Scripture Memory: We believe it’s important but we rarely practice it

Chuck Swindoll refers to Scripture memory as the most under-used spiritual resource of today’s Christian. In my estimation from my years as a pastor, I would have to agree. I rarely meet Christians who are regularly memorizing God’s Word. That’s why I was so excited about what happened this morning.

For the last five weeks every Tuesday morning at 6:00 AM the Lord has graciously provided the opportunity for me to meet with 50-60 men doing what we call 12th Man Training.  For 20 minutes I teach, and then for 35 minutes the men gather around a table with 4-5 other men providing an opportunity for further discovery, accountability, application. The teaching time is then put to a YouTube channel for easy access for those whose work obligations cause them to miss occasionally. Each week the men receive one Life Application Question associated with the teaching that they are responsible for working on over the next 7 days. Last week’s lesson was on the importance of Scripture memory as a means of overcoming temptation. The Life Application Question was: Which of temptation’s lies do you most often fall to? Which passage will you memorize this week to combat the lie with truth? You can view that lesson here:

So today my heart was so encouraged when I asked the question, “Which of you are now regularly working at memorizing Scripture?” Nearly every hand went up. Then I asked a follow-up question: “Which of you would acknowledge that has not been the pattern of your past?” Again, nearly every hand went up. For a moment, it took my breath away – fifty men equipping themselves for daily spiritual battles through the memorization of the Word – something they had not been doing previously. Imagine the impact of that effort if it’s continued over the next year or two.

I believe that we remember Scripture best, when we learn the verses that will help us at our point of need. This provides instant application for the text to our temptation or struggle. That doesn’t mean we simply learn verses about our sins. Rather, we ought to memorize from both a defensive and offensive posture. To play good defense, we memorize verses in the lie/truth formula as this exposes temptation’s deception. To play good offense, we memorize verses about the character of God and the nature of the gospel as this weakens temptation’s appeal.

You can read more about how to do 12th Man Training with your men’s  group here:

Improving my listening by focusing my thoughts…

My mind has a tendency to wander. Perhaps yours does too. So when I silence my cell phone in a service I want to attempt to shut off my mental day-timer too. Letting the day’s events run through my mind is not conducive to hearing what God desires for me to learn.

It often doesn’t feel like I’m in control of my thoughts because they are so hard to control. But the Scripture states that by God’s strength I can control them (2 Cor. 10:5), and he commands me to as well (Phil. 4:8).

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).

I find this personally challenging in ministry. Whether racing to class or Sunday services my mind is racing too. I am looking for people I need to see. I’m remembering commitments I need to keep. It’s hard to limit my thoughts to God’s Word in those moments so that I might be attentive. But it is so necessary. And while it may not feel possible, God’s Word promises me it is.

I like the picture my brother-in-law shared with me of Chuck Swindoll who, prior to speaking at a chapel service at Dallas Seminary, was talking to his daughter. It was as if everything else was background noise. There were students pressing in for books to be signed. There was music being played, but none of it seemed to matter. Swindoll was focused on hearing his daughter. His eyes were glued on her as she spoke to him. He was listening…intensely.

That is the focus you and I need to bring when God’s Word is being taught, or when we are simply opening a Bible for our quiet-time. We need to limit the other thoughts so that we can truly listen to what God is saying. Don’t try to multi-task with God. Give him your undivided attention. You’re sure to hear his voice more clearly.