About two years ago, I made a life-altering decision.
It has had an amazingly positive impact on my family—although that wasn’t the intention. It has brought the family closer. It has given us even more common ground for discussions. Not only has it drawn us closer together, it has drawn us closer to God.
This decision is one that I had been thinking about for a long time. Although I’ve previously worked on it off and on, I had never fully committed to the process.
At times, it has been an endeavor which seemed hopelessly far away. Yet I could have seized it at any time.
When I did finally decide to go after this opportunity and determined that I would find a way to make it work, it brought blessing upon blessing. It changed my thinking. It altered my priorities. And, although it may sound unoriginal, it made me happier!
I am sharing this because I believe it can be a life-changing decision for you as well. I would like to encourage you to use flash cards daily to deeply entrench God’s Word in your mind.
I hope you aren’t let down by the simplicity of this admonition. Memorizing scriptures using flash cards can be life-changing, but it is a daily commitment. And it is something that nearly everyone can do.
Be a Doer
For the longest time, I was one who used the excuse, “I just don’t have a good memory.” I used it as a crutch. I had prayed about this before, asking God to help me with this shortcoming, but I really wasn’t serious about doing my part to address it.
Probably like many of our readers, I could explain the principle of various Bible issues but couldn’t always provide the scriptures to back it up. God’s Word has authority. Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Knowing God’s Word is being able to handle God’s sword. It is the definitive source of knowledge on how to live our lives.
The verse preceding tells us that it takes action to prepare for Christ’s return—that we have to be doers: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (verse 11).
Notice this familiar scripture: “But he answered and said, 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). Having God’s scriptures embedded in our minds helps us to know how to live a life of peace and happiness. God’s Word provides direction and relaxed faith, knowing we can completely trust that what He has said will work out. It is not in man to direct his own steps (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 16:25).
Knowing God’s Word so well that specific scriptures come to mind provides a moral compass in our lives that helps us navigate the tumultuous seas of life—it allows God to steer our proverbial ship. Equally as important, knowing the scriptures prepares us to serve others by teaching the depth of their meaning in the future. Today, we prepare to teach by doing, by having God’s Word impact all our thoughts and actions.
Daily reviewing God’s Word, for the purpose of memorizing it, helps us better understand the scriptures as we contemplate their deeper meaning and application. Having scriptures come to mind that address what is happening in our daily lives helps us take appropriate action and gives us a point of reference to take matters to God in prayer as we ask for direction (Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 10:23). In this way, it is the opposite of Romans 1:28, where it reads in part, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge ….”
Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Knowing God’s Word enables us to have His mind in us. This results in a direct impact on our thinking and ultimately our actions.
There is a great joy that comes from being able to recall God’s Word as various situations arise throughout the day. Great blessings then come from acting on it! One common memory scripture declares: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18). God’s Word is law. It gives instruction, which produces happiness. His Word also provides us the vision for what’s coming and how we can prepare for it. Together, the vision and the law yield happiness.
This happiness can be a constant in our lives. God wants us to radiate with happiness, regardless of our current state in life. He wants to fuel us with His Word. His Word is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
This is the goal! To have God’s Word impacting all of our thoughts and actions so that we are being made “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Verse 15 highlights another reason why we need to know these scriptures: “… which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Setting the Example
One of the driving factors for working on memorizing scriptures was to help the students taking my 9th-12th-grade Bible class at Imperial Academy. Each week, we learned seven scriptures that were tied to the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course lesson we were studying at the time.
For the students, seven scriptures is a manageable, bite-size assignment. We memorized one scripture word for word and learned the others as scripture identification—reading the scripture and either writing or speaking the reference from memory. Although manageable, it does require effort. The goal is not to just cram for the quiz at the end of the week, but to labor to commit these verses to long-term memory. This happens best by daily review.
When I first began working on the scriptures, I normally would write them out and review them in our family room while sitting on the couch. I didn’t bring any attention to what I was doing; I just launched into it.
About a month after starting, I decided to add more scriptures. I began pulling these mainly from the Bible Studies and Sabbath messages. I established the habit of putting an asterisk beside the verses I felt would be helpful to commit to memory. Later, I would put a check mark beside the verse once the flash card was made. This has also made reviewing my notes take on new life.
Actually, I was surprised by how many asterisks I began adding. My first thought was, There is no way I will learn all these!
What I have actually found is that the more verses I memorize, the easier the progress becomes!
The number of scriptures I had memorized began to slowly grow. After a week or two, my wife asked me how I was progressing. I was excited to share my advancements. She then said that this was something she would like to do and asked if she could have the scripture list. Then my oldest son asked for the list. Next followed my youngest son, who took the shortcut and just asked to use my cards.
It had become a family activity! We do it often on road trips and Sabbath evenings.
While I didn’t have family building as an objective when I started, it has become one of the best benefits in this endeavor. Driving to the Feast of Tabernacles, we had lots of time to spend working on scriptures in the car. We also shared different ideas for remembering them.
This common ground is another bonus that has yielded positive fruit. One example comes in the form of resolving problems. It’s certainly true that God’s Word cuts to the bone and is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” What scripture is that? Asking the boys what scripture would apply to a given situation, or quoting a scriptural reference, brings issues to a sudden resolution! It is worth its weight in gold!
I have also noticed a significant change of attitude. The boys in particular are more compliant and generally happier. Perhaps this could be partly attributed to something else, but I tend to believe there is a direct correlation with God’s Word residing daily in their minds. Their Bible study time has also increased without my suggesting it!
For me, it has brought far more focus to my thinking. I feel like I am constantly contemplating how different scriptures could apply throughout the day. I better understand the meaning of them more by going over them daily. I know that I’m much better at applying them. It’s not that I didn’t know the scriptures before; it’s just that now I’m thinking about the meaning a lot more, and that is translating into action. It has deepened my love for God and His Word.
You could ask, “Why should I spend the time and energy memorizing Scripture now? When I’m spirit, I will have perfect recall of all of the scriptures.” One answer is that scripture memorization promotes character development. Character development is learning to think and act like God, to live the way the Father and Christ do. We are continually striving to express godly love. Memorizing scriptures helps us immensely with this process. It is God’s Word, actively impacting our minds and shaping our thoughts and actions—developing His perfect holy righteous character.
It is essential to remember that God’s Word tells us not to compare ourselves with others (2 Corinthians 10:12). God has given us all different abilities and will reward us according to our effort (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27). Don’t worry about how someone else might be able to memorize scriptures more easily. Focus on the fact that learning the scriptures will draw you closer to God and will help you think the way He thinks!
Take action and enjoy the benefits of memorizing Scripture! Don’t give yourself an out. Start today, maybe even this hour. Then stick with it—persevere!
This can be a life-changing experience for you and your family—if you choose to take action to deeply entrench God’s Word in your mind.
It will have eternal consequences!