I thought I had it all going for me. I was living the dream in the greatest country in the world. I was the youngest homeowner in one of the richest counties in America. Did I mention I had a mint condition candy apple red 1966 Mustang Convertible, and my family owned a lucrative construction company. Socially, things were very exciting. I was rubbing shoulders with really famous people like Michael Jordan, Julia Roberts, and the list goes on and on. Of course, I thought I had it all going for me! Boy was I wrong.
Even though I had been saved for almost my whole life, I just knew I was on the wrong track and on the wrong train spiritually and was going nowhere fast. I needed to do something about it and quick. Sure, I was going to church just about every Sunday and I wasn’t a bad person by any means, but I was not walking with the Lord as closely as I knew I should have been. We have all felt that way before or know of someone who has. I was looking for answers.
I am sure you have been able to relate to Bible characters at different times of your life, haven’t you? At this time, I could really relate to Abraham. I needed to obey God’s call on my life and leave my father and my mother and the land of my nativity and go to the place where God told me to go. I would never imagine the journey that God had in store for me would have me living in Jerusalem for four years, earning two master’s degrees there, marrying my wife in the Old City of Jerusalem, being a father of four great kids, etc.
So, to make a long story short, I sold my house and that gorgeous car (I had to pay for college somehow!). I quit the family business, which promised a very comfortable life, and left Illinois behind to attend Shasta Bible College in Redding, California so I could become equipped to serve the Lord in full time ministry.
Right before I left, the pastor of my church encouraged me to memorize a short passage during my long drive to California; it was the passage in Matthew chapter 6 which speaks of faith and not worrying. All I had memorized at that time was Genesis 1:1 and John 3:16. I thought, “Who needs to memorize when I have numerous copies of the Bible?” but I decided I would take him up on the challenge. Well my friends, I have never regretted that fateful day I began to seriously memorize Scripture and neither will you.
The encouragement I have gained from memorizing that short passage on not worrying about tomorrow has guided me into a life of faith now headed on the right track and on the right train spiritually. In fact, one of the ministries I am a part of is like few others: it is called Wordsower and we tell the Bible word for word from memory dramatically as the sermon and also teach the techniques of how to memorize in Sunday School. The presentations are unique, it’s kind of like Moses is reciting Genesis 1-11 or the apostle John is reciting the entire book of Revelation right there in front of you. The word of God without anything added or taken away is so powerful, isn’t it? I really believe the Bible was originally meant more for the ears than the eyes. It’s like reading Mozart versus hearing Mozart. You can read Mozart on the page and can imagine hearing what it might sound like, but then to hear Mozart played really well by someone, it takes on a different life doesn’t it? It is similar with the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing!
I don’t know the entire Bible from heart, nobody does, but I can tell what I know from memory for over 14 hours straight. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else; it just goes to show how I believe in the power of putting as much as the Word of God in my heart as I possibly can. But we need to be motivated, don’t we?
It reminds me of what a Bible professor named Don Whitley once said, “What if I offered you one thousand dollars for every verse you could memorize in the next seven days? Do you think that your attitude towards Scripture memory and your ability to memorize would improve? Any financial reward would be minimal when compared to the accumulating value of the treasure of God’s Word deposited within your mind.”
It’s so true. The word of God is a treasure and there’s no safer place to put it than in our hearts. Memorizing individual Bible verses, sections, and even books has done more for my personal and spiritual growth than anything else. And it can do the same for you. It really is a forgotten discipline of our spiritual life. I believe the Bible when it says “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11), don’t you? And don’t you want to emulate the example of Jesus when He was being tempted by the Devil in the wilderness? Don’t you remember how He responded to those attacks? He quoted Scripture (Matthew 4:1-3)!
I would recommend first memorizing individual verses that have to do with problem areas in your spiritual walk like slander (James 4:11), worrying (Philippians 4:6), fear (2 Timothy 1:7), etc. Once memorized these verses can now come to mind immediately and correct our attitude and behavior so it will be in line with the will of God. Isn’t that awesome!
One of the problems many of our Christian brothers and sisters struggle with is discouragement and depression. I can’t help but remember what Nancy DeMoss said: “When I encounter someone, who is battling discouragement or depression, I often ask two questions: ‘Are you singing to the Lord? and ‘Are you memorizing Scripture?’ These two exercises are not some magical formula to make all our problems go away, but they do have incredible power to change our perspective and attitude towards the issues we are facing.”
Since we can easily get discouraged when things don’t go our way, I often recommend for people to memorize this short but powerful verse “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). If we can memorize that verse and apply the principles, which of course is the goal of memorization, then no matter what problem or struggle we may face, we will be able to respond accordingly and be in the will of God.
I want to encourage you to continue your personal growth in the Lord by doing something really difficult: memorizing the word of God. I know it is hard for us to memorize in this copy, paste, Facebook, Tweet, file and forget world we live in, and I know it is very time consuming. But dear friends, it is the precious Word of God and having it in our hearts and minds will help allow us to continue to be molded more and more into the children of God we ought to be.
As we begin the New Year, many of us want to “put off” (Ephesians 4:22), meaning to discontinue, things that might not be good for us. What better time than the New Year than to make a spiritual resolution to “put on” (Ephesians 4:24) the Word of God by memorizing it. You can do all things, even memorize Scripture, through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13)!
Tom Meyer, the “Bible Memory Man,” is a professor at Shasta Bible College and the author of The Memorization Study Bible. He is also a guest speaker at churches and conferences where he presents the Bible spoken dramatically from memory. For more information, visit www.thescripturecannotbebroken.com