Memorizing The Sermon on the Mount – A Printable Schedule-

My friend Lisa left a comment on yesterday’s post saying, “I’m crazy enough to join you but I’m also crazy enough to require lots of helps!” Well, here it is, to all my crazy friends, a simple schedule for you to print (I have no idea how to make pretty graphics with my computer, so I just took my markers, my journal, and my camera. If you come up with a prettier one and would like to share it with us, email it to me, and I will share it with everyone else).

Beside the weekly verses I added some boxes to put a check on the verses that I have already memorized. These little boxes will also help me to make my schedule a bit more flexible and don’t lose track of my progress. For example, this week I want to memorize all the beatitudes (Mt. 5:1-12), instead of only the first 9 verses of Mt 5, which means that I can check a few more boxes from the next weekly verses (I’d rather be ahead than behind before Christmas comes).

If you prefer a -somehow- more relaxed schedule, you can easily divide these chapters in 21weeks as follows:

Week 1: The Beautitudes (Mt 5:1-12)
Week 2: Salt and Light (Mt. 5: 13-16)
Week 3: Christ Came to Fulfill the Law (Mt.5: 17-20)
Week 4: Anger (Mt. 5: 21-26)
Week 5: Lust (Mt 5: 27-30)
Week 6: Divorce (Mt. 5:31-32)
Week 7: Oaths (Mt. 5:33- 37)
Week 8: Retaliation (Mt. 5: 38-42)
Week 9: Love Your Enemies (Mt. 5: 43-48)
Week 10: Giving to the Needy (Mt. 6: 1-4)
Week 11: The Lord’s Prayer (Mt. 6: 5-15)
Week 12: Fasting  (Mt. 6: 16-18)
Week 13: Lay Up Treasures in Heaven (Mt.6:19- 24)
Week 14: Do Not Be Anxious (Mt. 6: 25-34)
Week 15: Judging Others (Mt. 7:1-6)
Week 16: Ask, And It Will Be Given (Mt.7:7-11)
Week 17: The Golden Rule (Mt. 7: 12-14)
Week 18: A Tree and Its Fruit (Mt. 7:15-20)
Week 19: I Never Knew You (Mt. 7:21-23)
Week 20: Build Your House on the Rock (Mt. 7: 24-27)
Week 21: The Authority of Jesus (Mt. 7: 28-29)

How will we keep each other accountable? What if we meet here every Friday to share how we are doing? If you have a blog and decide to post about your progress every week feel free to link to it.

I will also be posting every Lord’s Day a prayer based on the weekly verses (instead of my regular Praying the Psalms series), because I have found that one of the most wonderful benefits of memorizing the Scriptures is that you can use them more effectively, as a sword in the hand of a warrior in your prayer time.

So here we go, Sisters…  May God bless our minds and hearts.

Becky

A Project for the Busiest Months of the Year: Memorizing the Sermon on the Mount

This is crazy, I know. But I need it. I need to be drawn (and at times even dragged back) to the Word of God, especially when my mind and heart want to go wild. The busiest season of the year is coming; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, family, friends, planning, traveling, food, feasting, all of that is right at the door (and I am pretty happy and excited about it, don’t take me wrong!), but in the midst of all that, I don’t want to be like Martha, caught up in the many distractions that surround this season and then forget what really matters, that one thing: taking time to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to His Word.

So I contacted my friend Elizabeth Hankins (whom I met while memorizing Philippians in 2011, and with whom I have been memorizing several passages -and books- of the Scriptures since then), and we decided that it was time for us to work on The Sermon on the Mount. So here we are, two moms with kids, crazy schedules, books to read, meals to cook, brownies to bake, papers to grade,  tired feet, and Facebook accounts, ready to memorize, by God’s amazing grace, 111 verses by the end of January 2013, which means that we will have to cover about 8-9 verses per week.

The thing is that we would love for you (yes, you!) to join us in this crazy endeavor. It will take some extra effort and discipline, but I am sure we can do it if we ask the Lord to help us choose wisely how we spend our time during this coming season. We must learn to make wise and simple choices, for example, limit the time we spend on all social networks, don’t read all the many blogs out there (even this one, forget about it!) choose only two, maybe?  Avoid Pinterest (once you know what crafts you are making and what are you cooking, stop looking for more ideas to pin). We should ask ourselves, What if instead of checking my mobile every 10 mins.  I’d review my Bible verses with the same urgency? This is not an impossible thing to do, you can carry the Bible verses you are memorizing with you at all times (I always have them in a Moleskine that fits in my pockets), you can repeat them in the shower, while doing your hair, while driving. You can pray over them while cooking breakfast and cleaning after dinner. You can mutter them in the car, or on your bed at night. Be intentional. Don’t forget about it. Don’t set it aside. Don’t leave it for later. You will be so blessed after persevering day after day.

We are about to enter a season of feasting, why not make it a time for feasting on the Word of God. Let’s be filled with it, let Him fill our cups until they overflow!

I always encourage my friends who memorize a large passage of the Scriptures to study it in depth while doing so. It helps enormously to know what the passage means when you recite it. It also helps us not to memorize a book -or passage- for the sake of just memorizing it, it helps us meditate on it and be convicted and challenged by it.

I recommend these resources to help you study The Sermon on the Mount (read only the commentary on the verses you are working in a particular week. You don’t want to be overwhelmed).

An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mountain by Pink.

The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple by Daniel M. Doriani

The Sermon on the Mount: Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice

You can also read Thomas Watson’s exposition of The Beautitudes at Grace Gems.

Or if you prefer to listen 30 mins. sermons  (that is what I am doing this time), you can download and listen to John Piper’s series here or you can choose from many other sermons at Monergism.

I am excited for a season of feasting in the Word!

Becky

When My Mind Wanders

You know how it goes, one day -almost without noticing- you entertain one thought, one worry, one doubt, one fear, one question, one… and then two days later, and then three days later, and the next week, and the week after that you have a wandering mind, with no limits whatsoever, your spirit is troubled, and of course, you feel heavy burdened.

What to do now?
Go back to the Word of God.

Go back to the Scriptures and mediate on them day and night.  Memorize God’s Word, pray it, recite it, mutter it. The Word of God will dissipate all doubts, all fears, it will strengthen your heart. It will help you fight those vain thoughts.

James Smith said,

“We must mix faith with the Word; seek to hold fellowship with God through every portion; and realize the presence of the Holy Spirit, who alone can render the Word profitable”

How true this is! Let us come, to the Word. Let us abide in it, let us persevere with all diligence to keep it in our heart and mind.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”  How do we come to Him? We come to Him in prayer and we find Him in the Word. It is there where we hear Him speak to our need, to our troubled soul.

Is your heart troubled and your mind wandering today?

Go back to the Word of God.

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Recommended article:

Profiting from the Scriptures by J.C. Ryle

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On Titus 3: 1-15 Living Out Grace

 

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

All who are with me send greetings to you. Greet those who love us in the faith.

Grace be with you all.

How we need these reminders, to be submissive to the authorities God has appointed over us, starting with our own husband, and keep an obedient heart is pretty easy to forget. And this is specially difficult when the wife seems to be the one studying and reading all the books, and even being more concerned for the spiritual life of the family. If this is your case, sister, I want to encourage you to get rid of a mind-set that wants you to rise above your husband. He is God’s authority appointed in your home. Always pray for him, honor him, give him your advice, share your thoughts but at the end, bless his decision and hold his hand tight.

Another word on submission and obedience is that we must be extremely careful not to give any kind advice to any of our friends against the authority God has placed over them.  If your friend comes and asks you some advice, make sure that she is not only trying to find in you an ally against her husband’s decisions. This is a very delicate matter. We don’t want to sow disagreement between our friend and the authorities God has placed over her. The same principle applies if a young woman asks you some kind of an advice only to find more support to rebel against her parents. The odds are that her parents know a side of the story that you don’t.

Next we have some characteristics that should govern all our relationships.  Attitudes through which we’ll show all others, Christians and non-Christians alike,  the Grace of God in our lives.

Consider them carefully:

* Be ready for every good work.
* Speak evil of no one.
* Avoid quarreling.
* Be gentle.
* Show perfectly courtesy toward all people.

The easiest way to live a life that is always giving grace, is remembering our own condition. Not forgetting how our former lives without Christ looked like will keep us humble, and always with a desire to give and serve more and more.

Don’t judge the one who denies Truth;
you once were fool like that.
Be merciful to the disobedient;
you once lived loving anarchism.
Don’t quit on those who are being led astray by false teachers;
you once were one of them.
Love those who are slaves to various passions and pleasures;
don’t forget how much you loved your own sins.
Don’t forget those who pass their days in malice and envy;
remember how you used to spend your days, your nights.
Give grace to those who only know how to hate;
you once hated the Light, Jesus.
Don’t forget how grace appeared to you in Jesus.
Don’t forget how goodness and loving kindness reached for you
when you were in the most desolate pit.

Don’t forget how “when the goodness and loving kindness of God and Savior appeared to save us not because of work done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

All this “remembering” is so that we may keep ourselves humble, grateful, and “so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.” It is interesting to note the words Paul chooses, “be careful to devote themselves…” If we are not careful, most likely we will soon find ourselves caught up in foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about all kind of Theological issues, while loving to stir up division and hating our neighbor in need by neglecting him. Sin of omission is real and it is very subtle, beware of its presence; it crawls in the heart and feeds on pride and arrogance.

Again on verse 14 Paul says it again, “let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.” If it is mentioned twice, it must be urgent. Let us not forget that this is the way we live grace, devoting ourselves to good works, loving the unlovable, and reaching to the one in need. This is not easy, at least it is not for me. The excuses are always there, but light has shown in the darkest corner of my heart and now those excuses, have been exposed by God’s Word; I must repent and reach with grace towards those around me, in a more significant way.

Thank God, for His Word, and for the wonderful gifts He has given us: Memories to remember His Word, hearts in which to treasaure it and daily lives to practice it.

Grace be with you all,

Becky

On Titus 2: 11-15 -When God’s Grace Appears the Training Starts-

 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

These verses are incredible, and studying them has brought to me a greater and more in depth understanding of the meaning of grace, and how it look like in a day to day basis. Isn’t it wonderful how the Word of God is alive? How it speaks to us? No matter how many times in my life I have read Titus; this is the first time I see this:

“[T]he grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions”

If the grace of God has appeared -and it has appeared- then it means that I did not expect it come. I was not waiting for it. It just appeared; all of a sudden. It broke right in the middle of my situation and did not ask me permission. It appeared, just like the angel appeared to Mary, and her life was abruptly changed. Grace appears at the moment when the world seems to be falling apart, and hope seems impossible. The Grace of God appeared in the person of Jesus.  “Grace is not some abstract doctrine or theological construct. Grace comes as Christ does. Grace is as personal as He is.”

God’s grace comes in the person of Jesus to bring salvation to His people and to train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. WOW! I had never seen this! The grace of God not only saves us, but trains us to renounce  ungodliness and worldly passions. How many admonitions and instructions Paul has given to the church through Titus; at times it seems impossible to live up to those standards; but here is the key: Just as Grace appeared to save us; it has appeared to train us in holiness.

Bryan Chapell says,

“Such grace should make us so in love with God that we cannot stand whatever in our lives re-soil us and offends him. Biblical grace makes us intolerant of evil in our lives.”

This grace of God that appears the moment we are drowning in sin, saves us and trains us to say no to sin. Saying “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions is possible only because the grace of God has appeared. Only because of Jesus.

“When we see God clearly in the appearance of His grace, we have an intense awareness of our unholiness… A true apprehension of grace instructs us of the magnitude and repugnance of our sin.” Bryan Chapell

But is not enough to say “no” to all ungodliness and worldly passions;  we must, by God’s grace, say “yes” to God’s requirements: to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (v.12b)

I love the way Chapell explains this,

“If being a Christian only involved self-control over passions and upright’ behavior before others, we might get the idea that the Christian life was only a matter of living according to certain rules or performing in an acceptable way. By adding the word godly to the ways of grace teaches us to live, the apostle reminds us that the Christian life is one of dependence on God. Godliness is not a consequence of human resolution or willpower. It is a relationship with God that results in a life honoring to God.”

And in this grace we live. “Godliness remains our obligation until Jesus returns.” It is in this state of training, of working in godliness that we wait for our blessed hope. Let us persevere in this training always depending on his perfect grace.

Becky

On Titus 2: 6-10 -Living the Gospel in Community -part 2-

 

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” Titus 2:8-10 (ESV)

One of the things that has been notorious after studying this epistle, is how many times Paul addresses the importance of self-control. The elders must exercise it (1:8), as well as the older men (2:2), the older women (2:3), the younger women (2:5), and the young men (2:6). This makes me think that one of the character traits that should define us as Christians should be “self-control.” But how much we fail to be self-controlled. How much I need the Spirit of God to help me in this area!

J.R. Miller said,

“There are men who rule other men—but cannot rule themselves. They are victorious in battle—but they cannot control their own temper, restrain their own speech, or calm and quiet their own hearts. There is nothing beautiful in such a life. Nothing more effectually mars a life—than fretfulness, discontent, worry, or impatience. Nothing is more pitiful—than a life which is made to be strong, kingly, noble, calm, and peaceful—but which is, instead, the slave of every excitement, every temper, every resentment, every appetite and passion.”

John Piper writes, (I encourage you to read this short article in its entirety)

“The very concept of “self-control” implies a battle between a divided self. It implies that our “self” produces desires we should not satisfy but instead “control.” We should “deny ourselves” and “take up our cross daily,” Jesus says, and follow him (Luke 9:23). Daily our “self” produces desires that should be “denied” or “controlled.”

That path that leads to heaven is narrow and strewn with suicidal temptations to abandon the way. Therefore Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24). The Greek word for “strive” is agonizesthe, in which you correctly hear the English word “agonize.”

The truth is that maybe we know not what “agonizing” over our sins and temptations is like; most of the times we just let them remain in a secret corner, somewhere in the depths of our heart. We let them stay… a little bit longer. Why not?

To close, I’d like to share the words with which Bryan Chapell concludes his commentary on these verses,

“Prayer, praise, instruction, fellowship, and the service of the church do not fulfill their purposes if we don’t function corporately and in community. There is always the temptation to privatize and individualize our faith experience. We tend to make decisions about whom to hear, what to do, and where to serve largely based upon what will be good for us personally. Paul’s instruction to Titus prick our consciences in order to make us sense the importance of responsible for others and living our lives in community. The hope we possess and pass in community should force us to consider the interests and needs of others than our own (cf.Philippians 2:1-5).”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky