Two posts in one week?!? Must be a new year kind of motivation or something. But don't get used to it.
Earlier this week I wrote about reading plans for the year, and now I want to write briefly about verse memorization.
The benefits and value of verse memorization are many, even if you do poorly at actually remembering the verse. The sheer discipline and act of trying to memorize Scripture is beneficial. For when you attempt to earnestly memorize the Word, the Word is on your mind, day and night. You're pondering and considering each word of the verse that you're trying to memorize. This can lead to a deeper and greater appreciation of God's revealed Word. However, note that I said can, not it will. See, there are dangers and pitfalls to verse memorization if the motivation or the application is wrong.
When memorizing Scripture we must be sure we're not merely chasing a badge to wear, or knowledge to show off among friends or those in the church. We must be sure that our motivation is to know Him more, and to grow in His holiness more, and to know righteousness, justice, love, mercy, and grace, all the more. If this is our motivation then this should help alleviate undue burden and stress, as well as keeping us from becoming puffed up with knowledge. If our goal is to know Him more and be like Him more, we're more likely to go the pace we need to go for us to acheive that end. It also should lead to a more joyous process of learning Scripture that becomes a delight to our souls, rather than a burdensome task.
We also must be careful not to divorce the verse from its context and thus rendering an application to the verse that is not right. For example, Matthew 18:20 or Phillippians 4:13, are two verses commonly divorced from their contexts and grossly missapplied. When memorizing a verse we must memorize and understand how it is being used. Otherwise, at best it becomes ineffective, and at worse it becomes poison to our souls and to those whom we might share it with.
Now, for some tips and considerations in memorizing the Word.
When it comes to choosing what verses to memorizing don't fret too much over it. Just start. In fact, if you like, you can join me in memorizing 50 verses this year. I'll post the verse each week in a blog post that will provide some context, meaning, and application. The first verse, for this week, you can find at the bottom. You can find verses by topic if you like by using a concordance or a simple Google search. If you want more of a challenge you can memorize entire sections, chapters, or even books! If you're experienced at memorizing Scripture but have never attempted to memorize a book, chapter, or even a large section, I would highly encourage you to give it go. You'll be amazed by what you learn and see that you didn't know about that particular section before.
When it comes to tools or applications to help you memorize, they are many... very, very many. A simple Google search will reveal a plethora of options, some free, some not. Some good, some not. One tool that I do recommend is BibleMemory.com. It has a website and an app that can be used. It's pretty straight forward and it's free, though you can pay for some extra features if you like. They also have collections and topics that you can select and work your way through on.
One more thing. Try and not get hung on the exact English wording of the verse. You can drive yourself crazy with frustration, especially when you hear others read the verse in other translations. Memorize the point, the sense, of what is being said. Certainly, initially at least, memorize it word for word, with a particular translation. But over time be okay with using similar words to recite the verse, as long as it's true to the meaning. Whether you use the ESV, NIV, CSB, NET, KJV, or even the NLT, be comfortable with saying "will" instead of "shall" or vice versa. Or maybe you'll memorize the verse with a "you all" or even a "y'all" to help you understand the context and that the verse is directed to a group of people and not to an individual. Point is, relax a bit on the wording, but remain faithful.
Now, for the first verse of the 50 to memorize. For this verse, we're starting easy and we're starting at the beginning. Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (ESV).
This one is pretty straight forward and hard to mess up. In the beginning of all things, God created all things, that is the heavens and the earth. Think of John 1:1, 1:3, and Hebrews 1:3, among many others. God is Creator. Thus, God is above all things, and all things are subservient to Him and accountable to Him.
I'll be praying for you all as you seek to meditate on His Word day and night. I'll have a new verse on Monday.