4a. Bible Memorization: How & Why We Memorize
Welcome to The Bible Memorization Online Guide and the life-long adventure of Scripture memorization. This guide provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to memorize Scripture using the MemRead Memorization Method.
As you memorize Scripture regularly, you will discover over time how it can help to:
Enrich your fellowship with God
Deepen your love for Jesus
Energize your prayer life
Multiply your Bible Time
Aid your spiritual growth
Expand your knowledge of the Bible
Strengthen your trust in God’s promises
Serve as a deterrent to sin
Renew your mind and thought life
Provide answers to those with questions
Arm you for spiritual warfare
Equip you for witnessing and ministry
Tucked away in your heart, memorized Scripture travels with you everywhere you go, giving you instant access to God’s Word anytime,anywhere, even when you’re without your Bible.
In the pages ahead, you will learn more about the benefits of memorization and how to write God’s Word on your heart one step at a time using the MemRead memorization method.
Whether you are a first-time memorizer or an old pro, or whether your goal is to memorize one verse or a thousand, I believe you will find MemRead to be both fun and challenging.
With MemRead you Memorize by Reading ; not by writing out words; not by repeating words or phrases over and over.
And the daily reading doesn’t take long either. On average, 10 repetitions of a verse take about two minutes (120 seconds) to complete. (Your actual reading time may be longer or shorter depending on the length of the verse and your reading speed.)
So, whether your goal is to memorize John 3:16, John Chapter 3, or the entire Book of John, you will memorize each the same way—by reading.
Of course, we will look at other helpful tips and techniques, but that’s the MemRead memorization method in a nutshell.
Music to Your Ears
Maybe you’re wondering how Scripture can be memorized just by reading it. Perhaps an illustration will help.
Over the years, you have likely memorized the words to many songs. But how did you learn them? Did you write the words on cards and carry them with you, repeating the words over and over until you had them memorized? Of course not.
You simply listened to the words of the songs many times, for a period of weeks or months, and your mind memorized the words for you.
With MemRead, The process is similar.
You simply READ the words of a verse many times (10 times a day for 4 weeks), and your mind, with the help of the Holy Spirit, memorizes the words for you.
Actually, this concept of “repetitious” learning is nothing new; advertisers have been using a similar technique for years. They will play the same commercial over and over again (repetitiously),and soon you’re humming the jingle from memory, without any conscious effort on your part to memorize it.
Why 4 weeks? Can’t a verse be learned in just a day or two?
Yes, it can. In fact, an experienced memorizer can sometimes learn a verse in just one sitting, but they probably won’t remember it very long if they stop there. More time is needed to cement the verse in their memory, so they can remember it for years to come.
With MemRead you may memorize a verse in less than 4 weeks, but you will continue with your daily reading for the remainder of the 4 weeks, so that your mind has the necessary time to cement the verse in your memory for long-term retention.
(By the way, if you want to memorize a verse in just a day or two, you can always use the “RUSH-MemRead technique,” which I cover near the bottom of this page.
Won’t this 4-week reading period limit the number of verses I can memorize?
No, with MemRead you are not limited to working with just one new verse at a time. You can work with two, five, ten, or any number of verses you choose.
The Projection Chart below shows the number of verses that can potentially be memorized over a one or five-year period as you follow a consistent memorization program.
For example, if you were to start and follow through with 1 new verse each week, you will have memorized 49 verses in one year and 245 verses in five years.
Bump that number up to 4 new verses each week, and you’re looking at 196 verses for the year, and 980 verses in five years.
“I’ve tried to memorize, but I’m just not good at it.”
Have you ever said something like this? If so, you are not alone.
In fact, I have probably heard this one comment more than any other, when the subject of memorization is discussed. And it’s often come from those who sincerely want to memorize but feel they can’t.
Then there are the others; those who start out strong and memorize a bunch of verses, only to quit later when they find themselves forgetting what they had worked so hard to learn.
Why is this? Why do so many Christians struggle when it comes to memorizing Scripture? I think one reason is that they have never been taught HOW to memorize.
I, too, found memorization difficult as a new Christian; I was terrible at it. But as I learned how to memorize, I began to see results and discovered to my surprise that I actually enjoyed it. In time, as I memorized one new verse after another, God gave me a passion for it. He can do the same for you.
The aim of this memorization guide is to show you how to memorize in a simple-to-follow, step-by-step way and to make the process an enjoyable one.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you have a bad memory or that you can’t memorize Scripture.
You have a better memory than you give yourself credit for. Over your lifetime, you have memorized all kinds of things: from early-childhood nursery rhymes, to the Lord’s Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, your ABC’s, multiplication tables, and the many facts, dates, and statistics needed for your school work.
Add to that the many names, phone numbers, recipes, sport stats, pin numbers, passwords, and songs you know by heart.
Even simple everyday activities would be difficult had your mind not memorized the necessary motor skills needed to carry them out; activities like: getting dressed, riding a bike, driving a car, using a computer, playing sports, and the many other things you do without thinking.
Yes, God has given you a wonderful gift—a mind that surpasses the world’s finest super-computers in complexity and design. It’s truly a biological and engineering marvel.
Night and day, 365 days a year, this super-computer mind of yours is processing thousand of bits of information fed to it by your eyes, ears, and other senses. You are a living, breathing, memorizing machine! Who says you have a bad memory?
You can also take comfort in the fact that if God wants you to memorize Scripture (and He does, as we will see in a bit), then you can depend on Him to provide you with everything you need to complete the task. He would never ask you to do something you were incapable of. And, as a Christian, you also have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will help, teach, and guide you each step of the way (John 14:26; 16:13).
My memorization method is working just fine. Why should I switch to MemRead?
You shouldn’t. Stick with the method that’s working for you. However, if you find yourself forgetting what you’ve learned, or you’re spending lots of time and effort and getting poor results, then I suggest you give MemRead a try. Who knows? You might find that it works better for you.
No free lunches.
I need to interject a word of caution here. Even though the MemRead memorization method may be easy to understand and follow; and even though the Holy Spirit is there to help you each step of the way, the day-to-day process of memorizing Scripture will still require diligent effort on your part.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that in life (memorization included), there are no free lunches. Anything worthwhile, anything of lasting value takes time, effort, and persistence.
If you remain consistent with your memorizing, I believe you will discover Bible memorization to be very rewarding. Something that pays spiritual dividends not only in this life but in the life to come.
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Now before I go into more detail on HOW to memorize using MemRead, let’s talk a little about WHY we memorize Scripture. When you better understand the importance of memorizing in your daily life, you will often find that you are more motivated to stick with your memorization program and to push yourself to learn more and more new verses.
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Why should I memorize Scripture?
First and foremost, because it’s God desires for you to have His Word in your heart, and memorizing is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit takes the Scriptures from the pages of your Bible and writes them on the tablet of your heart.
Secondly, the benefits of memorizing are many. Tucked away in your heart, memorized Scripture travels with you everywhere you go, giving you instant access to God’s Word anytime,anywhere, even when you’re without your Bible!
More Scripture, more of the time, means more opportunities for spiritual nourishment, cleansing, guidance, encouragement, correction, and the many other blessings that come from spending time in the Scriptures.
Now before we discuss some of these benefits in greater detail, let’s first look at what the Bible has to say about God’s Word being in our heart.
In Deuteronomy 6:6, we read God’s instruction to His people:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
In the book of Proverbs, This same message is communicated to us through the divinely inspired words of Solomon:
“Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart” Proverbs 4:21
“Write them on the tablet of your heart” Proverbs 7:3
He continues in Proverbs 6 . . .
“Bind them upon your heart forever . . . when you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you” Proverbs 6:21-22
Jeremiah, the prophet, found joy as he internalized God’s Word. He writes..
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” Jeremiah 15:16
The Psalmist in Psalm 119 knew that hidden in his heart, Scripture would serve as a deterrent to sin. You may be familiar with Psalm 119:11
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”
The message is clear! God not only wants us to be in the scriptures, but he also wants the scriptures to be in us . . . in our mind and in our heart!
And we also need to remember that when we memorize Scripture, we are not memorizing the words of mere men, but the very Word given to us by God Himself.
God’s Word is living, active (Hebrews 4:12), and eternal (Psalm 119:89). By it we are “Born Again” into the family of God (1 Peter 1:23)…
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring WORD OF GOD.”
Just as we eat and wash to meet the needs of our physical body, God’s Word meets the spiritual needs of what the Bible describes as our “inner being” (Ephesians 3:16), that invisible, spiritual part of us on the inside.
Below, I have added some images to help draw an analogy between the inner and outer man and to illustrate how, from God’s Word, we receive spiritual . . .
Matthew 4:4: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
John 15:3: Now you are clean through the Word that I have spoken to you.
Psalm 119:105: Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Comfort or Encouragement
Romans 15:4: That we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
Yes, it gives us hope too.
Finally… 2 Timothy 3:16 lists a bunch of additional benefits of God’s Word.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Don’t you like that. By God’s Word, we are thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Unfortunately, space does not allow us to look at the countless other spiritual benefits and blessings associated with the Bible. We could probably fill a number of pages with just this topic and still only scratch the surface.
Now, understanding the tremendous value of God’s Word in our lives, it makes good sense to maximize our time in the Scriptures each day. The more Bible Time the better! ..In addition to our study of God’s Word at church and group Bible studies, we can enjoy some excellent personal Bible Time as we read and study the Scriptures on our own and as we spend time one-on-one with God and our Bible (some call this their Devotions or Quiet Time)..
It is during these times that we can experience some of our closest moments with God as we talk to Him in prayer and He communicates to us through the pages of our Bible. Now, it’s one thing to experience close communion with God and to be spiritually focused with an open Bible in front of us, but once we close our Bible and get busy with other things, we can easily let God slip from our thoughts and leave Him out of parts of our day. When we do this we miss out on those little moments He intended to share with us, moments that can help us know Him better and love Him more. And we can also miss out on the opportunities that God has prepared for us throughout the day to be of service to Him and to bring Him glory.
Now one way to help maintain close, continuous fellowship with God and to stay tapped into His Word is to meditate on Scripture throughout the day.
(If this concept of Scripture meditation is new to you, please understand that meditation differs from reading or studying the Bible. When you meditate on Scripture, you are thinking deeply about the text.
You’re turning the Scripture over in your mind, seeking to understand the meaning of the individual words and the verse as a whole. You are asking yourself, “What is this verse or passage saying?” “Is this something that I can I apply to my own life?”)
God stressed the importance of meditating on Scripture and following its teachings to Joshua:
In Joshua 1:8 we read…
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.“
In Psalm 1, the Psalmist also impresses upon us the value of Scripture meditation, as he describes the man who:
“…Delights in he law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:2-3
Your Internal Bible
Now, maybe you’re wondering, “How am I to meditate on Scripture day and night?” “How am I to make it a priority in my life so that it’s in my thoughts and on my lips, and I’m seeking to follow its teachings throughout the day when I’m without my Bible most of the time?” These are good questions.
One solution might be to keep a small pocket New Testament or Bible with you as you go about your day, or you can listen to the audio Bible on your smartphone, pad, CD or MP3 player, and meditate on those verses you read or hear.
These are excellent choices, but they have their limitations. With work, or school, or the many other activities going on in your life, chances are you’re not always going to be free to read, listen, and meditate on Scripture when you’d like.
That’s why you’ll find memorized Scripture to be an ideal solution for those “No-Bible” times
As you memorize one new verse after another, you will be creating within you your own sort of miniature “Internal Bible” making Scripture available to you anytime of the day or night, for not only Scripture meditation, but for prayer, witnessing, teaching, and so on.
Early on, your Internal Bible will contain just a few verses; but over time, as you follow a regular memorization program, that number will grow larger, giving you access to a greater variety of Scripture, and with it the potential to literally multiply your Bible Time throughout the day
MULTIPLIED BIBLE TIME
What would multiplied Bible Time mean to you? Might it mean more special times with God?
Might it mean more frequent meals? (I’m speaking spiritually here.) Instead of being fed once a day during your quiet time, you now have the opportunity to feast on God’s Word multiple times throughout the day?
How about the multiple spiritual showers that will result from more Bible Time—ones that make you feel real good and clean on the inside—as the Word of God washes your mind and lifts your spirit.
Might bringing more of the Bible into more of your day also help you to be more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and more aware of Jesus being right there with you as you go about your day.
Might it result in you praying more—more meaningful, heartfelt prayers . . . prayers that are more consistent with God’s Word and His will.
Yeah . . . multiplied Bible time could have a big impact on your life, couldn’t it?
MEMORIZATION AND YOUR MIND
Let’s talk a little now about memorization and your mind. As we are going to see, Bible memorization can help to improve your thought life, so that you “think” more and more in a way that pleases God.
In Philippians 4:8, we find a model for proper Christian thinking.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things
Regrettably, this kind of thinking does not come naturally to us, even after we become Christians. From childhood, we have patterned our thinking like the world around us—a world system that exists in direct contradiction to God and his ways. As a result, we are all in need of a transformation.
Romans 12: 2 puts it this way . . .
“ Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
As an old piece of furniture is sanded, varnished, and restored to its original beauty by the craftsman, so God uses his word to renew our mind and transform our pattern of thinking.
As you regularly spend time in the Scriptures—which are themselves true, noble, right, pure, etc.—the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to continue to develop within you a biblical mindset and world view. As a result, you see things more from God’s perspective and think more as he would have you to think.
Scripture meditation and memorization meditation can play a big part in this renewal process. For as you are consistently learning new verses, reviewing old verses, and meditating on Scripture, God’s Word will be at work renewing your mind and making you more Christlike.
The role of memorization in spiritual warfare.
As Christians, we are each engaged in an invisible, ongoing spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:12), and our enemy, the devil (1Peter 5:8), has made our mind one of his primary targets.
By planting sinful thoughts, lies,and temptations in our mind, he attempts to disrupt our relationship with God, weaken our spiritual effectiveness, and cause us to sin.
In Matthew 4, we find Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. It’s important to note what Jesus used to resist the devil’s temptations. He used the same thing available to each of us today—Scripture!
With each temptation, Jesus quoted Scripture, and after He had done so,“the devil left Him” (Matthew 4:11).
As Christians, we are responsible for the thoughts we think. Even though we can’t stop the devil from placing thoughts and suggestions in our mind, we can refuse to let them remain.
James 4:7 tells us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” To this Paul adds that we are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Like a courier making a delivery, the devil comes knocking at the door of your mind to deliver his package of sinful thoughts, lies, and temptations.You have two choices: you can either accept or reject delivery. To accept delivery, you need not do a thing. Simply allow the sinful thought to remain and dwell on it. This is sin. To reject delivery, resist the temptation using Scripture. This is done by…
Immediately asking God for His help
Quoting a verse(s) from memory (or your Bible)
Believing what God has promised in the verse(s) you’ve quoted (If you are unable to quote the verse(s) aloud, quote it silently to yourself.)
As we follow the instructions given to us in Ephesians 6 to put on the “full armor of God” and to take “up the shield of faith,” God will enable us to ”extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
His flaming arrows are many: condemnation, fear, guilt, doubt, anger, lust, pride, jealousy, worry, self-pity, discouragement, and a host of others designed to target you and your sinful nature.
Worse yet, the devil often shoots his arrows when you are without your Bible. This is why it is crucial that you memorize Scripture. With it written on your heart, you are never without at least a portion of God’s Word.
God has given us many “great and precious promises” (2Peter1:4). Make it your aim to memorize specific promises in the Bible to help you resist temptation and those repetitive sins and bad habits in your life—weak areas that you may have wrestled with for years. Then when that old temptation or sinful thought comes knocking at the door, you will be better prepared to resist it.
You can also work to counter the challenges of everyday living with memorized Scripture.
Feeling a strong desire to do something you know God would not want you to do? After praying, resist the urge to sin by quoting a verse like 1Corinithians 10:13 from memory and trust that God . . .
“will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Experiencing financial challenges? Memorize and reflect on verses about God’s ability and desire to meet your every need.
Sense yourself becoming critical or judgmental? Commit to memory verses about compassion, kindness, and humility and take them to heart.
Afraid or worried?
Quote verses about God’s protection and peace and draw confidence from them.
Past sins and failures got you down? Read, memorize, and fill your mind with verses reminding you of God’s forgiveness and restoration, to encourage you to keep moving forward.
Facing a difficult task? Quote verses about God’s sufficiency and strength and look to Him to work in and through you to complete the task.
Now, please understand that what we have covered here on spiritual warfare and applying scripture to our daily lives assumes that we are walking closely with Jesus with no willful sin or disobedience in our lives. If this is not the case, if we have broken fellowship with the father, we can memorize verses all day long and still live frustrated, defeated Christian lives.
Would you be prepared if you lost your Bible?
Today in America we enjoy enormous religious freedom and an abundance of Bibles, churches, Christian radio and television stations, seminars, tapes, books, and every conceivable Bible help under the sun. This is not the case for many of our fellow brothers and sisters around the world. In many places, Christians are intensely persecuted, and Bibles are outlawed or few in number. As Christians, we are not promised a life free of persecution, nor do we have the guarantee that we will always enjoy religious freedom.
Have you ever thought what life would be like if your Bible was one day confiscated or outlawed? Would you be prepared?
If God has blessed you with a Bible, make good use of it. Read, study, master, and memorize its contents.
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Now that we have seen WHY we memorize Scripture, it’s time to get started learning HOW.
I need to point out here that even though the MemRead techniques that I am sharing with you have worked well for me, these techniques may not necessarily work for you. I hope that they do, but there’s no guarantee that they will.
I suggest you give MemRead a try and see how it works for you. If you find it helpful, great. If not, find another method that works for you or make up one of your own. The important thing is that you memorize Scripture and use a method that works. One that gives you good results and you will stick with.
The reason I like MemRead so much is that it’s easy to use, and I can tailor it to my own schedule, memorizing as little or as much as I wish.
For me, time is a premium. I’m sure it’s the same for you. I want to be able to memorize more verses in less time and with less effort. And I find MemRead to be an enjoyable way to memorize Scripture, and it doesn’t require a big investment of my time. Spending just 2 minutes a day to work on a verse is pretty cool.
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Again, as we have learned earlier, with MemRead you Memorize by Reading ; not by writing out words; not by repeating words or phrases over and over.
Your goals is to memorize each verse “perfectly” meaning . . .
Now, before you actually begin memorizing your first verse, take some time to pray and ask God to help you memorize and to select the verse(s) He would have you to memorize. (If you are new to memorizing Scripture, check out the list of suggested STARTER VERSES near the bottom of this page.)
Next, write out your verse on a card. (If you don’t have a card, use a scrap piece of paper or whatever you can write on, or feel free to just read the verse(s) from your Bible.)
I suggest you write out your card using this format (as illustrated below):
Address — Verse — Address
Now you are ready to begin reading.
Simply read your card over and over until you have completed your 10 repetitions. That’s it. Your done.
Tomorrow do the same thing. Read your card 10 times.
Do this each day until you have completed 4 weeks of reading. Be sure to take 1 day off each week to rest.
Tip: You are not limited to memorizing just one verse at a time. If you wish, you can be memorizing a second verse like John 10:35 at the same time you are memorizing John 3:16.
After you are done your 10 repetitions of John 3:16, put your card down, pick up your John 10:35 card and begin reading it 10 times as illustrated below:
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That’s all you need to know to begin memorizing Scripture today.
If you have a few minutes now, why not grab yourself some cards and write out a verse or two. Then take 2 minutes or so to read each card, and you will be on your way.
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Now, memorizing a new verse is great, but you also need to review it periodically to keep it fresh in your memory.
To effectively memorize and retain your verses, you will need to follow these 2 key steps:
You “READ” to memorize, and you “REVIEW” to keep Scripture fresh in your memory.
After you have completed your 4 weeks of reading and your verse is memorized, you will review it each month by simply reading or reciting it from memory 5 times.
You will follow these steps over and over for each new verse. “Read & Review.” “Read & Review. Over and over, “Read & Review.”
READ your verse 10 times a day for 4 weeks to memorize it, and REVIEW it by reciting your verse 5 times each month to keep it fresh in your memory.
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If you prefer to speed up the memory process and reduce the time needed to memorize your verses, consider using RUSH-MemRead, which I cover below.
There will be times when you need to memorize a verse in less than 4 weeks (the normal MemRead reading / memorizing period). That’s when RUSH—MemRead comes in handy. You will still memorize by READING, but you will be compressing weeks of reading into days.
Tip: It’s best to work with just short passages (4 verses or less) when using RUSH—MemRead.
How many repetitions do I do? As many as it takes for you to “memorize” the verse—meaning you can recite it from memory without reading from your card. Since we each learn at different speeds and each verse differs in length and difficulty, there’s no accurate way to predict how many repetitions it will take you to memorize a particular verse.
I recommend you do your reading in “sets” of 10. By this I mean that you will read the verse 10 times to complete one set. On average, one set takes about 2 minutes to complete. (Keep in mind that your actual reading time may be longer or shorter depending on the length of the verse and your reading speed.)
To memorize a verse in 1 day, start as early as you can in the morning and continue to do many sets throughout the day (10 repetitions for each set) until you can quote the verse from memory. How and when you do your reading is up to you.
Once the verse is memorized, continue to read/recite the verse each day thereafter (10 times a day) for the remainder of the 4 weeks (the regular MemRead reading period). This additional reading/reciting is to cement the verse in your memory for long-term retention.
To memorize a verse in 2 or 3 days,try to get in at least 10 sets of 10 repetitions each day (100 total repetitions). You can spread out your sets throughout the day, or you can do all 10 sets in one sitting. It’s up to you.
Now, don’t let the 10 sets (100 repetitions) scare you. For many verses 100 repetitions take roughly 20 minutes a day to complete (10 sets x 2 minutes per set). Again, your time may be longer or shorter depending on the length of the verse and how slow or fast you do your reading.
Note: The 10 sets (100 repetitions) per day is simply a suggested number. You may get by with less, or you may need to do more.
After you have used RUSH—MemRead for a while and experimented with different numbers of repetitions (75,120,140,etc.), you will find the number that’s right for you—one that gives you good, consistent results.
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If you are interested in learning more about memorizing, there is a bunch of additional information for you on page 2, the “Advanced Memorization Techniques” page, where I share some other techniques and answer frequently asked questions about memorizing and MemRead.
If you are new to memorizing or an experienced memorizer looking for some good verses to memorize, check out page 3, for a list of “Starter Verses.”
Simply click on any of the links below to go to any of these pages.
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How To Be Sure You Are Going To Heaven
Getting Started As a New Christian
The “Apologetics Made Easy” Video Training Course
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Please note that much of what is included on these Bible Memorization Pages here on TruthMadeEasy.com is content taken from the following booklet:
The Bible Memorization Pocket Guide
How to Memorize Verses, Chapters,
and Books of the Bible Using the
MemRead™ Memorization Method
Copyright © 2003, 2005 by Rory T. McGorty
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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