This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part one.
Choose a Specific Time and a Quiet Place
Very little gets accomplished in our lives that isn’t planned. If you are seriously going to memorize Scripture, you must be willing to block off a section of time when you are free from other distractions of life. I’m not talking about your commute drive or time in the check-out line at Walmart! I’m talking about time like Jesus spent alone in communion with His Father: “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35). “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23) .
Most of us today resist being “alone.” We feel like we’ve always got to be in the middle of the action. May I say, that some of the loneliest people in the world are in the middle of a crowd. They are surrounded by people, but are lonely. There is a huge difference between loneliness and solitude. Solitude is something you choose – and you better – if you plan to survive in this world. We need time with God and His Word “alone!”
You say, “You don’t understand my world. I’m surrounded by people from the time I get up until I go to bed – my time is never my own.” And I say, that’s why you’re frustrated and about to “burn out!” In Mark chapter one, Jesus was surrounded by people (read his schedule beginning in verse twenty one!) But the next morning, while everyone else was still asleep, He chose a solitary place (verse 35.) Believe me, there is a time when no one else is up! You say, “But I’m not a morning person.” You can become one. We’re talking about success here rather than failure! Someone has said, “The difference between genius and average is what you do while every one else is sleeping!” Get up thirty minutes before everyone else does and see what a difference it will make in your spiritual life as you spend that time memorizing God’s Word.
Organize by Topic
The purpose of memorization is to be able to recall Scripture when you need it, for the purpose you need it for. “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ”(Acts 18:28). The Bible covers hundreds of subjects and it is through these topics that it applies to our lives. (See Appendix I for a list of topics of sin and the scriptures helping us to conquer those sins.) When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4), He did not just throw out any old verse to overcome the temptation. He used specific Old Testament Scriptures that dealt with the temptation. When Satan tempted Him to turn the stones into bread to ease His hunger, He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3: “. . .It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Choose a topic: It may be an area of sin that you are struggling with like pride, or selfishness. Or maybe it’s a subject you plan to preach on like heaven or hell. Get a concordance and look up that subject – you will find dozens of verses listed under the major topics of the Bible.
Get some cards and write the verses out on those “memory” cards. It doesn’t matter what size you use – it depends on how good your eyes are. I used a small card about the size of a business card (a 4x6 index card cut into four equal parts). Writing the verses out on these cards is the first process of memorizing. I am aware that there are programs where you can buy the cards already printed. I had a pastor once ask me if he could “photo-copy” my cards. I said, “Sure, but they’ll never make it out of your desk drawer if you do.” There is great value in writing the verses out in long hand. God commanded it to be done in the Old Testament. “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9). “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites” (Deuteronomy 17:18). “And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. . . And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly” (Deuteronomy 27:3,8).
In all of the sermon preparation, lecture notes, and writing that I have done over the years, I have never one time in my life, “cut and pasted” Scripture. Laugh if you want, but I believe when God said to “Study to show thyself approved unto God. . .” He wasn’t thinking about “point and click” “cut and paste!” There is a disciplined process in memorization and it starts with writing out the verses.
This is part two of this article. Please click here to read part three or four.
This article is an excerpt from Appendix 1 of Homiletics from the Heart available from Striving Together Publications.