The What, How, and Why of Meditating on Scripture

Psalm 1:2 says,

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night.” (Ps.1:2)

A couple of years ago, I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The movie is about a lady trying to find herself. In the process, she travels to India. While it’s a bit cliche, it’s what everyone who’s trying to find themselves do. While in India, she encounters a guy who tells her about one of his recent meditation experiences. One day, in particular, he had gone on the roof to meditate. As he was meditating, he was able to clear his mind in a way he hadn’t been able to do before. As a result, the universe came rushing in and provided him the insight he was seeking. While that’s an Eastern and secular idea of meditation, that’s not what the Bible is encouraging.

Biblical Meditation

Meditating in a biblical sense is much different than what’s commonly practiced in Eastern Religions, and even in our secular culture. God doesn’t want you to hum in a monotone tone, with your legs crossed in an effort to completely clear your mind so that the universe can come rushing in. Instead, God’s encouraging you to do the exact opposite, to fill your mind with Scripture, to turn it over and over in your head in an effort to understand it and apply it to your life.

An Everyday Practice

Meditation is something we should practice each day after we get done reading the Bible, which means we aren’t to close the book, check the box on our reading plan, and never think about what we read again. Instead, we are to meditate on that day’s reading throughout the day.

I find the best way to begin meditating on a text is either to memorize it, put it in my own words, write a journal entry, or a blog post. Once I do one of those, I’m better able to think about, to meditate on, what I read for the remainder of the day.

Why Meditate?

You might be wondering: Why do I need to do this? Isn’t reading God’s Word enough? Yes, reading God’s Word is a good practice. But the reason we are to take this extra step is so that we can come to a better understanding of how the Bible applies to our life. In order to do that, we need to think deeply about Scripture.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you take the time to meditate on God’s Word?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What should we do with the Bible?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 4

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(4) The Bible Can Tell Us How We, As the People of God, Can Live in God’s On-Going Story

As we immerse ourselves in Scripture our knowledge of ourselves and God will grow. In the process, we will be formed into the type of people God wants. That’s because, as Paul tells us in verses 16 and 17,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16–17)

Now notice that Paul tells us it is “all scripture” that is inspired and profitable, which means we can’t just pick and choose to follow this text but not that one. Instead, we have to allow the whole Bible to influence how we live. When we do that, we will find that the Bible does a number of things.

  • It Teaches us
  • Reproves us
  • Corrects us
  • Trains us in righteousness.

First, It Teaches us 

By this, Paul means that the Bible is able to teach us about God, His plan, His Savior, as well as it teaches us about ourselves, our church, our family, and the world in which we live. The Bible teaches us about all those things and more. Which is why I said earlier that if we want to know who we are we must look to the Bible instead of within or to our culture. The Bible tells us who we are as it teaches us all these different things.

Second, It Reproves us  

It tells us if we have done, taught, or thought something wrong. As one commentator puts it,

“Scripture can show sinners their failures, clarify [their] mistakes, and lead them to a new sense of peace and wholeness.”

Third, It Corrects us  

The Bible doesn’t just point out what we have done wrong, it goes a step further and directs us to the behavior, thinking, or teaching that’s inline with God’s will.

Lastly, It Trains us in righteousness 

This phrase means that Scripture provides us with a system of teaching and discipline that develops Christian character so that over time we grow to be more like Christ.

The result of all this teaching, reproving, correcting, and training is that we are made complete or mature, and we are equipped for every good work. In other words, as we immerse ourselves in the Bible, and allow it to have influence over us, we will be taught how we are to live as God’s people within His story. So if we want to follow Jesus and live how He wants us to live, and we should if we are Christians, then must read His Word. By doing so, we will be taught how to live as God’s people within His story.

Conclusion

So that is what the Bible is and what it does:

  • It’s a unified story that points us to Jesus.
  • It tells us the real story of human history.
  • It is a divine human word through which God’s Word is revealed to us.
  • It tell us how we, as God’s people, can live in His ongoing story.

Since the Bible is and does all those things: It’s useful to us. It’s relevant. It’s a book worth spending our time and mental energy reading.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you turn to the Bible to determine how you can live in God’s ongoing story?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 3

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

 

(3) The Bible is a Divine Human Word 

In 2 Timothy 3:16 we learn that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16a)

Now when Paul says that Scripture is breathed out by God he doesn’t mean God literally wrote with His own hand every word in Scripture and delivered it to man. We know men wrote the Scriptures. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. And the other books were written by other men. So we know that God didn’t just hand us a completed book right out of heaven.

While it is true that men did write the Bible, it’s still said to be God’s Word. 1 Peter 1:20 and 21 give us an idea of how the Bible, which was written by men, is God’s Word. The text says,

“knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pe 1:20–21)

So Peter tells us that the Holy Spirit worked alongside and through men to produce the Word of God. That is how the Bible, which is written by men, is consistent with God’s character and can be said to be His word.

Since the Bible is God’s Word, we can’t just ignore it as if it was something written for people a long time ago. God’s Word is still applicable today. It’s still relevant. It still provides encouragement, joy, and hope. It still teaches and challenges. It still tell us how we are to live.

So the Bible can’t and mustn’t be ignored because it’s God Word to us.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you realize the Bible is God’s Word to you?
  2. How does that realization change your perspective on the Bible?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 2

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(2) The Bible Tells Us the Real Story of Human History

We all inhabit a story. Our culture tells us that we inhabit a story of our own making. One that we forge ourselves, which is why we are often told, “You can be who you want to be and do what you want to do.”

In order to be who we want to be and do what we want to do, in order to write our own story, we are told that we have to discover ourselves. Our culture tells us that we discover who we are by looking within.

While that sounds great, it’s not true. If we look within to discover who we are and begin writing our story based on what we find, it is going to be one messed up, self-absorbed story. All you have to do is look at people’s Facebook or Twitter feeds to know that’s true.

You see, we are messed up people, who have been corrupted by sin, so instead of looking within, we need to look outside of ourselves. By outside of ourselves, I don’t mean to our culture. It’s just as messed up as we are because we make up the culture. Instead, we have to look beyond ourselves and our culture to God.

God’s Story

We look to God not only because He is perfect and able to reveal the truth to us, but also because it’s His story that we inhabit. Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 33,

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!” (Ps 33:6–12)

We inhabit God’s story. A story that began in Genesis chapter 1 with God creating the world and everything in it and one that culminates in Revelation 22 with God’s people inhabiting a New Heavens and New Earth for all eternity. So if we want to find ourselves, if we want to know our true identity, we must read the Bible because it provides the real story of human history.

Four Main Acts

The Bible’s story can be broken down into four main acts.

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption
  • Recreation

You see, we weren’t created by a time plus chance evolutionary process. Instead, we were created by God. After man was created, he was placed in a perfect garden and given dominion over all the earth. But man rebelled, which is why we and the world we inhabit is so corrupt and messed up.

God’s Faithfulness

But even though we rebelled against God, He didn’t abandon us. Instead, He sent a Savior to redeem us and make a way for us to once again enjoy a relationship with Him. The Savior is Jesus, who came, died on the cross for our sins, resurrected on the third day defeating death, and ascended into heaven to sit on His throne. One day, Jesus will return and set everything right. After Jesus’ return, we will once again live with God for all eternity in a perfect world.

Now, that’s quick, but that’s the barebones story of the Bible. A story we inhabit. So if we want to learn more about who we are, we don’t look within, instead, we look outside ourselves to God’s Word — the Bible. It tells us who we really are, how this world can be fixed, and what our hope for the future is.

Question for Reflection

  1. What is the real story of human history to you? Is it the biblical story? If not, why?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

What is the Bible and What is it For? – Part 1

When I was in Middle School, we bought our first personal computer. I believe it was a Packard Bell. At the time I didn’t know much about computers. We had them at school and used them a little bit to play Oregon Trail, but I hadn’t taken a typing class or a class on how to use any of the programs yet.

I remember looking at the keyboard for the first time. I knew what the letters and numbers did. Delete and enter were self-explanatory, as was Caps Lock, but I had no idea what the other keys did, which meant they weren’t all that useful to me until I learned what they did and what they were for.

In a similar way, we may look at the Bible and ask: What is the Bible and what’s it for? Until we are able to answer that question, it is not going to be all that useful to us just like those other keys on the keyboard weren’t all that useful to me.

What is the Bible and What is it for?

(1) The Bible is a Unified Story that Points Us to Jesus 

In 2 Timothy 3:14 and 15 Paul speaking to Timothy says,

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Ti 3:14–15)

When Paul uses the phrase “the sacred writings” he is referring to Scripture. The Scripture for Paul is what we know as the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn’t completed yet. It was being written and collected as Paul was writing his letter.

Here, Paul reminds Timothy and tells us that the Old Testament points us to Jesus. It’s not just a bunch of stories about some dead old guys who did some cool things, like slay a giant or survive a lion’s den. Instead, it’s a unified collection of books that form one story that points us to Jesus. Which means:

  • The Bible isn’t a self-help book.
  • It’s not a science book.
  • It’s not meant to be a comprehensive history book
  • Nor is it a book that’s going to answer all our questions. In fact, a lot of times it’s probably going to raise more questions than it answers. Just read the book of Job or Revelation and you will have a good idea of what I’m talking about.

The Bible isn’t any of these things. Instead, the Bible is God’s special revelation of Himself in a unified collection of books that form one story whose purpose is to point us to Jesus so we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever. That’s what the Bible is.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you realize that the Bible is a unified story that points to Jesus?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Bible and What Does it Tell Us?

How Can I Delight in God’s Word?

As Christians, we are supposed to delight in the Bible. What I mean by that is that it should produce a sense of pleasure and joy in us when we read it. Our delight should draw us into the text.

For some of you, however, that might not be where you are at with the Bible right now. You might not delight in it. Since you don’t delight in the Bible, you don’t read it. Maybe you feel bad about not reading the Bible. Maybe you want to get to a place where you delight in it, you just don’t know how to make the switch. You might be asking: How can the Bible become something in which I delight?

How can the Bible become something in which I delight?

(1) Pray and ask God to help you delight in His Word.

One thing you need to do is pray. Prayer is powerful. It has the ability to change our heart.

For most of us, we know that’s true. We spend time praying for people’s salvation, their broken families, and this broken world. We spend the time doing those things because we know prayer changes things. If we know that, why not pray for our own heart, that God would change it so that we delight in God’s Word?

So one of the first things you should do when you sense your delight slipping is pray.

(2) Read it anyways. 

Besides prayer, I suggest you read God’s Word anyways. God’s Word is powerful. Just like prayer, the Bible is able to change our hearts and minds. We know that is true.

The church I serve as Pastor invites the Gideon’s to present once a year. When they come, we take up a love offering for their ministry so they can continue to distribute Bibles in our community and around the world. We give and they hand out copies of God’s Word because we both know God’s Word is powerful and able to change the heart of man.

Like the Gideon’s, many of you have probably given a copy of God’s Word to your children, another family member, a neighbor, or even a co-worker in the past. You spent your hard earned money on that Bible and asked them to read it, or even better asked them to read it with you. You asked them to read it and even spent time reading it with them because you wanted to see their lives changed, and you know the Bible has the ability to produce that change.

You see, we know the Bible is powerful and able to change the heart of man. We just need to apply the knowledge we already have to our own lives. So even if you aren’t delighting in God’s Word now, I encourage you to pick it up, read it, and see if your heart doesn’t change.

(3) You might need to check your heart.

If you do the above – pray and read, and your heart never changes, I suggest you check your heart.

Christians should delight in God’s Word. They should be drawn to it, and when they read it, it should produce joy and pleasure in them. While you may go through a season where you don’t delight in God’s Word, by and large, a delight should characterize your relationship with the Bible. However, if that delight never comes, even after praying and reading for a time, you might need to check your heart to see if you really are a follower of Jesus. Jesus delighted in the Bible and so should His followers.

When the Bible is our delight, we won’t let it sit around collecting dust. Instead, we will look forward to reading it each day; and when we don’t, we’ll miss our time in God’s Word.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you delight in God’s Word?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What should we do with the Bible?