Faded Flowers and Forever Words (Isaiah 40:8)
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. —Isaiah 40:8
In Isaiah 40:6, the voice of the Lord says to the prophet, “Cry!” and the prophet asks, “What shall I cry?”
Isaiah 40:8, our first Fighter Verse of 2022, summarizes the Lord’s response to this question—namely, that like everything in the world, all humanity is withering and fading away. But God’s Word is not so. It does not wither. It does not fade away, because God is not like flowers or grass or people. The Word of God stands forever because the eternal God stands forever. God and His Word endure throughout all generations.
In my office hangs a page from the 1549 edition of the Matthew-Tyndale Bible. There is a great and moving history behind that Bible, but as I look at it, what moves me the most is that the words printed on that page brought comfort, instruction, encouragement, and hope to their first reader, as they do to me 473 years later. They were words of life then; they are still words of life today. Every blade of grass, every single flower from 1549 has vanished, but every word in that Bible still stands and has proven true in every generation. When that first reader’s life was withering away, the words of life in that Bible mattered more than anything.
In January, 1997, we launched the Fighter Verse program in our church. One of our elderly members, Martha Larson, along with her adult daughter, were among those who took up the challenge. In the first week of March, Martha’s body withered away, and in God’s gracious providence, Psalm 73:25-26 was the Fighter Verse appointed for that week. On Martha’s lips in the last week of her life were the immortal words, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
If our withering lives endure another year, we will have 525,600 minutes entrusted to us. I invite you to join me in spending at least 2,000 of them—about 5 minutes a day—memorizing, meditating on, and applying the 2022 Fighter Verses. Look ahead at some upcoming verses and consider the benefits if your mind is saturated and your soul is satisfied with these words of God.
By the middle of March I want to be able to fluently exalt the Lord from Psalm 103:1-4:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name!…forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy…
What is coming the week of March 27, when we will be reminded to, “Let no corrupting talk come out of [our] mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Perhaps the week of April 24 we will be resisting temptation with Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:17: “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
What might we be facing on May 1, when our Savior comforts us, saying, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
What might happen on June 19 that makes Peter’s exhortation and assurance especially timely? “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
In September a fresh wind of confidence may revive our spirits as we remember that our “…God will supply every need of [ours] according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
How comforting it could be in October to have Paul’s assurance that:
This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Perhaps on November 27, we, or someone we love, will need the assurance of Romans 14:7-8: “…none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's."
If we persevere to the last week of this year, we will commit to memory the words we will declare in the age to come, when, in the new heavens and the new earth, withering grass, and flowers, and flesh will be no more. In that great day our voices will join with many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13)
May the living, abiding, and forever-standing Word of God abide in us and flow from us in the coming year.
What activities compete for your time and attention, making it hard to memorize Scripture?
What changes could you make to your schedule to allow for 15 minutes a week to memorize verses (go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, watch less TV, spend less time on social media, etc.)?
Consider asking friends or fellow church members to memorize with you for encouragement, support, and accountability.
David Michael is co-founder and Executive Director of Truth 78. For 28 years (1986-2013) he served under the shepherding ministry of John Piper—the last 16 years as the Pastor for Parenting and Family Discipleship. He and his wife, Sally, have two daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren. David says that memorizing Scripture has been one of the most effective ways to apply Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”