Notes From ‘100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart’
Robert J. Morgan’s 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart is an unusually titled book. It seems like this might be a simple collection of pithy verses, but nothing could be further from the case. In fact, the book is a case for memorizing scripture to get you through hardship, and is full of intriguing examples of men and women who have relied on their faith in the hardest of times.
Morgan begins by referencing the classic essay ‘As a Man Thinketh, saying:
The point of As a Man Thinketh is simple: Our thoughts are the most important thing about us. All that we achieve or fail to achieve is the direct result of our thinking. Our thoughts are like seeds that produce crops. Allen wrote: “Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating).”
Even more important than the correct thoughts, Morgan argues, is the bedrock of scripture in our minds, saying:
Scripture memory is a way of digging into the soul and planting the truth a little deeper in order to achieve a richer harvest. Yes, it’s a lost habit among most people; but losing it is like an explorer losing his map or a nation losing her constitution.
A verse learned goes into our memories and from there into our conscious and subconscious minds. From there it appears in the room of imagination, from whence it shows up in the way we live, think, feel, talk, act, and achieve. The principle of Proverbs 23:7 is true 24–7. It is an inviolable law of life that cannot be altered and will be true as long as human nature endures: For as we think in our hearts so are we.
If we can’t learn scripture for God’s sake, we should at the very least do it for our own. Morgan highlights countless stories of people who attribute their success to the power of remembering the reality of God at key moments:
We tap into a powerful force whenever we combine prayer, imagination, and initiative. Most professional athletes now have mental coaches who help them train through visualization, and I’ve read about Olympians who were sidelined by injuries yet ended up winning the gold or silver because they continued training in their minds when they couldn’t do so with their bodies. One diver visualized every second of her routine day after day, using intense, focused concentration. She recovered from the disabled list just in time for the games, and she ended up on the winner’s platform.
…including Jesus himself:
If memorized Bible verses enabled Jesus to think clearly during six torturous hours on the cross, think of how they can help us through the stress and strain of each day.
So what’s at the root of these experiences? It’s that the bible helps us remember something bigger than ourselves, and allows us to see a big picture where victory is already ours:
Scripture memory makes us eternal optimists. It gives ultimate hope and modulates us into eternal optimists. There’s a promise in the Bible for every contingency in life; and our faith grows as we find those specific promises that meet our specific needs, commit them to memory, mull over them, claim them by faith, and absorb them into our spiritual bloodstream. Even death itself is no match for God’s precious promises of resurrection, eternal life, and everlasting joy.
Morgan takes a short sidebar to tell us an interesting story of D.L. Moody in his younger years:
Henry Moorhouse, sixteen, was a gambler, gang leader, and thief. But during the revival of 1859, he gave his life to Jesus and was soon preaching the gospel with all his heart. His favorite text was John 3:16. One day in 1867, in Ireland, he met the world evangelist D. L. Moody; and Henry had the nerve to invite himself to preach in Moody’s church in Chicago. Sometime later Moody returned home from a trip and learned that Moorhouse had shown up, started preaching, and was drawing great crowds. “He has preached two sermons from John 3:16,” Moody’s wife told him, “and I think you will like him, although he preached a little different from what you do.” “How is that?” “Well, he tells sinners God loves them.”
…which he uses as an example of the power of scripture to remind us to not only be better, but to love better. It takes us outside of ourselves, and outside of the present and into the future:
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Dr. Martin Luther King once told of riding the bus across town every day to attend high school. In those days blacks were required to sit at the backs of buses while whites sat in the front. Even if there weren’t any white people on the bus, blacks still could not sit in the front. If all the “black seats” were occupied, riders had to stand over the empty seats reserved for whites. “I would end up having to go to the back of that bus with my body,” said Dr. King, “but every time I got on that bus I left my mind up on the front seat. And I said to myself, ‘One of these days, I’m going to put my body up there where my mind is.’”
The second half of the book is the 100 scriptures Morgan recommends reciting to memory immediately, with his reasoning for picking the verses and stories thrown in here and there. A surprisingly enjoyable, and memorable, read.