As I prepared to speak in chapel at North Greenville University today, I decided to preach from John 15 about abiding in Christ. In my prayer time for this sermon, I felt the need to address the consumerism that is infecting the Church today concerning Christians attaching themselves to churches, groups, personalities, or resources instead of the true Vine – Jesus.
In John 15:7, Jesus said, “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
In the hectic pace of life, we cannot simply visit with Jesus for a few minutes in the morning and survive the pressures of this culture. We must abide with Jesus. While that thought can be abstract in some ways, Jesus lays out one simple way to do this – memorize Scripture. Let his words abide (dwell, remain) in you. That means more than reading through a chapter of Scripture in a hurry. That means meditating and memorizing the truths of God’s Word so that you can combat the enemy whenever he calls.
The Single Most Life-Changing Discipline
When I was a college student, the single most life-changing discipline for me was memorizing Scripture. It moved from the Bible being a book on the shelf to words in my soul.
I grew tired of knowing the Bible in part, I needed to know it in my heart.
I got a pack of notecards while I served on missions in Tokyo and I began a journey that changed more concerning my relationship with God than anything else I had ever done.
Those cards on that key ring became life to me. I can still remember the devastation when I accidentally left them in my pants pocket and they took a spin in the washing machine.
This January, I finally found an app that I love concerning Scripture memory. I had used Fighter Verses by Desiring God which is very great, but it does not sync between devices (at least at this time), and I really was concerned about a phone going down and losing all work.
I then found an app called Scripture Typer which has been fantastic. This is why I personally love it so much:
- It syncs between any mobile devices and computer so you can track progress through any devices you own.
- It has 3 main levels of mastering a verse which allows you to increase your knowledge (plus other helps like image cues or recording features).
- It keeps your verses in a systematic rotation of review. Once you have mastered a verse, you have to review it within 24 hours. After that, 2 days later, etc. This ensures that you are keeping up with verses you have learned and not forgetting about them.
- They do rank users which is a little conflicting. You don’t want to go into Scripture memory to beat people on the leader board, but what that does provide for me is a personal stimulus to increase the number of verses I am working on memorizing.
- In the in-between sections of my day, it provides a meaningful activity on my phone rather than staying on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
You may not like the app. You may not want to spend a few bucks on it. The app isn’t the end for me, it is simply a means, and you need to find the means for you. We memorize Scripture so that we don’t sin (Ps. 119:11).If you are more interested in the app, here is a video showing how it works.
If you want to get started but don’t know where, here’s some practical steps:
- Organize. Find some way to organize the Scriptures that you want to memorize (notecards, journal, app) – just don’t lose your progress.
- Strengthen. Start with verses in your weak areas. Find good verses to help you fight the particular areas of sin in which you are more prone to weakness.
- Review. As you begin to get those under your belt, make sure that you are not moving on to the next verse without constantly and systematically reviewing the initial verses.
- Expand. Start expanding your repertoire. Move into areas that you need to memorize. Some of the areas that I have been working on as of late – full Psalms, chapters of epistles (or entire epistles), John’s “I AM” statements, Theme 66 (picking out a theme verse for all 66 books of the Bible), family discipleship verses, 10 Commandments, Creation, etc.
- Share. Find someone to keep you accountable in this endeavor. Make goals, review together, share progress.
I have really been trying to know God’s Word more and more.
Honestly, I am ashamed of how little of this blessed book I have committed to memory.
At my age, and concerning how long I have been walking with Christ, you would think I would know his Word more than I do. But God is much more concerned with my future than my past, so I’m going to work at it with the strength that he provides (Col. 1:29).
I am growing in this discipline. I pray you will consider doing the same.
Piper on Scripture Memory
I have had the privilege of hearing John Piper talk about his process of Scripture memory. He works hard at it. I found this video the other day from a message years ago. In the full sermon, he actually quotes Scripture for the first 15 minutes of his message. This clip shows him giving reasons why Scripture memory is so important.
Warning: he is very calm, and then at the 1:53 mark, you think he is going to come through the screen and peer into your soul. But trust me, it’s worth it. Enjoy the video, and then pick out the first verse you are going to work on memorizing today.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.