Take a moment and picture yourself and your family spending joy-filled time together working to build a foundation based on the powerful, living words of God, a foundation on which your children can forever stand strong (Ephesians 6:13). The overall goal of this section is to establish a foundation of scriptures that will guide your children through not only childhood, but also into adulthood for the rest of their lives. This section provides suggested building blocks for that foundation.
Pause and reflect on the reasons why God instructs us to know His words and keep them in our hearts.
Before introducing a Bible verse to your children, take the time to become familiar with the material offered here and plan for success. Pause and reflect on the reasons why God instructs us to know His words and keep them in our hearts. Then take time to carefully examine the remainder of this section. Move through the variety of methods offered to help your children enjoy learning God’s Word. This perusal will bring you right back here with a plan in mind.
Sometimes just the thought of memorizing scriptures can be overwhelming. Understanding this, one specific goal of this section is to put your mind at ease by providing the information you need to make memorizing scriptures a rewarding and enjoyable experience for the whole family. This section covers three of the most commonly asked questions concerning memorization:
- Why memorize scriptures?
- How do we memorize scriptures and keep them in our hearts?
- Which scriptures should we memorize?
We will begin by addressing the first and perhaps the most important question. It is a question often asked by children and one that deserves a solid answer.
Why memorize scriptures?
The obvious answer is this: because God tells us to. But for what purpose? Why? God lovingly explains why it is important for us to follow His instructions in Proverbs 4: “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (verses 20-22).
He shows us that paying attention means more than listening carefully and reading regularly.
We find three of God’s loving, inspiring answers in this passage.
1. God’s Word in our hearts brings blessings.
God wants to give us the kind of good life and spiritual health His living words produce. He fervently desires for us to receive all the benefits that having His words in the midst of our hearts can bring. In this inspired passage, it is as though God is talking directly to us through His servant Solomon, addressing us as His children—and that includes our children. He instructs us to pay attention to His words. He shows us that paying attention means more than listening carefully and reading regularly. His emphatic instructions are to keep His words in the center of our hearts!
2. God’s Word in our hearts helps us teach our children God’s way.
God once again ends His instruction to parents and children with a loving reminder of why it’s important to store His words in our hearts. God planned to abundantly reward the obedience of the children of Israel; however, they did not follow God’s instructions, and they missed out on all that He desired them to have. (Read Deuteronomy 6:10-11 and share with your children what God desired to give those who listened and obeyed.)
To further illuminate this concept, take a close look at Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In this passage God gives detailed instructions on how to etch and embed His words into the hearts and minds of our children. He begins (in verses 4-6) by focusing on the parents and instructing us to listen to Him, to remember what He has said and done, and to love Him with all our heart, soul and strength. He inspires us to first set an example and then teach—exactly what He and Jesus Christ have done.
In verses 7-9, God moves on to how and when to instruct our children: “You shall teach them [His words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
3. God’s Word in our hearts helps us resist sin.
Jesus knew what was written in the Scriptures. The words were hidden in His heart and He understood the meaning and intent of these Scriptures. As a result, He was able to wisely apply God’s Word to the situation at hand. Satan had no defense against these powerful, living words of God! When Satan attempted to tempt Jesus and Jesus remained firm, wisely quoting scriptures that countered Satan’s approach, “the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11).
Rather than following Satan’s suggestion, Jesus quoted God’s Word.
Jesus shows us the immeasurable value of having God’s Word hidden in our hearts. Visualize this scene, this pivotal point in the history of humanity. Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and He was hungry (verse 2)! The devil seized this opportune moment to tempt Jesus with, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (verse 3).
Rather than following Satan’s suggestion, Jesus quoted God’s Word: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (verse 4). Jesus knew the written Word of God and used this “sword of the Spirit” to resist temptation.
Not willing to give up, the devil tried again and again to tempt Jesus to sin. When he challenged Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus did not take the bait. Instead He again replied, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God’” (verse 7).
The devil’s last temptation was an offer to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would just fall down and worship him. Jesus would not yield and said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (verse 10).
As parents we have the responsibility to equip our children to stand against the deceptive lies of Satan and the alluring pulls of this world. With God’s help we can do this! We can do our part as we:
- Obey the instructions God gives us in Proverbs 4:20-22.
- Commit to following the detailed instructions to parents in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
- Study along with our children, in effect creating our own continuing education class!
- Live God’s Word.
How do we memorize scriptures and keep them in our hearts?
The simple answer is this: by using methods for learning and remembering scriptures. Take a close look at each of the methods offered in this section. Visualize your children drawing or singing the scriptures, filling in the missing words, playing a matching game, or taking part in a sword drill. Consider which of these methods your children might enjoy most and which method might best help them remember the memory scripture you have chosen.
Which scriptures should we memorize?
Look at each of the topics and scriptures. Consider which memory scripture you might like to introduce. Is there a particular challenge your family or your child is facing? Perhaps one scripture will stand out as you ponder this. Scan several of the suggestions for family interactions, giving special attention to the one that accompanies the memory scripture you are considering. Think about which portions of this interaction you might use, or maybe just collect ideas and create your own interaction.
Where do we start?
You are ready to start introducing memory scriptures to your children. Method #1 provides the best possible starting point. Method #2, “A 7-Step Plan for Introducing a New Memory Scripture,” offers a detailed plan on how to implement the process. As you begin, you may find it helpful to use a predesigned plan like this, or you may find ideas here that help you and your family develop your own personal method for memorizing scriptures.
You will need to set aside a time to meet together with your family for the specific purpose of introducing, reviewing and etching the memory scriptures into your hearts and minds. Make this a top priority.
If possible, make sure that each person participating has access to his or her own Bible, a pen or pencil, and a spiral notebook, laptop or something in which to record memory scriptures and keep them together for further review.
As you begin
Determine to make learning God’s Word a positive, successful experience. To attain this we suggest you keep it simple. Begin by selecting one verse. Then work together as a family to memorize this scripture. Seeing your enthusiasm, watching you set the example, and hearing you recite the first memory verse will do much to engage your children in this process of memorizing God’s Word.
Since memorization will not be truly effective and lasting unless children understand the meaning of the words and are able to relate the scriptures to their own lives, each memory scripture is followed by an interaction. These are designed to encourage active group participation and to equip you with a variety of ways to:
- Introduce a new memory scripture.
- Involve the children in discussing and discovering the meaning of each verse.
- Implant the value of this particular scripture into the children’s hearts and minds.
- Experiment creating and writing your own interactions.
Interaction is a major key to enjoyable, successful memorization and comprehension. The most meaningful interactions will occur when you:
- Involve all your children in all the ways you can.
- Remember that in contrast to a lecture, a discussion involves active participation from several people sharing ideas and perspectives.
- Encourage communication, listen carefully and give positive feedback.
- Set the example of enthusiastically approaching a new scripture.
- Keep things positive and moving at a nice steady pace.
- Enjoy this time getting to know your children and helping them get to know you and God’s Word.
It is certainly not necessary for you to cover everything that any interaction suggests. The ideas, questions and activities are there for you to choose from. You choose how many or how few you would like to use. The longer interactions provide enough material for you to use a portion for introducing the scripture, another part for reviewing the verse later, and still another portion for etching the verse into the minds and hearts of your children. Alter the interactions to best address the ages and interests of your children and your family size, or create your own interaction.
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