FaithSummer Series

Bible 101: Week 7- Sear It On Your Heart

Bible 101: Week 7- Sear It On Your Heart

We are down to the last two weeks of our #livesaltedsummerseries as well as the last two fingers in the whole hand metaphor. The last few weeks we have been digging into the idea of studying God’s Word, and this week we are diving into the idea of committing God’s Word to memory. Sometimes life can feel like a breezy vacation, but when trials hit us and we remember that we are in fact on a battlefield , having scripture memorized to combat the lies and resist the culture of this world will enable victory rather than defeat!


Saved and SentNotcomfort

When we say “yes” to Jesus and wake up to the reality of this world we live in, we find ourselves in a war and not on a vacation. We have been chosen by God to be saved, and to be sent. Saved from our sin-condition and sent as agents of reconciliation. Essentially, when we say “yes” to Jesus we are given a new life in Christ, and meant to enter anew into a rich relationship with our heavenly Father. When we do this, He will reveal to us who He has made us to be, so we can use the gifts and passions He planted in us to discover our place on God’s stage. The purpose of this to be someone who offers God’s invitation of forgiveness and love to a hurting world.

You are on mission.

Your goal is not comfort or ease.

Your goal is to build a kingdom family while fighting an enemy. It is exciting stuff.

armorofgodThis week may sound a little militant… and it is meant to be. If we acknowledge that there is an enemy to our cause, then it goes without saying that there are attacks and there will be battles. Shrapnel and traps and firestorms and everything else you can think of. Some trials are seemingly minor, others are major, but all necessitate resources and direction from the One who commissioned you. This is something you cannot fight on your own.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10-18


Our Weapon: The Word of God

When I was a sophomore in college, God began to impress it on my heart that I needed to begin memorizing Scripture. I was so lacking in wisdom and understanding and was dealing with some difficult relationships in my life. The first verse I ever memorized was James 1:19.

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“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”

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It was simple, to the point, and entirely useful. Honestly, if I could actually obey this verse everyday, it would change everything in this feisty woman’s life. 😉 But that’s another story for another day…

Back to college. So, for a couple of weeks, I didn’t even open my Bible. I set out on a run every morning, with this verse as my focus. I thought about every word; I thought about what it would look like if this verse were true of me in every area of my life – in my sorority, on my soccer team, with my mom and dad and brothers, with my friends and my boyfriend. As the Lord took this verse and highlighted for me all the areas of my life where he was inviting me to slow down, to listen better, to become less easily offended, He simultaneously seared this Scripture on my heart. Still today when I begin to heat up, out of the recesses of my heart God’s still small voice, gentle but firm, speaks to me these very words. And when I choose to obey, I am saved from all sorts of catastrophes in the relationships I hold most dear.

So before we get to our tool this week, a few words WHAT KEEPS US from doing it and WHY WE SHOULD FIGHT to get God’s word in us!


Memorization- Don’t Be Scared of It

In polling a lot of people, the biggest reason for not memorizing Scripture is: “I just don’t have a good memory,” or “I tried it and it doesn’t work.” That is like saying, “I ate food, but then I was hungry again. Eating just didn’t work.” Simply, this is just not a good reason. Think of the songs you can sing along to, the names you know, the facts you can recall, your first address or phone number, your favorite movie that you can quote word for word? Memorization, the act of making something “stick”, just takes time, interest and repetition. Our brains have to see something numerous times for them to recognize that thing as “important” and move that data from our short to long term memory. It is why 3 hours of cramming the night before a test is no match for looking over the same material for a half hour four consecutive nights before the test. Not only is less time required, but that same information will “last longer”. Disciplineacts

The issue is not our lack of memory but our lack of discipline.

It does take discipline to pick something up over and over. My grandmother sent me a quote when I was in college “Do what you have to do, when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not.” I posted that quote above my desk and it haunted me in the best of ways!

Will you always feel like it? No. But I promise that it is one of those things that the more you do it, the more you will want to do it. Kind of like prayer and exercise.

That said, just because something is moved to our long term memory doesn’t mean we have perfect recall.

This is where it is so encouraging that Scripture says:

“The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you.” John 14:26

There is a great little online book by Stephen Simpson entitled How to Memorize Scripture. He so beautifully outlines the why behind having Scripture written on our hearts, so I will borrow some of his words for our purposes:

“The person who memorizes the most scripture is not necessarily the winner. Memorizing scripture is not an end in itself. The Word of God is only ‘living and active’ as it says in Hebrews 4:12 in as much as you allow God’s Spirit to use it to change your life. God’s Word is of little value to you unless you have determined to obey it. The person who has memorized no Scripture, yet strives to obey God’s word is far closer to Christ than the one who memorizes large quantities of it, but then experiences no life changes.

You do not need to memorize Scripture to be a Christian. You do not need to memorize Scripture to be a godly person. You need Jesus.

So, if you choose not to memorize Scripture, this does not make you a better or worse Christian than someone who does. On the other hand, you do need a knowledge of God’s Word, and because of its power, you owe it to yourself to learn as much of it as you can.”

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me”. Psalm 63: 1-8

“Make it a point to search for and memorize verses which meet specific needs in your life. Remember that the purpose of memorizing verses is to help yourself re-program your mind in order that you may serve God better. Memorize verses which help you in the areas you are currently struggling. These include both verses which encourage you about God’s love and grace as well as the verses which warn you about God’s displeasure with certain types of behavior. For example if you know that you struggle with anger, then search for and memorize verses which will help you fight it. If you struggle with impurity then find and memorize verses which will keep you from that sort of temptation.

Our memories have to be properly trained. Nevertheless, some people do have better memories than others. As I stated before, it is not those who learn the most Scriptures who are the winners; it is those who internalize what they have learned.”


A Full Tank Or A Clean Basket?

I love this story:

Sometimes I personally feel like a man who has been given the task of filling a large tank with water using a wicker basket. I fill up the basket and no matter how fast I run, it is almost empty when I get to the tank. It seems will take most of my life to fill that tank. Later I realize that the reason I was given the task was not to fill the tank, but to have a clean basket.

The task we have been given is to develop a pure mind and a pure heart. The information in your mind is not the end in itself, but a means to the end. Be warned also that a mind continually exposed to garbage will yield an impure mind and an impure heart.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2


Memorization Tool: Pronounce It!

Last week when we plowed through Scripture using the Daily Bread tool, there was a little “P” under step 3 that when extracted and used alone, can be a great enabler in memorization: Pronounce

When we pronounce something, we slowly enunciate each syllable, purposefully articulating a word. In the same way, we can “pronounce” a verse by looking at every word carefully, defining it and asking  lots of questions of it to internalize it.


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Pronounce it.

1. Choose a verse you want to memorize.

“Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

2. Read it aloud several times placing emphasis on a different word each time AKA Pronounce it 🙂 

Be – This is a resolute state of mind. It doesn’t change. It is also a command.

Quick – Fast, Swift. I think of an Olympic sprinter out of the starter blocks. To be quick, we have to be in a ready stance.

To – It is a movement toward something. My energy needs to be moving toward my ears, not my mouth!

Listen – Listening takes my ears and my brain. I can hear words, but listening also implies understanding.

Slow – Not fast. Not swift. It takes restraint to slow something. This takes effort and could create friction.

To – It is a movement toward something. My energy in slowness, restraint, needs to be toward my mouth. I might need to actually hold my fingers to my lips to help me to not speak until I feel the Lord’s prompt or another’s invitation to do so.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” Psalm 141:3 (ESV)

Speak – If I am using restraint, then the words that I speak need to be wise.

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”  Proverbs 17:27 (ESV)

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  Ephesians 4:29

And – A connective word. There is a connection between the last (slow to speak) and the next (slow to become angry). It is true that the more I let my words fly, the more angry I can get.

Slow – Again, this takes energy and restraint. Like pressing the brakes on a car. Resistance creates friction in me. This is not easy!

To  – A movement toward something. My restraint is toward becoming angry. Interesting.

Become – A rising scale. I sometimes feel like my anger explodes out of nowhere, but if I put my heart in slow motion, I realize there is a rise of sorts, a swell of emotion inwardly that at some point I choose to allow to erupt outwardly.

Angry– While anger is the feeling of being upset or intensely annoyed, being angry is the manifestation of that feeling. It is the allowance of the feeling becoming action. Wow.  

Anger can be a red flag – a good thing that shows us that something or someone we love is being violated. Perhaps this is why we need to be slow to become angry, but not necessarily never angry at all. I just need to take the time to see if angering is valid, and then pray about what action would bring hope, healing and change.

“Be angry and do not sin.” Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)

3. Ask yourself some questions that pertain to the verse: What is making me angry about this situation? Is something God cares about being violated? Or is it just something that I care about {my schedule, my control, my expectations, etc}? In the latter case, my anger is perhaps not validated and needs to be quelled, and my sin in making myself most important probably needs to be brought to Jesus.

4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Once you have taken the time to evaluate each word and allow the meaning of the verse in its entirety be internalized, repetition is the key. Cut a few note cards in half, grab some sticky notes, write it several times, and place them in your pocket, in your car, on your mirror, next to your coffee mug. Place an alarm on your phone once a day and each day for a week, have it pop up to prompt you to recall your verse. One great idea a friend gave me was to shop a local drug store and pick up a stack of notecards that are connected by a metal ring. Each time I commit to memorize a verse, I will write it in my little roladex, and over time, I have built a working arsenal of Scripture that at any time I can flip through to review those verses that are beginning to go deeper and deeper into the well of my heart. Now, put another alarm in your phone –  perhaps for every Sunday night. As you prepare for the week to begin, flip through and review your verses, letting the Word of God wash over you, fill you up, and make you strong. I promise the bit of time it takes each day to invest will reap a harvest of rewards!

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Recap

This week we talked of the importance of memorizing Scripture; not only will it deepen our relationship with Jesus, but offer encouragement to our friends and act as a weapon with which to fight our enemy. Using “Pronounce” as a practical tool, and building time in our daily lives for repetition, we can internalize the Word of God and better recognize His voice of truth in our lives.

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Until Next Week

We have talked so much about Jesus being the bread of life… it is relationship with Him, through the knowledge of His Word, that fills us, satisfies us and makes us strong for this journey of life.

There are so many verses I have set out to memorize that I cannot currently recall. But consider this:

Do you remember what you ate for supper last Monday night? How about three weeks before that? Probably not. But unless you were fasting, you probably did eat, and you are well nourished because of it. The important thing is that you eat every day, just as it is important that you feed yourself spiritually every day.

I know that particular words from God nourished me in particular seasons and now sit dormant somewhere in the depths of my heart. I have been amazed at the times when a friend needed a certain encouragement and out from my mouth came a verse I didn’t even remember depositing in there. I did not know the chapter or the verse number, or sometimes even where it was in the Bible, but that did not matter. The words themselves came from the heart of Jesus, both of us were encouraged, (and with a little help from Google we could find its location :))

In speaking and teaching, and mentoring and being mentored, I have observed that one of the most common cries of our hearts is to hear God’s voice. In the next series, I hope to unpack what it is to communicate with the living God. {So excited!} You DO hear God’s voice – all the time – but you may not recognize it as Him. His whispers are intermingled with your thoughts and the noise of the world. But I want to affirm you, my dear friend, that when a Scripture “randomly” pops up in your mind, that you really cannot argue that God is speaking. It is God’s Word, for you, in that moment! How exciting?! The more you have written on your heart that He can draw from, the more you will recognize His voice. He does not NEED you to have Scripture memorized. Again, remember, there was a long period of time when the Bible had not yet been canonized or written for the common people. He can speak through mountains and donkeys and dreams! But it is to your advantage to know Scripture such that you can more readily recognize when God IS speaking – His words and His tone and His direction.

I cannot wait for you to experience the thrill of God’s whisper recognized in your life.

I love you and am so thankful to be journeying with you. As I sit in a little local coffee shop this morning, I am praying for you. I do not know your name. But God does. You are on His heart. On His mind. He has His loving, delighted eye on you today. And He cannot wait to speak to you.

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