Memorize the Word
There are times in my life when I know what my wife is going to say before she says it. She also possesses this talent when it comes to knowing where I might go in a conversation. We have spent so much time together, have enjoyed countless conversations and have made it our aim to do our best to understand one another. Much of the pathway to understanding one another is listening to one another. If you listen to a person long enough, after many days, weeks, months and years you will be able to anticipate the very words and phrases that they tend to use in a given situation. 

This is not unlike what happens to the Christian who spends time listening to God by spending time in His Word. If we spend enough time in God's Word we will memorize the way He has spoken. If we memorize the way He has spoken we can know what he thinks about various situations that might come our way and we can act and respond in a godly way. Memorization of Scripture begins with spending time in the Bible. I would argue that if you spend enough time in the Bible, you will find yourself memorizing many vital passages that will make their way into your heart at just the right time and just when you need to know what God desires for you in a given situation.

This past week we continued a series called, "Encountering Jesus." The goal of this series is to look at the ordinary means that God has graciously given us that we might encounter Him on a daily basis. The more we encounter God using these means, the more like Jesus we will become. This past week we began looking at the means of grace by studying what it means to listen to God. We listen to God by reading His Word. I encouraged the congregation to preach the Gospel to themselves every day, to read the Bible for breadth and depth, to meditate on God's Word, to apply God's Word, to resolve to become a life-long learner and to look for Jesus in every passage. But there was one more point I made that I promised to expand on in this blog - memorize Scripture. 

I want to offer up a few suggestions that you might be able to put into practice for memorizing Scripture. 

First, start with one verse and make it highly visible in your daily life. Take a Scripture verse with you throughout the day. Make it your home screen on your phone. Put up a note card in your car above the radio. Tattoo it on your body. The point is, take a Scripture with you wherever you go and in a highly visible area. 

Second, pray through your Scripture reading. Don't try to memorize a whole passage (or do!). But pray through the same passage over a period of time. You can use various Scriptures for various kinds of prayer whether it be thanksgiving, a petition, or request. 

Third, keep a variety of Scriptures in your memory. It would be good to memorize a Psalm. Or maybe you could take to heart a few Proverbs. It is also very important to memorize some of Jesus' words, or some of the Apostolic teachings from the New Testament. The point is to memorize various kinds of verses over a period of time. 

Fourth, don't just memorize to check off a box but rather look to understand the text. Study the context of the text. One of my favorite verses is from Romans 5 when Paul writes, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." But I don't just have the verse memorized. I have studied this text. I know that the word that Paul uses for "sinners" is actually more like "enemies"! This brings a deep meaning to not only this one text, but the entire passage of Romans 5 which speaks of justification and is in a greater context of the entire book of Romans. The point is, look to understand the memory verse. Study it. Feel it. Understand it. 

Finally, understand each verse's connection to the Gospel. Don't memorize verses in view of becoming a moral person or for inspirational quotes. It is true that Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good..." But there is much more to this verse than an inspirational thought. This verse doesn't mean that God has your back in that race or competition or business venture. He might totally wreck you and you might lose. The verse has more to say, "...all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." And then Paul goes on to say what those "things" are that "work together for good". For he says in verse 29, "For those whom he predestined to be conformed to the timage of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." The point is that as you memorize great verses, make sure you are connecting them to the Gospel. 

I would also like to offer up a few suggestions to begin memorizing from the Scriptures. 
2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8:1-2 Philippians 2:5-11, I Timothy 1:15, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23.

Once you have those cooking I would encourage you to memorize a few passages in addition to the verses. Each of these are deeply rooted in the Gospel and will be a light for you in dark places, and a comfort in worship and life. 

Isaiah 53:4-6, I Corinthians 15:3-4. Galatians 3:13-14, Ephesians 2:4-5. Ephesians 2:8-10
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