Devotion for the Week...
Have you ever listened to Handel's Messiah? My husband loves it and occasionally plays it, usually around Christmas, but sometimes just at random times through the year. Even if you've never heard the whole thing, you probably know the Hallelujah chorus, which is certainly the most well-known part.
Other parts, like All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray, may be less well-known, but have driven me crazy at times when I'm trying to read my bible. The lyrics to parts of Messiah are taken straight from the bible, though words are repeated, syllables are elongated and it is made to sound much more musical than just reading it straight. All well and good, until I try reading Isaiah 53:6, which says, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Except my mind reads it as "all. we. like. sheep. have gone astra-a-a-a-a-ay." Click the link and listen. You'll hear what I mean.
Because Paul introduced me to Handel's Messiah, and over the years has played it often enough for parts to stick in my mind, there are sections all through the bible that my mind refuses to read as straight text.
Of course, Handel isn't the only songwriter to take verses from the bible and turn them into song. Just recently Paul read Psalm 134 with the boys and I heard them talking about how we often sing that at church. Sometime after Christmas last year, I read Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and realized the chorus of Chris Tomlin's song My Soul Magnifies the Lord is based on this song of praise by Mary.
Turning Scripture verses into songs is a great way to help people remember the verses, which is something I struggle with. Rather than being able to quote a section perfectly, I often have a vague feeling like, "Doesn't the bible say something like....?" Then I go to Google, type in the snippets I can remember and hope that's enough to get me the full verse. Not the most effective memory verse program!
God clearly wants us to know His word, to have it memorized and at the ready in our minds. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Jesus Himself put this verse into practice when Satan tempted Him in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). To each of Satan's temptations, Jesus replied "It is written..." and quoted a portion of scripture as a defense against the temptation.
We all face temptation daily. Can we, like Jesus, counter that temptation by saying with confidence, "It is written..."?
Over the years I've learned a few verses by working with the boys when they've been learning them for the children's mid-week program at church, but I've never had a plan for myself. I've wanted to work on this, but had no idea where to begin and, let's be honest, a rather decided lack of discipline. So, while taking a break from writing this devotion, I Googled 'scripture memorization' and found Memverse, an online scripture memorization resource. You pick the verses you want to memorize and then it will prompt you to review them each time you log in. I've signed up, picked my first few verses and will be adding that to my daily to-do list. Hopefully this will help me say, "I have hidden your word in my heart."
Do you have any formal scripture memorization plan? I'd love to hear how you tackle this area of spiritual growth.