Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Dannah Gresh: Nancy Epperson knows hundreds of Scriptures by heart, and she says this kind of memorization doesn't take a special talent.

Nancy Epperson: Tenacity is what it takes. It doesn't take intelligence. It really doesn't. It takes tenacity, determination.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Tuesday, January 7, 2020.

What keeps you from memorizing Scripture? We often think we don't have time for it, or we just don't have the ability to memorize. Nancy Epperson is with us today to help us combat those lies and give us practical ways for a busy mom or a little child to memorize God's Word.

Nancy shared yesterday her process of memorizing the book of James. Yes, I said the entire book! She shared the powerful impact of daily Scripture memorization. Today she's picking up that conversation with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So while you were memorizing the book of James, were you also reviewing and meditating on other passages you'd memorized earlier?

Nancy Epperson: Oh yes! Yes, yes. Constantly.

Nancy: How much time do you think you spend in a day memorizing or meditating on Scripture? I'm sure it varies from day to day.

Nancy Epperson: It varies, and it's hard to say, but I do set aside time. Then in the night, I do think on Scripture as well, but I'm always memorizing something.

Nancy: Do you find it’s easier to do the new memorizing in the morning or in the evening?

Nancy Epperson: I'll tell you what I love to do. I love to swim, and I take my Bible right into that pool. I do that a couple of hours every day in the pool.

Nancy: Is this like a laminated version of the Bible?

Nancy Epperson: No. I’ve never gotten one wet.Now what I do also is I don’t bring my Bible. I just tread water, and what I do is I quote and float.

Nancy: (laughing) That’s great.

Nancy Epperson: I’m telling you something. My children grew up in the pool quoting and floating with mother, and all four of my kids can quote hundreds of verses, books of the Bible.

Nancy: So they were doing this with you?

Nancy Epperson: They were doing it with me. Much of the Scripture they know they never even looked at in the Bible. They heard it over and over and over and over—repetition.

Nancy: So this wasn’t just for you.

Nancy Epperson: Oh no.

Nancy: This was discipling them, too.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, and it was also because I had limited time. I wanted to review all my Scripture and meditate on it, and I wanted to be with my kids. So we just combined it.

Nancy: This is great because I’m thinking of listeners, Revive Our Hearts listeners, who are busy moms, a lot of little kids. They’re saying, “There’s no way I have time to memorize Scripture.” But you’re saying you found a way because it was so important.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, and I’ll tell you one of my favorite stories. When my fourth baby was born, the oldest was four.

Nancy: So you had four children age four and under.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, and I was so busy.

Nancy: That sounds like my mother.

Nancy Epperson: It was really wild.

Nancy: Were you memorizing Scripture in that season?

Nancy Epperson: Oh yes; oh yes; oh yes. That’s what got me through.

Nancy: So really from the time you were fourteen, have you been memorizing Scripture ever since?

Nancy Epperson: I've never stopped, ever since, yes. So what happened was one day I was in my kitchen. My son, Stuart, was about eighteen months old. I’ll never forget this because every day I would say, “This is the day the Lord hath made, [I] will rejoice and be glad in it," Psalm 118:24.

I would just quote that verse, honestly, probably twenty-five times a day. I would quote it with great conviction. “This is the day the Lord hath made, [I] will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Nancy: You needed that verse.

Nancy Epperson: I needed it. I would quote it over and over, and it was amazing how that did really help me come to a point of rejoicing.

Anyway, when Stuart was eighteen months old, I was in the kitchen. It was a very gloomy, rainy day, and I thought, Oh boy, I need to quote my verse. So I started. I said, “This is the day . . .” and I’ll never forget this, hearing a little eighteen-month-old boy say, “the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I was stunned. I looked down on that shiny bald head—they were all bald—and I said, “How did he know that? I never taught him that. Oh, wait a minute, had I?” Then it dawned on me. Every day those kids had heard that verse, and do you know what? They could all quote it. Then I discovered many verses my little children could quote.

Let me tell you what I would do: As a young mother, I would write verses on the countertop with a pen.

Nancy: On the countertop?

Nancy Epperson: On top of it—just write it right on the counter, and I would read it over. We’d be in there. I’d go over and over it. This is how I would memorize, and this is how they would learn it. We’d go over and over and over the verse. Then toward the end of the week, it would start fading, and it usually faded pretty much . . .

Nancy: This is like Deuteronomy—write it everywhere.

Nancy Epperson: Exactly. I’m a believer in Deuteronomy 6. Permeate your home with God’s Word.

So by the end of the week, they would learn it, and then we would put a new one up. If a little of it was still there, I’d wash it off with some Comet, and then I’d put a new one. So I’d write it on the counter tops, even on mirrors, and I discovered that the kids were just picking up all these Scriptures.

Then I would apply Scripture. For example, if we were in the car and it was a glorious day, I might quote Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard (vv. 1–3).

I would quote that whole chapter to them.

I’ll never forget when my little nephew came to live with us when he was thirteen. We were going to meet my other kids and my husband at this park course where you walk a mile course. It was the end of the day, and there was this fabulous sunset.

My husband and son were way on the other end of the park course, at the far end of the mile, and we were just approaching. I saw this sunset, and my little thirteen-year-old nephew was with me. I said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.”

Well, I quoted that whole chapter to my nephew as I saw this beautiful sunset. Then Stuart got closer and closer, my son, and then as he almost got to us, he burst forth with Psalm 19. I’ll never forget. My little nephew got the most shocked expression on his face, like, “How did he know?”

Nancy: It was in his heart, too.

Nancy Epperson: I just had to laugh because he knew when his mother saw that sunset, he knew exactly what she would be quoting.

Nancy: Isn’t that great? So your children were really raised in the atmosphere of the Word.

Nancy Epperson: Absolutely, every day of their lives, and you know what? Each one of them loves the Lord and is living for the Lord and is teaching their children God’s Word.

Getting back now to my method.

  • You find your partner.
  • You pick your passage.
  • You agree on the number of verses.
  • You agree on the version.
  • You agree on when you’re going to meet.
  • Then you meet and you quote to each other.

Now the key is, during the week go over your verses, over and over and over. I’d say fifteen, twenty times a day, over and over—thoughtfully—every single day. Repetition is what makes it work, and I guarantee there is not a human being who cannot memorize Scripture.

Nancy: Now, don’t go too fast past that because there are a lot of people who will say, “I can’t memorize Scripture.”

Nancy Epperson: They will say that, but can I tell you something? That is not true. It’s true people say it, but it truly is a lie hatched in the pit of hell that Satan loves us to think. The fact is, everybody can.

Nancy: And all the things your children know from memory.

Nancy Epperson: Exactly. Most people can sing “Amazing Grace,” or when Christmas comes around, we can sing the Christmas carols. It’s just because of the repetition.

Nancy: And they know commercials because they’re hearing those a lot.

Nancy Epperson: Commercials, right, and so it really is amazing how repetition works.

I’m going to tell you something, and you won’t believe me because people don’t believe me. I have a very bad memory. It probably would take me twice as long to memorize something that you could memorize in far less time, but I work at it.

That’s it. Tenacity is what it takes. It doesn’t take intelligence. It really doesn’t. It takes tenacity—determination.

Nancy: And believing that it’s important enough that you take the time from something else you might be doing.

Nancy Epperson: Exactly. So where one person might take reading over a verse twenty times a day, I probably have to read over it thirty or forty times a day. If you are determined, and by God's grace, anyone can memorize Scripture.

I'll tell you a story of a precious friend. She loves the Word of God, and she would go to the Y with me and quote and float. We would do laps at the Y. We would do side strokes so we could face each other. I would quote. She had such a love for the Lord. She just wanted to hear. It was wonderful because I could review all my Scripture and think on it and meditate on it and she it with her.

She just hungered and thirsted to hear the Word of God. So I would go over passages with her and books—all kinds of passages and verses. This went on for months and months and months—every day.

Well, I was asked to speak at a local church. In fact, it was my church and her church. This girl is real flighty and a space cadet, but a darling precious girl. But she went with me. I was speaking to the women, and I addressed her and said, "Stand up and show them that you can memorize Scripture, that anyone can. Stand up and quote the armor of God—Ephesians 6:10–13." She just look stunned. I said, "Come on, stand up and do it."

She didn't have time to think, but she stood up and quoted it. And the women around her just looked shocked. They couldn't believe she could do it. Then I told her to quote a few other passages, and she did it. And you know what? Those women were absolutely stunned.

Nancy: They probably realized that they could memorize Scripture.

Nancy Epperson: They did. And I'll tell you something: my little friend was stunned, because she didn't know that she could do that. But I knew she could do it because I knew she had heard me quote those passages hundreds and hundreds of times. I knew she could do it.

Not only was it a revelation to the women in that group, it was a revelation to her. She has gone on to memorize Scripture. She has now moved and we don't see each other much. But she has gone on to memorize. It's so doable.

Nancy: You’ve probably heard some people say, “I can’t memorize Scripture now that I’m older.” Have you found it’s gotten harder as you’ve gotten older? I've found that to be true.

Nancy Epperson: I’ll have to be honest with you. It is. I'm sorry. I wish I could say because I’m in such a habit of doing it that it’s just like falling off a log. It’s so much easier.

It isn’t. It is harder, but again, tenacity. Just do it.

Nancy: So it’s not making you give up, the fact that you’ve gotten older?

Nancy Epperson: No, it isn’t, but I do have to work harder because you just have to do what it takes. I think it really does take me longer. And I've gotten busier. I've alway been busy rearing children, then going to college and graduate school and teaching and the things I'm involved in.

It just takes blocking out some time, some discipline. We all have calendars. We all put down appointments. Block out a little time in your calendar. Block out fifteen minutes a day. Hey, block five minutes and take one verse and go over it and over it, thoughtfully—five minutes.

It may take you one week. It may take you two weeks, but I guarantee that you will learn that verse if you will faithfully just commit to five minutes a day. It may take some people four or five weeks, but you’ll learn it if you will just stick with it.

The blessing of meditating on Scripture, as I said earlier, is you get to know the Lord more intimately. You’re forced to spend time in the Word, and the Word of God is God’s wisdom.

One blessing of meditating on Scripture is you get to know the Lord more intimately.

Someone has said, “Wisdom is looking at life through God’s frame of reference.” We want to look at life through God’s frame of reference. We want to look at life through the perspective of God’s Word.

If you’ll recall, when Moses went up on Mount Sinai and spent that time in the presence of God, when he came down from the mountain, he was radiant. In fact, the Bible says his face was so shiny, it says that Moses knew not that his face shone, but he was radiant. He had been with the Lord. Finally, he had to just put a veil over his face because the people couldn’t even look on him.

When you spend time in the presence of God, something happens internally that is apparent externally. Going back to 1 Timothy 4:15: “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”

People will see there’s something there. They said of the early disciples, “They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). There will be something about you that will be reflected.

The Bible says that we are the salt of the earth. What does salt do? It creates a thirst, and what we want is for people around us to become thirsty. We want to create a thirst in others, and that only comes when you spend time with the Lord in His presence. You are forced to do it when you memorize Scripture and you meditate on it. It’s just precious time in the presence of God Almighty.

Nancy: Do you find the Lord bringing those Scriptures to your mind at points of discouragement or temptation?

Nancy Epperson: That is a great question. Absolutely, yes! That is what is so wonderful about hiding God’s Word in your heart. Whatever the situation, God brings those wonderful verses. I always say, “If you do your homework, He’ll do the rest.” If you’ll hide God’s Word in your heart, the Spirit of God will bring it to you.

I can’t tell you the Bible studies I’ve taught where a woman will come up to me after and say, “Who told you? Who told you about my problems?” I’ll say, “No one, I promise. The Spirit of God led me to quote those verses, and that was totally of the Lord.” That has happened more times than I can remember. It’s amazing.

I’ll tell you one thing, I think one reason, personally, I’ve never had to struggle with depression—we all have our things we struggle with, but depression has never been a problem for me. I really believe one of the reasons is because of God’s Word in my heart.

If I get a little bit down, just a little bit, do you know what I do? Immediately, Psalm 103:

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul (Psalm 103).

Nancy: What you have just done is leave no room for depression.

Nancy Epperson: Absolutely. How can you possibly be depressed when you think of God’s goodness and all His blessings?

Nancy: You’ve really just renewed your mind with the Word of God.

Nancy Epperson: Absolutely, absolutely, and I tell you, I have nipped that depression thing in the bud every time with Psalm 103. It is probably my favorite psalm, though I love them all.

When you are counting your blessings and praising God, it just removes any self-pity or depression.

When you are counting your blessings and praising God, it just removes any self-pity or depression, and it's just powerful. It’s a powerful tool. I honestly believe—and I’ve had all kinds of things happen in my life—everybody has heartaches, sorrows, tragedies, but I will say, immediately I go to Psalm 103, and that truly does totally nip it in the bud.

Nancy: I think a lot of our listeners are going to want to go to Psalm 103 today and get started.

Nancy Epperson: I hope so. I hope so.

Nancy: They won’t be able to quote it overnight the way you just did, but that’s obviously been in you for a very long time. It has become part of the fabric of your heart, so now you can use it to counsel your heart.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, yes. Absolutely.

Dannah: When we dwell on the Word of God, it infiltrates our hearts and changes our outlook for everyday situations. We’ve just heard from Nancy Epperson, who says she doesn’t have a natural knack for memorizing. Yet her priority of learning Scripture has led her into a deeper relationship with the Lord. We hope you are encouraged to get God’s Word in your heart and let it change you.

If you’re looking for ways to deepen your study the Bible, Revive Our Hearts is featuring this Women of the Bible study, Abigail: Living with the Difficult People in Your Life. This resource can be yours as a thank-you for your gift of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to offer your gift, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Be sure to ask for the Abigail study.

Check out the Women of the Bible podcast that goes with it. The season on Abigail just launched yesterday. Join us tomorrow as Nancy Epperson discusses how the Scripture we put into our minds gets into our hearts, and then comes out in our lives. I’m Dannah Gresh. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants your home to be permeated with the Word of God. Our program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.