As we are going through our series Saints Together, we will be learning six spiritual disciplines. Pastor Craig shared discipline #1 with us on Sunday. Here is the recap of his sermon that he shared on his blog. Be sure to scroll down to find the link to watch the video of the full message.
Last week I challenged you to free up some time in your schedule so that you could begin to apply these six spiritual disciplines we are going to discuss.
Let’s keep in mind why we are learning and working on these disciplines. The key phrase is “so that”: I’m going to get stronger so that I have something to give to others, so that they will have something to give to others (and to me), and on and on it goes. Each of us needs all of us, and all of us need each of us!
I love to read. In fact, I’m usually reading several books at the same time. Without a close second, my favorite book is my Bible. I say “my Bible” because I’ve made it mine—it’s underlined, circled, notated, and marked. It’s the Book I’m in every day, and it’s the Book that helps me glean the best knowledge from all the other books I read.
G.K. Chesterton, the famous British writer, was once invited to a meeting of the leading intellectuals in England. They were discussing what one book they would want to have with them if they were shipwrecked on an island. Everybody expected Chesterton to say, “My Bible.” But when it came to his turn to speak, Chesterton said, “If I were shipwrecked on a desert island, I’d like to have Thomas’s Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.”
Chesterton wasn’t saying the Bible wouldn’t have been of benefit to him on that island, but he was saying that those who study the Bible have the most practical insights! The Bible doesn’t just have lofty ideas, but it gives us heavenly wisdom that is highly practical to our everyday lives.
The first spiritual discipline we are considering in our series Saints Together is: Studying our Bible. Notice I didn’t say just to read the Bible, but to really study the Book of books.
The apostle Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). How do we know our faith is growing? It must be tested. Look at what James had to say about growing our faith—“the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:3).
Testing really comes down to this: Does what I believe work in my everyday life? Can I truly put what the Bible teaches me into action? James went a little deeper with this in James 2:17-19.
Allow me to share four indispensable components of our Bible study time. You will notice that for all of these components, I am giving you verses from the 119th chapter of the Psalms. This single chapter mentions God’s Word in every single one of its 176 verses. As an added bonus, this chapter is divided into twenty-two 8-verse sections. Scientists tell us that if you do anything for twenty-one days in a row, you will have gone a long way toward making it a permanent habit. So reading one section of Psalm 119 every day is a great place to start on this spiritual discipline of studying your Bible.
Here are the four components:
(1) Read the Word. You cannot study something you haven’t read. I would suggest you pray before reading (Psalm 119:18, 33). I’d also suggest you leverage the power of your brain using a well-worn path by setting aside the same time, same place, and same method of study every day.
(2) Pray the Word. The Bible is not just a Book to study, it’s a Book to pray too (Psalm 119:41-48). So pray for insight before you read, then turn what you have read into a personalized prayer.
(3) Meditate on the Word. Take time to mull over what you have just read and prayed (Psalm 119:15, 99). This allows the Holy Spirit to bring it back to your mind.
(4) Live out the Word. Apply it by allowing it to make a change in your life. Notice the action words in Psalm 119:1-4: walk … keep … walk … fully obey…. Or as God said to Joshua—
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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)
This is how Jesus lived His life and it’s also how He said the Holy Spirit would help us live our lives in a God-glorifying way (John 12:49-50, 14:26).
Every day we should be living out the living Word of God!
I invite you to follow along as we continue learning all six of these important spiritual disciplines. You can find them all by clicking here.