The Bible is to us what the star was to the wise men; but if we spend all our time in gazing upon it, observing its motions, and admiring its splendor, without being led to Christ by it, the use of it will be lost on us. Thomas Adams (1583–1652), English clergyman and religious writer
We are called to use our Bibles … our time spent in Scripture must alter us if it has truly been an encounter with God. Just as Moses’ countenance glowed upon his interaction with The I AM, so to must our light shine brighter upon our meeting with the Living God revealed through the Word.
The good news is … we are all wired differently! In our unique personality and makeup, God has created us to interact and respond to His Word in multiple ways. Each is valuable and we should all endeavor to engage in every way; but, rest assured, it is absolutely normal and appropriate that one or two of these will be more comfortable and natural to you!!
For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. ~ Ezra 7:10, NASB
When we study God’s Word we are investing focused time in a passage, word, character or theme. Study is analytical. Study requires concentration and focus. Richard Foster explains, “In the study of Scripture a high priority is placed upon interpretation: what it means” (Celebration of Discipline, 69). This reflects back to the important truth Kristi explained, “The Bible is not about us. The Bible is about God.” Spending time studying God’s Word is our intentional determination to grow in our understanding of Him. Simply put, the primary goal of study is UNDERSTANDING.
The second method we use to engage in the Bible is devotional. This is perhaps the most common method. Foster contrasts devotional reading from study in this manner, “In the devotional reading of Scripture a high priority is placed upon application: what it means to me” (69). In no way is there an implication that devotional reading is not important, but we must make certain this is not the ONLY way we interact with Scripture; for in doing so, we risk losing the truth that ALL Scripture is useful (2 Timothy 3:16). The goal of devotional reading is APPLICATION.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. ~ Psalm 1:2, NASB
On Monday, Kathy will be sharing more detailed information about how to meditate. But I wanted to share with you a few thoughts. Again from Foster, “Christian meditation, very simply, is the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His Word” (17). We have a tendency to make meditation a complex thing or something only the “super spiritual” can accomplish. Or on the flip side, we shy away from this discipline because of it’s association with eastern religions. I have heard it said that eastern meditation is the goal of emptying the mind while Christian meditation’s purpose is to fill the mind with Christ. Honestly, I believe the goal of mediation is simple: REFLECTION.
Thy Word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee. Psalm 119:11, NASB
Familiar verse to most of us … but a powerful, powerful promise! We will be digging deeper into the hows and whys of Scripture memorization next week. For today, however, it is important to understand that Scripture clearly teaches and Christ clearly models the value and necessity of embedding Scripture into our hearts and minds. Memorizing Scripture helps us achieve the goal of DISCIPLINE. Within this goal, we find that we are more self-controlled in our actions and protected from temptation to sin.
But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. ~ James 1:22, NASB
Clearly, we must be focused on DOING what Scripture teaches. For if we spend hours in study, delight in meditation, engage in devotional reading, and memorize countless passages but never DO anything in response, we have not truly encountered the Living Word of God. We must be changed and compelled into action – whether in our thoughts and motives or our actions and mannerisms – spending time in the Word must lead us to OBEDIENCE!
Which of these five comes most easily to you? Which is most difficult?
Sources for Further Reading or Reference:
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas (a great resource for understanding how you are wired to interact with God)
Seeking the Face of God by Gary Thomas
Intimate Faith: A Woman’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines by Jan Winebrenner