Spiritual Discipline; Memorizing the Word of God
We’ve been discussing becoming godlier by being more disciplined. Being undisciplined in anything is unhealthy. If you’re undisciplined in what you put into your body, you won’t perform at your best. If we are undisciplined spiritually, we won’t be healthy spiritually.
We’ve been in 1 Timothy 4:7 which says, “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Some translations actually say instead of discipline yourself, exercise yourself for the purpose of godliness. The most important exercise is the discipline of Bible intake, memorizing the Word of God.
Last time, we went to God’s gym to exercise ourselves for the purpose of godliness, and we said there were five virtual machines we could work out on in this gym. We only got to three of them last time: hearing the Word, reading the Word and studying the Word.
Today we’re going to go to the next exercise machine (again for the purpose of godliness), and this exercise (again still around Bible intake) is… Are you ready? Memorizing the Word of God. I know. I know. Here it is…modern-day martyrdom, right? Memorize? Are you kidding? What, are we in junior high school? I haven’t memorized anything since the Gettysburg Address in ninth grade.
We make a lot of excuses to avoid this exercise. It’s too hard. I have a bad memory. No, you don’t have a bad memory; you have a lack of discipline. We remember songs from 10 to 20 years ago. I blew my wife away the other day when I started singing a jingle from an old Alka-Seltzer commercial. “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”
Why memorize Scripture? Okay, let me give you four quick reasons.
- Memorizing the Word of God supplies spiritual power. Psalm 119:11 says “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” That’s spiritual power. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, but he can’t give you a weapon you haven’t stored in the armory of your mind. What if you were getting anxious in the waiting room waiting for a job interview, and the Holy Spirit gave you, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Or the Holy Spirit whispers, “I can do all things through Christ…” Big difference, huh? Why memorize? Spiritual power.
- It strengthens our faith. Keep God’s Word in you, and it will strengthen your faith. Proverbs 22:17-19.
- It helps you to witness to others and give good counsel.
- It is a means of God’s guidance. Psalm 119:24.
How can I memorize Scripture? First, disregard the devil telling you that you can’t. Have a plan. Select a few verses relevant to your current situation. Write out the verse. Put it on a little sticky-note. Put it on your dashboard. Put in on the mirror. Grab an accountability partner, your spouse, maybe a believer at work.
The last exercise is Scripture meditation. What are we talking about here? Meditation on God’s Word is just deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purpose of understanding it, applying it, and prayer. Worldly meditation talks about emptying your mind. We’re talking about filling it with truth. Worldly meditation talks about being mentally passive. We’re talking about constructive mental activity, not passivity.
It’s like you’re a cup of hot water, and Bible intake is the tea bag. Hearing and reading the Word is like dipping the tea bag in the cup. Studying the Word is like dipping it repeatedly. Meditating on the Word is like leaving that tea bag in there to soak. Water turns reddish brown, and the Word changes you; it will saturate your whole conversation.
Why meditate? We think about what we enjoy, what we delight in. If you love him or her, you think about that boyfriend or girlfriend or wife or husband all the time. Do you love God and his Word? Psalm 119:15, “I will meditate on thy [Word]…” Psalm 4:4, “…meditate in your heart…” Psalm 27:4, “…meditate in his temple.” Psalm 63:6, “…meditate on thee in the night watches.”
The fruit of meditation is action. See, all of these exercises: hearing the Word, reading the Word, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, are all incomplete without application. “Be a doer of the Word,” James tells us in James 1:22. Jesus said, “Be a doer and be blessed,” John 13:17. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, especially in this area of Bible intake. Memorize the Word of God.