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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memorization and Meditation

Back on January 2, I read Psalm 1. Verses 1 and 2 say:
"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night."

In my prayer journal I wrote: Lord, You told me today I need to meditate on Your Word through Scripture memorization. I was convicted to do this, but didn't follow through. A few weeks ago I looked up the Fighter verses from Desiring God ministries, and planned to begin memorizing them, but didn't get started.

I'm reading through Jerry Bridges book In Pursuit of Holiness right now and through this God also has shown me that I'm missing a key spiritual discipline if I am not memorizing Scripture. In chapter nine Bridges writes:
Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me" (John 14:21). Obedience is the pathway to holiness, but it is only as we have His commands that we can obey them. God's Word must be so strongly fixed in our minds that it becomes the dominant influence in our thoughts, our attitudes, and our actions. One of the most effective ways of influencing our minds is through memorizing Scripture. David said, "I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:11).

To memorize Scripture effectively, you must have a plan. The plan should include a selection of well-chosen verses, a practical system for learning those verses, a systematic means of reviewing them to keep them fresh in your memory, and simple rules for continuing Scripture memory on your own.

As I've been pursuing holiness more intentionally this month, I've struggled through the frustrations that Paul writes about in Romans 7. But through that God has shown me that while I can be cut to the heart with conviction from Him in my morning "coffee with the LORD," I forget about that in the bustle of the day. To keep the conviction of my early morning Scriptures in my mind throughout the day, I must be meditating and memorizing Scripture.

This morning, after more encouragement to memorize Scripture from my friend Sharon, I followed through on starting to memorize and meditate on Scripture using the Fighter Verses plan. All Scripture is profitable, so plans like these aren't necessary superior because of the verses they include, but they are valuable for the structure and focus they provide, which I sorely need.

(They are called "Fighter Verses" simply because they help us Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12)

Desiring God Ministries has a schedule for memorizing Fighter Verse Set D in 2009. I'm a bit behind, but I'm going to get started on this schedule. Perhaps you will join me?


Sharon said...

You're not taking me up on the challenge to memorise a whole chapter or epistle then? These Fighter Verses will at least help to get you into the habit of Bible Memorisation. I've found it a lot easier to memorise verses that I have picked myself though. I usually have two criteria:

1. Would it help my faith to grow if I memorised this? An example passage could be Luke 5:24-25.
2. Would it help me to love God and my neighbour better if I knew this off by heart? John 1:1-4 is a passage we have memorised that fits this criteria.

Of course, the entire Bible is God's provision to us to help us in these very things. But when I read a verse in my personal Bible study that jumps out at me as fitting one or both of these criteria, I add it to my "to memorise" list.

The other criteria which I use when selecting verses for the kids' to memorise, which I will inevitably memorise along with them, is:

3. Will knowing this help them to remember the Bible narrative better? (In other words, does it briefly describe a critical event in the gospel narrative?) Gen 12:1-3 and Mark 3:13-19 are good examples of passages that fit this criteria.
4. Will knowing this Bible verse teach and remind the children of the importance of the Bible as the authority for faith? Psalm 119:105, which we memorised last week, is a great example here, as are pretty much all the verses in Ps 119! Also Ps 1, Prov 3:5-6, etc.

The critical thing I have found is to make sure you have a plan for how you will practise all those verses you have memorised in the past. As well as the good examples from the Fighter Verses links you gave, and the Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System, I would also recommend highlighting (not just underlining) the verses you memorise in your Bible as soon as you feel they are successfully memorised. It will not only encourage you as you see more and more of your Bible gradually being highlighted! You will also find that as you come across these highlighted verses when reading nearby passages or just looking for another page, your eye will be drawn to them and you will quickly re-read them, thus refreshing your memory of these verses, perhaps memorised long ago, each time you do.

Love in Christ!
~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

Perhaps I should memorize a whole chapter with you. I'll have to go back and and remind myself which chapter you are working on right now....

I picked the Fighter verses for two main reasons, which are pretty inconsequential reasons: 1) It comes from the same folks who produce our Sunday School curriculum and I'm interested in seeing what their Fighter verse program is like, since I've heard much about it; and 2) I thought it would be a change of pace. (Our church does AWANA and doesn't use the Fighter verse program.)

Although I've not made personal Scripture memory a discipline in recent years, this has been so in the past. In fact, as a middle schooler I had the first eight Psalms memorized! (If only I had kept practicing that! I no longer have them memorized, but recognize them very well and remember enough to go back and find favorite verses.) In college I memorized the first two chapters, at least, of James. And, as a teen and college student I worked on the Navigators topical memory system and as a primary school student my Sunday School class had "ABC verses." These ABC verses are still pretty well burned into my memory, believe it or not. Even if passages memorized fade over time, the impact is there and the familiarity sticks. It is very nice to know what book and chapter a verse comes from when you hear it.

Our kids memorize through AWANA (although Lane isn't in this program now) so I haven't been as diligent as you to lead them in memorization. AWANA has selected foundational verses, similar to a catechism, I suppose. Right now they are learning verses that explain who Jesus is, having completed verses that answer who God is, etc. Before AWANA and BSF, I worked with the kids on Psalm 1 and Psalm 23.

Actually, this whole thread does point out to me that I need to work on this with Tobias and Lane, as well as my own life. I think it is fair to say that I'm resting on my laurels in this area and it is time to restore its place as a discipline.

I love your highlighting idea! Do you use a highlighter marker or pencils? I underline and write in my Bible freely, but I'm a little hesitant to use a marker for fear of it bleeding through the pages.

Hebrews 10:24 "And let us consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

Thanks for putting Hebrews 10:24 into practice with me!

Sharon said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful compliment of applying Heb 10:24 to our friendship!

I use a yellow highlighter pencil that I bought from my local Christian bookstore - they advertise them especially for those people who like to highlight in their Bibles, with the very thin paper that they have.

Do be encouraged to work on this with Tobias even though he is little still. Last week, when we were learning Ps 119:105 to recite with the other young children in church, Samuel learnt the major words (psalm, word, lamp, feet, light, path) along with the rest of us. It was so sweet to see his joy at being able to recite the verse along with Joshua, even though it will be a while before he understands that one properly.

Since I am reading through Ephesians (and it's taking more time than Galatians, I'm getting up too late and having trouble concentrating since the kids are up when I am trying to read - need to set the alarm for tomorrow morning), I thought I would memorise the first chapter of Ephesians, and perhaps the second. I also want to memorise the verses that pertain to marriage from this letter. That's a lot, isn't it? And I haven't actually started working on it yet. Maybe I should just set myself the task of memorising the whole epistle, even though it might take an entire year to do it. I love Ephesians so much, I know it would be worth it! Last year the longest passage I memorised was Psalm 1, and I was contemplating giving Psalm 119 a go as well. Thinking "aloud" here...

I think I'll start with Eph 1 and see how I go. And if I read one "letter" of Psalm 119 each day, I'll know in three or four weeks whether I want to continue learning from Ephesians or move my efforts to part or all of Ps 119. Want to ask me in a week or two how I'm going? It will help to keep me honest! (and I'll return the compliment and ask how you're going with the Fighter Verses.)

~ Sharon

The Dave Hawk Family said...

Still going through some of your old posts :) - I just had to comment! We use the Fighter Verses here too. They have come in so handy with different situations with the kids, and I love how they aren't just "practical" in the normal sense of the word- they are PRAISE!! Lots of "God is powerful and sovereign" type verses :)

I use 2 things- the Simply Charlotte Mason memory box, to go over WITH the kids, so my little ones get the benefit of hearing the verses regularly, even if they can't read yet, and also the computer program Memorize His Word. My older 2 (9 and 7) do this together. It took awhile to figure out, but it is working really well!

We also pick a chapter every once in awhile when we take a break from new fighter verses. Sadly, the only reason I memorize now is because the kids are- but it is so great to see them learn the verses! The verses I remember most are the ones I learned under the age of 16 on youth group trips, only because we had to say our verses before we could eat dinner!

God bless, and hope you are feeling well :)


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