Tag Archives: memorize

Awana and one of the first Bible verses people should learn

My wife and I go to an inner-city church on Sunday nights to teach an Awana Bible study program to the kids.  It has been an interesting process.  The theme verse that they repeat every week is 2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

That is so foundational to any study of the Bible.  It grounds many important truths.

“Do your best” — That is a phrase I wouldn’t necessarily expect to see in the Bible.  It obviously doesn’t mean to do your best to save yourself, as that is impossible.  It is all up to Jesus.  But we are commanded to do our best to properly handle the word of God.

Think of how we do our best in so many other areas: Tests at school, projects at work, hobbies, sports, etc.  We spend hours of hard work and deep thought to do our best.  Yet we can get very sloppy when approaching the word of God.  Do we really do our best to handle it correctly?

“present yourself to God” — Yes, the audience of one is paying attention to how we treat his word.  He cares if we handle his word accurately or not.

“a workman” — Yes, it is work.  Eternally satisfying work, but work.

“does not need to be ashamed” — So mishandling God’s word would be something to be ashamed of?  Yes.

“correctly handle” — There is a way to correctly handle God’s truths.  It isn’t a free-for-all where everyone gets their own special revelation.

“the word of truth” — It is indeed the word of truth.  Beware of those who claim the name of Christ yet deny that.  Also see 1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

The Awana program seems pretty solid.  It is mainly geared to young kids, though my youngest daughter did it for a couple years in high school and got a lot out of it.  I find it a little heavy on memorization relative to context, but I realize that young kids have spongy brains and that it is a prime time to get them to remember these verses (schools should overhaul what they teach at different ages, such as learning languages in the early years, but that’s another topic).

I was thrilled one night when they were told about Philippians 4:13, a commonly misunderstood verse.  I was able to explain what it really meant, and the kids seemed to get it.  I pray that they will go through life getting that verse right the first time and sharing the great news of it with others.

P.S. Here are the Powerpoint slides to one of my all-time favorites lessons on reading the Bible in context.  I have gotten verses wrong many times — including all the examples in the presentation — so it is a lesson I never want to forget.  

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Memorizing Bible verses

bible3.jpgPsalm 119:9, 11 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Memorizing verses may sound like an endeavor just for young children, but it is valuable for us all. It helps us know God’s Word better, counter temptation, have ready answers, and more. How did Jesus respond to Satan’s temptations? With scripture.

I used to think I couldn’t memorize scriptures, but I finally realized I just wasn’t trying very hard. Here are some tips:

  • Try to memorize 1-2 verses per week.
  • Use them!
  • Meditate on the meaning of the verses (be sure to understand their context from the passages around them).
  • Find verses that have special meaning to you.
  • Be sure to refresh yourself now and then or you’ll forget them.
  • Try the Topical Memory System. It includes little cards with verses on them.

Methods – pick the one that works for you (or more than one)

  • Write them out several times
  • Record them and listen to them in your car or elsewhere
  • Read one every time you get in the car (or before bed, etc.)

What worked best for me was when I recorded them as individual .mp3 files then listened to them over and over when driving, mowing the lawn, jogging, etc. I would listen to one several times then repeat it. After doing this for a few days I had it memorized.

Here are files of my favorite verses in both Microsoft Word & Excel.

Do you need to memorize the book, chapter and verse?  Those are helpful, but the key is to memorize the words themselves (or accurate paraphrases).  Remember, the chapters and verses weren’t in the originals.  When Jesus quoted the Old Testament, which He did a lot (~10% of the “red letters” were “black letters”) and Paul, Peter and others as well, they didn’t even mention the authors (at least none come to mind).

God sanctifies us and transforms us via his word:

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.