By Linda Gilden, Crosswalk.com
Teaching Scripture to you children is like planting a seed. When you water it with a consistent example of what it means to live out Scripture in your everyday life, that seed in your child’s life will sprout and grow into the joy of living for Jesus.
Bedtime is a good time to help your children memorize Scripture. The house has become quiet, chores and homework are done, and they relax in their beds as they wait for sleep to come. Often they want to hear a story--a great way to incorporate Scripture and give an example of God’s presence in out lives.
Choose one verse to be your theme verse for the week and repeat that same verse each night every night. Use it during the day and talk about it in the car. Use it frequently enough that when the week is over your children can quickly recall the verse of the week. You may want to have a plan to review previous verses as you move from week to week.
Some adjustments may need to be made because of the age of your children. Even toddlers can memorize verses if they are shortened a bit or explained over and over again.
What are some good verses to help your children to fill their minds and hearts with God’s word?
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1. Philippians 4:4
“Rejoice always. I will say again: Rejoice!”
One of the best ways that we can show our love for God and commitment to him is to be happy when we are around others. If we have a joyful countenance, others will notice and want to know the source of our joy. Make sure your children know that true joy comes from within, from Jesus within us.
Applaud them for the times have seen them exhibit pure joy and explain the way to have lasting joy. Cut a circle out of yellow paper and draw a smiley face. Have one for each child. When you see them rejoicing, put the smiley face on their door and give them the “Smiley Face Award.”
2. John 8:12
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Use your light switch to help you. When you say the word light, switch on the light. When you say the word darkness, turn it off. Then when you say light again, turn it back on. The first time you do that will surprise your children. They may even want a turn to flip the switch! Once you have repeated that several times, tuck them in and sing, “This Little Light of Mine.”
If you have children in multiple bedrooms, you may have to repeat this several times so that each can benefit from the Scripture memory and stay on track with the weekly verses.
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3. Joshua 1:9
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
This is a good verse to create hand motions for. When you say “strong,” hold up your bent arms and show your muscles. When you say “terrified,” put your hands around your mouth and hold your mouth open. When you say “Lord your God” point to the sky.
Knowing that God will give them the strength they need will help your children get through difficult times at school and in relationships with other children. Remind them that even though there will be lots of times when they will feel afraid, God will be right there with them.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.”
Even very young children are told to be kind to each other. Rather than just saying the words, give them an explanation of what it means to be kind and compassionate. Let them act out a scenario where they display kindness and compassion.
Tell them a story about when someone was compassionate to you and what it meant to you. This is also a good time to give a short explanation and begin to address how God forgave us.
Ask if any of your children feel like they need to forgive someone else in the family. Plant a seed about salvation and the joy of eternal life.
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5. Psalm 139:14
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Most children love to hear the story about how they were prayed for before they were born. Share that with your children and if you have a story with special circumstances about one of the children, tell that one.
Just remember if you tell a story about one child, make sure you tell one about each of the children that evening or in the near future. They will keep score! Celebrate the uniqueness of each one of your children. If time allows, let each child say one thing that is unique about his brothers and sisters.
If you have special needs children in your family, pray especially for that sibling or cousin. Tape this verse to the bathroom mirror so your children are constantly reminded of their uniqueness.
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Ask the children who “him” is in this verse. Make sure they understand that Jesus is the source of our strength and they can call on him any time they need him.
Emphasize that there is nothing you can’t do if you have God’s strength within you. If you recall a time in your life when you doubted yourself or felt ill-equipped for a situation, share with them how your strength to meet that challenge came from Jesus.
Sing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” to them and let the words back up what you have said to them.
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7. Psalm 136:3
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever.”
This Psalm reminds us that God’s love is never changing. Take turns saying the first sentence and the last. One time you say the first one and your children say the second, the next time vice versa. Ask your children to name some things he or she is thankful for. In your prayer be sure to include the items he names.
Explain to them what a responsive reading is then turn to Psalm 136. As you read the first part of the verses, have them say the last part, “His love endures forever.”
8. Proverbs 3:5
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
Great discussion usually follows this verse. What does it mean to trust God with all your heart? How do you lean on your own understanding? Why is that a bad thing?
Remind your children that God has a plan for your's and their lives. We can’t understand that because we don’t have the wisdom that he has.
Give your children examples and let them tell you if the story you tell demonstrates God’s understanding or yours. Tell them of a time when you wanted to be in control and lean on your own understanding and it turned out to be the wrong thing to do, or of a time you trusted God despite your own logic and how it turned out wonderfully.
Trusting in God will assure that you have the result God intended with your choices.
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9. Hebrews 13:8
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
All ages children need to remember that Jesus never changes. There is not a single thing in this world that will make him love you less, give you more peace, or want you close to him. You say the first part of this verse and let them say yesterday and today and forever. Make sure they know that forever is a long, long time.
During the times we have felt confused about decisions and wondered if God even knew what was going on, it is likely we have forgotten this verse. When you feel that way quietly whisper this verse aloud to yourself. Listen to what you are saying and acknowledge that you believe it. Have your children whisper it with you.
10. Isaiah 119:11
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Put your hand over your heart as you say the word, them point up when you say you. Remind the children that is why you are helping them memorize God’s word so that it will be in their minds and hearts when they really need it.
There are times in your life when you won’t have a Bible with you but you know that what you need is for God to speak to you. When you find yourself in that position, breathe a short prayer to God and ask him for his help. Talk to your children about how easy it is to breathe a prayer to God.
Before tucking them in, have them breathe that verse as a prayer to God before they go to sleep.
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11. Matthew 7:12
“In everything, do to others what you would have then do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Also called the “Golden Rule,” this verse is a good one for families to live by. Teaching your children to be kind to each other is of great importance. When they realize it was commanded of us by God, they give extra credibility to the words. Ask your children to think of a way that they lived out the Golden Rule recently in their lives.
Create a scenario or two that shows children not practicing the Golden Rule. Ask them why the scenario does or does not show someone following the Golden Rule. Find out from each child how they would most like to be treated.
12. John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
One of the first Sunday School verses we learn, John 3:16, is that heart of the gospel. Take it piece by piece and help your children understand the great importance of this verse to all Christians. God gave his only son for you. You may want to break it down and use two weeks to learn this verse.
If you know the chorus “For God so loved the world…” sing it with your children. Find a recording and have it play as they go to sleep.
Children are never too young to hear and memorize Scripture. Even verses they learn as toddlers will come back to them during times of distress all through their lives. How often do we hear stories of prisoners, missionaries in captivity, or those who have found themselves in situations where they did not have a Bible and memorized Scripture was the thing that comforted them.
Have you ever been with a friend and knew you needed words of comfort but just wasn’t sure what to say? Then God’s still, small voice whispers a Bible verse in your mind. You probably learned that verse a long time ago and it surfaced at just the time you needed it.
When you are in one of those situations is too late to go back and memorize Scriptures. You need to continually memorize Bible verses as you grow older. It is really easy for a child to memorize. When we get older, it is not as simple.
So, while children are learning and growing is the time for them hide God’s word in their hearts so that when they need it is there.
Enjoy memorizing verses with your children at bedtime. If you don’t have a lot of verses committed to memory, learn along with them. You will create a treasure of your heart and mind that no one can take away from you.
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