Good morning, Blogging Family! Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. If you’re from a tradition that celebrates Lent, Ash Wednesday is the first day of a forty-day fast that culminates with Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection on Easter Sunday. “Fasting” can mean anything, from powering off nonessential devices, to taking a break from social media, to passing on dessert. I think the unsatisfied desires experienced during Lent are a wonderful reminder that Christ gave up his heavenly throne to be born as a human and pay for our sins in his physical body, before being raised to life again. Because He died and lives again, He can offer forgiveness and eternal life.
As much as I affirm Lent’s “putting off” worldly desires, I wonder if we should be more intentional about “putting on” God-focused habits during these same forty days. The Apostle Paul describes this “put-off”, “put-on” process quite beautifully in his letter to the Ephesians:
“Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him,throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (4:21-24)
One discipline I’d challenge all of us to consider is Scripture memorization. “Memorization” sounds intimidating when people (not us, just people) have begun saving their own cell phone numbers as contacts. But God actually commands us to memorize his word. The second stanza in Psalm 119 opens with these words:
How can a young person stay pure?
By obeying your word.
I have tried hard to find you—
don’t let me wander from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (119:9-11)
The psalmist doesn’t mention a target chapter or book, a monthly average, or a yearly goal, although those are excellent helpers. I’ve personally benefited from them all at different times. The psalmist is concerned with a way of life. Whether we memorize one verse a year or one hundred, the point is that we need the Word of God circulating in our minds each day if we’re to resist temptation and grow spiritually as much as we could. According to God, that’s not a “nice if.” It’s a “must-do.”
Will you join me in obeying God’s command?
My personal capacity is one new verse or three review verses (ones I knew when I was younger) per week. I’m “reviewing” Philippians and hope to be done by July 1st.
Not sure how to start memorizing? Here are some basic tips and tricks:
- Set a deadline (we all work better with a specific goal in mind)
- Find a buddy (ideally to memorize with you, but at least to keep you accountable)
- Pick a meaningful verse(s) (choose a passage God has used powerfully in your own life; picking verses based on other factors may be less motivating)
- Set a specific time and place to practice (memory practice shouldn’t take more than five minutes, but it’s helpful to make the routine as consistent as possible)
- There are many ways to memorize: I’m a tactile learner so I usually write out my verse five times on a sheet of paper each morning. Be creative!
- Consider carrying a 3×5 card with you to review, or taping it somewhere you can see it throughout the day
I hope some of these tips might help you get over the hump of starting your Bible memory journey. They’re based on my experience and what I’ve learned from other believers, but we’re all very fallible. Use what you like and ignore the rest! Everyone learns differently, so try everything you can come up with and see what works. Let me know! 😊
Notwithstanding all these creative options, we should remember that memorizing Scripture is about communing with the God of the verses we memorize, not competing with small group buddies for highest number of verses recited in one meeting. The psalmist in Psalm 119 is trying hard to find God. He’s afraid of wandering away from the Lord and falling into sin. Ultimately, we internalize Scripture because it is the written Word of God. Putting off worldly pleasures only takes us halfway to understanding of what it means to live in the Holy Spirit, redeemed by the blood of Christ. With the Lord’s help, we must put on our new nature by filling our minds with truths about his righteousness and holiness.
3 thoughts on “Another Side to Lent.”
Jack Gudgel, now with Jesus, would write the 1st letter of each word under his written-out verse, and after writing the set five times, he would write five times only the letters.
The Lord is my Shepherd.
T L i m S
Thanks for putting a positive spin on Lent!
I start every class with Bible memory in French at every level. It is amazing to see the effects it has on students as each year passes by from French 1 to 4Honors. God really does change us as we memorize His Word. It is like intentionally inviting Him into our life each day. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts, Grace! I pray for you and your whole family regularly!
Consistent Scripture memorization is a practice I’ve been inclined to do for some time, but you gave me the nudge I needed to finally implement it. Thank you for the words of light and encouragement on this journey of life, Grace. 🙏