Have you ever had that moment where you realized God is giving you an opportunity to choose to be pleasing to Him rather than yourself? That moment of pause before you respond with anger, frustration, or a sharpness that is meant to hurt?
Wouldn’t it be nice if in that moment the truth of God’s Word could be instantly and powerfully called to mind so that you can do what you were designed to do, namely be pleasing to Him, the one who created you and redeemed you in Christ.
Likewise, if a friend were to share with you struggles they were having, wouldn’t it be refreshing to offer him the wisdom of God, rather than your own human wisdom?
The Key: Memorization
Hiding God’s word in your heart is the best way to prepare yourself to please God in that moment of temptation, as well as speak a word that is delightful and timely (Proverbs 15:23). After all, Christ responded to Satan’s temptation with Scripture (Matt 4:1-10), and he constantly wove God’s word into everyday conversations.
They key is having God’s word on the tip of your toungue so you can battle the curse of sin that affects the mind.
This isn’t a “take 2 verses of scripture,” simple solution to life’s challenges, but it is a way to focus on God’s strength rather than your own and meditate on who He is. Let our prayer be that of the psalmist when he says,
“Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.” Ps 119:27
There are a number of bible memorization lists on the Internet. What I want to talk about today is the actual process of memorizing. How can it be fun, effective, and memorable, and how can we leverage some simple technology to remember the promises and commands of God.
The first is a low-tech solution. It involves a 3×5 index card (both sides) and a pen. One side has the verse printed out, and the other side has just the first letter of each word. After you get comfortable with the verse, you switch to just the letters and recite the verse using the letters as helps. Then you eventually drop the card out of sight and go from pure memory.
I like to play a two person game at this point called memory tennis. This is when you and a friend go back and forth, each reciting the next word. The goal is to just get familiar with the words in a fun way. Later you can go back and forth with phrases. You can also just write out the verse by hand a few times. That physical process really helps you get the words into your head.
After getting familiar with the words, I have found it most helpful to really connect the phrases, break the verse into phrases or chunks, and let the meaning of each chunk be your meditation and help move you to the next verse.
For example, I have used 1 Cor 10:13 on my note card. This is one of my favorite verses because each chunk is incredibly helpful and meaningful.
Don’t just get the words right, really think about what each phrase means. Take 1 Cor 10:13 for example.
- “No temptation has overtaken you but such is common to man”
- What I am going through is not unique to me – I need to really get that so I don’t isolate myself and think my struggle is too tough and hopeless. Idolatry is the heart bent of us all, and we each have idols that are often very similar.
- “and God is faithful”
- My hope is in God and his eternal faithfulness, not my ingenuity or my will power or resourcefulness–or even my circumstance being what I want them to be. Everyone has idolatry and everyone needs to focus on the faithfulness of God.
- “Who will not allow you to to be tempted beyond what you are able”
- God is in control, and he decides the degree of my temptation. He is faithful to have a purpose to my struggle, my temptation. He is not going to put me in a position in which I can’t call out to Him for help and His faithfulness and get assistance. God is the perfect instructor who knows exactly what we need to grow and be challenged to draw closer to him.
- “but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also”
- God will provide a way of escape, but with the temptation….that blows my mind, and I love chewing on the fact that God will provide a way of escape but that the temptation will remain. God is going to change me to handle idolatry, not just make the idols go away. If you struggle with the fear of man, God wants to change you and your desire of people’s approval rather than just taking people out of your life. Man, that means I have to change from the inside out; he isn’t just going to make my life easier from the outside! I need to be reminded of that when I just want everyone and everything to go away.
- “so that you will be able to endure it”
- I will, by God’s faithfulness and His sovereign plan, be able to endure what ever challenges and temptations He allows into my life. I am going to stand up under the pressure of this world and grow stronger. I’ll grow to be more like my Savior in endurance, perseverance, long suffering, patience, kindness and other fruit of the spirit. I will then be able to flee from idolatry as I draw closer to my faithful God.
When you think about what each phrase means, you are more likely to remember the words that make up that phrase as well as be challenged to change and grow in practical situations.
I call this “theology memorizing,” and 1 Cor 10:13 has stuck with me for a long time and really helped me grow compared to just rote memorization of the individual words that make up a passage.
In a future post I want to address some high tech tools to memorize scripture, such as web-pages, smart-phone apps etc. However, there are some really simple tech things anyone can do to keep God’s Word in front of them.
- You could also use your screen saver to flash the verse across your screen in a moving marquee.
- Make your own desktop background with Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop like the one below. Every so often hit Windows Key + D and flash to the verse you are working on and test yourself.
If you have found other helpful ways to memorize, please share what you have found.