“In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus tells us. Being a child of God means being an enemy of Satan and his demons. The more fervent we are in our walk with Christ, the harder Satan works to lead us astray. One of the ways we can fortify ourselves against demonic oppression is committing scripture to memory. I like to call it building up our spiritual arsenal.
Although I’ve been a Christian since 1977, it wasn’t until 2007 that I became more intentional about memorizing scripture. I was homeless at the time, living at the People’s City Mission in Lincoln, Nebr. when I was invited to join a recovery program for women called The Mirror Project. The director, Renita (Tyrance) Robinson, provided a small group of troubled women a safe place to work through some tough issues while helping us grow stronger in our faith.
Every Friday morning we gals would gather in the classroom, which doubled as our lounge, where we would take turns reciting the Bible verse each of us had selected for memorization. I had always known that memorizing scripture was an important element in my spiritual growth, but it took The Mirror Project to help me begin utilizing this vital tool and weapon.
Throughout the Bible we see references to spiritual warfare. Sometimes it’s subtle, such as in the case of the serpent convincing Eve that eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was actually a good idea (Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-6). We also see examples where Satan is much less subtle, such as when he tries to persuade Jesus to worship him by offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world” (Luke 4:5-7).
Ananias and his wife, Sapphira had the opportunity to sell their possessions and donate the proceeds to the community chest. Rather than giving all of the money so that everyone would receive what they needed, Ananias and Sapphira chose to withhold some of it and keep it for themselves (Acts 4:32-35, 5:1-4). This is an illustration of greed, but it also can be viewed as a case of fear.
We’ve all been in situations where we found it difficult to trust that our needs would be met if we gave up control of our lives. But this is one of the things God asks of His children: Surrender ownership of our lives to Him and trust Him to take care of us.
In Matthew 6:25 the Lord Jesus Christ tells us not to worry about our lives, what we will eat or drink or put on. He goes on to assure us in verse 32 that our heavenly Father knows we have need of these things. In verse 33 He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This has become a vital element in my spiritual growth. Allowing God to have His rightful place in my life helps me stay positive when things don’t go according to my plan.
While staying in a homeless shelter, I often worried about my future. At times I got so overwhelmed and discouraged that I attempted suicide. Why would a child of God do this? Because I wasn’t resting on God’s promises. I wasn’t walking by faith. In fact I was allowing Satan to lie to me much like he lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden. He convinced me that God would not take care of me, that life would never again be worth living.
Homelessness is scary, and it can happen to any of us at any time. Companies facing bankruptcy often merge with other businesses in order to survive. This strategy sometimes results in layoffs and downsizing. Many people are not prepared and have nowhere else to go but to a homeless shelter. Earning a college degree is no guarantee that you will not experience homelessness. Poor financial planning or catastrophic illness and a lack of adequate health coverage can also lead to the loss of one’s home.
Thirty-five years after becoming a Christian, I finally learned to appreciate the words found in Psalm 37: “Trust in the Lord…feed on His faithfulness… delight yourself in Him…commit your way to Him…rest in Him and wait patiently for Him…” Verse 11 says we shall delight ourselves in the abundance of peace.
Belonging to God has countless rewards and benefits, but most people think it’s boring to live “the religious life.” I used to believe that until I started experiencing the wrong kind of excitement and narrowly escaped a devastating outcome. One thing God does when we open our hearts to Him is help us redefine the words “excitement” and “fun.”
The more we learn about who God is, what He has done, and what He will do for those who choose to live for Him, the more peace and joy we experience. Let’s face it, this world is getting scarier and more bewildering by the minute. The news can be very depressing. Is it any wonder why so many people are afraid to step out of their homes? Why so many are choosing to kill themselves? But for those of us who choose to trust in the Lord and commit our way to Him, we delight ourselves in the abundance of peace despite all of the evil going on around us.
Fortifying our minds and our hearts with God’s word is one of the ways we guard ourselves from the satanic forces at work in the hearts of unbelievers. Meditating on His promises helps us gain strength in the face of temptation and persecution. Pastor Saaed Abadini surely must be comforting himself with those Bible verses he committed to memory while sitting in that Iranian prison. And you can bet he has shared them with his fellow prisoners. Many people have come to know the Lord while in prison. Ironically, many who are on death row are on their way to heaven because of their faith in Christ.
Dr. James Dobson, who devoted many years to teaching God’s word through family counseling, listened to serial rapist and murderer Ted Bundy give his heart to Christ just hours before his execution. (Bundy had startling things to say about today’s youth and the harmful effects of violent pornography.)
The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the “rulers of the darkness of this age…spiritual hosts of wickedness.” He goes on to admonish us to take up the whole armor of God, which represents the protection God offers to His soldiers who are willing to engage in spiritual warfare. His word is our sword, and we are to use it to fight against the evil forces.
How many of us are in the habit of carrying a Bible with us everywhere we go? And how many times have we found ourselves in situations where we have the opportunity to talk about the Lord? If we have not committed any scripture to memory, what do we have to tell them?
Our testimonies are made richer and more vibrant when we include scripture. You can imagine how it warms God’s heart to hear His children pray His word back to Him. “Lord, I thank You for being an ever-present help in trouble. I know that You will never leave me nor forsake. Although the enemy has not come but to steal, kill, and destroy, I am choosing to trust in You with all of my heart, mind, and strength. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
God had made the Scriptures available to us so we would have an “operator’s manual” and “user’s guide” to refer to whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation, but many are choosing to ignore it and “lean on their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When people are willing to listen, so often what they hear is not biblical. The more familiar we become with God’s word, the easier it is for us to recognize false teaching. This is another reason to commit scripture to memory.
At first this seems like a difficult undertaking. But as with any challenge, we can break it down into portions so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Let’s start with Psalm 16:11. The first thing I noticed about this verse is that there are three words that start with the letter P: Path, presence, and pleasures. These are the “punch” words, the ones to emphasize to help you remember the entire verse.
Psalm 16:11 can easily be divided into thirds. The first line reads “You will show me the path of life.” Start by saying that line over and over. Write it down on several pieces of paper and tape each one to a location in your home (refrigerator, medicine cabinet, closet door). You might also tape it to the dashboard of your car. Remember to include the scripture reference at the beginning and at the end of this first line. “Psalm 16:11 – You will show me the path of life – Psalm 16:11.”
The second line reads “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” Don’t try to learn this line until you know you’ve memorized the first one. Start by saying the scripture reference and then say the second line of the verse, followed again with “Psalm 16:11.” Add the second line to the pieces of paper you have taped to items around the house and in your car.
When you feel you have the first two lines memorized, add the third line: “At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” By recalling your punch words, which in this case all start with the same letter, you are much more apt to remember the entire verse!
Once you embark upon this exciting journey of scripture memorization, you’ll feel stronger and sturdier in your walk with Christ. And Satan will find it much harder to drag you down because he’ll see how much you’re growing in your faith. Your prayers will become more powerful, and your witnessing will rise to a whole new level.
By committing scripture to memory, you will be fortifying your mind and your heart so that the enemy forces at work in the world will not leave you feeling confused, frightened, or discouraged. And you will be better prepared to share with other those verses that have helped you keep your mind stayed on God in the midst of heartache and tribulation.
“I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (Psalm 119:16)