“Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’’” (Luke 4:4, ESV)
Memorizing Scripture is important for facing temptation, but it is not enough by itself. Satan had also memorized Scripture! Jesus did not defeat the devil by memorizing Scripture; he defeated him by knowing the God of Scripture and drawing on that relationship. Both the devil and Jesus used Scripture in their war over his life; Jesus won because he understood Scripture and its Author in a true way. When Jesus said “it is written,” he meant that it was written in the scrolls passed through generations; but he also meant that it was written in his own life and experience.
Because Jesus knew his Father personally, he could draw on Scripture because of what God had done in his life. I believe that we should memorize Scripture intentionally, but I believe we also benefit from recording and remembering what God has done for us personally. “One generation shall commend your works to another.” (Psalm 145:4)
In the year before I got married, I lived with a missionary in a run-down Hispanic neighborhood of Houston. He had left the mission field to care for his parents, and his father had since passed away. His mother was in her eighties, a cheerful old Mexican lady. When I asked about his mom, Daniel would always say “she’s happy and full of God.”
I remember sitting alone and discouraged one day in the backyard. The steps led up to Mrs. Savala’s room, and I heard her pouring her heart out to God in Spanish, on and on and on. Before long I was crying and praying too, swept along with her passion for God.
We had many visitors in those days for ministry, and Daniel would lead them through the kitchen where they would meet his mother. In the kitchen I always noticed the rough writing on the kitchen objects. The trash had, in black permanent marker: “My son bought me this trash can, Aug-05-2005.” Mrs. Savala wrote these things as a way of reminding herself how God had provided for her and given her a good life. She was a warrior in prayer, and she was an expert at remembering.
When she died, her ten children were sorting her things, and they found writing all over her pillowcase. Her children wept when they realized it included the name of every member of her family, more than one hundred people, and she had written their names to aid her memory so that she could pray for every single one of them every day.
One preacher said that if God did nothing new in his life, he could live in satisfaction just on the memory of all the love, hope and answered prayers that God had brought into his life.
There are continually opening new expanses of thought when we approach God. There is always more. But a devotional life is a waste if we spend all our time trying to discover something new, and never remind ourselves of what God has already taught us.
Father, help us to remember both your Word and how you have demonstrated its truth in our own lives. Teach us to commend your works to another generation.