Summary: The Spiritual Discipline of Bible reading is vital for us to grow in Christ. part 4 of 13 on Spiritual Disc.
Spiritual Disciplines: Bible Reading
January 27, 2008
This folder I am holding in my hand contains some of the cards, notes, and letters Debbie has given me since the time we met, until even recently. She has given me permission to read some of a letter she wrote to me before we were married. I keep it in my wallet, so wherever I go, this note from Debbie goes with me. As you can see, it is not in the best of shape, because it is ripped, words are missing, but the meaning has never gone away.
Debbie wrote, “ . . . .”
Love letters are wonderful to receive. To have someone who loves you, write you a note, a letter, a song, a word of encouragement, even a word of caution, done with love, moves us to action. Today we are going to talk about a book which was written to you and I. It was written for one reason, God loves you and He wants you to know as much about Him as you are willing to take in. So, God led men to write down the words which are contained in this book, which we call the Bible.
Today we embark on our 3rd step of our journey through spiritual disciplines and will focus on reading the Bible.
Remember, the purpose of Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of you and I. Spiritual Disciplines aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought and actions with new life-giving habits. The hope is that at the end of this series, we will be better equipped to intentionally grow closer to Jesus and become more Christ-like.
I really struggled with choosing a passage of scripture for today’s message. Because there are so many amazing passages which speak about the importance of reading the Bible and using the Word of God to help us in this life.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, having 176 verses. It is also an acrostic Psalm. In other words, it is written alphabetically according to the Hebrew alphabet. So there are 22 sections of 8 verses each. In every section, there is a discussion about the importance of the Word of God. The psalmist uses words such as LAWS, STATUTES, and COMMANDS as he refers to the Bible.
The Psalmist begins this great Psalm by stating ~
1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. (119:1-2)
You see, when we seek to walk and live our lives according to the ways God wants us to live our lives, we will find blessings. We find blessings even in the midst of difficult times because we have this connection to God, we connect with God in many different ways, yet a main connection comes through His word. It comes back to the image of Jesus being the vine and we are the branches. In the same sense, the Bible is the Vine which gives us life giving nurturance, and as the branches, we drink in all this life we can from God.
Also notice an important caveat in verse 2. It is a caveat which occurs over and over again throughout the Bible. And as we learn to read the Bible and take in all that God has for us, we need to see these points and reflect upon what it means for us. God wants us to move toward Him, He wants us to give our whole self to Him. So in verse 2 we read, “Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” Take this in folks, because the Psalmist tells us two basic things happen . . .
Firstly, blessed are those who keep God’s statutes AND
Secondly, seek Him with all their heart.
You see, God does not just want us to have this great head knowledge, He does not want us to memorize the Bible, but have no ability to apply it in our lives. I have met many people who could quote Scripture left and right, but they had no ability to apply the Scripture to real life. Isn’t that what much of the problem was with the Pharisees. They knew the law backwards and forwards, but they used it to their advantage and to the disadvantage of others.
Much of what we do in life comes out of our heart. Remember the words in Proverbs 4:23, “guard your hearts, for it is the wellspring of life.” In other words, all of life flows out of your hearts, so guard your heart and protect it . . . and the greatest way to protect your heart and lead your heart in the right direction is to fill it with the right things, the Word of God.