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May
31

What Do We Do with the Bible? (part 3) We Memorize It

Many of us have convinced ourselves that we can no longer memorize; our memory banks are filled up. But we can remember locker combinations from High School, birthdays of second cousins, pithy bumper stickers, and every cruel word anyone has ever said against us. Our memory banks are just fine. But Satan does not want God’s words in our minds, so it’s a fight.

 

We memorize Scripture passages so that God’s words are on the tip of our tongue. We memorize so that our minds are saturated with the words of God. As the Psalmist says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (119:11, ESV). We memorize because that is the pattern Jesus left for us; when tempted he quoted Scripture back to Satan (Matthew 4:4-10).

There are many systems out there to help you. Desiring God Ministries has what they call “Fighter Verses,” which are cards with memory verses. They are well worth purchasing. What I like to do is read in the Bible until one verse or thought or idea hits me. I stop and mediate on it, and sometimes decide to memorize it. I remember coming across Ephesians 4:32 in the midst of a difficult time. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” No matter how cruel anyone has been to me, I haven’t yet been crucified. My response is to be that of Jesus on the cross, who forgave his executioners. I’m not there yet, but I do understand that my response is to be kind, with a tender heart, forgiving them as Christ has forgiven me. I wrote the verse out on a card and taped it to the refrigerator door where I couldn’t miss it.

Life becomes difficult. You feel that the path is too hard. You remember that somewhere Jesus said we bear his yoke, but the yoke seems so heavy and we think Jesus said the yoke would be “easy.” Then we remember the verse because we memorized it. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). And so we believe that his yoke is easy and we will find rest, because God said so.

Or we become lonely. A psychologist friend of mine says that one of the greatest problems in this country today is that we are lonely. We have more toys than anyone else but no one to play with. But then we remember our memory verse, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Even if we can’t find a single person with whom to watch the basketball game, we know that Jesus will; and as we walk further down the path, we learn that he is enough. Actually, he is more than enough.

Approximations don’t cut it. You are in a time of stress and anxiousness. You remember that Scripture says something about worry, you think there is a promise in there somewhere, but you’re not sure because you can’t remember the words. How much better to memorize, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Hearts saturated with Scripture, his words on the tip of our tongue.

About Bill Mounce

Bill lives as a writer in Washougal, WA. He is also the President of BiblicalTraining.org, a non-profit organization offering world-class educational resources for equipping leaders in the local church, and Research Professor in New Testament at Western Seminary. Bill is the author of the bestselling Greek textbook Basics of Biblical Greek, Greek for the Rest of Us, and many other resources. Bill was also the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and is currently serving on the New International Version translation committee.

Comments

  1. Patrick Serban says:

    Bill, thank you for your writings on this blog and for the reminder about memorizing scripture. It’s so tempting to say, “I believe somewhere in Romans Paul says….” But that always sounds and feels like I am slighting God and His Word.

    Thanks again for the reminder and the practical applications.