years ago in the King James Version:

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

These are awesome promises, especially for anyone who commits himself or herself to being an apprentice of Jesus.  And, of course, there’s Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

How does one even get past the unfathomable and immeasurable premise of verse 1? The Lord is my shepherd!  I shall not want!  I will have everything I ever need!  Ever!  Everything!

Psalm 23 and the “Lord’s Prayer” (better titled “The Disciple’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13) are how I start my heart and head every day.

Colossians 3:1-17 so perfectly describes being an apprentice of Jesus, it became my first “new” memory project:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  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.

There is so much in these verses I feel like I could write a book just about the fantastic realities exposed in them.  But for now, I’ll briefly note just two particular parts which, paired with verses I memorized from Romans 8, produced some dramatic changes in my life.

First, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  Note the words I’ve italicized.  As I thought about those words, I realized they pretty much sum up just about everything that’s on TV these days.  There are some exceptions on TV, but constantly putting sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness in front of my mind would unquestionably make them harder to “put to death.”

Second, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”  The words I’ve italicized in this verse reminded me so much of what politics is like these days, I wanted to put that away too.  Let me be clear, there are some wonderful, Godly men and women who follow Jesus in politics for whom I am enormously thankful and who are desperately needed, but “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk” pretty much describe the political culture.

Romans 8:1-17 was the next passage to be “hidden” in my heart, and the Holy Spirit magnificently paired it with Colossians 3.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

There’s another book here (and many have been written on this awesome passage).  I’ll mention just this verse: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

I wanted to understand what the phrase “set their minds on” means.  It’s the same phrase as in Colossians 3: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  The answer was so simple (and the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher)!  I “set my mind” on whatever I put in front of my mind.  If I put TV in front of my mind, then I’m setting my mind “on the things of the flesh.”  The result: I will live according to the flesh.  But when I put the Word of God (and those who teach it faithfully) before my mind, then I’m setting my mind on the things of the Spirit and I’m living according to the Spirit – just like Jesus lived!
(Please see my footnote.[1])

I am aware that – by the amazing grace (power) of God – I am being changed – transformed.  As the Holy Spirit teaches me the Word and empowers me to hide it in my heart, my mind is being renewed with the result that Jesus is being formed in me.  I cannot imagine anything more fulfilling or exciting!

[1] The Holy Spirit is also doing the work of removing my appetite for TV.  This is only what the Holy Spirit is doing in me.  I am not suggesting that only “unspiritual” people watch TV.  That’s where the Pharisees and legalists live, and not where grace works.

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