Summer 2024

THE INCREASE: Shift in perspective - Mark Appel

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” —Psalm 1:1-2

Having recently been sent down to Florida for rehab after a shoulder strain, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands. While working towards recovery, I’ve decided to challenge myself to use this extra time to dive into God’s Word more; specifically to memorize more verses. What I’ve discovered is that the more time I take to memorize Scripture, the more the Holy Spirit brings these passages and truths up in situations I encounter and conversations I have with others.

It’s one thing to be able to recite Scripture from memory, but being able to figure out what the content is saying — what it means, why it’s important, and how it applies to our lives today — is a whole other ballgame. I don’t want to use this time to simply be able to rattle off words, but to really know and meditate on the truths of God’s Word.

As I’ve been going through my daily Bible reading plan this year, I recently read through Matthew 5-7, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is the single most powerful and important sermon ever given in the history of the world. When we read these three chapters, we can discover all the challenging, convicting and loving components that represent what the Christian life is all about. So I’ve decided to memorize it. This will take time, effort, commitment and a lot of going to the Lord in prayer to ask Him to reveal His truths. I also want to gain greater insight about this part of the Gospel by listening to sermons from Biblical teachers and asking other Christians I know to be strong in their faith.

I want to be a guy who is able to bring up Scripture passages from memory and teach others why they’re important. I want to be able to share why I’ve tucked this truth away in my heart and committed it to memory.

Back in 2015 while I was playing for the Astros AAA team in Fresno, I had a moment like this that I’ll never forget. My glove has “Romans 12:2” stitched into it, which says:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As I was stretching before a game, one of my teammates saw the verse and asked me what it was. I recited the verse to him, and then he asked me what exactly that meant. I was so excited to be able to explain the truth of this powerful verse to him, putting it in words he could understand.

Earlier this year, I received a text from him saying that one of the guys on his new team had been really pouring into him and he’s now committed his life to Christ. I was so encouraged! I know this guy had a long journey to Christ, having had many people who shared Christ’s love with him over the course of his career. The fact that he thought to shoot me a text and share the great news of his newfound salvation meant a lot to me.

I know sharing a verse with my teammate was only one small part of a large chain of events that led him to Christ. It wasn’t the start of his spiritual journey, but it was a piece of it. Knowing that at anytime I could be playing a role in what God is doing in someone else’s heart is a really cool reality! This is all part of the process of making disciples. Jesus’ disciples learned from Jesus, who spent time memorizing and understanding Scripture. Jesus knew the law of God backward and forward; He could recite any part of it to anyone in any situation. He spoke truth and taught sermons from God’s Word everywhere He went.

If we want to be like Christ, we need to take action and study God’s Word. By speaking God’s Word in conjunction with the Holy Spirit’s power within us, we can bring life to someone’s area of darkness or soften a hard heart towards Christ.

When I have an active goal to memorize Scripture, I find that I always have it on my mind, aware of its truth. One of my favorite verses that I have memorized and tucked away in my heart, which encourages me often is Romans 8:28:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This verse assures me that God is in control of all things. It promises me that I’m someone who is loved by God and called according to His purpose. I can see that all things are for His glory and my good. As I am fully convinced of these things, I can then go to prayer before God with the confidence of His sovereignty. Instead of listing off my worries and fears, I can reset my perspective on God’s perfect plan, trusting Him to work all things for His good.

Go and memorize a verse or two. Not to build up your pride in your knowledge, but to be transformed by the Word of God and to be ready to share the reason you have your hope in Christ.

Mark Appel

Mark Appel was the number one overall pick by the Houston Astros in 2013. Currently, he’s pitching in the Philadelphia Phillies organization at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.

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