With the immediacy of Internet searches and ease of handheld devices, the custom of memorizing Scripture may not seem necessary, but best-selling author Robert J. Morgan makes an airtight case for reviving this rewarding practice in 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.
"It's vital for mental and emotional health and for spiritual well-being," he writes. "It's as powerful as acorns dropping into furrows in the forest. It allows God's words to sink into your brain and permeate your subconscious thoughts. It saturates the personality, satiates the soul, and stockpiles the mind. It changes the atmosphere of every family and alters the weather forecast of every day."
In a series of brief opening chapters, Morgan prepares us for this new old way of thinking and then presents his experienced list of 100 crucial verses, providing sidebar notes, quotes, and memorization tips for each. Extra pages are included to add your favorite verses, extending this life-changing exercise and memorization habit.
"Rob Morgan never disappoints me. His books do what a good book should do: make you think about life from a new and fresh perspective."
David Jeremiah, New York Times best-selling author
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About the Author
Robert J. Morgan es autor de éxitos editoriales y ha sido galardonado con la medalla de oro por libros como Then Sings My Soul (Mi corazón entona la canción), The Red Sea Rules (Las reglas del Mar Rojo), The Promise (La promesa) y The Children's Daily Devotional Bible (La Biblia de devocionales diarios para niños). Se ha desempeñado como pastor de la Iglesia Donelson Fellowship de Nashville, Tennessee (EE.UU.), por tres décadas. Morgan y su esposa tienen tres hijas y diez nietos.Robert J. Morgan is a best-selling, Gold Medallion Award-winning author whose books include Then Sings My Soul, The Red Sea Rules, and The Children’s Daily Devotional Bible. He has also served as pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, for three decades. Morgan and his wife have three daughters and ten grandchildren.
Read an Excerpt
As We Think
James Allen has been called a literary man of mystery. Little is known about him, and his writing career was as fleeting as an arrow through the sky. He never achieved fame or fortune, and he died at forty-eight. He wrote nineteen or twenty books without saying much about himself in any of them; and none of them sold particularly well in his lifetime. Yet one tiny volume — his second book and one with which he himself was unhappy — has since sold millions of copies and influenced countless lives.
James was born in 1864, in an idyllic part of central England; but his childhood wasn't so idyllic. His father, grappling with a failing business and near bankruptcy, traveled to America, searching for a new job. Instead, he was waylaid, robbed, and murdered. Back in England, the family's ensuing financial crisis forced young James to drop out of school at age fifteen and get a job. He became a personal assistant in the world of British manufacturers, and he worked at that profession until 1902, when, at age thirty-eight, he just quit and walked away.
James and his wife moved to the little coastal town of Ilfracombe, one of the loveliest spots in all England, and he lived there for about ten years before his early death. He kept a strict routine. Each morning he'd get up before dawn and hike to the top of the nearby hillside and spend an hour in meditation. Then he would return to his house and devote the morning to writing. The afternoons he allocated to his gardens and hobbies.
To the best of my knowledge, he was not a Christian, but one little book was based on a Bible verse from the book of Proverbs, and that small volume has cast a long shadow. It almost single-handedly gave rise to the self-improvement and positive thinking movement of the past 100 years.
It's entitled As a Man Thinketh, based on Proverbs 23:7: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (nkjv). The point of As a Man Thinketh is simple: Our thoughts are the most important thing about us. All that we achieve or fail to achieve is the direct result of our thinking. Our thoughts are like seeds that produce crops.
Allen wrote: "Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating)."
His point is that we are what we think, and our lives run in the direction of our thoughts. If we think angry thoughts, we'll be angry; if we think positive thoughts, we'll be positive; if we think negative thoughts, we'll be negative. The mind is a garden, and we have to cultivate it, and we are responsible for the kind of seed we sow into the furrows of our mind.
To quote Allen again: "A [person's] mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind."
I love Allen's little book, and I believe in positive thinking, optimism, and a can-do spirit. But I'm not a fan of most of the positive-thinking literature so popular in the self-help sections of our bookstores. I want Truth behind my optimism — solid Scripture, well interpreted. I don't want a mind filled with mottoes and mantras but with memory verses from the infallible Word of God.
I believe the Bible is the inspired and unfailing message from a God who is both intimate and infinite, and who is omniscient and omnipotent. It verbalizes His revealed intelligence about how we should think, feel, act, and speak. Its theology is therapeutic, and its advice is sensible. Every verse in the Bible is priceless, for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God; and we're to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (2 Tim. 3:16; Matt. 4:4).
As a parent and a pastor, I've tried for decades to drop the seeds of specific Scriptures into the furrows of my thoughts — and into the minds of others. Scripture memory is a way of digging into the soul and planting the truth a little deeper in order to achieve a richer harvest. Yes, it's a lost habit among most people; but losing it is like an explorer losing his map or a nation losing her constitution.
In the following pages let me show you what Scripture memory can do for you and how you can develop this enriching routine. A verse learned goes into our memories and from there into our conscious and subconscious minds. From there it appears in the room of imagination, from whence it shows up in the way we live, think, feel, talk, act, and achieve. The principle of Proverbs 23:7 is true 24-7. It is an inviolable law of life that cannot be altered and will be true as long as human nature endures: For as we think in our hearts so are we.
Getting Scripture Into The Memory
You'll never guess where I began learning the scores — hundreds, really — of Bible verses that have filled my mind for about a half century. It was at Eastside Elementary School in Elizabethton, Tennessee. This small redbrick schoolhouse was two blocks from my house, and I spent six happy years of my life there. Thankfully the prohibition against Bible reading in public schools hadn't yet taken effect in my little town. I remember hearing about the Supreme Court decision in 1963 that outlawed prayer and Bible reading in public classrooms. I was eleven years old, but I recall how shocked everyone seemed at this discrimination against Christians.
But that didn't stop us from memorizing Bible verses, aided by an intrepid gentleman who came once a week from the Children's Bible Mission. When I was in the first grade, I memorized John 3:16 and received a lovely little wall plaque as a reward. In the second grade I learned the entire Twenty-third Psalm and was given a small New Testament. In the third grade I learned twenty-five more verses, and I've forgotten what the reward was for that; it might have been a Bible containing both Old and New Testaments. In the fourth grade it was fifty verses, and in the fifth and sixth grades we were presented with a challenging 100 verses per year, and if we learned all 100, we were given a free week at summer camp.
The incentives have long since perished, but many of these verses have stayed with me for a lifetime. Through the years I've consistently added to their stockpile. These verses have resourced my mentality. They have kept me from making many mistakes, from losing my temper on multiple occasions, and from committing sins that would have marred my soul. They've given me encouragement during challenging moments, comfort during grief, peace amid alarm, and joy when the sun was obscured by clouds of confusion.
These verses have also given me something to say to others on many occasions when my own words were uncertain or inadequate. Scripture has power that is supernatural, soothing, convicting, transforming, life-changing, timely, timeless, and eternal. Nothing beats having the Word of God stored away in the chambers of the mind.
I'm finding it harder now to commit new verses to memory — our memorizers slow down as we grow older — but I'm still working on it.
My view is this: If it's good for an elementary classroom in a mountain school in Tennessee, it's good enough for a philosophy classroom at the University of California in Los Angeles.
Not long ago I had an interesting chat with Dallas Willard about memorizing Scripture. Dr. Willard is a professor in the School of Philosophy at UCLA and an outstanding thinker and writer. He's also a keen advocate of Scripture memory. I asked him why he felt so strongly about it, and he told me that his life was shaped, in large part, by growing up in an environment that stressed engraving God's Word on the furrows of the heart.
"I've found that through Scripture memory the incredible treasures of Scripture are not only just available to my mind, but they inform my whole being in a way that is a testimony to the substantial power of the Word of God," he said.
Dr. Willard suggests memorizing whole passages instead of isolated verses, and I agree.
"Memorizing miscellaneous verses is a good thing, but when I talk about memorizing Scripture, I'm really talking about memorizing passages, whole Psalms, or long parts of the Letters or the Gospels," said Willard. "That does something to not only your mind but to your outlook. For me, anything that is going to be effective in spiritual formation or growth in grace has got to be holistic. It can't be a little side thing that you have a few Scriptures memorized. A simple illustration is the Twenty-third Psalm. Many people have that memorized, but they don't allow it to inform their thinking and their acting by meditating on it as they should. Having it stored in your mind is a powerful resource for inner development."
He added, "It's also important for (sharing with others) because it's strange how having long passages of the Word of God inscribed in your mind just brings outlines, insights, and ways of putting things that will inform your speaking, your conversation, and your preaching. That's the main thing I have found out by use, that there's power in long passages of the Word being committed to memory."
Dr. Willard is right. When we layer one verse upon another, working our way through passages and memorizing Scripture contextually, we're more likely to interpret it accurately through the process of meditation. So consider the book you're holding in your hands a tool for locating 100 different passages to delve into, not just 100 miscellaneous verses.
But the great thing about Scripture memory is you can learn long passages in small steps — one word at a time, one verse after another. You don't have to start with a long passage or even with a long verse. Just start with one word — the first word of the verse, then add the next, and the next.
As Isaiah put it, "Precept upon precept; ... line upon line; here a little, and there a little (Isa. 28:13 kjv). It's like painting the inside of your mind with God's colors, one brushstroke at a time.
Getting Scripture Into The Subconscious
Philip Turner, small-town attorney, realized he was waking up in the intensive care unit of a hospital somewhere, for reasons he couldn't fathom. There were machines and strange blinking lights and sounds. His body didn't feel right, and concerned faces hovered above him. He closed his eyes and tried to think. He listened to the electronic hums of a strange and sterile place, the beep beep beep of a machine he'd rather not have heard so close to his ear.
It had been a balmy evening in Shelbyville, Illinois, and a friend had dropped by Philip's house, suggesting a nocturnal plane ride. Philip and his wife, Bobbie, were game. They drove out to the town's small airstrip, climbed into a four-seater Beech Musketeer, and a few minutes later were airborne, looking down on their serene, sleeping town, recognizing landmarks, and feeling like birds soaring through the moonlit darkness. A few minutes later the runway lights came into view, and the passengers prepared for landing.
That's the last thing Philip remembered. Later he learned that the nose wheel of the Musketeer hit a power line, flipping the plane over. Bobbie was thrown through the side window onto the ground while Philip remained suspended, head downward, in his seat belt with over a hundred fractures.
As he regained consciousness, Philip's mind was fragmented with scattered, confused images. Hours passed, and as his head began to clear, a series of thoughts suddenly came into his mind like brilliant shafts of light. Not that we loved God, but that He loved us. ... Who hath saved us, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace. ... Fear not. ... For God so loved the world. ... Is there anything too hard for me?
These were fragments of Bible verses, but Philip wasn't a religious man, and he didn't go to church. He hadn't opened a Bible in years, and he had certainly never memorized any Bible verses.
Or had he? Slowly a few vague memories filtered into his mind. A little circle of red chairs. Old Mrs. Wolf with an open Bible on her lap. Little cards. Awards.
As a five-year-old boy, Philip had attended a Sunday school class, and the teacher had drilled them on Bible verses. Those who learned the verses were given prizes, but Philip had never earned any awards; he had been a disappointment to Mrs. Wolf. Yet down in the depths of his brain, those memory verses lay like dormant seeds, waiting for just the right moment to germinate.
Philip and Bobbie slowly recovered from their injuries, and in the process they committed themselves to Christ and started going to church. Many years later, as he recounted the story to me over the phone, he was enthusiastic about memorizing Scripture and about the need to plant Bible verses in the minds of youngsters of all ages. His life had been changed by verses he did not even remember having learned.
Some people question the value of rote memory, and I'll admit that just memorizing words for the sake of words is of limited value. But Bible verses are not just words. We may not fully understand every verse we memorize, but the act of learning it pins it to our short-term memories. From our short-term memory, it filters into our long-term brain cells. It sinks into our subconscious minds, and as time passes the results can be dramatic.
And always dramatically good.
That's what I learned while listening to Mr. Turner tell me about the little circle of red chairs, about an old woman with an open Bible in her lap, and about the power of memorizing the most potent words in the universe — the verses found within the covers of the inspired Word of God.
When we memorize a word, phrase, line, or verse from God's Word, it's like implanting a powerful radioactive speck of the very mind of God into our own finite brains. As we review it or hear it spoken again, it sinks deeper into our heads. As we learn it "by heart," it descends into the hidden crevices and fissures of our souls. As we meditate on it, it begins sending out its quiet, therapeutic waves of influence. And, as the apostle Paul said, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts (see Rom. 12:2).
That's why the Lord commands us in Proverbs 7:1, 3: "Treasure my commands. ... Write them on the tablet of your heart."
And that's why He promises in the first psalm that as we internalize His Word and mull over it day and night, we'll be successful, converting His logic into our lives. We'll be like apple trees planted by rivers of water, bearing fruit in season, with leaves that don't wither; and whatever we do will prosper.
Getting Scripture Into The Imagination
For those needing a little extra courage to take the plunge into Scripture memory (or into any other endeavor), consider our granddaughter, Chloe, age nine. Here's an e-mail our daughter Victoria sent to us last night about their outing to the YMCA. With our son-in-law Ethan in Iraq with U.S. forces, Victoria and her seven girls have taken advantage of a free membership our local YMCA gives military families. This week they've gone swimming in the evenings.
Victoria wrote, "We ate pizza for supper and went to the Y. It was a good way to end the week. On Tuesday the oldest four, with the exception of Chloe, took the swimming test so they could go into the deep end. Chloe struggled and struggled in the shallow end with me. She finally came over to me and said, 'Mom, I'm disappointed in myself that I don't have enough faith in myself to try.'
"So I told her three things: (1) that even if she never takes the plunge, she is just as special, and I love her just as much as if she passes a thousand swimming tests; (2) that she should use her mind and imagine herself doing it over and over until she believes it; (3) that the Lord is the One who helps us conquer fears because He is bigger and stronger and He gives us strength on the inside.
"She mulled all of it over and never took the test. Later that evening she told me she was imagining herself doing the swimming test. She struggled all night with this inner battle, and I just had to let her. There wasn't anything I could do except let her struggle through the process.
"Tonight we had only been at the pool about ten minutes, and she came over to me and told me she was taking it and marched right to the lifeguard and told him. She swam from the deep end to the shallow end beautifully. I quickly had to wipe my tears so she didn't see me cry. I don't think I've ever been prouder of her. That's my girl!"
Excerpted from "100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart"
Copyright © 2010 Robert J. Morgan.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Power of Scripture Memory,
Chapter 1: As We Think,
Chapter 2: Getting Scripture into the Memory,
Chapter 3: Getting Scripture into the Subconscious,
Chapter 4: Getting Scripture into the Imagination,
Chapter 5: Getting Scripture into Practice,
Chapter 6: The Starting Point: Fixing Our Thoughts,
Chapter 7: Seven Immediate Benefits of Scripture Memory, Part 1,
Chapter 8: Seven Immediate Benefits of Scripture Memory, Part 2,
Chapter 9: Seven Immediate Benefits of Scripture Memory, Part 3,
Chapter 10: You Can Do It!,
Part 2: 100 Hundred Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart,
Beginnings: The Bible's Fantastic Four,
The Roman Road: The Plan of Salvation,
Listening: The Word of God and Prayer,
Assurance: Inner Peace and Security,
Praise: Worship and Thanksgiving,
Promises: Verses to Stand On,
Holiness: Obeying God's Commands,
Fullness: The Holy Spirit's Role in Our Lives,
Joy: God's Kind of Happiness,
Faith: Trusting God and Resting in His Word,
Sent: The Great Commission and Our Global Task,
The Twenty-third Psalm: The Lord Is My Shepherd,
Alpha and Omega: The First and Second Comings of Christ,
More Life-Changing Verses I'm Committing to Memory,
Appendix: How to Memorize,