Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What Is the Abundance of Your Heart?

Dannah Gresh: When you memorize Scripture, you have it wherever and whenever you need it. Here’s Nancy Epperson.

Nancy Epperson: There is such a joy that comes with meditating on God’s Word. I often am awakened in the night, and I think on God’s Word.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Wednesday, January 8, 2020.

Do you have a desire for your children and your grandchildren to have God's Word so in their hearts that it's on the tips of their tongues? Today, Nancy Epperson is going to share how her habit of memorizing God's Word became something that was also a habit in the lives of her children and her grandchildren.

In this final portion of the conversation between Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Nancy Epperson, we’ll encourage you to get your kids and your grandkids joining you in the transforming practice of learning the Word.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What are you memorizing now?

Nancy Epperson: Right now I’m memorizing Colossians 3. I just finished Psalm 139, which is that wonderful passage. Just before Psalm 139, I memorized Psalm 91, which is such a precious chapter.

Nancy: That deals with fear.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, and I did those with this partner who I told you was my former ninth grade, actually two of my former ninth grade students, who have now finished college and are in the work world. I meet with them still, and we’re accountable to each other. It is nice to have a partner.

Nancy: Do you like memorizing whole chapters?

Nancy Epperson: Well, I do, and books, but I think it’s very important to memorize individual verses that deal with specific things.

Nancy: So you do some of both?

Nancy Epperson: I do, yes, if I hear a verse and I love it . . .

My husband Stu and I read through the Bible every year. We read through the Bible and the New Testament twice and Psalms twice. That involves four chapters a day of just reading. It’s amazing, no matter how many times you read through the Bible, it’s just wonderful how much you learn every time. I’m always marking verses, so when I run across a verse, I’ll just say, “Oh, I really like that.” So I’ll write it out, and I’ll just memorize it.

So verses or chapters or books, and as someone has said, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. How do you memorize a whole book? Just a verse at a time.

It’s doable, and anybody can do it. Honestly, anyone can do it. I’ve seen too many people do it who thought they couldn’t. I just know that if you will follow that one principle, if I just had one word, I would say “repetition.” Even if you don’t have a partner, but just one word—repetition—don’t forget that because that is the key—over and over and over.

Nancy: Well, I have had the joy over many years of memorizing Scripture myself . . . I have memorized a lot of passages and a number of books, and I have found great blessing and benefit in that. But, Nancy, as I’ve been sitting here listening to you, I’m encouraged, I’m inspired, and I want to pick up the Scripture and press on beyond what I’ve already done to get the Word not just into my head but into my heart as well.

I wish our listeners could have the privilege of seeing you as I have been as you have been, just throughout this conversation, the Scriptures are just coming out because that’s what you’ve been putting in for years and years.

You’ve motivated me, and I know that many of our listeners are going to be wanting to memorize Scripture as well. Don’t get overwhelmed with all there is to memorize, but just as Nancy as said, start somewhere. Pick a verse; pick a passage; pick a partner, and get started, and God will make that Word dwell in you richly as you memorize and meditate on it.

Nancy Epperson: I must tell you one thing that truly motivated me to memorize Scripture. With four little kids, you’re impatient at times, and sometimes you raise your voice.

Nancy: You mean other mothers do that, too?

Nancy Epperson: Oh, yes. I think every mother does, although there are probably some that don’t. But I realize that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). And, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Luke 6:45) the Bible says. So what we put into the computer actually is what is going to come out. I realized I wanted to have loving words for my children.

My parents were divorced when I was eleven, and my step-father, who wasn’t a Christian, was a good man. However, he was very verbally abusive—never physically, but just verbally demeaning. When I became a Christian, I read verses like, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). So my whole vocabulary changed when I became a Christian and when I started hiding God’s Word in my heart.

I will tell you, because of the power of the Word and the renewing of the mind, my tongue was affected. As a mother, I found that I was encouraging my children.

They say the cycle of abuse continues. Well, that cycle of verbal abuse was totally broken, stopped, cut off 100% because I encouraged my children with the Word of God. Do you know what? All four of my kids to this day are such encouragers.

If you are ever discouraged, Nancy, you call any one of my four kids, and they will lift you up and encourage you with Scripture, and it will be a blessing.

That cycle of verbal abuse was totally stopped.

Nancy: You just think how it really could have continued for generations.

Nancy Epperson: It could have continued. I understand that his father was extremely verbally abusive, and he just carried on this legacy, but it was stopped through the power of the Word of God.

So I would say to anyone listening, if you’re concerned with what’s coming out of your mouth, then start putting God’s Word into your heart because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”

Nancy: Are there other major portions of Scripture that you have your sights set on memorizing?

Nancy Epperson: Well, all of it.

Nancy: I know. How do you pick and choose?

Nancy Epperson: I just deal with one passage at a time and then I pray about it and check with my partners and see what they want to work on next.

Nancy: Have you done a lot more in the New Testament?

Nancy Epperson: Oh, yes. I would say I’ve majored, with the exception of Psalms, in the New Testament. I’ve learned a lot of Psalms, but I think the reason I’ve done more in the New Testament is that it’s so practical. I love the Epistles because they just tell you how to live and what to do. I just keep going toward the Epistles for just practical, daily living.

Nancy: Have you tackled any larger books, like gospels or Proverbs or Romans?

Nancy Epperson: Not the whole books, but chapters from all of those—key chapters like Romans 12, Romans 8, Romans 6—certain key chapters. When my one daughter quotes Romans 1, it is so powerful, but that’s a hard one to memorize because it’s so awful. It describes the decadent lifestyle.

Nancy: Why did she pick that?

Nancy Epperson: I don’t know, but after she picked it, she said that was so hard. You’re meditating on it, and it’s describing this awful, perverted lifestyle, and it’s so sad. Then after that she did Revelation 5, which was so uplifting. “Who is worthy to open the Book.” I love to hear her do that.

I love to hear all my kids quote Scripture, and if we’re ever all together somewhere, I mean, I can call on them spontaneously without any prior knowledge and say, “Girls, come up here; Stuart, come up. Let’s quote Psalm 103,” and they can do it just like that because it’s so much a part of them, or whatever passage.

I mentioned to you that we had a thirteen-year-old nephew come live with us when he was in the eighth grade. He had come from a real awful divorce, and, frankly, the mother didn’t know what to do with him, so we offered to take him in for that year.

We first enrolled him in a Christian school. I remember I picked him up from school, and I said, “Now, Brian, what do we need to get? What kind of supplies?”

He showed me what he needed, and he said, “For Bible class I have to memorize five verses a week.” And he said, “Aunt Nancy, I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that.”

He literally started perspiring. He was just panicking.

I said, “Don’t worry. Don’t even worry. It’s not a problem.”

So we went to a Mexican restaurant before going to get his supplies—he loved Mexican food. I said, “Here, let’s read these verses. Read them to me from the Bible.”

So he read them, and I said, “Oh, what beautiful verses. Read them again.” So he read them again, and I said, “Oh, I love that. Read them again.”

He read them again, and I said, “Oh, man, that’s a blessing. Oh, let me hear that again, Brian.” He read them again, and then I said, “Here, let me read them. This is wonderful.” And then I read them.

Then they came and got our order. After we put our order in I said, “Now, read those again. What does this mean?”

Then we went through it to be sure he understood it. They brought the food, and we ate. He loved fried ice cream, so we ordered dessert, and while we were waiting for the dessert, I said, “Read those again. Oh, this is just wonderful.”

Well, I don’t know how many times he went through it, but we went then to get his school supplies. I went to pay, and I said, “Now, why don’t you just sit there while I pay. I’m going to call Uncle Stu and tell him we’re on our way home, and you just sit and read over those verses.” He said, “Okay.”

I’ll never forget, I paid, I called Uncle Stu, I came back, and I said, “Okay, let’s go.” He said, “Aunt Nancy, I think I know these verses.”

Nancy: He’d been memorizing them and didn’t even realize it.

Nancy Epperson: Yes. He’d gone over and over it. I said, “No way.”

He said, “I think I do. Really, I think I do.”

Then he proceeded to quote those five verses verbatim.

Nancy: Learned them over dinner.

Nancy Epperson: It was amazing. I couldn’t even quote them. I was on my way to learning them, but I told you, I don’t have a good memory. That kid learned those verses verbatim. It was such a blessing. Every week he had to know five verses, and every week we approached it that exact way. He made, oh a B average, I guess, in that school, but he always made an A in Bible because he always knew his verses. He was so amazed and encouraged.

He went on to memorize the book of James and many other passages, and, in fact, he joined the Marines and went on to a Christian college, graduated from law school, and has just been a huge blessing. That’s the power and impact of the Word of God on his life. He has told us many times that had it not been for that year, he doesn’t even think he’d be alive because he was on such a road to destruction, but for the power of the Word, hiding God’s Word in his heart.

Nancy: I think it’s one of the most significant things parents can do with and for their children is to model memorizing Scripture but also to get their children memorizing Scripture because it is easier when they’re younger, and for those children to be laying that foundation in their hearts. It will go with them for all of life.

One of the most significant things parents can do with and for their children is to model memorizing Scripture. Nancy Epperson: Yes it will, absolutely. It’s the greatest heritage you can give a young person.

Jesus told about a man who built his house—it was, I’m sure, a fine house, but it had a problem. He built it on sand, and when the storms came and the winds blew, that house collapsed because it did not have a good foundation. And Jesus called him a foolish man.

Then He told about a man who build his house on a rock, and when the storms came and the winds blew, that house stood firm because it had a solid foundation (see Matt. 7: 24-27).

When we build the lives of our children on God’s Word and encourage them to hide God’s Word in their hearts, we are giving them the most solid, wonderful foundation we can give them because the storms will come and the winds will blow, and the trials of life will descend on them. Unless they have this foundation, they could so easily just fall apart.

So it’s a great heritage to give. If you don’t have children, you can encourage nieces, nephews, neighborhood kids. Almost everybody has some child in their life that they can encourage to memorize Scripture, and if you do it with them, it makes it even better.

Nancy: Those children can memorize mega-doses of Scripture.

Nancy Epperson: Yes, they absolutely can.

Nancy: I’ve often said that if I were parenting, I would want my children memorizing the book of Proverbs before they leave my home. They can do it. It’s harder for us, but they can do that.

Nancy Epperson: They can, and I think it’s fine to reward them for doing it. I have no problem with that.

Nancy: Did you do that with your children?

Nancy Epperson: I did—well, I did some. We didn’t always do that. I think I’ve done it more with my ninth grade Sunday school class that we’ve taught for about twenty years. You can’t believe the kids who have memorized the book of James because we offered them a reward in one form or another, and it’s amazing how a little motivation will help.

Nancy: How that then will go with them throughout all their lives.

Nancy Epperson: The interesting thing is, even though they were rewarded after memorizing the book of James, so many of them have gone on to memorize other Scripture because they were personally so rewarded.

Nancy: Spiritual rewards.

Nancy Epperson: Yes. It whets their appetite, and then they wanted to do more. So it has been a real blessing.

Nancy: Do your children still memorize Scripture?

Nancy Epperson: They do, yes, and the grandchildren. That’s the greatest joy, I think, hearing those little grandchildren.

Dannah: Nancy Epperson has been telling us about the joy of memorizing Scripture with your children and grandchildren. She and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth had that conversation during a convention. Because Nancy Epperson’s granddaughter was near by, we decided to put her on the spot and ask her some questions too.

Nancy: Grace Ann, and you’re how old?

Grace Ann: Eight.

Nancy: What grade are you in?

Grace Ann: Third grade.

Nancy: And what Scripture are you going to quote for us?

Grace Ann: Psalm 103.

Nancy: Great. I love that psalm. Why don’t you go ahead and quote it for us?

Grace Ann: Psalm 103, verses 1 through 10, King James Version.

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 my mouth with good things; so that my 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 plentiful in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. For the Lord hath not dealt with us after our sins; neither rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103)

Nancy Epperson: Gracie, why don’t you go ahead and quote from Proverbs 3. I love that passage, too.

Nancy: Can you quote a little bit from Proverbs 3 for us?

Grace Ann: Yes. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledging Him, and He shall direct your paths” (vv. 5–6 NKJV).

Nancy: That is one of my favorite verses, too. Did it take you a long time to memorize those verses?

Grace Ann: Yes.

Nancy: How did you do it because some moms are thinking, “I don’t know if my kids can do that.” Can you tell them how you did it?

Grace Ann: My Mimi helped me.

Nancy: And your Mimi is Nancy Epperson, right?

Grace Ann: Yes.

Nancy: How did she help you? How did you do it?

Grace Ann: She helped me go through it every day a little bit by reading it and just saying it over and over.

Nancy: And over and over and over. And it is going to make such a difference in your life. In fact, I was about your age when I started memorizing Scripture. When you’re an old lady like me, you’re going to be so thankful that your Mimi got you doing this, and you’re going to be teaching your grandchildren probably some day to do the same thing.

Nancy Epperson: Gracie, I know this is putting you on the spot, but would you mind quoting from Proverbs 3, beginning at the beginning with “My son”?

Grace Ann: I wouldn’t mind.

My son, do not forget my laws, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, and write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (vv. 1–6). 

Nancy Epperson: And I might add, I have just asked her to do this very impromptu, so the fact that she is prepared to do that tells me that she has continued to meditate on it, which is, of course, the goal in memorizing.

Thank you, Gracie. I’m so proud of you.

Nancy: We didn’t give you any notice for this. Thank you so much for doing that.

Dannah: God’s Word is powerful. The conversation we’ve just heard between Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Nancy Epperson spoke to the importance of embedding the Bible into our minds and hearts. We also heard from Nancy Epperson’s granddaughter, Grace, and how foundational the memorizing of Scripture is to faith, especially from a young age. The delight of memorizing Scripture grows with our desire to know and understand the Word of God. Working through a Bible study is a great way to get in His Word and let it transform you.

We’re currently offering the newly updated study, Abigail: Living with the Difficult People in Your Life. It's our way of saying "thank you" when you give a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. You can visit ReviveOurHearts.com to donate, or call us at 1–800–569–5959, and be sure to ask for your copy of the Abigail study.

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Please be back for Revive Our Hearts tomorrow, when Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will share what it means to delight in the Word of God every single day.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you to hide God's Word in your heart, no matter your age. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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