Change the settings

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I’ll be the first to admit that without divine intervention my life would be all about ME: my marriage, my kids, my ministry, even my relationship with God. But if you go to the SETTINGS feature of my heart, you’ll see that I’ve changed my preferences. I choose days centered on God, not self. I choose to move in a Godward direction.

This is why I advocate memorizing whole books, and passages in their context, rather than single, disconnected verses. Though not always true, memorizing individual verses that are scattered throughout the Bible, can be very self-focused. Here’s a sampling:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

We too easily cut-and-paste our Bibles to create the god we want. And the focus becomes ME. What am I going to get? What is God going to do for me? How will I benefit? Memorizing an entire book, however, keeps the focus on God, instead of me.

When memorizing an entire book, we get God’s complete thoughts instead of our hand-picked ones. We inevitably memorize portions we would not otherwise memorize, and in so doing our picture of God expands. God takes our concept of Him, pushes out the boundaries we have installed, and shows us wondrous things about Himself. He is the nucleus of each book.

Second Peter is one such example. Chapters 1 and 3 stimulate the mind with favorite truths. Sandwiched between them is chapter 2—definitely not one we would choose to memorize. It showcases false teachers, their evil deeds, and impending judgment. In that chapter God reveals His no-nonsense attitude toward those who lead others astray. In memorizing chapter 2, our picture of God enlarges from an all-loving and all-merciful God, to a God of wrath and retributive justice. Whoa! We don’t like that image.

We’re all guilty of creating the god we want and guarding that concept. 2 Peter in its entirety reveals God for who he really is, and not just who we want him to be. Our view of God grows correctly. Memorizing books grounds us in truth that we might otherwise avoid.

The totality of Scripture builds an accurate picture of God. All Scripture is God-breathed, and no portion is irrelevant.

This has been huge in my life—beyond estimation. I want to love the God who exists and not the god I imagine. I want a life centered on God, not the delusion that His plan revolves around mine.

Sometimes I drift back into my default setting, and make my day all about ME. When this happens, the healthiest thing I can do is push the RESET button, run back to his Word, and continue pursing God—page after page.

14 comments to Change the settings

  • warren

    Well thought through…and well said…and true…thanks..

  • Susan M.

    I have never EVER thought about Bible Memory in this way before, but yet this is SOOOOO very true! Thank you for stretching my thoughts today–I will be looking at Bible verses a bit differently from now on!

  • Thank you, Janet, for describing both ways so clearly. This is very powerful and I believe it will affect many of us in choosing what to memorize next!

  • Donna

    This was excellent Janet!I love this picture of a default setting and it all being about me. I want to choose to reset that button everyday. Oh man…What a choice!!!

  • Richie Malone

    Janet, each day that you blog I read like a kid opening a birthday gift. It’s always a surprise; I always wonder what’s inside; I am anxious to tear into it and find out what’s there. Everyday I think “Whoa, I never considered that”. And, then I ponder if you could possibly come up with something else worthy to write after all the good you have poured out for this community so far. And, then comes the next blog, where I say “Whoa!” again. Even today your explanation in favor of memorizing whole books makes such great sense. Thank you for putting your wisdom in words that help us understand scripture memory and the Bible and God so much better. Keep writing!

    • Thank you Richie, There are days when I want to quit, but not today! I do appreciate your encouragement.

      • Ethan

        Keep pressing on. You are a GREAT Bible teacher and writer.

      • Thank you, Janet, for your honest openness about “days when I want to quit”, because when I read that I thought, “Wow, Janet feels like I do some days.” Maybe we all have days like that but don’t put voice to it.
        It is so good to encourage each other.
        Galatians 6:9-10 says it so well, “So let us not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone-especially to those in the family of faith.”
        In Him. Maureen

        • Thank you Maureen, I actually reviewed the book of Galatians this morning. His word is true – it breathes life into weary souls.

  • WOW Janet, that was a mouthful as usual.
    I needed to hear this today. I even printed it off so I can keep a copy in my bible to re-read on the “bad” days that will come. It is all about keeping my gaze fixed on Jesus the Author and finisher of My faith Heb 12:2. Thank you for helping us “Press on “

  • Vickie

    Janet, I ditto what Richie commented! Wow! I remember telling my daughter, while memorizing Philippians 4, that I never truly “got” verse 13 until I learned the verses preceding it and after it. The “doing” of all things through Christ has to do more with contentment and giving than anything else we wish we could do here on earth. I am so grateful that you have been called to this ministry. You are encouraging me in such a way that keeps me hungry for more and more of the Word. Just like our kids can’t get enough to eat when they are going through a growth spurt, I can’t seem to get enough of His Word and I hope that is producing a spiritual growth spurt in me. And just as you said it can not be about me, it must result in my life being all about Him! The whole truth about Him and not just the parts that I choose to focus on.

  • Shalom, I know you all probably know Eph, but the way I have it memorized might be a little different than the way you know it. Eph 2:11 but remember at one time you gentiles in the faith called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made with hands, were at one time seperate from Messiah, ailienated from the common wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, you had no hope and were without G-d in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off are brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He himself is our peace, who hath made two one and hath broken down in His body the enmity occasioned by the Torah with it’s commandments set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this to create in Himself one new man inplace of two and so made peace and reconciled us both to G-d in one body thru the cross, and thereby slew the hostillity and He came and preached peace to you who were culturally distant from the faith, and to you who were culturally near. For thru Messiah Yeshua we both have access by one Spirit to the father and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua Ha Mashiac himself being the chief cornerstone.
    Yeshua is Lord!!!!!!

  • Linda

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014
    Oh Janet! Don’t ever quit, my precious friend!! Since I started receiving the emails from your website and reading the Share Your Story items and comments of our friends, who are memorizing Scripture in all kinds of different circumstances, I know I finally have the group of encouragers that I need. There is no group where I live. So your blog is my group. I have memorized 1 Peter and Nahum and 2 Corinthians 10:1-5 so far and I am slowly memorizing Genesis, Matthew, Mark, Luke, The Gospel of John, Romans, Hebrews, and Revelation. I am just so hungry for God’s Word!!! I am thinking about giving your book to my friends, Cameron and Jessica as part of a wedding present for their July wedding.

    • Hi Linda, this thrills me that our community has become a source of encouragement for you. That is why I am doing this blog so we can connect with others who memorize and draw strength from each other. Don’t worry I’m not planning on quitting. Like everyone else there are days when life swallows me up and I want to run and hide. Thankfully I know where to turn when that happens. Thank you for encouraging me. My life is not my own – praise the Lord for that because I would mess it up for sure.