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If you’ve been following along with me this year, you know that one of my goals for 2018 was to memorize a verse or short passage of Scripture every month. This wasn’t the first time I’ve set this goal, but my experience this year was far deeper and richer than any other time I’ve memorized God’s word.

This year I went beyond committing each month’s verse to memory: I sat with the passages, allowing them to seep into my soul and inform my life. And each month, as I spent time in His Word, God spoke to me, encouraged me, and made His presence known—proving that His Word is indeed living and active, as relevant to me in my life today as when it was first recorded.  

My verse for December reminds me of the power in God’s word. All Scripture comes from the Lord and exists to equip His children for the good works He has prepared for us. It is a tool, a weapon, a source of comfort, a roadmap for life, and one of our primary connections to the Creator of the Universe. When we invest in studying Scripture, it has a way of settling into our existence and making its presence known in our thoughts, actions, and words. 

Because my experience with memorizing Scripture this year was such a beautiful one, there was no question of whether or not to carry the ritual into 2019. I’ll absolutely continue to commit a new verse to memory each month, and I’ll be sharing my reflections as I go. Before moving onto a new year and a new batch of verses, I wanted to take some time this month to reflect on the passages that have carried me through 2018.

I’ve never been comfortable with the way Christmas festivities get jumbled together with end-of-year reflections in December; I struggle to reconcile the sacredness of the Holiday Season with the businesslike Best-Of lists and matter-of-fact Round-Ups. But this end-of-year recollection fits with the season: each verse is a unique gift from God, ready to be unwrapped and savored anew this Christmas season. Join me in opening these divine presents from God’s word.

January Verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

January Takeaways:

“When I stray too far from the truths of God’s Word, I find I am easily swayed by popular opinions and even the self-defeating lies I tell myself. These verses remind me of the importance of fact-checking against Scripture—and in order to do this, I need to regularly study God’s Word so that I’m familiar with the Ultimate Truth.”

God holds His children to a high standard, but He doesn’t ask us to follow His principles on our own. He promises to walk beside us, showing us the right path and holding our hand as we follow it.”

February Verses: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

February Takeaway: 

“I have already received that recognition [as Jesus’ daughter]—NOTHING can change that—but I want my life to be one that is worthy of the calling. Through His power, and by His grace, I can bear good fruit. My life can become one characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. And when this fruit is present in my life, it brings glory to God. This is the ultimate prize.”

March Verses: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

March Takeaway:

“Scripture reminds me that the ultimate source of All Good Things cannot be found here. Not in grand adventures or simple comforts, not even in life’s most beautiful moments. Those good things are a mere reflection of the glory that awaits, the glory that will be ours when we join our Lord in Heaven.”

April Verse: 1 Peter 3:15

April Takeaways:

“When I grow more deeply in love with my Lord and Savior, and pursue Him more wholeheartedly, my reason for following Him becomes more clear: as I study the Scriptures, I see the amazing ways that He has proven Himself faithful; as I invite Him into my daily life, and He continuously shows up, my faith is deepened; as I live in community with other believers, and witness God’s work in their lives, I understand their why and become more convicted of my own.”

“Just knowing why I believe isn’t enough. I also need to be prepared to share my why with others. This requires practice and an alertness to the questions on others’ lips or hearts.”

“When I do provide an answer, it must be given with kindness, gentleness, respect, grace, love.”

May Verses: Lamentations 3:21-23

May Takeaway: 

“I don’t need to rely on myself to get everything done, or even to fix the feeling of needing to get everything done. Our Lord is a compassionate Father who helps shoulder our burdens. He will never let me down—that is one thing I don’t ever need to worry or stress about.”

June Verses: Psalm 91:1-4

June Takeaways:

“I realized that, while I’d spent plenty of time praying for rest, I hadn’t spent much time resting in prayer itself. Psalm 91 tells us that whoever dwells with the Lord will rest in His shadow. Simply being in God’s presence provides the restoration and rejuvenation our souls seek.”

“We all encounter different snares; mine is an overactive mind and an inability to simply be. But the Lord is faithful, and He promises to cover me with His love and protection—to wage battle with my inner demons on my behalf, and to bring rest for my soul.”

July Verses: Ephesians 3:16-19

July Takeaways: 

“[God] created us, and in order to fully understand who we are as HIS masterpieces, we must become acquainted with our maker. As we spend time with Him (and not just asking Him to be with us), we understand His heart behind creating each of us as we are. And when we embrace our identity as His, the shackles of shame and insecurity begin to fall away.”

“Love is at the core of who our Father is, and it is this love that informs who we are as His masterpieces. Christ’s love that is in us has the power to eviscerate the lies that threaten to take us down. When we rest into the Lord and become firmly established in His love, we reflect His glory and are emboldened to embrace our status as the handiwork of the Most High God.”

August Verses: Ephesians 4:29-30

August Takeaways: 

“Our words can be a gift, but they can also be a weapon. They can build others up, or tear them down. And a few harshly spoken phrases can demolish the good fruit cultivated by years of well-chosen words. . . This is especially important in times of heightened emotion, when we need to remember to respond thoughtfully rather than lashing out in anger and wielding the power of our tongue in ways we will later regret.”

“My tendency is to speak cruel, demoralizing words to myself to the point where I buy into the negativity. These crippling messages are NOT helpful or beneficial, and they do not serve to build me up. This month, as I focus on speaking words that are edifying and filled with God’s truth, I am remembering to apply these practices to my inner dialogue, too.”

“We are His beloved children, and we should act in a manner that represents His holiness. We do this when we surrender our words to Him, capturing our thoughts and making our subsequent words obedient to Christ.”

September Verses: Psalm 86:4-8

September Takeaways:

“Against all expectation, the Lord extends a benevolent arm across that formidable abyss and grasps my hand. With His secure hand over mine, I am able to bypass all laws of physics and my own insecurities and cross over the chasm into His welcoming embrace.”

“I cry out to the Lord because I know He will hear me. He will answer. He will sit with me in my pain and He will restore a joyful spirit within me. He will receive me with arms wide open, ready to cover me with His enduring love.”

October Verse: Psalm 31:19

October Takeaways:

“Is God able to give me what I think I want? I believe He is. But I also believe that when I’m asking for what I want, I’m praying too small. I become so distracted by my own superficial desires that I end up relinquishing the wealth of riches that are available when I leave the gift-giving process up to God.”

“God wants me to desire Him more than I desire the fulfillment of my personal plans. When I desire God, I am giving Him the keys to my car, and He is a much better driver.”

“Acknowledging God as the Ultimate Reward sometimes feels like I’m settling for less than the best, as though I’m somehow being shortchanged. Perhaps this is because I’ve accepted a watered down relationship. . . . [but] it is this deep, abiding, flourishing, intimate knowledge and relationship with God that is the good gift that’s in store for us as believers.

November Verses: Exodus 15:2-3

November Takeaways: 

“We struggle to understand a God who is captivating, but not always palatable; beautiful, yet rarely pretty; loving while also fierce and uncivilized. We fail to see ALL of who God is and it leads us to question His goodness.”

“He is a Warrior. He is Supreme. He is worthy of all of my praise and exaltation, even when He seems silent. He hears each prayer, and even when His answers are unclear, I can trust that He loves me and has my best interest in mind. In calm and in storm, I will praise His name.”

How abundant are the good gifts God has lavished upon me with these passages! I am eternally thankful for the Good Gift of His vibrant Word, for the Holy Spirit within me that enables me to interpret these Scriptures, and for a Loving Heavenly Father who desires to dialogue with His children.

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