Reflections on James

01da9787ce0be21857595525d95bd4f868a17235a2Six months ago I wrote my last blog post. I informed you all that I was going to attempt to memorize the book of James and about four weeks ago I memorized my last verse, James 5:20.

I’ve spent the last four weeks doing some small devotionals and going over the whole book out loud and in my head over and over just making sure I remember it all. The last six months have not been easy. Memorizing scripture is most definitely a discipline, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding.

I’d like to preface all of this by saying I have a terrible memory, I am normally completely oblivious to what’s going on around me, and I am terribly unorganized and undisciplined. All of these things make really good excuses not to memorize. Frankly, I’m just not good at it. But God has shown me over the first half of this year that writing His words on the tablet of my heart has less to do with my personal strengths and weaknesses, and more to do with cultivating an appetite for scripture. I need to be hungry for the Word of God.

That hunger doesn’t always come easily. Sometimes, most times for me, it comes from consistently (daily) reading the Word. The more I read, the more I want to read, the more I want to read, the more I learn to lean in to God and depend on what He says. The Bible is not just another book in our library. It’s the living word of the only God who loves us deeply. It’s His love letter to us. Each word is incredibly important and is meant to be treasured and remembered.

My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
Keep my commandments and live,
And my teaching as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 7:1-3

I’m not going to lie memorizing this book was tough for me. There have been days I got so caught up in my to do list or the drama going on at home that I completely forgot to even glance at my verses and because I had replaced my daily devotion time with just scripture memory that meant on those days I got nothing! Which for me is a big deal! It’s funny because I actually found that it took more self discipline to focus on a single verse than it did for a passage. It forced me to sit still and just think about one thing instead of continuing to read and moving from one idea to the next. Which for this ADD momma was hard! I am so used to going and going being still with the Lord with only one or maybe two verses took work!

Even though my journey through the book of James was far from perfect I wouldn’t change it for the world. Learning each verse in its context helped me understand the book in a way I wouldn’t have if I simply read through it in a couple days. I now know that He is writing primarily to Jewish believers and I understand more deeply popular verses that are quoted a lot like “faith without works is dead” and “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Because I know what else he was saying. Memorizing single verses of scripture kind of reminds me of a nightlight in a dark room. It’s good to have, helps us to get around, it lets us know a little about what’s in the room, but we can’t really see the room until we turn on the light. That’s what happened when I began to finish chapters in James. It was like lights were being turned on throughout the room one chapter at a time.

Though understanding James better was wonderful it certainly wasn’t my favorite part of the process. The best part of spending all of my devotions memorizing was that in my darkest moments God used what I had memorized to minister to my heart. When I was angry, or hurting, or being completely selfish the verses I was studying would pop up, even when I didn’t want them to, but almost always exactly when I needed them.

Studying the bible in this way helped me remember what the bible means when it says;

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I can honestly say I’ve never been more excited about scripture than I am when I’m memorizing. Now that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing memorizing just for memorizing’s sake. There are a lot of people that know a lot of the bible by heart but don’t let their hearts be affected by it. I want to be clear. It’s not enough just to remember what verses say. We need to understand them and believe them. Deep study of the word is vitally important and without saving faith in Jesus Christ neither memorizing or studying scripture will earn you salvation. The only way to be right with God saved from an eternity in Hell is through grace by faith alone in the death and resurrection of Jesus. These last six months have been an incredible blessing. I’ve loved memorizing James so much now I’m chomping at the bit to figure out which book or section of scripture I’ll do next! If any of you would like to memorize James and could use some helpful tools I have downloadable scripture memory kits now available in my etsy shop. Complete with printable memory cards and scripture artwork!

JMP1

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