memory verse

Summer Memorization Projects

Before we dive back into studying the people of the Bible, I wanted to take a small break to introduce our memorization projects for this summer! In the summer, since we have a couple of months and you’re not in school, I like us to work on a doing some Bible related memorization! Last summer we worked on memorizing the Books of the Bible for all grades, because understanding where things are in the Bible is really important, and it’s really helpful for you guys who are entering Confirmation Class to know where everything is so you can keep up in Confirmation Class.

For those of you who are rising eighth graders, we are doing the books of the Bible again this year! So if you remembered it from last year, you’re ahead of the game! However, this year for each grade level we’re going to do a different memorization project. Today we’re going to go over each assignment, look into a little background on them and why they’re important and why I chose them for the memorization project!

We’ll start with the sixth graders! So go grab your Bibles!

Does anyone know what the word Christian means?

[Let them answer.]

The word Christian literally means follower of Christ, that is follower of Jesus. Following Jesus is the point of everything that we as Christians do. Right now we’re studying the Old Testament, so we haven’t talked about Jesus too much, but since he is the point of everything, there are two verses about Jesus that I personally think are two of the most important verses for understanding God and Jesus, and those are the verses I would like you to memorize.

Please flip to John 3:16-21. And I’m not going to make you memorize this whole section, just one verse in it so don’t freak out! I just want you to read a greater portion for context. Alright someone read John 3:16-21.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

 In this story, Jesus is talking to a man name Nicodemus, who is a religious leader of the time. Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night because he was afraid to be seen talking to him, but he wanted to hear Jesus’s teaching and wisdom because Nicodemus believed that Jesus was sent from God—though he didn’t necessarily believe Jesus was God—which is what we believe.

So Jesus is trying to explain to Nicodemus for what purpose God sent Jesus. So he tells Nicodemus that God loves the word, he loves the word and everyone in it, and that’s why he sent Jesus—his only Son—so that Jesus can save everyone.

We talked about before that God’s plan is the restoration of all creation and that includes us—the humans who are made in his image. God sending Jesus is part of this restoration—is part of making us right with God. God didn’t send Jesus to condemn us—he didn’t send Jesus to punish us—he sent Jesus to save and restore the world, all of creation, and most importantly us.

But some people aren’t going to believe in Jesus—and Jesus acknowledges that here. Jesus is the light that has been sent into the world. But some people don’t like that—some people don’t like the light. Because when you light a room—it exposes everything that’s happening in the room, and some people just want to hide in darkness so their bad deeds are covered and not seen. It’s like roaches, when you turn a light on, they scurry away, afraid of the light and want to hide under furniture. Or buglers who only want to rob a house under the cover of darkness, but if the lights come on they run away. They’re afraid of the light is what Jesus is saying.

But people who do good, when the light is turned on their goodness is exposed and everyone sees their goodness. And those who want to do good are attracted to the light! And they realize that all the good they have been doing has been for God.

So why are we looking at all this? Why is it important? Because God sent Jesus because he loves us. Sometimes some people can twist the message of Christianity and it can seem like God is wrathful and doesn’t love people at all and just wants people to die. But that’s not the case! God loves us! And he sent Jesus not to hurt us, not to condemn us, but to restore us! It’s amazing, it’s a miracle!

Why is it a miracle?

Because Jesus is God. He is the human incarnation of God. God loved us so much that he chose to limit himself in human form and walk amongst us. God could have just stayed in heaven, and not dirtied himself down here on earth. But instead he chose to come here to have a relationship with us, to be like us, so he can restore us! And the next verse is also related to this!

Please turn to Hebrews 4:14-16.

14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested[a] as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This verse is talking directly about the miracle of incarnation, that is the miracle of God choosing to become fully human. What the writer of Hebrews is saying, what is unique about Christianity, is that our highest of the high—the Hebrews calls him a High Priest but he means Jesus he means God—our God, the creator of everything—didn’t stay in a white tower, pristine and separate from us, judging us from this spotless tower for being muddy because we live in a world that has mud! No! Instead our God came and chose to be among us, to be one of us, because Jesus was fully man and fully God. And every temptation we experience? He experienced. We have a God who knows what it’s like to have siblings—and probably to argue with them.

We have a God who knows what it’s like to have a mother who yells at him—there are at least two different stories in the Bible where Mary gets mad at Jesus, when he gets left behind at the Temple when he’s 13 and when he’s a grown adult and Mary is mad at him for not bringing enough wine to the party! The next time your parents yell at you, you can remind yourself, hey…God has experienced this exact same thing—and he responded correctly, without wrong, and without sin, and so can I!

Jesus survived every temptation you might ever experience. Temptations of family, peer pressure, sexual temptations, all of that—he experienced.

Our God knows what it’s like for us to live in the mud because he once lived in the mud with us.

It’s amazing and miraculous and something is inherently unique to Christianity. Jesus was born, held by his mother, fell and skinned his knees, fought with siblings, fought with his parents, had friends who both loved him and betrayed him, had friends who died, and then later died himself. Jesus experienced all of that. And that is amazing. He experienced all of that and remained perfect, and always chose the right course of action, and through him we can choose the right course of action too.

So that is why I want you guys to memorize John 3:16 and Hebrews 4:15. Let’s say John 3:16 together:

 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

And now Hebrews 4:15.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 

These verses are about Jesus and critical to our understanding of who Jesus is. That’s why I want the rising sixth graders to memorize these two verses.

Okay next us is what I want the rising seventh graders to memorize. It’s called the Lords Prayer. Does anyone here already know the Lord’s Prayer? [Let them answer/raise their hands]

[Let someone recite it, but if no one can, recite it yourself]:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Does anyone know where the Lord’s prayer comes from? Or why we recite it? [Let them answer.]

Well let’s turn to where it comes from. Please turn to Matthew 6:5-15.

5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[a]

7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “Pray then in this way:

Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
10     Your kingdom come.
    Your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
11     Give us this day our daily bread.
12     And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13     And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This section of Matthew is Jesus teaching people about prayer and how to pray. He’s saying that when we pray, we shouldn’t pray for the purpose of reward or to be seen. Prayer is for us and for God, so we when we pray we should pray in private, for it to be between us and God.

Jesus also says in the next section that when you’re praying don’t use a bunch of flowery words for no reason. Just…speak to God like you would normally speak. You don’t need those flowery words to talk to God. God hears your meaning, and he knows what you need even before you ask, so even if your words aren’t pretty, he knows what you mean.

And then he gives us a recommended prayer. This can be used both as a prayer in itself but also a formula for a prayer.

Our Father in heaven—address your prayer to God, is what he’s saying.

Hallowed be your name—recognize that God is awesome.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven—recognize God’s will is ultimately what’s important.

Give us this day our daily bread.—Basically it’s okay to ask God for things we need. He understands, and won’t be angry at us for asking him. We need food to survive, and if you have needs or even wants, God wants to hear them and provide them for you if he can.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors—We should ask God for forgiveness when we do things wrong, but because God forgives us we should forgive the people who wrong us.

And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. The version your memorizing translates it as: lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Which is basically asking God to keep us away from things that might tempt us, but when it does happen help us make right choices, and help keep us away from evil.

Now the version your memorizing ends this prayer in For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Basically us recognizing that God’s power and glory is forever, and everything is his.

We call this the Lord’s prayer. You can literally just pray this, like we do in church every Sunday, or you can use it as a format for a prayer. Or you can pray however you want because God doesn’t need flowering words, he just wants you to talk to him.

This prayer is how Jesus taught us to pray and that’s why it’s important. And it’s something we do corporately as a church. If you go to service, every week we recite this together as a church, together we pray this to God. And it’s a beautiful thing.

It’s important for us to know it because it’s how Jesus taught us to pray. And it’s also nice for us to know it because it’s something we do together across denominations as a church. So that is why I would like you guys to memorize it. And I would like you to memorize the version that we recite together in church each Sunday.

Let’s recite it together now.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

So that is the projects for the seventh graders.

For the eighth graders, we are focusing on memorizing the books of the Bible. You guys know that I strongly believe in Bible literacy and familiarity. This is why in Middle School Sunday School I don’t usually give page numbers for the sections we turn to. Instead I make you guys find it—you can use the table of contents or as you get more familiar with the order of the books of the Bible you’ll be able to flip directly there.

Knowing how the Bible is arranged and knowing how to flip your way through it is an important skill for Bible study.

So let’s talk about the books of the Bible. Does anyone know how the books of the Bible are ordered? Why they’re ordered the way they are? [Let them answer.]

The books of the Bible are arranged by genre. Genre is basically how we classify books—a books genre tells you what kind of book it is. For example, Harry Potter is of the Fantasy genre. This tells you it’s a book about magic. Science Fiction is a genre that’s about the future—sometimes space but sometimes near future with cool technology. The books of the Bible also have genres. Some books are of the historical type, other books are the poetry type, some books are the prophecy type, and some books are a more commentary/philosophy type. A lot of the books we have been studying—the stories we’ve been studying in 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings are the history type of book. When we studied Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, those are the poetry type!

Different people order the Bible in different ways. We’ve talked about before how in the Jewish Bible 1&2 Chronicles it at the very end but in the Protestant version of the Bible, which we use, 1&2 Chronicles is right after 1&2 Kings. That’s because the Protestant version of the Bible is ordered by genre.

This means the Bible is not in chronological order—which is why sometimes we jump around a bit. But it also means that if you know what type of book of the Bible something is then you know generally where it belongs!

So here on the white board I’ve written how the books of the Bible are ordered and how they’re divided up. You can see the general order of the Old Testament big level is The Torah also known as the Law, then History, then Poetry & Wisdom, then Major Prophets, and then Minor Prophets. All the books of the old Testament fit into one of these divisions. And if you can remember something is Minor Prophet as opposed to a major prophet you will know it’s at the end of the Old Testament!

The new Testament is even easier. It’s Gospels, then the Letters of Paul, then the letters of other people, and then all by itself is Revelation.

Of course if you can just straight up memorize the order of the books of the Bible, that’s even easier. You don’t even have to remember what sort of genre it is, though knowing a book of the Bible’s genre is good because it helps you know what to expect from that book. But for the eighth graders, all I’m really requiring is that you know the order.

If you know the order, you won’t have to flip to the Table of Contents every time you want to find something. You can just open the Bible and based on what book you flip open to you know how to turn and find the book you’re looking for!

Another way to help with Bible familiarity is something called Bible Drill! Which is a game! This game is basically who can find a Bible verse fastest! So we’re going to end by playing this game for a little bit. And if you find the book of the Bible first then you get a piece of candy.

But before we start that, recap. Sixth graders I want you to memorize John 3:16 and Hebrews 4:15. Seventh Graders I want you to memorize the Lord’s Prayer, particularly the version we use in Church every Sunday which is written here on the board. And Eighth Graders I want you to memorize the books of the Bible. This will also all be an email from Halecia to your parents.

Alright Bible Drill! Everyone close your Bibles. Closed all the way. Then I’m going to call out a verse. After I say the verse you may immediately start looking for it—you can use the Table of Contents that’s fine. And whoever finds it first, raise your hand. And then when I call on you you’ll have to read it out loud to prove you found the right verse. And if it’s right, you get a piece of candy. Okay you guys ready?

Alright let’s start!

  • Psalm 19:14
    •  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
  •  Matthew 21:22
    • Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”
  • 1 Chronicles 16:8
    •  O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
  • 1 John 4:19
    • We love because he first loved us.
  • Micah 6:8
    • He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
  • Philippians 4:13
    • I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

February 2017 Memory Verse

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
— Deuteronomy 6:5

Hopefully in the month of February, we will reach the story of Moses in the class and begin to talk about the Law. And since this is the greatest commandment, we will definitely want to talk about it. 

Mostly I chose this verse for two reasons. The first reason is: it's a foundational Bible verse. Like John 3:16 this is one of those often quoted verses that is central to not only our faith tradition, but others. The second reason is less noble. All of the Middle Schooler's complained that January 2017's verse was too long, and in the end no one memorized it. So I'm hoping with a shorter verse, more of them will actually participate.

January 2017 Memory Verse

I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.
— Genesis 17:7

For our first lesson in January we were discussing Abraham, and how God made a covenant with him. For me this is a key verse in that covenant that I want them to remember that highlights a few things: 

  1. It's a covenant not just with Abraham but all his descendants.
  2. It's an everlasting covenant. 
  3. Most impotrantly: The covenant establishes that God chose to be the God of Abraham and his descendants, and that from this point forth God will be their God.

It's one of the first longer verses I've required of them, but I think it has enough redundancy in it that they can get the hang of it. 

Note: Verses posted are from the NRSV version of the Bible since that is the version the Middle Schoolers are most familiar with.


November 2016 Memory Verse

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
— Psalm 107:1

For the November memory verse I wanted something that was applicable to Thanksgiving, something about thankfulness. And I thought this one was perfect: short, sweet, and well known. 

October 2016 Memory Verse

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life
— John 3:16

We started doing monthly memory verses in my class for the first time in October 2016. Since it was the first time, I wanted the middle schoolers to memorize what I view to be one of the most foundational verses of our Christian faith. Also it's a fairly short one that I thought would be easy for them to memorize.