Word on Wednesday: James 4:14

James 4.14

Have you been busy making plans for the next 12 months, like I always do about this time of year? James 4:14 does a great job of putting such plans in perspective. It reads, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

Here Scripture reminds us that our lives are fleeting. Can’t you feel that? The older I get, the faster the years are flying by.

The context of this verse seems especially fitting for the start of a New Year, with all its attendant resolutions and goal setting. We must take care not to factor God out of the equation when formulating our plans:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

That last verse is a kicker, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but my list of New Year’s resolutions is full of “right things” I know I should be doing. In light of James 4:14, what I need to do is pray that God will give me the life and grace and strength and discipline to do the right thing — then let Him have all the glory once it’s accomplished.

One of the right things I would like to be more faithful about doing is hiding the Word in my heart and in the hearts of my children. Want to join in? Here are nine great memory verses (from a set of 117 — coming soon!) to get you started:

Scripture Memory Flashcards
The verses are on the back (click on image to print)

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  1. Hi Jennifer. I love it that these pictures and scriptures were produced with the Helper helping you. That’s the very best. I love the understanding of life is a vapor like a bubble that is fleeting. I didn’t get the boat in the bathtub picture. Explanations help immensely. Could they be included somehow with each picture for parents as they explain to their children?

    1. That’s a great idea, Elsie. At my husband’s urging, I plan to publish and focus on one verse a week, so I’ll try to include an explanation of each at that time. But I also am working on getting the complete set (117 verses) compiled into a printable PDF. I’ve made a chart to track which verses my own children have already memorized and quoted to me, which I plan to include with the flashcards, but perhaps I could a separate page of all the explanations with that, as well. I’ll work on it. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Dear Jennifer, Hello! I remember seeing this last week, but now in 2015 I see it with new eyes. Just now, before I was going to go grocery shopping, Holy Spirit led me to look at it again and match up the scriptures with the pictures and yikes, I didn’t think that the pictures were good matches with the scriptures. Did you pray about this endeavour? Did you ask for wisdom? If any man lack wisdom, let him ask the giving God and He will give it to you liberally without reproach. The scriptures are spiritual realities that would need spiritual depictions somehow, someway wouldn’t they?

    Got to thinking that, maybe it would be better to have the scripture reference; the chapter and verse instead of the pictures, and then they match the scripture with the scripture reference. That would be much more beneficial. In adulthood they could still have the link of scripture reference and scripture memorized together. I still have Philippians 4:13 in my heart for the scripture because of a song that connected the scripture reference for the scripture at the very end of the song!!

    1. Yes, Elsie. I did pray about this. There are lots of flashcards already available with the verse on one side and the Scripture on the other. My older children make that kind for themselves and find them very helpful.

      But I was trying to design something for my younger kids that would help them with their memory work. As you indicate, setting verses to music is a fantastic way to memorize and is one that our family has often used, especially for longer passages of Scripture (we love Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart series for that, as well as Fred and Sarah Cooper’s Sing the Word, which is published in two volumes and we’ve been using for over twenty years to teach entire chapters of the Bible to our children).

      We have focused on chapter memorization so much, in fact, that I wanted to spend some time this year filling in the gap with individual verses that my little ones don’t know as well as I’d like. A few of the verses included in my full collection of flashcards, including last week’s verse, are some I already know a tune for, so I’ll be using the songs in conjunction with the flashcards to teach those verses.

      Granted, the pictures I’ve chosen for the flashcards are attempting to use physical things to depict spiritual truths, but isn’t that what Jesus did with his parables? A soap bubble may not be the same thing as a vapor, but it is something my little ones easily understand and experientially know “appears just a little while, then vanishes away.” My goal is to hide that truth deep in their hearts so that it immediately springs to mind not only when they see the drawing of the girl blowing bubbles, but also when they see real bubbles, mists, steam, vapors, or anything else that is fleeting and temporal, and will be reminded that life is also short, so we need to invest our time wisely.

      It’s okay if you don’t like this method or want to use it, Elsie. That is the nature of any mnemonic device. What works beautifully for some people will be of no help to others. Whenever I meet somebody new and need to remember their name, I ask them to spell it. Knowing the correct spelling and being able to visualize how it is written in my head really cements it into my brain. My husband, on the other hand, associates new names with mental images — if we were to meet a couple named Matt and Mallory White with children named Rose and Lily, for instance, he might visualize a mallard duck standing on a doormat on the steps of the White House holding a Rose and a Lily in her beak. I briefly tried his method for memorizing names, and it didn’t work at all for me (I don’t have a quick enough imagination to create such complex mental images on the fly), but it works great for him, so he’s stuck with it.

      These memory cards will appeal to some people and not to others. I realize that. I’m making them available so that those who might benefit from them can.

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