Do you love to read? I do! My tastes range from Jane Austen to children's literature to Shakespeare to parenting and marriage books to homeschooling to scrapbooking...I remember even reading cookbooks when I was little!
While all these have proved to be wonderful for stretching my mind and inspiring me with thoughts I would never have considered on my own, there is one book that far surpasses them all. I must confess though, if I had to choose between a scrapbook magazine and the Bible, I'd choose the former. Unlike some people I know, I would have to say that I am not very good at reading my Bible every spare moment I have.
But is that realistic? One thing about spiritual disciplines: it's not about how often you do them that matters. I could spend all my waking hours in front of my Bible and still not be changed. Many Bible scholars know the Bible backwards and forwards yet treat it only as a piece of ancient literature, nothing more.
So it is with us. It is not about how much you can quote. It is not about how quickly you can recall key Scriptures when faced with an agnostic. It is not about winning Bible trivia games. The question is not how much do we know the Bible, but how much we live the Bible. The ultimate goal is life change, not just a puffed up brain.
So, how can we let God's Word to start infiltrating our lives? According to Donald Whitney, in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, there are at least six ways: 1. Hearing the Word, which includes listening to it in church, on the radio or other sources. 2. Reading the Word, going through it in its entirety for breadth. 3. Studying the Word, systematically going in-depth through the various books and passages. 4. Memorizing the Word, a way of letting the Word sink into your heart so that it is with you at all times. 5. Meditating on the Word, chewing on it so that it settles into our souls. 6. Applying the Word, finding the intersection between God's Word and our lives and living it out.
Philippians 4:8 tells us, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." I think the Bible pretty much covers all those bases, don't you? Yesterday, I talked about how we can tell what we worship by what we focus on, worry about, and dwell in. Filling our minds with Scripture can be one such way.
Now there is the danger of worshipping the Bible. That is a subtle shift in focus. Remember that the Bible is God's revelation to us, and while we are to be reverent and honor it, we are to worship God Himself. That is why in this series, I will be emphasizing over and over again that the goal is to worship Him, not glory in the fact that we are doing these disciplines.
But when we are spending time in the Word regularly, in a variety of ways, and we are letting it sink down from our head into our hearts, we begin to see who we are and God then has another means by which to begin the transforming process in our hearts. By steeping ourselves in the Word, we slowly begin to see the change we desire. When we are in the Word, and the Word is in us, God can begin to have access to those places in our hearts that resist change. It is one of God's most powerful tools, if we let Him in to do that work.
This year, I am seeking to memorize God's Word, a practice I have not done for about 15 years. It is tough, but I am working on memorizing the book of Ephesians by year's end. So far, I've gotten through the first two chapters and am starting the third. This old brain is not quite as quick as it used to be, but I can already see the fruit. As I memorize, I am also able to meditate, as I work through the phrasing and try to remember words, order and stream of thought. It has been a wonderful practice.
How about you? How do you look at time in the Word? Is it something to complete as a homework exercise? Is it something you do because that's what you've been told to do? Or is it something you look forward to every day---a time to commune with your Father and to sit at His feet?
If you're a newsletter subscriber, head on over to this page for ideas on how to get God's Word into your life as well. If you want to keep them, I encourage you to save them on your computer. You don't need to do everything every day. Take your time. Read the posts as you can and then progress at your own pace. I post every day, but that doesn't mean you need to do everything every day! Most of all, enjoy your time with the Lord!