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Scripture Memorization 101

Robin SchmittBy Robin Schmitt

If I were a college professor teaching an introductory class on Bible memory, I would start with the basic building blocks of Scripture. I might even use a set of ABC blocks as a visual aid. That seems appropriate, because when it comes to Scripture memorization, as in every area of spiritual growth, we all need to “become like little children” (Matt. 18:3).

When my kids were small, I used to love to get down on the floor with them and use wooden blocks to teach them their ABCs. It was so much fun! I’ve always loved books, so I enjoyed helping them learn the letters of the alphabet, because that’s the first step in learning to read. It opens the door to so many wonders.

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Think about the other steps in learning to read. Next come words, then phrases, then clauses. Reminds me of the “Conjunction Junction” song from Schoolhouse Rock.

Do you remember what a clause is? A clause has a subject and a verb. It conveys the smallest thought in a sentence. It can be a sentence in itself (“The dog ran to me”), or it can be joined with other clauses to form a more complex sentence (“When the dog ran to me, I knelt down and I petted it”).

Key clauses from the Bible are the basic building blocks of Scripture. They are a wonderful place for Scripture memory to begin!

Here are three powerful examples:

There is a God.
He is good.
God loves you.

These three clauses come straight from the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible, which is used by many families, schools, and churches. They appear in the following passages:

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, … and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.”
1 Samuel 17:45–46

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1

The LORD your God loves you.
Deuteronomy 23:5

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The truths expressed in these super-short quotes from the Bible answer three of the biggest questions that people wrestle with. Does God exist? If he does, what kind of God is he—good or evil? And if a good God exists, does he care for someone like me?

Wouldn’t it be great if college students learned the Bible’s answers to these questions in their freshman year? And what a difference it would make if parents and educators helped children grasp these truths at an early age and hold on to them for the rest of their lives.

The amazing thing is, all of this wisdom is contained in just ten words! Anyone can memorize that.

As a Christian, I have a deep love for the Bible, and I realize how important it is for us to know God’s words and teach them to our kids. I’m familiar with the mandate given in Deuteronomy 6, where Moses tells the Israelites, “These commands that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (vv. 6–9).

A few years ago, I started writing down key clauses of five words or less during my daily Bible reading. I call them Bible Gems, or Gemstones, because they seemed to sparkle on the pages of Scripture. I like the idea of encouraging people to collect them, the way kids fill a bag of smooth polished stones in gift shops or gather colorful pebbles on a stony beach.

These Gems are perfect for new believers who want to know what the Bible says and begin to live by its teachings. They are also ideal for longtime Christians who are familiar with Scripture but haven’t memorized much of it. They’re so easy to remember, even kindergarteners can learn them instantly.

Keep an eye out for clauses like these whenever you’re reading the Bible. Jot them down for yourself, and teach them to the kids in your life. Show them how to “mine for Gemstones” on their own.

And don’t stop with just memorizing the words! After you learn some Bible Gems, think about them, talk about them, pray about them, and live them out.

If you’re a parent, find creative ways for you and your family to remind each other about them. Write them on sticky notes and post them around the house. Play games like Wheel of Fortune to see who can remember the most. And exhort each other to put into practice biblical wisdom like “Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21), “Forgive one another” (Col. 3:13), and “Do everything in love” (1 Cor. 16:14).

Make these powerful little truths a big part of your lives.

Bible Gems to Remember Illustrated Bible and Bible Gems to Remember Devotions for Kids (website) are published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.

Bio: Robin Schmitt has written several books for children and adults, including Bible Gems to Remember Illustrated Bible: 52 Stories with Easy Bible Memory in 5 Words or Less, Bible Gems to Remember Devotions for Kids: 52 Devotions with Easy Bible Memory in 5 Words or Less, the Adventure Bible Handbook, the NIV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions, Married for Life, 101 Amazing Things About Heaven, and The 100 Most Important Bible Verses for Men. Robin has a passion for inspiring readers of all ages toward spiritual maturity and childlike faith. He lives in Michigan with his wife and three children. Robin blogs at

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