GETTING BACK TO THE WORD
Jesus condemned the Pharisees and scribes--citing Isaiah--for 'teaching as doctrines the precepts of men' (Matt. 15:8-9). They had obscured God's revealed word with their own traditions, opinions and preferences. Man has a way of doing that. God's word is our anchor; the further we move from it the quicker we're going to get into trouble. A trend in sermons is to do just that: discuss pop psychology or engage in sensitivity training instead of featuring God's word. It sounds nice, but it doesn't do anybody any good in their relationship with God.
The returning Jewish exiles discovered that in the day of Ezra when he read the Law of God. They wept as they realized they hadn't been doing what God expected. They were told, don't mourn but be joyful! Now is the time to return to godly practices. The result was the Festival of Booths was observed for the first time since Joshua's day. Some today dismiss the usefulness of restoring New Testament practices in the modern organization and work of the church. But Nehemiah's record shows us how important it is to base what we do on God's word. Each generation has the responsibility to investigate its own practices in light of Scripture and make changes accordingly. Do we really know what we're saying when we dismiss the Word of the eternal God as irrelevant for today?
Ben Patterson's article 'The Word Unplugged' has a nice discussion of letting God's word speak for itself. Patterson and two other men memorized Revelation and recited it before the church they attend. Amazingly, people sat there and listened. Often we don't give people enough credit; and often we don't have the faith in God's word we ought to have.
Memorization of Scripture is something I've focused on lately. I have primarily worked on passages teaching foundational doctrines, but I intend eventually to work toward lengthier passages. When we read the teachings of Jesus we see the amazing command of Scripture He demonstrated. If we want to be pleasing to God, it all starts with what He has revealed.