"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22 (NKJV)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Week 17: Let the Word Dwell in You

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." ~ Col. 3:16

Dwell means to live in. The Word, therefore, is not merely to be stored away in us. It should be alive in us. It shouldn't just pass through our heads on Sunday morning. It should have a permanent home in us. It should dwell there, richly, abundantly, plentifully.

We can experience the Bible by reading it, listening to it, meditating on it, and hearing it preached. If we want the Word to "dwell" in us, however, we need to commit it to memory. I've never been consistent about memorizing Bible verses. No doubt I'm worse off for it, because the Bible tells us plainly that Bible memorization is a beneficial practice.

Memorizing God's Word helps us overcome sin and Satan. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. . . . I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:9, 11. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he recited passages from Deuteronomy and thus overcame Satan. Matt. 4:1-11. Having scripture memorized also allows us to more effectively comfort and encourage people. "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11. That's a real purty way of saying that the right word at the right time can be nourishing and precious. A word of scripture spoken from the heart at the right moment can be much more powerful than our own words. Here are some other endorsements of the practice of Bible memorization:

Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs.

~ Dallas Willard, Christian author and teacher

I know of no other single practice in Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.

~ Charles Swindoll, Christian author and pastor

Where to begin? Romans 8 is one of my favorite Bible passages. It also just happens to be pretty much universally recognized as the greatest chapter in the greatest letter in Bible. Martin Luther said this about the Book of Romans:

This letter is truly the most important piece of the New Testament. It is purest Gospel. It is well worth a Christian's while not only to memorize it word for word but also to occupy himself with it daily, as though it were the daily bread of the soul. It is impossible to read or to meditate on this letter too much or too well. The more one deals with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

I'm not going to memorize Romans 8 in one week. I am, however, going to start. I'm aiming for one verse per day, and I'm asking God for discipline to see it through to the last verse of the chapter.