On the first day of my seminary Old Testament survey class, my professor listed about a dozen scripture verses for us to memorize. Even in the mid 1980s, this kind of teaching was considered antiquated. The days of Presbyterian kids having to memorize Bible verses and the Westminster Shorter Catechism for confirmation were long gone. We chafed at parroting words rather than engaging in deeper exegetical exploration. My professor was unmoved. He said, “Every Christian should have certain verses burned into memory. They will remind you of what is truly important. They should be a central part of who you are. There are certain things you should know by heart.”
The author of Second Timothy is writing his young protégé from prison. Ironically, he, the prisoner, is the one trying to encourage and comfort. The times are confusing and uncertain. His friend is sinking into immobility. The writer had no books or better management strategies to offer his young friend. Yet he had something of even greater value. He knew it from memory. The author tells him to recall what is central to their very identity: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David.” That is what all this fuss and effort is really about. If he can remember that, then the rest will take care of itself.
Few things are more destructive than spiritual amnesia—getting so caught up in what we are doing that we forget why we do it in the first place. As Christians, we are responsible for many things. Above all, however, we are to remember. Remember is a word that traverses the entirety of scripture. Perhaps my professor was right. Our most important spiritual discipline is to remember what matters most: Jesus Christ, crucified and raised. There just are some things we should know by heart.
Dear Jesus Christ, in days that are hectic and filled with the attitude of “just get it done,” help me remember why I am here and the plan you have for me. Amen.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle Paul is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.