Hiding God’s word in our hearts

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In recent weeks I’ve been challenged to start memorising God’s word in a systematic fashion. During Lent I read a resource from Open Doors about life as a Christian in North Korea. It made me think how unbelievably blessed I am to have such easy access to the Bible, in multiple formats and translations, in my own language. I’m ashamed that I take it so much for granted.

It also made me think how I would fare in a place where it was illegal to own a Bible. One of the safest places to keep the Bible would be in the mind and heart!

The writer of Psalm 119 talks of how he has hidden God’s word in his heart, or in the ESV translation:

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

If I will do the work of committing God’s word to memory, he can bring it to my mind just when I need it. I’ve discovered that the process of getting the words and phrases to sink into my mind makes me look at certain verses in a new light, or notice small details that I would have overlooked. Having verses from the Bible buzzing around my neural networks can work on my heart, even when I’m doing other things or falling asleep! I’ve been surprised by how it is eminently possible to memorise extended portions of the Bible – I’m currently committing the book of Philippians to memory using a technique described in the first resource below.

Here are a few resources that are making my memorisation challenge easier and more enjoyable:

1)  An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture, Dr. Andrew Davis (Kindle link here)

This short book sets out a technique for memorising longer sections of scripture. It’s not rocket science, but it’s helpful. There’s also a helpful and motivating introduction that explains the benefits of memorising the Bible.

2) The Verses Project

This website is the work of a collaboration of creative and gifted people who are committed to helping Christians memorise God’s word. Each week there is a new section to memorise, complete with a musical rendition of the verses and visual art that can be downloaded, printed or just appreciated online. Parts of the Bible are tackled in a systematic way, building week on week.

3) Scripture Typer

This is an free online resource and pay-for app (currently priced at £3.99, available on iOS, Android and Kindle Fire) which allows you to learn Bible verses and then test yourself on them by typing them out (first letters of each word only) or viewing flash cards. Being a rather competitive soul, I love this! You can choose from a selection of pre-loaded themed verses or choose other sections of the Bible.

So, do you already memorise Bible verses? Or do you feel prompted to start?

Are there other resources or techniques you’ve found helpful?

Psalm 38

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This week, as part of the SheReadsTruth Lent challenge, we’ve been reflecting on Psalm 38.

There is an awful moment when the reality of our sin hits our consciousness. The Holy Spirit snaps the word, or deed or thought into sharp focus. At times like this I sometimes feel a deep physical ache in the centre of my chest. Heat rises in the back of my neck and my cheeks. I want to stare at the ground. Shame. Guilt.

In fact, it’s not just the ‘bad stuff’ we do.

Tim Keller puts it this way in The Prodigal God:

What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become a Christian we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord. We must admit that we’ve put our ultimate hope in both our wrongdoing and right doing we have been seeking to get around God or get control of God in order to get hold of those things.

The load of our sin is far too heavy for us to bear. It runs so much deeper than we even realise.

Those who meet God face-to-face simply fall at his feet. Isaiah cries, “I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa 6:5); Peter yells, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). John just collapses as if dead (Rev 1:17). The collision of His holiness with our sinfulness causes a gut-wrenching, physical reaction.

David groans in pain, his vision dim and his hearing dull. His sin and his pain is constantly before him. Can it possibly get any worse than this?

But David is able to draw breath again as he remembers the source of his hope – God will listen and God himself is his salvation! Confession and true repentance result in true forgiveness and true freedom.

David anticipated the beautiful, life-restoring forgiveness that Jesus brings.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

And the result:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

I think this verse of the famous hymn by Horatio Spafford sums it up perfectly:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.