Wednesday, March 30, 2022

IBS-36 Dwelling on the Word: Memorization

The Big Idea: Memorization of useful Bible verses is valuable to our Christian life for immediate recall of God’s promises and guidance.

Living by the M & M's (Memorization /Meditation)

A workbook for life. That is how I describe the Bible. I mark it up so I can find a valuable passage to remember or share with someone else for a specific circumstance. But we don’t always have a Bible with us. Clearly it is much easier to have access to the Bible now with electronic Bibles on cell phones. Still, there are times when it is better to just access a useful verse in your brain.

Bible memorization helps us remember the Word and apply the Word. It also helps us meditate better  on the Word.

Memorization is the ability to recite passages word for word. Of course knowing just the words if they mean nothing to us is pointless. It is invaluable to pull up an useful verse for a specific struggle. It may be for comfort or strength. It may be life advice as a regular reminder to follow.

Additionally it gives us the opportunity to meditate on the Word at anytime, anywhere. This is as valuable as pure gold. Imagine the traffic jam. Awaiting while gowned at the doctor’s office on a cold table. Sitting through an MRI exam or the dentist chair. These things happen. They cause anxiety. To be able to readjust our mind to God and His promises is what each of us needs at a time like that.

Five Tips for Learning to Memorize Scripture.

1. Translation choice. Choose one that speaks to you. I find the King James useful for memorization because of its unique poetic nature.

2. Repetition. Repeat phrases over and over. Have it written on your phone, your mirror, your fridge. Note the word order.

3. Look for key words to anchor the verse. As you repeat it, think of what it is saying or picture an object to help remember.

4. Make up a song or melody to help you memorize. There are also apps and some Scripture memory songs on You Tube that have ready-made verses in song.

a. This blog post from Intoxicated on life by Luke and Tricia has a link to an index of 1400 verses to song. The focus here is for children to use but I have often found my childhood songs remain fixed in my mind.

b. Google “Bible Memory by song” and you will get many hits, even with links to YouTube songs. The opportunities seem endless.

5. Use an app for this. There are two I find helpful.

a. Remember Me. This app is available for free. It has several ways you can practice remembering it, such as with progressive words disappearing, or a puzzle manner to string the right words sequentially.

b.  This app is free to download but only for the King James version. You pay to unlock other versions of the Bible.

A verse in the Psalms calls it “hiding God’s Word in your heart.” Tuck God’s Word in your memory for instant recall when you need it! It comes with great promise!

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 (NLT)


This post is thirty-sixth in a series as a Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study.

Up next: Dwelling on the Word: Meditation
Previous post: Ten Practical Ways to Apply God’s Word



1. I recall memorizing a Bible verse when I was a little girl. I made up a song to it and it has stuck with me to this day. Can you recall one of the first verses you memorized? Or a favorite? What memory is associated with that for you?

2. Has a verse ever helped you in a certain circumstance? How did it help? Is it memorized or would it be a good one for you to commit to memory?

3. In what circumstance might you not have your Bible on hand but a memorized verse would be useful?

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

IBS-35 Ten Practical Ways to Apply God's Word

The Big Idea: A few suggestions how to put into practice using the Bible in the issues of daily life.

Has a verse in a Bible passage ever hit exactly where you need it? The Bible is like that! Ready to apply that thought to your life is not so easy.  Like it is easy to make a New Year’s Resolution and forget it in a week, it is difficult to change our habits, not usually because it is too hard. Often it is because our cluttered life crowds in and we just forget or get off track without even noticing.

The Bible is amazing. Attending a Bible study you may discover the passage is talking about something you need right now! The Holy Spirit is remarkable, simultaneously working in each person with you at the Bible study, bringing the truth home to each one. It is supernaturally uncanny!

Let’s not squander these valuable nuggets in God’s Word. Apply them! Here are a couple of suggestions. 

Ten Practical Ways to Apply God's Word

1. Identify a key verse, or key phrase that speaks to your circumstance in a passage.

2. Write that verse on a sticky note or piece of paper that day. Note it on your calendar or planner.

3. Consider memorizing the verse the coming week, or attach a phrase in the verse to your memory.

4. Make multiple sticky notes or reminders of that verse or phrase and post them where you usually linger. For instance, on the bathroom mirror, atop your computer screen, on your car’s steering column or odometer, etc.

5. Visualize how that verse is useful in a specific situation in your life. Intend to remember when you find yourself in that setting. Play it out in your mind telling yourself it is God’s Word to YOU right now.

6. Consider specific ways this verse applies. Be intentional and specific in applying it.

7. Pray about applying this, asking God to prompt you and guide you when necessary.

8. If this is helpful, gather other similar verses, or find a worship chorus that reinforces it. Use the Word of God to flood your mind with this particular truth.

9. Share what you are trying to do with someone else. Verbalizing it helps solidify it in your mind. Ask the friend to check in with you how it is working. Consider them to be an accountability partner.

10. Put a note in your calendar for a week or a month to check back with yourself how it is working for you.

May you discover that the Lord is our helper in very practical ways when we lean on His Word and trust in Him! He is faithful!


This post is thirty-fifth in a series as a Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study. 

Up next: Dwelling in the Word: Memorization
Previous post: Practice, Practice, Practice!



1. What is a verse from the Bible that you find helpful. Perhaps it is as simple as Ephesians 4:32a “Be kind and compassionate to one another.”

2. Reflect and imagine a situation in your life right now in which that verse can influence and guide you . 

3. Pray to the Lord for help this week. Allow Him to apply His Word to your life. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

IBS-34 Practice! Practice! Practice!


The Big Idea: We practice what we learn from Scripture and repeat it till it becomes a habit

A few months ago leading a discussion on the Epistles of John we noticed the repetition and contrast of the phrases “practice righteousness” and “practice sinning. ”

Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. I John 3:8

In the New Testament the word “practice” often refers to people who practice sinful things, such as magic (Acts 8:9), adultery (1 Cor. 6:9) and greed (Eph 4:19). But it also is used to challenge Christ’s followers to practice what is right. The Apostle Paul sets himself up as an example to be imitated.

For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you. 2 Thess. 3:7

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil 4:9

Applying God's Word to our Lives

If you have been in sports or music, you know that practice, repetition of a desirable action, is important for improvement. I played the piano and violin in school and my mother constantly said, “Practice, Practice, Practice!”

I asked my class how practice at something matters.

“It means it do it over and over again till you improve.”

“You don’t skip practicing or cheat on it, or you won’t be very good at it.”

“You do it regularly, and keep track of it. You remember to do it.”

What implication does that have for righteousness, that is, living right for God?

Living for Jesus is something we need to work at over and over again.

If we are not good at something, we work at it. The same with godly living.

We keep up with it, realizing we have not already arrived. We will have so much to learn.

We are humble. We have a learning posture.

To be clear, practicing and being intentional ungodly living is not how we are saved from our sin. That is a one time deal when we started our Christian journey. It is solely by faith in Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8) However learning to live for Jesus every day takes intentional practice. We may need to be intentional to get into the habit of what is good and right. Read the Bible every day. Pray every day. Go to church with believers every week. And so on.

This is all about application of the Word. We practice what we read. We apply it actively, not just with our heart but with all we do and say.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 (NLT)

Now teaching Revelation, I was leaning on the application of a passage, asking what implications there are for us today. I grinned when someone who had been in the Epistles of John class raised her hand and said, “Practice, practice, practice!” 

“Yup,” another chimed in, “Practice, practice, practice!”

They must be mothers.


This is thirty-fourth in a series, Practical Guide to Inductive Bible Study.
Up next: Ten Practical Ways to Apply God’s Word
Previous post: Honest to God



1. Think back on your life experiences. Have you ever had a discipline you needed to practice? Sports, music, writing? Something else? Did it come easily to you or was it hard? How did you keep at it?

2. Have you ever found repetition of a Christian practice to be useful? Is there something you of which you think you could use more practice?

3. Pray about being intentional about living right for God, asking for His help in getting better at it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

IBS-33 Honest to God

The Big Idea: An important element of applying the Bible to one’s life is honesty with God and with oneself.

“Heavens to Betsy” 

Different generations have their lingo. Perhaps your grandparents said “Honest to goodness,” “Honest to Pete!” or “Honest to God.” These are exclamations of assurance or accompany a surprising fact, emphasizing it is absolutely true.

The whole point of Bible study is life transformation, renewing our mind by the Holy Spirit. Honesty and transparency with God should be normal. Not being transparent with God is pointless because He created us and knows what we say, do, and even think. Yet, like a kid who ate the whole plate of cookies will try to hide it (even with chocolate chips smearing the face), we find ourselves doing likewise. Adam and Eve started it in the Garden in Genesis chapter 3.

We should be honest with God, but sometimes we are not honest with ourselves. We all have blind spots. Jesus said one should not criticize the speck in his neighbor’s eye when he has a log in his own. Deal with your own log first he says (Luke 6:41-42).

The Searchlight

The Psalmist prays asking God to be a searchlight on his soul. This is a valuable prayer for application. We need the Lord’s help to find that which we may not even realize hinders us.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

The Scalpel

Hebrews portrays the Bible like a surgeon’s scalpel. It is a powerful, sharp implement able to get into the dark places of our soul, removing that infectious cancer, sin.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12

The Dad

When a toddler insists on touching a hot stove, wanting to protect and help their child the parent will say “No!” and make sure they do not get hurt. God does the same kind of thing with us for our own protection and guidance. Studying the Word we begin to understand God is at work and we can trust Him.

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:10-11

Take time for prayer and reflection at the application stage of Bible study. Ask God to make clear the hidden secrets of your heart. Be honest. Be honest with yourself.

Be honest to God.


This is thirty-third in a series, Practical Guide to Inductive Bible Study
Table of Contents

Up next: Practice, Practice, Practice
Previous post: Struggling to Ask the Right Questions



1. Can you think of a time when the Bible proved to illustrate one of these three examples, the searchlight, the scalpel or the dad?

2. Read over again one of the above Bible verses. Reflect on it. Mull it over and pray through it to ask God to show you where you might need to be honest with yourself and with Him.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

IBS-32 Struggling to Ask the Right Questions

The Big Idea: Well thought out application questions help guide a Bible discussion or personal study toward practical life application.

Bible Study Leaders, this one’s for you!

As a former professor for West African pastoral candidates and regular speaker at churches and retreats, the hardest part for me to prepare in a lesson or message is bringing home how the Bible is practical and real to us today. I’m not the best at conclusions. I’ve written and led Bible Studies for over 40 years. Yet I struggle asking questions targeting the personal relevancy of the Bible for us. Only in past year I sense improvement at zeroing in to the practicality of the Bible for everyday life.

My favorite question has become: Why does it matter? -or- How does it matter?

God’s Word is written for a reason and it matters. These two questions pivot upon “Why is this passage in the Bible for us?” And “How is it significant and relevant for our life?”

The thing is, reflecting on application takes time. Think time. Waiting-on-God time. When we as Bible Study leaders ask these questions, allow a little silence to let people reflect. Give the opportunity to talk a question over in groups of two or three. It helps sometimes to process outloud.

Free Resource from Josh McDowell

An excellent resource is Josh McDowell’s book, A Guide to Understanding Your Bible, suggests these 12 application questions. You can download a basic edition of his book for free here.

1. What truths are found in this passage?

2. How does this truth apply to my life? At work? In my neighborhood? At home? In my nation?

3. In view of this truth, what specific changes should I make in my life?

4. How do I propose to carry out these changes?

5. What is my personal prayer regarding the application of this truth?

6. What verse (or verses) of Scripture could I memorize to best summarize this truth?

7. What illustration can I develop to help me retain this truth and communicate it to others? (A story, a poem, a graphic, a cartoon, or a drawing, for example.)

Be Specific

Josh McDowell’s questions are really concrete, aren’t they? They ask you to picture something or to check the application to various settings of your life. When working on Bible application, be specific and personal in applying truth to your life. And then share your reflections with someone.

It matters.

This is the thirty-second in a series called Practical Starter Guide for Inductive Bible Study. 

Up next: Honesty

Previous post: Never Ask This Question



1. Why do you think we struggle to be specific in Bible application?

2. How well would you assess you apply God’s Word to your life in a concrete way?

3. Take Ephesians 1:16 and reflect how you can make a concrete application to someone in your life. How does this matter? Who might be the person you focus on? What might you do to put it into practice, at least for a day?

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly. Ephesians 1:16 NLT