Archive | August 2018

What I Learned Through My Summer Scripture Memory Challenge

 



Thanks to all of you who’ve continued to follow my posts during the summer. The challenge I made was more difficult than I expected. I did memorize some Scripture but not as much I expected to. These are the lessons I learned.

I must adjust my challenges to the demands of reality. Being a senior citizen means I can’t memorize something as quickly as I did when I was a teenager. Neither can I retain it as well. It’s information overload. It’s unhelpful when I am traveling and visiting family, to make Scripture memory as much of a priority as it is when I’m at home.  If my focus is on the amount of Scripture I must memorize for the day, I won’t hear what God is saying or doing in a conversation with my family and friends.

The Holy Spirit won’t let me forget the lines of Scripture he knows I need hear. Each moment of the day, he alerts me to the word of comfort, correction, or understanding I need. While my husband and I traveled crowded highways, this phrase that I’d memorized from Psalm 121 kept me from becoming anxious: “The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.” Often during the summer, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this Psalm 15 phrase (referring to the behavior of those who have the privilege of his company): “whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.” In several situations, it helped me to keep my mouth shut!  

Meditation is more valuable than memorization. Mediation is a way of internalizing the truths of Scripture. I discuss them with the Spirit. I make them my own.  I put them into action. Rather than focusing on how much Scripture I can memorize, I need to focus on how well I’m aligning my heart and will with the Scripture I’m memorizing.  How am I responding to God’s messages?

Living according to Scriptural truths is a bigger and better challenge than memorizing it. That’s what will bring me a lasting and satisfying reward. For Jesus said,  “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash” (Matthew 7:24-27 NLT).


Will I continue memorizing Scripture? Yes, but in smaller chunks. My focus will be more on responding to what I read. In the last two weeks, I did not memorize any of Psalm 40. Instead, I meditated on it and wrote the following response. It concludes the poem I started a few decades ago. 


A Psalm of Gratitude

Lord, you’ve heard my prayer. I no longer live in the pit of self-destruction. Although at times I still feel depressed, I no longer live there. You’ve freed me from cycles of deep depression. 

Not in the way I wanted, imagined, and expected. Your wisdom is far greater and your ways are far superior to mine (Isaiah 55:9)

I wanted an instant deliverance. You took me on a journey. A journey that will not end until the day you call me home. Every day you teach me something new.

I wanted quick and simple answers; you gave me understanding. You showed me where my patterns of negative thinking began—deep in my heart. You worked with me to uproot firmly established beliefs–lies! You continue to do so. In that way, my mind is being changed for good–transformed!

I wanted you to do all of the work. You were respectful of my personality and gave me choices. You showed me what it means to be responsible. I learned that my freedom is not a passive gift. It must be received.

Jesus, how kind you are! Your words are like gentle raindrops. How patient and humble you are! You do not push and shove me when I’m slow to understand. How merciful and gracious you are! You forgive me for the same error, over and over again.

You do not allow me to remain in bondage to lies! I am a blessed woman!

I want to tell everyone how amazing you are! My heart overflows with joy. Poems and songs fill my journals. If I wrote millions of them, I would only express a tiny fraction of your love, goodness, wisdom, and power.

I want to share the words you’ve given me. Show me how I can best do this. I want many more people to see your magnificence and worship you.

You’ve been constantly paying attention to me, patiently and persistently loving me–for eighty decades!

Take every word of Scripture I’ve memorized and work within me so that I, like Jesus, “delight to do your will”.

8/31/2018 Jane Ault 

This entry was posted on August 31, 2018. 6 Comments

Why I Chose to Memorize Psalms


As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

(Psalm 42: 1-2 NIV)


I am a voracious and fast reader. The problem is: Sometimes, I don’t absorb enough of what I’ve read. I don’t think about it. I don’t ask questions.  This summer, it’s helped me to read less and spend more time thinking about what I’ve read. In particular, it’s been helpful to slow down so I can think about the Psalms I’ve been memorizing. Ask questions. Tune in to the voice of the Spirit. Respond to corrections. Receive comfort.

Psalms have been my go-to source of wisdom, encouragement, and comfort for many years. 

In his book, The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard says this about them: “If you bury yourself in Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life. . .  We drink in God and God’s world from them. They provide a vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by God himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and hearts”(TDC p. 65).

Beyond, reading, memorizing, and meditating on the psalms, I invite you to take another step this week. Respond to the psalm you’ve thoughtfully and prayerfully read (and possibly memorized) by writing out your personal prayer. 


Psalm 40, verses 1-8, is the one that I’ve chosen to memorize this week. Here it is as written in the English Standard Version:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes
    the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, OLord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”


 Years ago, I wrote the following prayer based on the first two verses of Psalm 40. 

A Plea for Deliverance

Lord, lift me out of my pit of destruction.
Free me from the cycles of depression I so frequently experience.

Rescue me from a condemning conscience;
It fills me with doubt and despair.

Change my patterns of negative thinking;
I habitually fall into distrust, worry, and fear.

Stir me from the bog of apathy into which I frequently sink.
Shed your light on my pathway and give me firmness in my footsteps. 


The Lord heard my plea for help; so this week, my plan is to memorize Psalm 40: 3-8 and respond to him with a written prayer based on verses 3-8.

What will you challenge yourself to do?

Back On Track

I confess that during the past three weeks, I fell a bit behind in my goal to memorize a Psalm every week. My husband and went took an extended road trip. We traveled to Michigan to visit his siblings and then to Texas to visit my siblings, making various stops on the way to see other friends and relatives. 

While in Texas, I celebrated my birthday, which is at the end of July, with my twin sister. The thermometer registered  113 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived in Texas. I said to John, “I wish that my mother would have waited until September to give birth to my sister and me; that’s when we were supposed to be born!” 

“It wasn’t her fault; it was yours!” he replied. “You came out first!” 

First I was in being physically born, but first I was not in experiencing a spiritual birth. When my dear sister heard the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, she quickly believed it and urged me to place my faith in him. She had a voracious appetite for Scripture, memorized much of it, and has retained it in her mind. Now, she has some problems with vision and is especially thankful for the Scripture she has memorized.

The Scripture I’ve picked for this week is the first 10 verses of the 34th Psalm. I copied it and am memorizing it in the New Living Translation, which has some very beautiful phrases. I’ve resumed my usual morning walk and discovered that this is the best time to meditate and memorize. 


I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

This entry was posted on August 11, 2018. 14 Comments