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What’s your goal?

June 25, 2010

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!!

STUDY

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.

DEVOTIONAL

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.

MEDITATION

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.

MEMORIZATION

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.

ACTION

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

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. Kristi Stephens permalink*
    June 25, 2010 8:39 am

    Loved how you broke this down and explained it, Teri Lynne! I personally am so drawn to study that sometimes I neglect other areas – it’s a great reminder that all are important!!

    • June 25, 2010 8:42 am

      I am the same way, Kristi. I have to make a conscientious choice to read devotionally and to meditate. I think it’s the teacher in us … I don’t fight it but I try not to become absorbed with it.

  2. June 25, 2010 9:08 am

    LOVE this post, Teri! I agree with Kristi…love how you broke it down. I know there are different ways to use God’s Word, but this was really an eye opener to me WHY they are ALL important. I’m exactly the opposite of you and Kristi. All I DO with Scripture is read it devotionally. I think it’s the artist in me. : )

    I have studied it some over the past years, but my greatest love is to have God speak directly to my spirit through devotional reading time. I would have to MAKE myself study it! : )

    As far as memorization goes, it’s pretty convicting when my son memorizes 70 verses a year for Awana and I barely manage one or two! Pitiful!

    Thank you for the encouragement to dig!

    • June 25, 2010 9:37 am

      My sweet Heathahlee! So glad to see you here.

      I do think temperment and personality affect how we prefer to interact with Scripture … but allowing God to stretch us be engaging in forms outside our comfort zones is also important. So, I’m going to hound you about study!! 🙂

  3. June 25, 2010 9:22 am

    Love this Teri Lynne! It is important to do all not just one. Thanks for the reminder! Loving this site by the way. Awesome!! 🙂

  4. June 25, 2010 9:58 am

    Definitely the meditation part. Getting my mind to stop thinking of ME and all the stuff I think I should be doing – difficult to say the least.

    monica

    ps please forgive my nitpicking, but it’s Celebration of Discipline. no s on the end. I’m a book geek and I just had to speak up. 🙂

    • June 25, 2010 10:01 am

      Deep apologies for mistyping the title. Had to look to find the error – had it correct the first time I mentioned it. Making the correction now. 😉

  5. June 25, 2010 11:31 am

    I really enjoyed this post. I’ve been struggling lately with HOW to study the Word. It really helps to see everything broken down so neatly. Now, I have something to guide me as I read my Bible. I’ve really enjoyed this site! So much great information!

    • June 25, 2010 1:02 pm

      I am glad that this was useful to you, Stephanie! And we all appreciate your encouraging words about Scripture Dig. Thank you for joining us as we dig.

  6. June 25, 2010 12:47 pm

    Great post Teri Lynne! I am just so thankful that by focusing on the Word and letting the Holy Spirit transform me through study, devotion, meditating and memorizing that I don’t have to pull myself up by my bootstraps and “make myself” do the action part. It’s His work in me by the transforming work of the Word. If I had to do the action part on my own volition, I never would! 🙂 He gives me the will and the power to act. I love how Philippians 2:13 puts it: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”.

    Blessings to you, girl! Loving the DIG!

  7. Alexis permalink
    June 25, 2010 2:10 pm

    Devotional comes more easily for me. I think I tend to shy away from studying because I am not sure how, besides using Bible study guides. To add, I still have a pre-schooler at home so my time is limited for focus concentration but I am hoping some day to be able to delve into it.
    Obedience is usually hard for me too! 🙂

    Thank you for a great site!!!!

  8. June 25, 2010 4:53 pm

    Teri Lynne-
    Thanks for showing us how important it is to be well rounded in our preparation and study of God’s Word. I have just in the last year really began to read the Bible devotionally. I had always studied (I am a Data Analyst after all). 🙂 Meditation has always been difficult for me. Thanks for your succinct definition and looking forward to the post next week.
    Blessings~
    Marita

    • June 25, 2010 5:26 pm

      Marita, so much of what we do is related to our “wiring,” isn’t it? I confess that devotional reading and meditation are difficult for me to do also. But such is the nature of discipline … it’s work!! 🙂

  9. June 26, 2010 5:17 am

    I am trying to do a variety of these. I’ve undertook a theology course so that should keep me studying but I still want to spend time with my devotionals and meditation. This is a fabulous post thank you again for this site xx

    • June 26, 2010 9:08 am

      Using multiple ways to engage in the Word really helps our understanding and appreciation, don’t you think? What sort of theology course are you taking? I’d love to go back to school and get a degree in Biblical languages.

  10. July 24, 2010 12:29 am

    I, too, love how you broke this down. I am a studier for sure! I was memorizing Scripture regularly but have slacked up on that here recently. I really do want to get back into the habit of that again. 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. How do I fit it in ~ Part 2 « Scripture Dig
  2. Daily Time in the Word: A Recap « Scripture Dig
  3. The Discipline of Studying « Scripture Dig

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