Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bible Alphabet

"A," said my mother.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened unto you. Matthew 7:7," I responded.

"B," said my mother.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7," I answered.

I was four years old, and my mother was teaching me something even more lasting than the alphabet--the Word of God.

She made it a game we played while doing the dishes or riding in the car. Her mother, noticing how easily her three-year-olds learned nursery rhymes, had taught them these Bible alphabet verses. Now my mother was teaching them to me. What better heritage could she pass on?

I didn't always completely understand the meaning of the verses I was learning, although she explained them simply. But I was learning to enjoy memorizing God's Word. And she would recite them to us in appropriate situations. As I grew older, the understanding came.

How thankful I have been for that early training. Of all the Bible verses I have memorized, the ones I learned in early childhood have stuck with me the best.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would bring all things to our remembrance (John 14:26), but we must first store His Word in our memories. Over the years, as I have preached, taught Bible classes, written church school curriculum, or spoken to someone about the Lord, these Scriptures have come to my mind at just the right time, just as Jesus promised.

I have read several accounts of Americans held as prisoners of war in Vietnam. Many of them told how they kept their sanity during those endless hours in solitary confinement by recalling all the Scripture verses they had memorized. They even rigged up a system of coded communication so they could share those verses with others. Together, they compiled large portions of the Scriptures.

In America, Bibles are so readily available that we often take them for granted. I often wonder if persecution came, how much of the Bible could we reconstruct by what we have memorized?

The trend in education has been away from memorization, but I think Christian parents and Sunday school teachers need to reconsider. The Psalmist wrote, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). He recognized the value of memorizing Scripture.

In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, God commanded His people to hold His words in their hearts and to teach them diligently to their children and grandchildren as they went about their everyday activities. We can select verses that are age-appropriate to our children's particular stage of spiritual development, or ones that deal with the problems they are facing in their life at the time.

Above all, learning verses should be an enjoyable experience, one we share with our children. We can make simple puzzles or invent games to help their memorization. Attitudes learned in early childhood will stay with them all through their lives. What better attitude can we develop in them than a love for God's Word and a desire to hide it in their hearts?

Next week, I will give you a list of the verses I learned to the alphabet as a child.