The Blind Beggar by Jules Bastien-Lepage

The Blind Beggar by Jules Bastien Lepage

What would you do if your doctor told you that you were going blind? It would probably take a while, but he assured you that, within ten years time, you would not be able to see at all. What is of such importance to you that you would want its image pressed indelibly upon your mind when your sight was gone?  What would you want to be able to carry with you through the coming dark years?

Or, suppose you knew that, because of your stand for the Lord Jesus, it was simply a matter of time before you would be torn from your loved ones and thrown into a cold, dark prison cell.  What would you do if you knew you would soon be facing intense persecution, even torture, for your faith?  How would you prepare for such a prospect? What would you do to ensure that you could withstand the pressure?

It is a fact of life that hard times will come. Even if you are spared a major crisis, all of us face daily struggles, temptations, and failures.  What are we doing to prepare for them?   Sadly, Christians often spend their time on many things other than equipping for future hardships.  They spend their time watching television and playing computer and video games.  Their energy is spent pursuing the things of this world, money, possessions, and success.  While these things may not necessarily be wrong, what good will such pursuits offer when the hard times come?  We never know when, like Job, all of these things could be swept away.  It is imperative therefore that we prepare for the future in a more concrete way.  I would like to suggest that we prepare to face future difficulties by memorizing Scripture.

Memorize Scripture?!  Yes!  Although we know that we should memorize God’s Word, we come up with a host of excuses for not doing so.  We say things like, “Me, memorize Scripture?  I can’t memorize anything! I have such a terrible memory!”  Or, “Memorize Scripture?  You should see my schedule! I don’t have time for one more thing.  How could I possibly add Scripture memory to my already packed life?” Or, “I don’t want to memorize.  I have worked hard on so many things for so long.  I’m tired and just don’t want to do it.”

No matter what our excuses may be, we must realize that God actually commands us to memorize His Word.

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Deuteronomy 6:6 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:”

Proverbs 3:1 “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:”

Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

If we fail to memorize Scripture, we are disobeying our Lord.

One practical help in obeying God’s command in this area is to follow a Scripture memory plan.  There are a number of plans available.  One that I am finding helpful is Evangelist Ron Hood’s Memory Plan (as given in his book, How to Successfully Memorize and Review Scripture). The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Compile a list of verses that you would like to memorize.  (These can be verses you need to memorize for a Bible class or Sunday School or simply some of your favorites.  You can even use this plan to commit whole chapters to memory.  I’m currently working on the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.)
  2. Choose a verse from your list and write it on one side of a 3×5 card (or whatever size card you prefer).  Write the date on the back side of the card.
  3. Memorize your verse.  On day one, go over your verse 25 times (tally marks on scrap paper help you keep track) and then write 25 on the back of your card.  On day two, write out a new verse card, saying it 25 times, and then review the previous day’s verse 20 times, writing the number 20 on the back when you are finished.  Follow this procedure for five days, adding a new verse each day while reviewing the previous day’s verse 5 times less each day.
  4. Review your verses.  Once you have gone all the way through this procedure with a particular verse card, you will then move it to a daily review stack, saying the verse only once each day for 45 days.  After that, you move the card to a weekly review stack and go over it once a week for 7 weeks.  Finally, place it in a monthly review stack and review it once a month thereafter.  Of course, in the event that you find you can no longer say a verse word-perfectly, move it back to your daily review stack until it is mastered.
Mother's Lessons by Robert Walter Weir

Mother's Lessons by Robert Walter Weir

This procedure may sound complicated, but the main idea is to constantly review the verses that you memorize.  Instead of just memorizing a verse temporarily (to pass an exam or win a contest, for example), through constant, systematic review you will be permanently ingraining God’s Word into your heart and mind.

Whatever memory plan you choose to follow, be aware that there are numerous methods you can use while memorizing.  Repeating the verse multiple times is not the only method available to you.  In his book What was that verse again?, Ben E. Johnson outlines a number of memory systems.  Two that I thought were particularly helpful are “The Imagination and Exaggeration System” and “The Stacking and Yoking System.”

  • The Imagination and Exaggeration System Following this system, you use your imagination to visualize an exaggerated picture of the verse you are attempting to memorize.  For example, in Matthew 7:15 I would do the following:

“Beware of false prophets” — I imagine a gnarly, old prophet with an evil face.  A big WARNING sign is flashing over his head.  “Which come to you in sheep’s clothing” — now I imagine that same prophet dressed up in a huge sheep costume.  “But inwardly they are ravening wolves” — I imagine that I can see through the costume into the prophet’s heart to a snapping, snarling wolf.

It may seem a little silly, but imagining an exaggerated picture like this will give you something upon which to hang the words of the verse.

  • The Stacking and Yoking System In this system, you visualize how each part of the verse is yoked to (touching, connected to) or stacked on top of the next element of the verse.  This works especially well for lists.

Take the Beatitudes for example.  It can be difficult to keep all eight characteristics of blessed people in the right order!  Using this system you would visualize an exaggerated picture of eight people acting out these characteristics. (eg. Imagine someone dressed in the tattered garments of a poor, destitute beggar [“Blessed are the poor in spirit”].  Next to him is a weeping man attempting to dry his eyes with the beggar’s rags [“Blessed are they that mourn”].  And so on.)

Visualizing  how each element in a list could connect with the next helps you to keep things in order.

These are just a few of a vast array of Scripture memory ideas and resources available to help us store God’s Word in our hearts for future use.  With so many helps offered to us, we really have no excuse for not memorizing God’s Word!

God has promised us many blessings, for both the present and for the future, if we will obey His command to memorize and meditate on His Word.  One such blessing is success.

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Psalm 1:3 [to the man who delights in God’s law and meditates on it day and night] “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Ten Ps in a Pod by Arnold Pent IIIThe success that comes as a result of memorizing and meditating upon God’s Word is evidenced in the life of the Arnold Pent family.  You can read their story, related by Arnold Pent III, in the book Ten P’s in a Pod. This remarkable family traveled all over the US and Canada, preaching, singing, playing music, and quoting Scripture. One of the most wonderful things about this family was their knowledge of the Word of God. The oldest son, David, had the entire NT and much of the OT memorized.  In fact, the whole family had large portions of Scripture committed to memory.  How did they do it?  Their secret was to spend thousands of hours in the Word of God.  This is how it worked in their family.  Everyday the children who were between the ages of 6 and 11 spent half an hour in private Bible reading.  From ages 11-21 this time was increased to 1 hour each day.   In addition to their private reading, after each meal the whole family spent 30 minutes together in family devotions.  If you add to this the time they spent in church and outside Bible Studies, each child spent 22,060 hours with the Bible from birth to age 21!  As one son said, “We would all have to be mighty dumb not to know a little something from this book” (Pent, 81).  As a result of their memorization and meditation on God’s Word, this family has enjoyed good success.  They had a fruitful ministry as the children were growing up and they are still enjoying prosperous businesses and ministries to this day.

Another blessing that memorizing Scripture will bring is the ability to resist temptation.  As the Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).  Having specific statements from God’s Word ready at our disposal equips us to stand firm in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:17).

Memorizing God’s Word also gives us power in prayer.  If we have His Words memorized, we will be able to pray them back to Him.  God promises in John 15:7 “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

Finally, memorizing Scripture will ensure that God’s Word is always with us, even if a Bible is not available.  The hypothetical situations at the beginning of this article actually happened in two individual’s lives.  The first, according to Evangelist Ron Hood, occured in the life of a young man named August Van Reign.  At age 24, this young man found out that he was going blind.  In the face of this trial, he purposed to use every free moment to memorize God’s Word. By age 35, he had memorized the entire NT (Hood, 11).

If I Perish by Esther Ahn KimThe second situation was true for a young Korean believer named Esther Ahn Kim.  In her book, If I Perish, Esther tells how she prepared for imprisonment and possible torture for her faith.  A large part of her preparation included memorizing hundreds of Bible verses.

We never know when we might be placed in a similar situation.  What are we doing right now to prepare for the hard times that will come in the future?  We must hide God’s Word in our hearts!  No matter what memory plan or systems you use, let me encourage you to start memorizing Scripture today.  If you memorize just one verse each day, you could have 365 verses hidden in your heart by this time next year.  If you really work at it, you, like August Van Reign, could have entire NT (or equivalent number of verses) memorized 10 years from now!  May we, with God’s help, be diligent to memorize and meditate on His Word.


© Copyright 2008 by Vida Earnshaw