Jani Ortlund: Hello, everyone. What a privilege it is to be back together again. Ray and I have been ministering in Great Britain for several weeks, while our amazing team here at He Restores My Soul kept things running for you all. Oh, I want to give a big thank you to them for all they did for me while I was gone those four weeks.
Resource for Today
Now, I encourage you if you’re going through this discipleship series, download a copy of the Bible Memory Worksheet that you’ll find on today’s lesson.
Back from Britain
It was so wonderful to meet some of you listeners face to face in London and Kuzzik and let’s see where else did did I meet some of you—oh, in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. I want to give all of you British listeners a shout out and say “Thank you!” for listening. It was so wonderful to meet you face to face. How that blesses us to hear that this little ministry can encourage you over there. I wish we could have recorded some of our episodes with you and captured ways that the Lord is restoring your soul in your part of the world. I know our other subscribers would have loved to to hear your beautiful accents. I know I sure did.
An Example of our Second Priority
May I tell you dear listeners about one special lunch Ray and I had in Newby Bridge England? As I’ve mentioned before, over 40 years ago our family moved to Scotland for four years. Ray was doing work on his Ph.D at the University of Aberdeen. Now while we were there, I was involved in a Bible study with some of the women who lived in our little village along the River Dee in northeast Scotland. It was a little village called Banchory. One of the ladies who attended the Bible study was named Fiona Wallet, and the Lord built a very sweet friendship between us.
Fiona came to know Jesus personally as her Savior and Sovereign King while we were there. She and her husband very kindly provided Ray with a large room in their home to use as his study, as he researched and wrote his doctoral dissertation. And we’ve tried to stay in touch through the years visiting each other as we had opportunity. A few years ago, her husband, Alan, came to faith in Christ and was baptized. Oh, how we rejoiced with Fiona as we heard this news.
Well, you can imagine our delight when Fiona and Alan asked if they could drive over from Scotland to have a short visit with us. While we were there in Newby Bridge, up in the beautiful lake district of England. We had a wonderful time together. Oh, we were recalling past memories and catching up on each of our children and grandchildren and spending some time sharing our our present heart concerns. Now why do I share this memory with you? I want to encourage you that Christian fellowship is a valuable treasure to be nurtured and cherished. Your time and money and prayers and letters and emails and phone calls…they’re not wasted. Fiona and I never could have known 40 years ago, what the future would bring. We never could have pictured ourselves meeting 40 years out into our future in England.
Now in discipleship, we are concentrating on our second priority, and we’ve talked about how loving one another can be really hard. We’ve seen from Romans 12:9-21 that real love—the kind that builds lasting friendships—requires sincerity and humble vulnerability, and costly forgiveness. I want to encourage you today that it’s really worth it. Keep reaching out, keep connecting, keep extending yourself in love and humility and forgiveness. You never know what the future might hold for you in that friendship.
Now, I’m a little embarrassed to do this, but I have to apologize to you my faithful listeners. Before I left for Britain, I recorded several episodes, and our team really worked diligently to publish them while I was gone. But there was a question about the podcast published last week, that could not be taken care of to our usual level of excellence. So we had to go ahead and publish it anyway. I want you to know that I’m sorry because I messed up on the assignment part. I’m sure the assignments I asked you to fulfill the past few weeks have been somewhat confusing. I can just imagine you all saying to each other, “Is Jani losing it? Is she really asking us to read Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together in this unusual order? Chapters one, two, and three, and then the introduction?”
Oh, I’m sorry. All I can say is, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” And leaders, I just want to ask you in the future, when I do this again (because I’m certain I will) please just use your best judgment in your discipleship group. When we have a snafu like this, just laugh with your group and say, “Oh, there goes Jani again,” and try to figure it out and, and give your group the correct assignment that works for you. Thank you for forgiving me.
Now, for our next two discipleship groups together. I want you to slow down and catch up a little bit on your assignments. I’m also going to teach briefly on Bible memorization, but let’s start today with accountability.
Do you remember your quiet times from the last few weeks? Let’s go over them. I wonder, “Are you reading through the Bible together?” I want you to discuss how it’s going. Do you have any questions or difficulties? Is there someone in your group who can share? Remember that I find it helpful to keep a small basket with everyone’s name in it so you can pull a name from randomly (if no one volunteers) rather than call on someone awkwardly? So right now pause the podcast and share about your quiet times the past few weeks.
I’d also like you to have everyone share the verse or the verses (or part of a verse) that they’re meditating on. Ask if anyone has found particular help from their meditation verse this week. You may need to think about looking for a new verse to meditate on as needs arise or situations change. Sometimes I meditate on a verse for several months, other times, just for a few weeks. The Lord will guide you into what will be most helpful for you to meditate on. Pause the podcast right now and talk a little bit about your meditation verses.
Books of the OT
Hopefully, you’ve been memorizing the books of the Old Testament. It’s good to review these occasionally. Otherwise, you’ll tend to forget them. So try to say them together. Now if that raises some feelings of angst or failure or guilt, that’s okay—it does for me sometimes, too. If you stopped me on the street and asked me to say the books of the Old Testament perfectly, I’d probably mess it up royally. So just open your Bibles and read through them together if you’re having difficulty, but do review them. Go ahead and do that right now.
Next, I want you to review your memory work. We’ve been working together on memorizing this passage on priority two from Romans chapter 12:9-21. I want you to save these verses together or choose two women from your group to save them together so they can help each other out. Talk about how they all are doing. How did they do memory work? What’s working for them? What’s hard for them? them, but talk about it together, go ahead and pause the podcast and say your verses.
Finally, because we’re going to share a prayer request later, talk about the book that you’ve chosen to read. We want to encourage each other to always have a good book at hand to stimulate your mind and your heart. I wonder if you’re reading through Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer as my group is. We have found as we’ve gone through, that one chapter is a little too much to cover in one meeting, we’re finding it so rich. So we decided last week that we’re just going to take another week on chapter one. That’s where we are in, in my group, clarify where you should be in your reading together. So you all can be on the same page, so to speak. Maybe you’d like to take 15 minutes to read a portion aloud together and then discuss it. Whatever you decide, please do read a book together, and then discuss it, I beg you. Do not deprive yourself of reading.
I know that it’s often easier to listen. My goodness, you’re listening to my podcast right now, I don’t want to discourage you from listening. But because we are a generation that finds listening easier than reading, we often don’t read. I want you to think though of the benefits of the written word. A book uses multiple senses. You’re seeing, you’re feeling, you’re holding the book, you’re often writing, taking notes and underlining. If you haven’t started a book in your small group yet, then take time tonight to decide what book you would like to share together. And everyone get one to bring next week.
Now let’s go to our teaching time. I have asked you to meditate on one verse or phrase from Scripture. Hopefully you haven’t memorized by now. I’ve also asked you to memorize Romans 12:9-21. Together as we concentrate on priority two, which is as you remember, the body of Christ. Priority one is Christ. Priority two is his body, our family in Christ.
3 Reasons to Memorize Scripture
Why do I ask you to memorize Scripture? Well, because I believe that hiding God’s word deep in your heart is one of the most important things you can do in your life of faith. It will help you in so many ways. Here are just a few I’ve found helpful to me.
1. Memorizing Scripture will help keep you from sin
Memorizing Scripture will help keep you from sin. Numbers 15:40 says, so you shall remember and do all My commandments and be holy to your God. The best way to remember God’s way and words and to be able to do them is to memorize them.
Psalm 119:11 puts it this way,
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”Psalm 119:11
Think of your heart as a store room containing all your feelings and thoughts, your principles, your provocations, your theories, your theology. When you are faced with a temptation or, or a new idea, or even maybe a question about how to respond to a certain situation, God’s Word hidden deep in your heart can guide you. You can enter in to your heart’s depths and search through the files you have stored there of God’s truth and wisdom until you find an answer consistent with God and His ways.
Recently, I was tempted to listen to a bad report about someone whom I’ve been struggling to forgive. But I’ve been working on memorizing along with you, Romans 12 verses nine through 21. And the Lord brought to mind that I can overcome evil with good, I shouldn’t listen to that bad report. This helped me to resist entering in and asking for details, all those juicy details I wanted to hear about this person that I was struggling over. So, I found that memorizing Scripture helps keep me from sin.
2. Memorizing Scripture will help you live your life in hope and peace
Another way it will help you is this: memorizing Scripture will help you live your life in hope and peace. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”Proverbs 4:23
How you respond to life flows out of your heart. Your initial reactions are based on what is stored in your heart. If you guard your heart if you’re vigilant over it, by memorizing Scripture, you will have eternal truths to speak into any chaos or darkness that breaks into your world.
This morning, I was fortified by some memory work I’ve been doing in Isaiah 40 as I prayed for Ukraine and Russia and the horrors of that war. A few minutes later, a dear friend, a young mom of two little girls whose husband has chosen a career in the army texted me to ask for prayer, because her husband’s division just got word that they will be deployed to Poland for several months. Where do I turn when I hear that? To those passages I’ve been memorizing. Isaiah 40 teaches me how the God who created this universe we are in looks at the nations.
Isaiah 40:17 says this:
”All the nations are as nothing before him…”Isaiah 40:17
You see, God isn’t threatened or scared by that war. He knows exactly what’s going on.
In verse 23, it says that God
“…brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.”Isaiah 40:23
The spring flowing from my heart this morning tells me that my God is in control. He is sovereign. Nothing is escaping him in the hellish scenes I see coming from Ukraine. So memorizing Scripture will help keep me from sin, it will help me live my life in hope and peace.
3. Memorizing Scripture will help you know how to share God and His ways with others, both in your words and your prayers
Here’s a third way it can help you. memorizing Scripture will help you know how to share God and His ways with others, both in your words, and in your prayers. Matthew 12:34 says this,
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.Matthew 12:34
The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good; the abundance of the heart, the good treasure of the heart. Oh my that’s what I want to fill my heart with: “good treasure.” I want my heart to be a bounding in it. I don’t know how many times the Lord has brought to mind a verse I’ve been meditating on or a passage I’ve been memorizing to pray over a friend or a family member in need.
A few years ago, I set out to memorize the book of Colossians. And it has been so helpful as I’ve been able to share it with others. Just the other day I was able to pray Colossians 1:11 for a friend, and then send it to her. It says this:
“…being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.”Colossians 1:11
Some of the other verses I’ve been able to pray over certain grandchildren who are struggling with compassion or kindness or meekness. It helps tremendously to have these verses stored away, stowed way down deep; stockpiled, so to speak, in my heart when I’m conversing with others, or when I’m conversing with my King about others. Please feed your mind and heart with the Word of God. Memorize it. Do not starve yourselves. God’s Word will become more precious to you. It will be there for you stored up in your heart. When you are those you love suffer, as inevitably will happen before you reach heaven.
“How do I memorize scripture?”
Well, you might say, “That that sounds great, Jani, I like the idea, but how how do I get going?”
Well, one of my present day spiritual heroes, John Bloom, who writes at DesiringGod.org wrote a fabulous article called “Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible.” Actually, I would recommend anything and everything that John Blum writes. He’s one of my favorite authors: always helpful, always accessible, always humble, and always Christ-centered. I love his writing. Well, in this article (“Ten Reasons to Memorize Big Chunks of the Bible”), he shares how he does it, how he memorizes big chunks, based on a book written by Andrew Davis called An Approach to Extended Memorization of Scripture. I found this method very helpful. Let me describe how I’ve adapted it for myself, and then maybe you can adapt it in ways that are helpful for you and you can share in your own group. You might want to take out the piece of paper that your leader copied off, called “Bible Memory Worksheet” – it’s the worksheet for this week’s lesson. You will find it below. Take that out as I talk this through.
Jani’s Approach to Bible Memory
I take out a sheet of paper that fits my Bible. And across the top, I make four columns labeled: Dates | Review | Read 10x’s | Recite 10x’s. Then along the left hand side, I list dates. Next, I choose a passage of scripture I want to memorize. And during my quiet time, I work on my Bible memory for as much time as I can devote to it. For instance, today, after my Bible reading and prayer time, I reviewed Isaiah chapter 40, verses one through 17. And I continued working on verse 18, which I couldn’t remember from yesterday. I make little tally marks for how many mistakes I make so I can determine when to move on. I made four mistakes today on verses one through 18. So I will not try to move on to verse 19 tomorrow. I’ll work more on verses 1-18 until I have them down better.
I also like to try to review other passages I’ve memorized. I often do this during my quiet times on Sundays. I don’t think I will be able to retain all of Colossians and Isaiah chapters 40-45, so it could be I will need to give up keeping Colossians word perfect to my memory, and rejoice that I’m familiar with it as I work harder and harder on Isaiah 40 through 45. I’ll let you know when I’m done with Isaiah chapter 45 (if I finish it before I die!).
Now, I want to tell you that when I was 65 years old, if anyone had told me that I would be able to memorize long portions of Scripture, I would have laughed. But here I am, and now they are the ones smiling and I’m rejoicing. Now it’s my turn to encourage you. Don’t laugh. take it to heart.
Leaders, I think this would be a good time to take a five minute break. If you haven’t done so yet. Then come on back on.
Assignments & Prayer
Now I’m going to give you your assignment and then ask you to turn off the podcast and share your requests with each other and spend some time praying together. Here’s your assignment:
- 6 quiet times this week.
- Meditate on your verse Daily.
- Books of the Old Testament by memory.
- Romans 12:9-21.
- Read a portion of the book that you’re reading together whatever your group decides on for next week.
Now share your prayer request and pray for each other. As you share, try to out-do one another in showing honor, as we’re told in Romans 12:10 by expressing honor and appreciation for others in your group. May our kind King restore your souls as you spend time storing His Word in your hearts this week. God bless you.