So now that I’m done sewing quilts (for a while) and buying baby clothes, I’ve started working on a new project that I think is far more important than sewing or shopping. It’s a project that I’ve been thinking about for some time now, and yesterday I finally just said, “what the heck – why not?” and I started working on it. I’m making myself some scripture memory cards. They’re not fancy. They’re not particularly pretty either, but they’ll serve my purpose.
Yes, I’m sure I could have gone to the Christian bookstore and picked up a pack of memory verse cards, but I wanted to make my own cards. There are certain verses that I’ve highlighted in my Bible that have held significant meaning for me; whether they came out of a sermon, prayer, or my own personal Bible study and those are the verses I want to learn by heart first.
Yesterday, I started my project by going through the New Testament and today I’m going to go through the Old Testament. I’ve currently completed 32 cards – each containing four verses. My goal is to memorize at least two new verses a week.
The Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 11:18 “So commit yourselves completely to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.”
God has written us one of the most beautiful love letters ever – it’s the Bible. In it, we are given all the instructions we will ever need about how to live, how to raise our children, how to pray, how to trust and live by faith, how to combat temptation, how to witness to others, how to worship, how to triumph over evil, how to love our spouse, how to care for our neighbors, and it’s filled with promise after promise that can lift our spirits and encourage us when we’re in despair.
For many ‘Christian’ families, their Bibles only get opened about 50 times a year (or less). If we’re not reading God’s word, how can we expect to know what God’s will is for our lives? How can we understand his desires for us? How can we know what he expects of us as Christians? How can we pray to him in earnest if we don’t even understand how we’re supposed to pray? How can we expect to triumph over temptation, or even recognize it when we’re not grounded in our moral code?
“Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “The door to heaven is narrow. Work hard to get in, because many will try to enter, but when the head of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. Then you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I do not know you.’ You will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you and you taught in our streets.’ [attending church and taking communion] And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I do not know you. Go away, all you do is evil.’ Luke 13:23-27
Those are some very powerful words. And somewhat scary to me to think how easy it might be to be left behind, as it were, because I didn’t do my part to “work hard”. And no, I’m not saying that we can ‘work our way into heaven’ with our head knowledge and good deeds; but I know that what goes in must come out, and I want it to be God’s word that’s going in so that it’s also God’s word that’s coming back out.
When I was a kid I was involved in Quizzing (Bible Bowl), and one of the fun and most challenging things about Quizzing was the scripture memorization. For whatever reason I seem to have a mental block when it comes to instrumental music and scripture memorization. I took piano and cello lessons for several years as a child and I never once played in a recital because I could never memorize a piece of music. I had the same kind of trouble with scripture memorization – it took me ages to learn the a handful of scriptures I needed for Quizzing, and because I didn’t stick with it, I’ve now forgotten those verses.
I also remember in Sunday school, VBS and camp we’d get special prizes if we were able to memorize certain scriptures. At the end of the summer or at the end of VBS/camp all the kids who’d been given special recognition for their memory verses would get to stand up in front of the church on Sunday morning and proudly recite their memory verses. It seems to me that over the years scripture memorization has diminished in importance in our churches. I can recall a time when my mom, brother, and I would sit down together on a Sunday afternoon and look at our Sunday school scripture for the week or our Quizzing scriptures and we’d work on it together. How many parents today are teaching their children to memorize scripture? Likewise, how many churches are encouraging their congregation to memorize scripture?
God’s word is a powerful tool to us as Christians. It gives us hope and comfort, and it helps us recognize and resit temptations that come our way. If you’ve been a believer for very long, I’m sure you’ve heard stories from missionaries about how important Scripture memorization is for them in being able to reach people with God’s word, even when they didn’t have their Bible’s handy.
Every day many of our Christian brothers and sisters in China and Asia are being thrown into prison camps because of their belief in Jesus Christ. In those camps they are beaten, starved, tortured, humiliated, isolated, and they’re completely without their Bibles. But if you’ve ever listened to their stories they will tell you that because they knew God’s word – they’d “hidden it in their hearts” – that even without their Bibles, in the midst of their terrible suffering they were able to draw strength and encouragement from his word as scripture after scripture came to mind.
You see, the government may one day take away our Bibles, they may close down our churches, they may take away all our earthy possessions and throw us in jail because we are Christians, but the one thing they can not take away is your knowledge. So I urge you today to make a commitment to yourself and to God to learn his word. It only takes a few minutes each day to read over a scripture or two and commit it to memory. Many of us can listen to a song or watch a movie just once and remember at least one or two lines verbatim – so we know we have the ability to commit things to memory, but do we have the will power? Don’t be one of the millions who’ll be standing on the wrong side of the locked door, crying out for God to open it to you – only to be turned away because he does not know you.