This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Karen Hodge: Hi friends, my name is Karen Hodge. I have the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Risen Motherhood Board of Directors alongside some extraordinarily gifted board members. I’m also blessed to be surrounded by a lot of new life. I go to a lot of baby showers. I sit in the circle, and I see things, and I wonder, “Where was that clever fill-in-the-blank project when I had my children twenty plus years ago?” And even though the baby product industry has come a long way, what I really wish what I had back then was a resource like Risen Motherhood. Don’t get me wrong; I was blessed to have good gospel mom friends who reminded me about the hope of the gospel when the days were very long. Risen Motherhood is a good gospel friend. They help us think biblically about how the gospel applies to the majestic and the mundane moments of motherhood. And Risen Motherhood is also a good gift I love to give to the young moms in my life. So, would you join me in giving a gift that would make an eternal impact? The Risen Motherhood ministry currently runs through donations. As the Lord leads, I want to encourage you to give a one-time gift or—even better—monthly at risenmotherhood.com/give. They have a new initiative I’d like to take a moment to highlight: you can give in honor or memory of someone you love. Now with $100 or more one-time gift, Risen Motherhood will send a handwritten card to someone you care about. It’s a wonderful way to recognize those special milestones in life. By making a contribution to Risen Motherhood for birthdays, baby showers, Mother’s Day (which is just right around the corner), or even just to celebrate all the kids sleeping through the night, you can bring the hope of the gospel to moms all around the world by showing someone you love and care. You can give in memory of a parent, a grandparent, a friend, or even a miscarriage. It’s a special way to honor and recognize the deceased while furthering the gospel mission. Head to risenmotherhood.com/dedicategift to learn more about how you can do this. So thanks for partnering with us, friend, because your gifts are going to help a mom who’s listening today to better understand her calling by equipping her with God’s word. You also serve as a good gospel friend reminding her the gospel really does make a difference in every aspect of motherhood. Most importantly, your gift will not only impact this woman, but prayerfully, it will multiply by impacting the next generation.
Laura: Well, hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here.
Laura: We want to give a big thanks to Karen for being willing to do the intro for pledge week! It was super kind of her. As she mentioned, you can head to risenmotherhood.com/give to learn more if you’d like to join us in our ministry. On to today’s show! We’re talking about a really fun, but also sometimes hard, topic: scripture memory.
Emily: I think it feels particularly hard in motherhood, because so many of the things we’re met with each day are urgent. I need my shoe tied now! I need a snack right now! Or I see the mountain of dishes growing out of my sink, and I’m starting to set things down on the counter, so that needs to be done right now. Something like scripture memory feels like it can always go to the back of the list.
Laura: Oh, definitely! It’s something that requires you to slow down. I think that’s very difficult in motherhood. And it requires a lot of thinking...and my brain hurts.
Emily: Yes, it does! And our mental capacity has real limits when we’re not getting as much sleep as normal, or we’re really busy with a lot of things that are important—like caring for people. Our brain power can go to those things, and it can feel like we have none left.
Laura: The other hard thing for me in scripture memory is: there are other things that have more rewards for me to learn or things I see more immediate results in. Things like cooking a meal, decorating, or planning a kid’s party. I think there’s this element of scripture memory that’s so difficult because it takes a lot of time, brain power, and slowing down, but also there’s a lot of review involved in it. It’s something that feels different than other things, like I can one-and-done this meal tonight! I never have to think about it again!
Emily: Yes, but it’s really similar to other areas of life where we learn a topic. I think back to college when I was trained to be a special education teacher. There was a point when I couldn’t remember all the different diagnoses and all the ways they would impact my teaching strategies. In a real life situation, I’d have to go back to my textbooks or Internet, and search for it. I couldn’t do my job until I went back and looked at my notes word-for-word. It can make real-life responses cumbersome, and that’s the reality of scripture memory we don’t often think of today. It’s like learning anything else. Until it’s in our minds and hearts, we’re almost unable to use it in a nimble way, because we’re going back to look to see what God’s word says. Which we do want to go back; I’m not saying abandon your text! [Laughter] I think you guys get what I’m saying: it’s really helpful to have it wherever you are in your mind.
Laura: I like to think of scripture memory a little bit like exercising. I remind myself—although I’m not great at exercising all the time—it pays off dividends in so many other ways. It’s not just so I can do another push-up or not pass out during a workout program online; it’s so I can run and play with my kids, and feel strong enough to carry my daughter on a hike. I put in the work—for exercise or scripture memory—not for the moment but for all other areas of my life where I’ll reap a lot of benefit.
Emily: Yes, there are definitely a lot of benefits. We’re going to dive into some of them for today’s show. But before we jump in, we want to define scripture a little bit, because we realized sometimes we use a lot of different words and phrases: God’s word, the Bible, the law, the canon, the Word of Christ—
Laura: Do you say “the Word of Christ” very often?
Emily: Uh, yeah, like “the word of Christ dwell richly in you…”
Laura: Oh! Look at her quoting scripture! [Laughter]
Emily: Boom. Boom. So, basically, if you’re new to this, it can feel like these might be different or separate things, like the Bible is different than scripture. What we want to lay out today is a definition for what we’re talking about.
Laura: When we talk about memorizing scripture, we’re talking about memorizing the canon or the body of writing God has given to rule the church. That’s from John Frame’s Systematic Theology. Essentially, it’s the 66 books in the Bible that are bound together on a bookshelf somewhere in your home. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about memorizing scripture or God’s word or all those other words.
Emily: So let’s jump in with some reasons for why we should memorize scripture with all of the busy things we have going on. We’ve talked a bit about textbooks and exercising, but what does God’s word tell us? There are so many scriptures that tell us: You should do this!
Laura: We started looking them up for the show, and it was an endless well of, “Memorize God’s law!” We’ll just list a couple here for you, but know this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The first one is from Psalm 119. We were going to share a snippet but decided to read a longer section, because it’s so compelling. I’m going to read it quickly (v. 9-16):
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules[c] of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Emily: It’s such a compelling picture of the goodness of God’s word and the way it transforms us when it’s on our minds and in our hearts—when we can think about it all the time. That transitions us to the New Testament verse we wanted to share, which is Colossians 3:16:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing you in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
This is a model given in the early church for how this truth transformed them from the inside out and impacted their whole community in really important ways.
Laura: Another reason we want to memorize scripture is because we’re called to image Christ in this life. We see Jesus knew scripture and used it. In Matthew 4, when Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he spoke scripture to Satan from memory. He did it every time; it was his response to the temptation. We see in Matthew 4:
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.
You shall worship the Lord your God and in him only shall you serve.
So we see Jesus fighting temptation and all he used was God’s word. Another interesting fact is in the New Testament, he quoted the Old Testament 180 times, which I could never do if I tried. [Laughter]
Emily: It’s awesome! When you read through, you see him using the Old Testament scripture to answer questions and correct wrong thinking. He uses it to explain the circumstances and things happening in the past, present, and future. He uses it to respond to criticism, to resist temptation, to help him obey God, and to teach other people about God’s will and plan. It’s this incredibly robust and important part of who Jesus was, his ministry, and the words he used. We definitely want to model it.
Laura: So let’s talk through some benefits of memorizing scripture. We feel these are compelling reasons to want to store God’s word in our hearts. Sometimes we need to remember all of the wonderful benefits of the work of memorizing scripture and how it’ll pay off. The first thing is it gives you words to remember the gospel. Sometimes when we get stuck in anger, self-pity, sadness, or different things like that, we don’t know how to reset our hearts or pull out of a bad moment. Relying on scripture is a great way to preach the gospel to ourselves, because sometimes we forget truth or we get it a little twisted. Sometimes we’re not exactly sure what that truth is, especially when our emotions aren’t in line with God’s word. It’s a great chance for us to pull out the words we have stored in our hearts from God’s word. He promises to provide all we need, so the Holy Spirit is often working through that scripture we’re reciting in our heads.
Emily: I think another way it helps us is helping us resist temptation and obey God. That’s something Jackie Hill Perry brought up in her interview about identity with us a long time ago. God always provides a way of escape when we’re in temptation. Sometimes we’re looking for our circumstances to change, but sometimes the way of escape he provides is remember his word. His word helps us turn and repent, and escape the situation. We read in Hebrews 4:12:
The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
That’s something we talk a lot about at Risen Motherhood: check your heart, discern your heart. Well, what helps us do that? God’s very word.
Laura: Another reason to memorize scripture is it gives you words in ministry. I know having a toolkit for scripture in my arsenal has been so helpful as I’ve worked to evangelize. I haven’t done that as much as I wish, but in those moments, it’s been great to go back to something like the “Romans Road.” There are different programs like that one that help you memorize a selection of verses to help communicate the four parts of the gospel. As we’re evangelizing, making disciples, or training others in God’s word, having scripture is helpful to feel confident and to be bold as we interact with others. I know the words I’m speaking aren’t my own, their God’s word, so they’re truthful, powerful, and the Holy Spirit works through them.
Emily: To build on that: the friendship and relationship component. Maybe you have a family member or friend experiencing grief or sorrow; there are some common things in motherhood we face like miscarriage, struggles with infertility, slow-moving adoption, difficult diagnosis, or discouragment in marriage. Even when we can’t relate specifically, sometimes we can go back to scripture and find words of comfort, love, and support. These are not words to put a bandaid on their problem or a quick, “Everything’s going to be okay!” but to truly meet them with encouragement so they have hope.
Laura: Another one relates to our children. How do we teach our children what we don’t know? We can’t. A lot of times we’re met with situations where we don’t have the Bible handy, or even if we did, we may not know exactly where to look. But hiding God’s word in our hearts will help us as we equip, train, and raise our children. We can use it in discipline and counsel. And also I think this models a great practice for our kids; seeing that we value it shows them, as they grow older, what they should be valuing as well.
Emily: Another one that comes up a lot in motherhood is the need for wisdom in decision-making. Again, a lot of these things feel like gray areas; as we know the Word of God, it can help us remember what we should hold fast to and if it’s a clear command from the Lord. Then we can more easily discern the gray areas where we might need to consider what’s going on in our hearts.
Laura: God’s word says it’ll bring us blessing. This isn’t necessarily health or wealth. Joshua 1:8 says:
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth...for then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.
This doesn’t mean monetarily necessarily. This means the blessing is greater love, care, and delight in God, which is really the greatest gift of all.
Emily: Another thing is it strengthens all of our spiritual disciplines the more we have God’s word stored in our heart. It helps us pray. We know what to pray, because we want to focus our prayers on what God has already revealed in his word and ask him things based on that. Bible study helps us make connections and draw conclusions, because you’re reading the Old Testament passage and realize it sounds familiar! Even if you need to use handy ol’ Google, you can find that scripture. It helps you with personal meditation on God and his attributes. Overall, it helps you love God more. When you can sit on your couch, maybe with a sick kid on your lap, and you’re able to draw to mind truth from his word and really chew on it for a little while, it really does help encourage you and increase your love for God.
Laura: Yes! Now, very quickly, we want to jump into a couple of practical pieces. We don’t have a ton of time for this, but we’ll put a lot of stuff in our show notes for this. There are a ton of people talking about this and a lot of books—easy to read books—you can check out on this. But we’re going to talk a little bit about the way we do this.
The first thing is: study and understand the passage. If you’re going to do the work to memorize something, make sure you understand the context, that you’ve studied the context, and make sure you have a handle on it. When it comes down to actually memorizing it, the meaning will help you remember.
Emily: I think that’s my tip right there. I’ve pretty much memorized scripture by reading it over and over and over again—or listening to it. A lot of times that happens as I’m studying a book of the Bible, because I have to read it so much to get to that point of interpretation and application. I look back in hindsight and see I knew it because I spent so much time in it.
Laura: Emily’s always whipping out little phrases of scripture—
Emily: I can’t tell you where it’s at. [Laughter]
Laura: But she’s like, “Goooogle! Here we go.” [Laughter] But that’s helpful to have those phrases captured. I think another quick tip is to involve your kids. As moms, we’re around our kids all day and often, they’re better at memorizing scripture than we are. At least mine are better than I am. I think it’s helpful, because they get really excited. I think I’ve shared this before, but when I’m in the rhythm of scripture memory, my kids will get vitamins after we’ve practiced for the day.
Emily: Gummy vitamins. Fun vitamins.
Laura: Yes! They’re super motivated. They’ll ask, “Mom, mom! Are we going to memorize scripture?” It’s really helpful for me, because if my kids want to, I’m held accountable. That’s a super practical tip for you!
Emily: Yeah, so definitely head over to our show notes for many more ideas. We wanted to give this word at the end, because I know after hearing after this–even recording a show like this—my first instinct is to feel really guilty and burdened that this is another thing I’m not doing well enough or another thing I’m failing at or disappointing God in. So we wanted to stop and say: moms, we are justified by grace through faith. This means God declares who he is and takes initiative on our behalf while we were still dead in our sins, and after we’re free, he gives us the expectations, commands, and commissions. Whenever we hear things like, “Go memorize scripture!” it can sound like, “If you store up God’s word in your heart, he’s going to like you or accept you or help you.” But it’s really the other way around. He loves you and accepts you and helps you in Christ first. With that mindset, we can excitedly go and memorize scripture.
Laura: Amen. Well, we hope you’re motivated to get started today! Head over to our show notes for tons of resources on this. You probably have lots of practical questions; well, we have answered them on our show notes. On risenmotherhood.com you’ll find the link to our show notes, and of course, check us out on social media @risenmotherhood across all the platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Have a great day, guys!