Saturday, January 31, 2009

Week #5: Joshua 1:8

Week of February 1-7

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. [Joshua 1:8]

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Something's missing here!

Many of us have heard the phrase "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." [Mark 12:30] We sing a song at our church that includes these four dimensions. So, when we come to this week's verse, we notice that something is missing. What happened to "mind"? In the New Testament, Jesus simply elaborates on the original command in the Old Testament. Each of the words--heart, soul, mind, strength--really mean the totality of who we are.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Week #4: Deuternonomy 6:4-6

Week of January 25-31

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. [Deuternonomy 6:4-6]

For an extra challenege, add vv. 7-9:

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. [Deuternonomy 6:7-9]

NOTE: This passage is the first and most fundamental passage of Judaism. Every Jewish child would learn the shema--the affirmation of God's oneness. For more information, click here and here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What happened to Leviticus?

You might be wondering why this week's verse is from the book of Numbers instead of Leviticus [since Leviticus comes immediately after Exodus]. However, since a year is 52 weeks and there are 66 books of the Bible, we will not memorize a passage from every book. As such, this schedule will skip some books, especially where the content is subsumed in another book. For example, the content of Leviticus is the detailed version of the Law given to Moses while he was on Mt. Sinai [Exodus 19:31].

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week #3: Numbers 23:19

Week of January 18-24

God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill? [Numbers 23:19]

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Week #2: Exodus 34:6-7a

Week of January 11-17

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin." [Exodus 34: 6-7a]

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How to memorize Scripture

The first passage that my husband memorized in college was 1 Timothy 4:7-8,

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

These verses are the foundation of any discipline in the spiritual life. We could concern ourselves with senseless, meaningless things...and we do! But, there is a greater value in investing in eternal exercises [see also Matthew 6:19-20]. When we train ourselves to be godly [the word "train" is the Greek word gymnaze--a word that forms the root of our English word "gymnasium"], it has benefit now and forever.

Many people argue that they can't memorize the Bible. Truth is, we all memorize things: birthdays, phone numbers, email addresses, football statistics, client names. We remember things that are important to us. Bible memory is a discipline whereby we chose to put our mind to work in what we know will yield a great reward [we'll see this more when we get to weeks #5 and #18].

Tips to memorize Scripture:

1. Same time, same place. Chose a rhythm of place and time to help you work on your verse. I will likely work on my passage during my daily walk/run. You could use your commute time or lunch break. I heard of one guy who put his verse on a card taped to the dashboard of his car and, just before he turned the key, he would recite the week's passage.

2. Study to make it stick. It's hard work to memorize a sentence that doesn't make sense. But, once you understand what it says, it's a piece of cake. Take a few minutes to figure out what each verse actually means and you'll find it easier to learn and retain each one.

3. Rewrite and record. This discipline will be much easier if you rewrite the verse, in your own handwriting, on a note card [the act of writing it down the first time jump starts the memory process]. Also, when you write the verse down, separate it into bite-size phrases and put each phrase on a separate line.

4. Drop the divisions. The verse divisions [i.e., Numbers 23:15, 16, 17] are not a part of the inspired text. They are markers, added much later, as a convenience to the Bible reader. It's not important for you to remember where verse 3 ends and verse 4 begins. So, drop it.

5. One version. Choose a version of the Bible that you most often use and stick with it through the discipline. Remember, you are learning texts that you will remember, recall and use in ministry. So, choose wisely. In this blog, I have referenced the New International Version because of it correspondence to original languages, its widespread usage and its readability.

6. Word perfect. Do the hard work of getting each verse memorized word perfect. You'll thank yourself later. Memorization is like the "telephone game." As the years roll on, you might find yourself dropping a word or accidental flopping a phrase. If you start with an inaccurate starting point, you could end up anywhere a few years from now.

7. Review, review, review. The real key to verse memory isn't the initial memorization; It's the ongoing review. I plan to review prior verses during the first 1/2 mile of my walk and work on my present week's verse for the remainder of my exercise. Constant recall will insure a lifetime of retention.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Week #1: Genesis 50:20

Week of January 4-10

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. [Genesis 50:20]

Why memorize Scripture?

There are a number of disciplines in the spiritual life: fasting, study, prayer, meditation. Memorizing Scripture is an often neglected discipline because many people misunderstand the value. Here are 15 reasons why it's a good practice to commit verses to memory:

1. Increasing your faith
Scripture memory increases our faith and trust in God as we begin to look at life more from His point of view. Paul wrote, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The memorized Word of God helps us grasp this attitude of Christ as we walk through life, and builds our faith in God’s guidance and love for us. Christian worker Bob Foster called Scripture memory “the daily habit of supplying the subconscious with God’s material to chew upon.” He wrote, There is a vast difference between “I have a verse” and “It has me.” The one can be the parrot-like repetition of words...the latter is the transforming by the renewing of your mind.

2. Victory over sin
Just as the psalmist wrote, Scripture memory helps us have victory over sin: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11)

3. Inner cleansing
Scripture memory has a cleansing effect. To get rid of unclean thoughts which can lead to unclean words and actions, we can substitute clean thoughts by concentrating on the words of God that we have memorized. Instead of suppressing evil thoughts, we replace them. In Philippians 4:8, Paul writes, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

4. Knowing and living Bible doctrine
Scripture memory can increase our awareness of biblical doctrines, providing a practical foundation for the way we are to live.

5. Guidance
God instructs us in the way we should go as he speaks to us through the Scriptures we know by heart. “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:24). Similarly, the Psalmist states that God's Word is a lamp and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).

6. Prayer
Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). God's Word, tucked away in our heart and mind, enables us to converse with God.

7. Bible study
Scripture memory helps us in our study of the Bible As we know more cross-references, we can more easily tie various parts of Scripture together to increase our understanding

8. Finding passages
By memorizing key verses, we can locate specific passages on a particular teaching. Knowing Matthew 6:33, for example––”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”–– helps us remember that Jesus’ teaching about placing God’s concerns above our own physical needs is found in Matthew 6.

9. Meditation
Scripture memory allows us to meditate at any time on God’s Word. We’ll always have something scriptural to think about, even when it isn’t possible to open up a Bible. “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97)

10. Experiencing the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures we have memorized to strengthen us and to help us experience the power of his presence. See John 14:26.

11. Worship
Scripture memory assists us in our worship of God. In our personal, joyful worship of Him at any time of day we can praise God for His righteous laws (Psalm 119:164).

12. Not wasting time
Scripture memory helps us make good use of what might otherwise be wasted time, such as waiting in a long line at the grocery store or driving to work. We may even find that occupying our mind with God’s word keeps us from becoming impatient or angry.

13. Counseling
We will surely encounter those who are downcast and discouraged. As we seek to minister to people's deepest needs, we can give them the reassuring words of Scripture which can comfort, challenge, answer, and satisfy the human heart.

14. Witnessing
Scripture memory enables us to witness effectively. By knowing verses that present the plan of salvation we are equipped for evangelism at any time, just as the apostle Peter quoted the Old Testament words of Joel and David as he spoke to the crowd that assembled on the day of Pentecost (Act 2). We can also give biblical answers to people who as us about our faith. We may not have a Bible with us in a spur-of-the-moment situation, but we are never without the portions of Scripture we have memorized.

15. Teaching
Anyone who teaches God’s word publicly should be able to note Scripture to make his points and and to answer questions from his listeners.