I’ve read the Bible in many different ways over the years as well as in many group Bible studies. One of the most helpful and challenging ways I have read the Bible involved a study of the commands of Jesus. A speaker at a conference in July 2004 prompted this. A remarkable, Spirit filled Christian, she said “I was on the remedial path (in the Christian life) until I studied the commands of Jesus.”
I decided to try it.
I immersed myself in “the red words” in the Bible. I compiled all the commands of Jesus in the four gospels combining those that repeat. This alone stunned me. For instance, how often He said “Listen?” Do we listen? We don’t listen very well or very much. Knowing how important this is helps me listen much more.
Listing his commands helped me know more clearly what’s important and keeps my focus more on Him and His word. It’s awesome to think of the fact that these “red words” are the very words of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And He said them not just to his followers then but to all of us who now follow Him.
Here’s his first command and my journal comments about it.
Matt 4:17 Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
Mark 1:15 The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.
Luke 13:3 Unless you repent you too will all perish.
Luke 13:5 Unless you repent you too will perish.
I turned away from you after knowing you well in my youth. I wandered far from you and from your church. You accepted me back even before I repented but led me on a path of repentance following that. Working The Twelve Steps for Christians in 1992 was quite a revelation to me, especially the searching and fearless moral inventory. As you know I then repented big time - writing thirty letters to those I had harmed including one to you and one to your church. This was a scary step but very helpful and your acceptance and forgiveness and that of the church opened my heart to you more and lifted a load from my heart.
This spring I journaled Psalm 51 in which David is repenting all his sins and this brought me to repentance on some issues that I had not been conscious of before. Your love was there forgiving me.
The “little sins” are the ones I “forget” to repent about now. Help me be aware of times when I’m irritable, critical, picky, self-focused or unloving in any way and help me turn around and go the way of your love. Change my heart, O Lord.