Announcing Harbor's Scripture Memorization Challenge

by Dec 30, 2010

Along with a number of other churches across the nation, Harbor’s leadership team is challenging our church to a big goal for the New Year: We want to see our entire church memorize the entire book of Philippians. Before Easter.

One of the most important things we’d like in our church is to see “the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16). We’re encouraged that many Harborites highly value the word of God, but the problem is that many of us simply don’t know it very well. We read it, highlight it, hear it preached, and discuss it, but many times it still doesn’t stick. Why?

Because most of us haven’t put in the work necessary to memorize it. And the result is that we’re less equipped to handle everyday life. The Psalmist recognized how crucial his knowledge of Scripture was:

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. (Psalm 119:11-16)

Knowing God’s word is essential in our continual battle against sin. But we need to know God’s word in context so we can understand it properly. That’s why we’re not challenging our church to memorize a list of verses, but an entire book. And when we get to the end of the book (just before Easter), we’ll take a break from our Matthew series to start studying Philippians on Sunday mornings, so we can fully understand what we’ve memorized.

Why Philippians? Because it offers us a perfect gospel background to the high ethical demands Jesus will place on us as we start studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew in a few weeks. Paul will show us how we can meet the ridiculously high bar Jesus has set for us: “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). He’ll show us the radical extreme Jesus went to in order to redeem and restore us: “Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).

So this Sunday morning, we’ll be giving away a memorization/prayer journal to every person at Harbor who wants to take the challenge. You’ll memorize about a verse a day (with most weekends off), and you’ll record your reactions to God’s word. Then each week we’ll set aside time at each of our community group meetings across the island to recite Scripture together (“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture – 1 Tim 4:13). Our keiki will be along for the ride too: they’ll be memorizing one verse each week from the passage the adults are covering.

This weekend, why don’t you take 30 minutes to see what you’re getting yourself into? Sit down with your Bible and read through the entire book of Philippians.