Do you remember the first scripture that you ever memorized? Perhaps it was one from Directory or Sunday School. Maybe it was later in life before you took notice of scripture and started to commit some key verses to memory. I don’t remember what the first verse I had to memorize was, but I do know one of the first verses my youngest sister had to memorize. It was Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” and I even remember that it was from the King James Version as it is copied here. I also remember that the first verse my brothers memorized was from John 11:35 “Jesus wept”. The great theologians that they were (not) they were quick to add that this was the shortest verse in the Bible.
What I do remember is that when I was younger I didn’t truly see the value in memorizing scripture. For Corps Cadets (our teen discipleship program) I had to memorize verses of scripture and the doctrines of The Salvation Army. I did the memorization but I did not like it, in fact I used to think that it was a waste of time.
However, over the years I have come to appreciate the verses that I have memorized and continue to learn new verses. These verses come to mind when I need encouragement from the Lord, a reminder of His presence with me and of His promises to me.
We have been encouraged from ancient days to commit the Word of God to memory.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “You must think constantly about these commandments I am giving you today. You must teach them to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning. Tie them on your finger, wear them on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house!” (TLB)
Colossians 3:16 tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.”
Even Jesus memorized Scripture, and used it when tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Just look it up in Matthew 4. In response to Satan’s testing Jesus would reply with “It is written…”
Memorizing Scripture renews our mind and transforms our lives. It helps us to remember God’s commands, His promises, His provisions for us. It helps us to remember His power and strength that is available to us. And yes, when we are weak and Satan comes to tempt us, we may not be able to run for our Bibles and rummage through them to find a verse for the hour. But when we memorize scripture we have “hidden God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him”, with the Holy Spirit’s help these verses will come to our remembrance just when we need them.
Let me conclude with these words from Chuck Swindoll: “I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking than memorizing Scripture. That’s right. No other single discipline is more useful and rewarding than this. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”