The Sunday School asked if it would be possible to encourage the children to learn 10 Bible verses.
We are all aware of how powerful modern weapons are and how destructive they can be. It is quite a thought to watch footage of the Dresden bombing of WWII or the Clydebank Blitzand then realise that our armed forces have weapons which can unleash that level of destruction at the pushing of a button. If we look back 3,000 years a horse was about as powerful as weapons could be. Yet the history of the world is littered with examples of powerful armies being defeated by smaller ones. In life more generally we know that even the richest and most influential people do not always get their way and that despite our best efforts things go wrong in life. We need always to remember that authority rests in God. He is working his purpose out in ways we simply cannot see. The call to each of us is to learn to put our confidence in him and his promises rather than in ourselves.
5. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18: 24
Of the ten memory verses this is the only one chosen by me. The first thing to notice is the difference between companionship and friendship. A real friend is someone to whom we can tell anything and someone who will be honest when we ask for advice or direction. I remember being asked by a friend whether he thought that he should ask his girlfriend to marry him- everyone else was telling him to do so- I had reservations and told him so. Sadly the relationship ended but our friendship was cemented. There is real blessing in having friends who can offer criticism as well as praise. It may be that we need to pray for such a friend.However it is my belief that the friend who sticks closer than a brother is the Lord himself. We often sing the hymn ” What a friend we have in Jesus” when we are thinking about prayer. Yet the wonder of prayer is that we come to one who is our friend. A friend who has gone to the cross for us and who has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. When we looked at this verse on the 7th of February we asked ourselves the question ” Do we know Jesus as a friend who sticks closer than a brother?”
6. For I know the plans I have for you ” declares the Lord”, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Jeremiah was a prophet to people in exile. About 3 years before these words were given to him the elite of Judah had been taken into exile in Babylon. For the most part they were treated well and the King was received at the table of the Babylonians. However they longed to be home and back to their old roles in society. After 3 years many were beginning to say that the Lord would soon send them home. The message of Jeremiah was that they would not return and that exile would last for 70 years. However God had plans for his people. Sometimes our plans and Gods plans are different. As Christians the challenge is to allow ourselves to be led by him rather than by our own desires. At the same time it is a wonderful blessing to know that God is interested in us and willing to use us in his service.
7. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Paul wrote this letter whilst a Roman prisoner. A man who had been one of the most highly respected Jewish scholars with a glittering career before him had become a Christian and was now a prisoner whose very life was at stake. It is hard to understand just how difficult this must have been for Paul. He was a prisoner only because he had been faithful in his calling to Jesus; even as he wrote the letter he knew that some so called Christians were trying to undermine his work. So when he say rejoice in the Lord always he is looking at the walls of his cell and the soldiers who were guarding him. There is a song which used to be sung at Billy Graham meetings. It is called I’d rather have Jesus and it has the line; I’d rather have Jesus than anything the world affords today.
8. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. John 1:1
Some people are happy to agree that Jesus was a good man, even that he was the greatest man ever born but not to accept his claim to be God. At the beginning of John’s Gospel we see this simple statement which is foundational in the Christian faith.Jesus is completely man and completely God -it is certainly a mystery but it is also true. It is also an amazing statement that Jesus was there at the beginning. It is very hard to get to the beginning of anything; but Jesus was there at the beginning of everything.
9. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20
The door is the door into our hearts, our lives. Only we can open it and Jesus stands outside gently knocking. If we open the door he comes into our lives and turns them upside down; but so many of us just ignore the knocking and seek our assurance and peace elsewhere. This is a verse not only to remember but to respond to. Have we opened the door into our hearts?
10. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
We have left this verse till last but it is probably the best loved verse in the Bible. It tells us that God loves the whole world and that he loves it so much that he would give the very greatest thing and the most unique thing to save it. Not to save it for a moment but to save us for eternity. We have a choice and the choice is entirely our own. The promise for whoever believes in him. As we memorise this verse we need to understand that memorising verses is no substitute for believing in him.