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A New Year‘s challenge

January 5, 2010 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

So… how’s your New Year’s Resolution going? Still going strong? If you’re anything like me, you know how difficult it can be to sustain any change, no matter how minor or important, for much longer than the time it takes to type this line. On January 1st I find myself writing down all of the things that I want to do differently in 2010, on January 8th I’m still working on half of them, and by January 15th I’ve lost the list and can’t remember what it was I wanted to change in the first place! Like most people, however, the more accountability I have, the more successful I will be. If I try to go it alone, I am probably doomed, but if I go with others, I am more likely to make it.

All of this is to first of all say a big CONGRATULATIONS! to all who began reading through the Bible in Two Years way back on January 1st, 2008, and made it to the end of the Bible last week! Whether you chose to read just the New Testament, the Old Testament, or the entire Bible, great job to all who stuck with it, fell behind but caught back up, and didn’t give up along the way. My journey was certainly challenging, but in the end I finished my readings on January 1st, 2010. My goal, in order to raise the accountability factor, was to leave a comment every day on one of the passages on the Bible in Two Years webpage. And I was successful at that for a long time – maybe fifteen months or so. And then I began to fall behind… and then some more… and before I knew it I was over three months behind heading into December! But I was able to catch up, and found that I really enjoyed reading some of the books all in one sitting as opposed to breaking them up over the course of a month.

Now that we’re in 2010, we’re turning our focus as a church to a new discipline: Scripture memorization. Some of you love memorizing God’s Word; some of you struggle at it, but we all need to be challenged to hide His Word in our hearts for many reasons. The first is that meditating on His word will transform our hearts and minds and make us more like Jesus. The second reason is that it is His truth that sets us free from sin and slavery to the lies of the enemy, so that we truly know who we are in Christ. The third is that His Word is the powerful sword of the Spirit with which we fight off Satan, our enemy, just as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness in Luke 4.

Every month, I will give you a verse of the month and challenge you to memorize it and meditate on it, allowing it transform you by its power and truth. I will also include three related verses for those who want more of a challenge, and a whole chapter for those really brave souls. We will have memory aides for you available at church, and an insert in the bulletin with all of the verses printed out. The last Sunday of every month in 2010, I will preach on the month’s memory verse, and there will be an opportunity for testimonies on what the particular verse means for you.

The memory verse for January is 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

The three related verses are:

Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.
and chapter are included as an attachment to this email (or in the letter if you got this by mail). The verses for this month highlight the transformation that occurs when we come to faith in Christ; our old self dies and we are given new spiritual life by God’s Holy Spirit, freeing us from the penalty and power of sin and giving us a desire for God, for His Word, and for fellowship with those who know Him. As you meditate on these powerful verses, may you be set free from the lies of the enemy, and may your mind and heart be transformed by His transformative love for you!

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