Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I attend a Bible Study geared toward (or at least primarily populated by) folks in the entertainment industry. I was going to relate an analogy that someone recently used because I thought it was an effective image, but in the weekly recap email, our teacher Gary passed it along; so I thought I'd just reprint that.
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One of our regulars at the weekly studies has decided to move back to New York. Although He's done a number of things in the business since coming here, his true passion is live theater, in particular musical theater, hence the desire to go back. He's been coming to the studies for more than three years, and has become a friend. I will miss him!
As we were reminiscing, he commented about where he was and where he is now spiritually, and in passing said something profound, and biblical. He realized that he has been cleansed by the Word of God. Like all of us, he has his areas of sin, some of which have been difficult to leave behind, something he has been very open about both with me and in the studies. But he recognized that by continuously feeding the Word of God into his heart and mind over the last three years, he has been cleansed significantly. And although he struggles, again as we all do, his flesh no longer controls him to the degree it once did.
While trying to help me understand what he was saying he said, "Picture a basket woven out of reeds. You fill it with water, and if you don't use it right away, the water runs out. You fill it up again, and it leaks out again. You have to keep refilling it. but in the process, the woven reeds that make up the basket get cleaner each time the water seeps out through them." Similarly, we fill ourselves up with the Word of God, but if we don't apply all that we've read, some of it seeps out through our flesh. So we keep refilling our heart and mind with His Word, and some of it keeps seeping out, but each time our flesh becomes just a little bit cleaner. The Apostle Paul speaks to this in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 25-27:
25) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (NKJV)
Christ cleanses us with "-- the washing of water by the Word, --" that we might arrive at the marriage supper of the Lamb with no spots, nothing spoiled, nothing even wrinkled. "That's all well and good," you say, "but I've been reading the bible for years, yet I've made little progress in some areas. I know I'm grieving God, but I'm not always able to resist the temptations." Well, there's another step, another way to stop soiling ourselves so frequently. Psalm 119 verse 9-11 explains the step:
9) How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10) With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11) Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (NKJV)
Almost without exception one of the things every good bible teacher or preacher will strongly recommend is the memorization of scripture. The psalmist explains one of the most important reasons for doing so: "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You." If we memorize scripture, then the Word of God will be right there, safely tucked away in our hearts, easily available for the Holy Spirit to bring to our conscious minds when temptations hit. When we're on the verge of falling, we may not remember what the preacher said last week, or even what we read in the bible this morning, but we will remember what we've previously memorized.
Why don't you try it? For example, if you struggle with anger, look up "anger" in a concordance to find a list of applicable verses. Pick out one or two and memorize them. Then watch how God the Holy Spirit uses those verses the next time you feel yourself losing control. If you don't have a concordance, they're readily available on a number of Christian websites. For example, try http://bible.crosswalk.com/Concordances/
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If youâ€™re in the LA area and would like to join the studies, or would like to get on the list to receive his weekly email teaching, or have question, you can contact Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome.