My precocious firstborn learned his first Bible verse at about 15 months. At least he could repeat after me “God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8) I loved his baby inflection with the word “love” going up in tone and having an exclamation point after it. Shortly after that we taught him every Christian parent’s favorite verse: “Children obey your parents.” (Eph. 6:1). Thirty years later, I love watching him and his wife teach their children scripture verses from memory.
Recently I re-memorized Romans 10:17, “So the faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” As I thought about this familiar verse again, I realized that memorizing the Word of God is one of the things I can do in order have faith in God. And when I have His Word fresh in my mind I can help others hear the Word of God, because it is likely to be on the tip of my tongue.
Friends of ours are missionaries in a closed country where proselytizing nationals is against the law. Together with their team, they were studying through the book of Mark and came to chapter 4, verses 26-27, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know.” Knowing that in another parable the seed represents the Word of God, they decided to set alarms on their phones for 4:26 pm, to pray that they would be able to “scatter” the Word of God among the people of their host country and that God would give the increase. They asked those of us who pray for them to set our phone alarms as well. When I pray for them, I often ask God that they would have His Word hidden in their hearts and it would be foremost in their minds so that they “cast” the Word naturally and freely.
Having grown up in a Christian home I heard the gospel from birth, maybe even before that! My parents encouraged me to memorize verses even when I couldn’t read them. I went to Sunday School, Monday School, and Tuesday School! (The latter two were kids clubs held in homes.) We had memory verses assigned at each of these. My mom took the verse papers and pinned them to a bulletin board. She tells me that she would point to a paper and I could say the verse, even though I didn’t understand the words. I was also part of the Bible Memory Association, which had booklets of verses for every age to memorize for 12 weeks a year. As a first grader I had two verses a week, with little prizes every other week. By the time I reached high school, I was memorizing fifteen verses a week! We also had Sunday school contests, contests at camp, and discipleship ministries that all encouraged scripture memorization.
These verses had a great affect in my life. They were, as Romans 10:17, what brought me to faith in Christ, gave me my life ambition, took me through secondary infertility, and showed me a new ministry when I was floundering wondering what I was supposed to do, among other turning points in my life.
Over the next couple of weeks I will tell you of some of those times the verses I had hidden in my heart affected my life as I sought to live for God.
Are you memorizing verses from the Bible? Are you encouraging your children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews to memorize? In the next couple of posts I want to encourage you to do just that. Come back and read my story.
But here’s a way you can start moving toward this tonight: Ask this conversation starter tonight at dinner:
What is the first Bible verse you remember memorizing?
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