I downloaded a Scripture reading app to my smartphone. The goal was to get through the Letters of Paul in 60 days. I’m 58 days behind schedule – sigh! Nevertheless, on day 2, I read the second chapter of Acts – the story of Pentecost. You remember, the fire, the wind – BOOM – empowerment! Then Peter gets up to address the gathered crowd. Here is where I pick up the story.
“But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:” (Acts 2:14-16)
As many times as I have read this before, this time I saw something totally new. Something I found profoundly fascinating – OK, besides the fire, wind and BOOM – and challenging. As Peter stood to preach to the crowd, he recited a long passage from the book of Joel. Later in the same sermon, he quoted from the Psalms. He did this from memory! He didn’t have a bible with him. He didn’t pull out his Galaxy tablet to look up the passages. He knew them. He had spent a lifetime reading, studying, hearing and memorizing the Scriptures and these became a treasure chest which the Holy Spirit could pull from at the right time.
A few years ago when I was going through a particularly difficult time, the Lord brought back to me a verse I had memorized when I first became a Christian. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-24). During that dark time, I would read and say this verse daily. It became to me a source of hope and encouragement. I knew He still loved me and would take care of me. I even wrote that verse on a piece of paper and kept it in my pocket. Every time I reached into that pocket and felt that paper I was reminded of God’s goodness. My point is that by memorizing that verse so many years ago, the Spirit had a deposit from which to speak directly to my heart. Over the years, He has also used other passages to enable me to help, pray for and encourage others.
You see, I think we need to make every effort to build a reservoir of Scripture in our hearts, a treasure chest for the Holy Spirit’s use. It would be honoring to Him to spend time reading, studying and, yes, even memorizing portions of Scripture for Him to have at the ready. Not that we are going to go around spouting Bible verses at people or use them as a hammer to beat people, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a Scripture “pop to mind” as we are talking to a friend and our own words fail? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a little boost in our life when we hit a low spot? It’s not likely that we will spontaneously have to address thousands of people like Peter did, but if it happened wouldn’t it be great to be ready.
I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you or create another “must do” rule for your life. I’m simply suggesting that we give the Spirit as many tools as possible to mold us into the image of Christ and make us more effective in our Kingdom calling. And what better way to do that than by depositing in our hearts the very words He wrote.