Monday, January 9, 2012

Part 2: 3 Steps to Take in God's Word So it "Sticks"

God's Words:

 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.
~Joshua 1:8

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
~Psalm 119:11 

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.   Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does.
~James 1:22-25

In last week's post, I wrote about how being spiritually healthy is vitally important for not only our overall health and well-being, but most importantly to please God, do His will, and be an effective witness of Christ to those around us.

I also promised to share in my next few posts the things that I have done, books I've read, websites I frequent and other advice and tips which I have found helpful in maintaining spiritual health and closeness with God.

But before I begin, may I first stress that God is always near to us;  He is with us at all times, never leaving or forsaking us (Deuteronomy 31:8, Matthew 28:20).  However, as we travel this journey of life with all its many ups and downs, sharp turns, blockades, landslides and those terrible, frightening times of being totally lost and alone in a dark forest, we may draw farther away from Him.  How does this happen?  When we don't seek Him in prayer and through His Word on a regular and consistent basis.

Jesus called Himself the "Bread of Life" (John 6:48-51) and the "Living Water" (John 4:10-13) because He knew those 2 descriptions would be a perfect way for us humans to understand our basic and dire need to fill ourselves with Him.  In order for us to be saved, we first needed to receive Him as the Living Bread that was sacrificed for our sins.  Then for the remainder of our lives here on earth, just as we would suffer hunger and thirst without enough food and water, we desperately need Him to equip and empower us to follow His way and do His will.  And just as we are first saved through finding and applying the Truth of His Word and seeking His forgiveness and salvation through prayer, we still need to continue that same manner of taking in His Word (through reading, listening to, or memorizing it) and communicating back to Him through prayer.
I will deal more with the topic of prayer in a later post, but for today we will focus on the:

3 Steps to Take in God's Word so it "Sticks"

Step #1:  There are so many ways in this modern world for us to absorb God's Word!  Let's see, you can read it for yourself, either in your own personal Bible, the "Bible app" on your smart phone (ok, I can't believe I just wrote that, as I don't even have a smart phone!  I guess I'm getting more "techie" then I realized!!).  You can listen to it read on a recording of some type - online for free, a CD, MP3 or iPod, etc.  Plus, there are so many songs, both current styles and even the "old hymns", that are filled with the Word of God.  Of course, being a music junkie (seriously never get enough of it - singing, playing, and hearing it!), this is one of my favorite ways of filling my heart and mind with Scripture.  My absolute favorite genres of music are "Praise and Worship" and "Contemporary Christian".  The gifted people who write these beautiful songs seek to base their lyrics on the Word of God.   So not only are you enjoying a catchy tune, but you're soaking up inspiring and comforting words of Scripture at the same time!  I love to listen to this music while driving.  It's so relaxing, especially when there are crazy drivers out there stressing me out!  And I love to have this uplifting music playing during the day when we're at home.  It's pretty hard to be in a bad mood when you're surrounded with the sounds of God's Word set to music!!  Plus, the best thing about this is when I hear my children singing along!  I know they are being comforted and uplifted, too.

Step #2:  Another important aspect of studying God's Word is to really think about what you read or hear, ponder it and consider how it applies to your life and what you feel God is trying to teach you through it.  Maybe a verse convicts you about a sin you've been letting into your life.  Let me tell you something, if you truly want to grow closer to God and serve Him better, He will show you through His Word how He wants you to change to be more like Him, for His sake and for your own good!  I cannot tell you how many times I've simply turned to my next devotion or planned portion of Scripture to read, and there before me is a verse or verses convicting me of something I need to change in my life or something to seek His forgiveness for and repent of.  But also, even more times than I can say, He has used His Word to uplift, encourage, strengthen and comfort me in a difficult time.

So after you are done reading a verse or portion of Scripture, let it soak in for a while.  Let it roll around in your head and heart as you go through the day and just wait and see how God uses it to bless and help you in your life!

But there have also been plenty of times when I've read my devotion for the day, given it some thought and prayer, and I'm still not really sure how to apply it to my life at that time.  Well then later on that same day or week, it turns out I really needed to read that Scripture to prepare or equip me for something that happens to either me or someone I know!

For instance, just last night as I was tucking my kids in bed, my 9-year-old daughter told me that sometimes she hates night time.  I asked her why (even though this has been a fairly common thing she tells us at bedtime lately, but I guess I just hope to maybe find out more specifically what is bothering her so much).  Well, she said she gets scared and worried during the night because she is fearful of having nightmares.  And she also worries about people (and pets) she loves dying or that something bad might happen to them.  I can understand this childhood anxiety.  I struggled with the same fears as a child.

But guess what happened as I tucked her in, trying to think of something comforting to tell her!  A verse popped into my mind that I had JUST read an hour or less beforehand while I was researching for an upcoming blog post:  Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Perfect.  And not only did that verse come to mind immediately when I needed it, but I somehow recited it by memory, when I'm not really the best at remembering verses by heart!  Ok, I know it probably helped that I had just read it shortly before, but still!  For me, that is pretty good and I know it was a "God thing" that He provided me with that Scripture verse to comfort her in her time of anxiety.  I love it when things like this happen and they happen to me all the time, but I've found that the more frequently I'm in the Word, the more they happen.  I don't think that is a coincidence.  So anyway, after I shared the verse with her, I told her to follow what it says by telling God about her fears and worries and He promises to give her His peace and guard her heart and mind from all her fears and bad dreams.

And thankfully, that story leads me to the final Step #3MEMORIZE IT!  "Hiding" God's Word in your heart through memorizing verses that are meaningful and powerful to you is the single most effective way to battle spiritual attacks, flee temptations, share the Gospel, bless others with His Word, and be strengthened and comforted in a time of need. When you put God's Word in your memory bank, it will amaze you how many times in your life that the Holy Spirit will bring a certain verse or verses to your mind to help you or someone you are trying to help.

As we start the new year, consider setting a goal for yourself to memorize a new Bible verse or passage each month, week, or even (for the really ambitious go-getters) each day!  To help you do this, in my next post I will show you, with photos and step-by-step instructions (yes, I'm really starting to get into this whole blog thing!), what I do to memorize Scripture.  And let me again remind you that this is not one of my strong points.  Give me a new song and I will know it by heart in a day or less, but anything that's not set to music, oy!  So I need lots of help in this area and I can't wait to show you what I've found so helpful that really works for me! 

May God bless you as you seek to take in more of His Word!

In Christ,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder - we need to start memorizing again!