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Recalibrate: Part 3- 'Memorize' Isn't a Bad Word
A devotional series about reviving your heart, renewing your mind, and restoring your soul
Growing up in church, I was encouraged to memorize and recite scripture verses for prizes. I remember one competition where we could win a prize for memorizing the books of the Bible in order. For some unknown, atypical, left-handed, right-brained reason, I could memorize and recite the 39 Old Testament books but struggled with the 27 New Testament books. I remember being the only one with this problem, the only one who could recite all 39 books of the Old Testament, full of unusual names and titles. Today, I look back on that little girl, and I’m so proud of her!
As I've grown older, I find it takes more effort to locate a specific book of the Bible. I rely on my favorite study Bible, which is marked with my personal notes and highlights, and use spatial navigation to pinpoint exactly where I need to go. Sadly, when I recite the Old Testament books now, I can’t seem to make it passed Ruth without stumbling. I also find that memorizing scripture is much more of a challenge for me now. Perhaps living in a world where the scriptures are in every translation and literally at our fingertips has made Bible memorization a thing of the past. But should it be? Because we may take for granted our convenient access to the Bible, we miss out on the rich benefits that Bible memorization can have on renewing our minds.
Certainly, knowing God’s Word goes beyond reciting verses by memory. Studying and meditating on it is essential. But there’s great value in memorization. “…scientists who study the process of learning have found…the more factual knowledge people have about a topic, the better they can think about it critically and analytically” (Wexler). Perhaps memorizing a scripture verse enriches and encourages deep thinking when you choose to study it.
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Additionally, memorizing scripture helps you to turn away from sin. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (ESV). I’m a witness. I can pinpoint any number of times in my life when I was staring directly into darkness. And just as the enemy whispered in Jesus’ ear in the wilderness, he tempted me while I was weak in my flesh and spirit. Isn’t that often the case? He comes when you’re physically tired, lonely, or discontent. Times when you can’t seem to hear the Holy Spirit clearly. Times when you haven’t read your Bible or gone before the Lord in prayer in a long while. These are the times when it’s so easy to turn your back on God. But when you’ve hidden God’s Word in your heart, the exact scripture verse you need will pop into your mind so you can turn away from sin. Just like Jesus, you’ll remember, “It is written…”
When Jesus was hungry, tired, and being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, which says, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (NKJV). When everything has failed you, when you are tired and weary, and at your wit’s end, how can you live by the Word of God if you do not know the Word of God? You need to know God is speaking even when you feel like He’s not. Memorization is a great weapon in these circumstances. In fact, in Ephesians 6, Paul describes the Word as a sword, the only part of God’s armor that is a weapon. As a soldier in the Lord’s army, you’d better learn how to use your weapon!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Additionally, if you are swayed by every doctrine or fall deep into false ideologies only to find yourself confused and exhausted, it may be because you don’t know God’s voice when you hear it. Memorizing God’s Word helps you to discern what the Holy Spirit speaks to you versus the lies of this world. You will hear a multitude of doctrines, ideologies, theories, and intellectual reasonings, but if you want to determine if something is true, you must hold it up against God’s Word. When His Word is hidden in your heart, you’ll see red flags when you hear a false preacher, a liar from the enemy. I’ve heard it said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Well, if you don’t stand on the truth of God’s Word, you’ll fall for every lie the enemy throws at you.
It takes time and effort to renew your mind and experience the peace of God. But it’s worth it. Memorizing God’s Word is a great way to exercise your mind and increase your faith. While it’s great to have access to the Bible online, having it stored in your heart and mind is far greater.
Yvonne Marie, M.Ed. is the author of Kill the Busy Save the Bee: What It Really Means to Be Still and Know and Write For Christ Sake: A Guide to Kick-Start Your Book Journey for Jesus. She is the owner of Your Book Journey Consulting, LLC, a thriving business on a mission to help writers, speakers, ministry leaders, and business owners write and publish books. With a master’s degree in education and over two decades of teaching and ministry experience, she has developed the ability to effectively educate, motivate, and inspire others through her gifts of writing, speaking, and teaching. Yvonne Marie is married to Jonathan, owner of I-Witness Photography, LLC, and they have two sons. You can find her at yvonnemariespeaks.com.