From Pastor Tony Cecil:
As we continue through our Victory sermon series, we think it will be of tremendous spiritual benefit to ask you to memorize Romans 8 with us. The primary reason we are asking this is because memorizing Scripture is perhaps the single most crucial element to spiritual growth and victory over sin.
When we memorize Holy Scripture, several things happen. Psalm 119:11 tells us the psalmist hid God’s Word in his heart so that he would not sin against God. Not only did he hear and read the Word, but he also internalized it and laid it up in his mind and memory for future use. Ephesians 6:13-17 describes the believer’s spiritual armor in the battle for our souls and spiritual survival. All of the elements of the armor are defensive except one. The only offensive weapon is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). Just as Jesus used God’s Word to fend off attacks of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11), so must we be able to use the same weapon. Finally, in Romans 8 will learn that the only way that we will “put to death the deeds of the body” is by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing fuels the filling of the Holy Spirit more in our lives than meditating upon God’s promises and actively trusting them! I can think of no other practice that better engenders biblical meditation that leads to faith and joy than memorizing Scripture.
Approximately 8-10 years ago, I made a commitment to put down my index cards that helped me memorize 1-2 verses that I selected from the Bible, and instead I began memorizing larger portions of Scripture (chapters and even entire books). I did this because it allowed me, to not only memorize specific verses, but also to gain the context in which those verses were written. Plus, it allowed me to focus upon all that God had to say to a specific writer at a specific point in time. Honestly, another motivating factor came when I was studying to preach through Romans to a previous congregation in which I served. In his commentary on Romans 1, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained that it wasn’t uncommon several years ago for regular church members who weren’t “pastors” to have the entire book of Romans memorized. Upon seeing my own personal laziness that manifested itself in my approach to Scripture, I began the task of taking my memorization of Scripture to another level.
Now I know what you’re saying. I’ve heard it all before: “I can’t memorize Scripture because I have a terrible memory.” But here’s the thing – YOU’RE WRONG. You might indeed have a terrible memory, but you can still memorize Scripture! I know this because I have a terrible memory. It’s horrid. I struggle with remembering names, things I’ve committed to doing, things I’ve been sent to the grocery to pick up, etc. You name it, I have a hard time remembering it. The older I get, the problem seems to be getting exponentially worse. And yet, in the last several years, I’ve been able to memorize Romans 1-8, Philippians, Titus, Psalm 119, Hebrew 1-4 and other select passages and chapters in the Bible.
Tips on Memorizing Scripture
As you begin the task of memorizing Romans 8, understand that there are no magic tricks to memorizing long passages of Scripture. It takes a bit of discipline and work, but anyone can do it. Here are some practices I have found extremely beneficial in trying to memorize Scripture:
- Pray and ask God’s help! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! Before you set out to memorize anything ask God to open your mind to His Word, to fellowship with you as you mediate upon His Word, and to help you remember what you’re trying to memorize. Believe that He will! We need the Spirit to help us bear fruit for God (Rom. 7:5).
- Commit to setting aside multiple 15-minute blocks a week to review and continue your progress. I don’t memorize every day, but I would say I commit to around 90-120 minutes a week to memorizing.
- Turn off the television and put away your phone.
- Print a specific chapter/passage out on paper to help in memorizing. Being able to see the passage will help you embed the verses in your mind. Some people chose to write it out with a pen or pencil. For me, the approach that worked best was copying and pasting the entire passage on a single piece of paper. I also placed some space in-between verses so I could focus on memorizing one verse at a time. Since Romans 8 contains thirty-nine verses, I had to put it on the front and back of a single piece of paper. Typically, I just printed the first page out on a piece of paper, then reinserted that same sheet back into my printer so that I could print the second page on the opposite side of the paper. My memorization sheet can be found at the bottom of this post.
- Print multiple memorization sheets out and stash them everywhere. I would place a copy in my car, by my bed, in my bathroom, on my desk at work, and any other place that I would find myself frequenting.
- Memorize verse 1. Once you have a grasp on verse 1, memorize verse 2. Then before moving on to verse 3, recite verses 1-2 together. Do this all the way through the passage.
- As you memorize, say the verse aloud. Remembering how words sounds will help you embed them into your long-term memory.
- Now this is important: As you say these verse aloud, pretend like you’re the author of the letter. Say the words as you think the author would say the words to the recipients if he were standing face-to-face with them. If you practice inflection when you say the words aloud, it will help you get the sense of the text and remember it better. Just like you can sometimes only remember the words to a song by singing it, you will be greatly aided in remembering Scripture if you treat it as a real conservation to real people with real feeling and personal meaning.
- Repeat! Repeat! Repeat! Without repetition, there will be no memorization.
- Don’t quit! If you’re having a bad day (and you will), just stop and come back at a later time. The key is not memorizing every day at the same exact time, but finding the right time, multiple times throughout a week, to devote yourself to this great and beneficial task.
These are just a few things that have helped me. You might find other practices that help you memorize Scripture. You can simply google “How to memorize Scripture” to access a host of great resources.
We pray that you’ll give it a try, along with us, as we journey through Romans 8 in our current sermon series. No one will be tested or recognized for memorizing (or not memorizing) Romans 8. But, everyone who does memorize the chapter will reap a multitude of spiritual benefits in their personal fellowship with Christ, as well as their personal battle against sin.
I have a dream of dying. Yeah, I know it’s a bit morbid, but people tell me so am I. In this dream, I’m lying in a hospital bed suffering and in pain, and surrounded by my wife, kids and grand-kids. As I go through the process of dying, it’s an ugly, horrid experience that involves much weeping from my wife, my kids, my grand-kids, and even me. As I’ve personally witnessed before in ministry, Satan is trying his best to arouse questions about God’s goodness in the minds of my family and cause their faith to falter. But here’s the dream, in the midst of the suffering and tears and temptation, we receive strength, comfort and a reminder from the Holy Spirit as I say these words from my heart: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Come quickly Lord Jesus! But if you tarry, we ask for the grace to suffer and die with our eyes on your face and your word on our lips! Jesus, may your word dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16) through our commitment to store it our hearts.
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