Get it into your head (How to read the bible part 3)

God’s word is amazing. Through it God has revealed himself and made himself known and knowable. In a talk I gave at the CU recently I looked at Psalm 119, focusing particularly on verses 103 to 105 in order to find out how and why to read the bible:

How sweet are your words to my taste,

sweeter than honey to my mouth!

(have you still got that sweet taste in your mouth?)

Through your precepts I get understanding;

therefore I hate every false way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet

and a light to my path. Psalm 119:103-105

After seeing that it was a matter of the heart, that the Psalmist loved God’s word because he loved God, I moved on to look at how, practically he got it into his head.

Through God’s word we get understanding (verse 104). It starts when we become Christians, as we repent, but it doesn’t stop there. Our minds need to be renewed in an ongoing way so we can think straight (Rom 12:2). That happens as we mediate on God’s word.

God has given you immense mental faculties for understanding and words are a key part of that. Words brought the world into being and they bought you and me to new birth. Words join us together in relationship, with one other and with God.  God uses his word to transform us from one degree of glory to another. Some say that words have no meaning other than that which we give them. I would want to strongly question that world view as being self defeating. The statement “words have no absolute meaning, only that which we give them” dies by its own sword. I believe that because of who God is, words carry truth and our minds are designed and equipped to receive and process that truth. Things don’t make sense if you take God out of the equation, or at least you are left with a rather God shaped hole. God is the reason there is an absolute morality, the reason we have responsibility, the reason we are conscious persons, the reason the universe is intelligible and the reason words have meaning.

Anyway, we, like the Psalmist need to think about God’s word a lot.

I rise before dawn and cry for help;

I hope in your words.

My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,

that I may meditate on your promise. Psalm 119:147-148 

Margaret Thatcher

He must be a like Mrs Thatcher and survive on very little sleep! I am not a morning person so do most of my reading and studying in the evenings. I have noticed, however, that there is something extra special about fuelling up on the word of God in the mornings. It’s like eating porridge for breakfast as it fuels you for the rest of the day. In fact the more tired I am when I read a few verses of the bible the more they seems to stay in my mind for the day. Songs are the same.

So morning and night and every time in-between (I meditate on it all day long. Psalm 119:97)  this guy meditates on God’s word. That word “meditate” crops up again and again so let’s look at it a bit:

I meditate on your precepts

and consider your ways. Psalm 119:15 (NIV)

Though rulers sit together and slander me,

your servant will meditate on your decrees. Psalm 119:23 (NIV)

Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;

then I will meditate on your wonders. Psalm 119:27 (NIV)

I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love,

and I meditate on your decrees. Psalm 119:48 (NIV)

May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;

but I will meditate on your precepts. Psalm 119:78 (NIV)

Oh, how I love your law!

I meditate on it all day long. Psalm 119:97 (NIV)

I have more insight than all my teachers,

for I meditate on your statutes. Psalm 119:99 (NIV)

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night,

that I may meditate on your promises. Psalm 119:148 (NIV)

To meditate means to occupy oneself with, to muse, to murmur, to mutter, to ponder, to imagine, to utter, to roar, to regard, or to consider. I like to think of it as “chewing something over” so meditating on God’s word is like chewing on good solid food. The physical action of chewing breaks down the food mixing it with the enzymes in your mouth that break it down still further. The more you chew the more flavours and nutrients are released. Then it goes down and does us good in the core of our being and is built into us.

Our aim is to know Jesus. We do so as we mediate on his word. So how can we chew on the bible? Rather than throw out lots of ideas I decided I would say a little of what I do and hoped some of it was helpful to others. I’ll blog them next.

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