Memorizing Scripture is not nearly as essential as it used to be. In the time of Jesus very few people could read and very few written copies of anything existed, so people memorized HUGE portions of the Bible. Most of the quotes that people make in the New Testament were made from the person’s memory, not from their reading the actual document. For most of the history of the modern world, if you didn’t memorize it, you didn’t have access to it!
The printing press, modern education, and now computer have put vast amounts of information at our fingertips for the past few hundred years—for the industrialized world. We always have access to the Bible. We live in an electronic age where everything seems to be accessible through our smartphones and computer screens and remembering details seems to be a waste of mental effort—but when it comes to God’s Word, we should strive to save it away in our memory and be thankful that electronics keep other things from cluttering that space. There’s still great benefit to having God’s word in a place where we can call it up while we are driving, talking to someone in crisis, or simply don’t wish to be distracted by all the other things on our computer or phone.
4 You have commanded that Your precepts be diligently kept. 5 If only my ways were committed to keeping Your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all Your commands. 7 I will praise You with a sincere heart when I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I will keep Your statutes; never abandon me. 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word. 10 I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands. 11 I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. (Ps 119:4-11, HCSB)
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper. (Ps 1:1-3, NKJV)
You CAN do it!
The fact is, we can and do memorize all the time. We memorize people’s names, television commercials, directions to places we frequent, credit card numbers, and phone numbers. How? We remember information that is important to us or that we frequently use or repeat. Scripture memorization is no different. It requires motivation and regular, systematic review.
If you have not memorized Scripture before, start with small portions, perhaps one or two verses a week. Select verses that relate to specific concerns or needs in your life. You may want to write out the verses on a card that you can keep with you and review several times a day. Reviewing Scripture before going to sleep at night is one of the best ways to reinforce it in your memory. Also having to recite it, having to say it to a person, or having them read it to you (auditory learning) might give you the edge you need…I had to do this when I learned Greek and Hebrew in school. I had to hear the words, not just read them.
Tips and Tricks:
Memorize using the New King James translation. This translation was written with a musical rhythm in mind. It is subtle, but really aids memory.
Try the BibleMinded App for Apple and Android devices
Suggested Places to Start: A Key Prayer
9 Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matt 6:9-13, NKJV)
27 He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27, HCSB)
Key Challenging Verses that you read in your daily time with God. Keep a notecard handy to write them down as you read.
Questions to Answer:
- What Bible verse can you call to memory, and why did that one stick in your mind?
- What Bible verse should you memorize because its relevant to your life right now?
We desperately need humility. Pride destroys our capacity to love. Serving others helps us maintain the right humble attitude…what John Ortberg calls “appropriate smallness”. “Humility is not about convincing ourselves or others that we are unattractive or incompetent. It is not about beating ourselves us…it is healthy self-forgetfulness.”
“Servanthood is just plain attractive.
If I’m going to be your servant, the last thinking I want is for you really to think I’m a servant. No, I want to impress you with how very humble I am. I want you to say, ‘Look, isn’t that the pastor stacking chairs? He’s, He’s…He’s just like Jesus.’
And I think, ‘it’s nothing really. I just saw those chairs needed to be stacked, and hey, I thought, I know how to do that.’ I don’t actually want you to treat me like a servant. ‘Hey, you. After you’re done with the chairs, can you give the toilets a good scrub?’
I’ll do an act of service here and there, especially if it advances my reputation, but never, ever treat me as a servant.” ~ Mark Buchanan
1 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death — even to death on a cross. (Phil 2:1-8, HCSB)
“Here is the problem: When I try to do something good, I am intensely aware of it. And I tend to be aware of other people who aren’t putting forth the same effort…one of the hardest things in the world is to stop being the prodigal son without turning into the elder brother.” ~ John Ortberg
25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:25-28, HCSB)
25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves. (Luke 22:25-27, HCSB)
We need to serve—not simply because others need help, because we need what happens to us when we serve. Serving can be done from the wrong attitude—but the Holy Spirit almost always uses the opportunity to work on our attitude and to ask the question: Why? We need that!
Why Should We Serve?
· Because we see people in need and want to help them
· Because we love people and want to build a relationship that could show them Jesus
· Because we need to take our minds and focus off ourselves and our needs
· Because someone has asked us for help and we can respond
· Because we are called to bear one another’s burdens
How Do I Pursue It?
Take a day and make it all about serving others. Do something special for a friend or coworker. Try to get down to Manna Café and serve a meal on a Tuesday or Thursday evening this week, or go help out with Radical Mission’s food and clothing pantry on Tuesday or Thursday during the day. Rake leaves for a neighbor. Bake cookies and leave them anonymously on someone’s doorstep or desk. Come and serve at church all morning—setup, teardown, checkin kids, run sound. Then ask yourself: Why did I enjoy that? Did I like the recognition or did I truly enjoy seeing someone else succeed?
Serving prompts us to address our security. Do we serve to be recognized and feel valuable, or do we serve because we value others? Are we upset if no one thanks us or notices us? When we serve, we are either trying to make ourselves important, or truly loving others because we see them as important. We may be judging our value upon the value others give us, when the truth is, we cannot be more valuable than we already are. God knows the number of hairs on our head—we have His undivided attention. Jesus died for us. We can’t get any more valuable than that!
How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! ~ 1 John 3:1
“Am I important? Infinitely. Do I matter? Ultimately. Am I loved? Completely…I don’t have to sweat and fret about having a bigger slice of pie than you, a shinier nameplate on my door, more feathers in m cap, more notches in my gun stock, more letters after my name.” ~ Mark Buchanan
Serving others is the best way to love Christ AND serving others is the best way to love like Christ. In the parable below, Jesus shows that true love should drive us to action—that true compassion causes us to inconvenience ourselves in order to serve another.
25 Just then an expert in the law stood up to test Him, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? ” 26 “What is written in the law? ” He asked him. “How do you read it? ” 27 He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28 “You’ve answered correctly,” He told him. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor? ” 30 Jesus took up the question and said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down that road. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan on his journey came up to him, and when he saw the man, he had compassion. 34 He went over to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on olive oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him. When I come back I’ll reimburse you for whatever extra you spend.’
36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? ” 37 “The one who showed mercy to him,” he said. Then Jesus told him, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:25-37, HCSB)
34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You? ’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ 41 Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’ 44 “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You? ’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’ (Matt 25:34-45, HCSB)
Questions to Answer:
- Where can you serve others regularly outside of oneChurch?
- What thing can you do for your spouse, roommate, or coworker to serve them this week?
Secrecy is the easiest way to build upon your acts of service and truly let your spiritual disciplines guide you to humility. It is listed last for a reason. It tends to enhance all the other disciplines and keep you from pursuing the Pharisees’ folly. Don’t go advertising your actions. Don’t seek a trophy or a thank you. Do it for Jesus, and find your reward in Him and in how you were changed.
“God’s great holy joke about the messiah complex is this: Every human being who ever lived has suffered from it—except one. And He was the Messiah.” ~ John Ortberg
We all struggle with addiction to approval. From the very onset of our lives we are wired to run to our parents, to crave their attention and approval with the words, “look at me!” Secrecy helps us keep the addiction under control.
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 6 But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt 6:1-6, HCSB)
How Do I Pursue It?
Live your life in secret for a while. Don’t post anything on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook this week. Refuse to capture special moments on camera. Instead, take those moments and make them memories only you and God get to celebrate and share. If you record them, record them where only you can see and remember them. Write them in your journal or make notes in your phone. Ask yourself, what things should I intentionally keep from celebrating with others, because it takes away from the meaning or purpose God had for me?
Secrecy brings us back to a healthy appreciation of praise. Praise is not a bad thing—God longs to praise us just as it is a healthy thing for a father or mother to cheer and praise their child. But when we become driven by praise—or neglect to do what is right because no one will see us, then we must put praise back into its proper place. Be especially intentional about refusing to try to get credit for things you do to serve others this week. Do it simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Secrecy is about keeping good, special things between you and God. Serving in secret allows you to make a memory and learn lessons that God wants to let sink deep into your heart and mind. It’s a great reminder that we are told not to practice our righteous acts before men to be seen by them. It’s about letting the truth sink in that ultimately, God’s appreciation for what you do is what matters most and what should motivate us to action. It’s also about limiting pride by not expressing it. It is NOT about hiding anything that needs to be confessed or that would bring you shame. It’s about one key principal: God is always with you. Live with that reality in mind.
3 It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. 5 Therefore don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God. (1Cor 4:3-5, HCSB)
10 For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. (Gal 1:10, HCSB)
The Dangers of Approval Addiction:
If we let our approval addiction grow too far, it will cause us to not only serve for the wrong reasons and do things specifically for the approval of others, but it will feed our desire to hide the shameful parts of our lives from others. Instead of putting our real selves out to the world, we will allow secrets to grow in our lives until they can destroy our character and integrity.
When approval becomes a necessity for us, we also tend to resent the people whose approval we seek. We begin to both love and hate them, ultimately threatening to destroy the relationship.
A Personal Note: I LOVE to clean up and do chores around the house when I am thanked for it…but when my wife doesn’t notice, I could care less about doing them. I need to come to a place where I do the chores to show love, not to receive it. My motivation should change, however, if Stacy chose to make it a habit to thank me every time I did the dishes or the laundry, it would make it that much better!
· Questions to answer:
o Outside of Bible reading and prayer, which discipline is most important for me right now?
o What is my plan: frequency, time and place for pursuing those good disciplines?
o Which disciplines are not helpful to me?