When I was a kid I had a lot of memory work. I recall having to recite many verses of Scripture, many hymn stanzas and many pieces from Luther's Small Catechism. What I have a hard time remembering are the actual verses, the words of the hymns or the "what does this mean" parts of the Catechism. I always aced the recitation of the assigned work, but if you would have asked me later that week, or even later that same afternoon, I'm not certain I would have remembered it. There are some that I know well and have committed to memory, but why is it that what I memorized for a morning's Word of God class, I was unable to recall on the bus ride home from school? Or at an after-school event? At a practice? On the playground? The recitation and memorization is important, but the application is what changes a person. As a mom of children who attend a Lutheran parochial school, I have another opportunity to learn the same verses, stanzas and sentences - three times per week, in fact, for two separate classes. Each week we learn two or three verses, three or four hymn stanzas, maybe a commandment or two and even a "what does this mean". The whole family gets an opportunity to learn the memory treasures. That's what they call them now - memory treasures. I like that. In Luke 24:6-8 the women at the tomb were gently reminded of the importance of memory treasures:
He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
As we rush to get ourselves ready for the day in the morning, we almost always are reciting the verse, stanza, or sentence for the day. Eleanor has probably made up a catchy tune to help her commit it to memory and Hadley (being the omni-dancer) has choreographed an interpretive dance for her memory treasure, so she's dancing around the house while getting her things together. We repeat it one more time on our way to school to ensure a successful recitation. Fast forward to the end of the day and we may no longer be dancing, singing or reciting what we had worked so hard to memorize just a few hours earlier.
The devil tempted Jesus in every way, and Jesus' rebuttal was always Truth. Truth that he meditated on, learned from the time he was just twelve years old. Truth that He committed to memory in order to thwart Satan's attacks. In Matthew 4:1-11 we read:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
I think the devil works hard to keep us from actually retaining what we have memorized (on more than one occasion) for fear of what that would mean. What if we were able to combat all of his temptations with the Truth? What if we lived out daily what the Word says? What if we loved like Jesus? What if we put into daily practice the practical and relevant advice Jesus gives? What if we led like Jesus led?
I challenge you to commit to memory a new Scripture verse each week. Pick one verse. Write it down. Hang it up some place visible - somewhere you will see it numerous times through out the day. Write it on a post-it next to your computer. Write it on your bathroom mirror, windows, patio doors, white board, chalkboard, refridgerator. Write it on a piece of paper and use that as your book mark. Put it in your phone - there has to be an app for that. Then, after you have committed it to memory, use it.
Fight the devil's temptations with it.