Today we’re talking about the importance of learning God’s word so that we can also learn His voice. Why did I emphasize that first learning? Because I want to make a distinction between simply reading the Bible and actually learning it. You’ll see more in the Learn It section.
Welcome back to Chaotic Life of Lauren! This is Part 4 of an ongoing series on how we can learn God’s Voice in our life. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, then I suggest you go back to the beginning by clicking here.
As always, my references to God’s Voice are talking about God’s literal voice. While I believe He can talk to you in the same way that we physically speak to each other, I also know that God talks to us in many different ways. My use of ‘God’s Voice’ really means any moment in your life that you know came from God. In today’s devotional, a lot of ‘God’s Voice’ is going to be in reference to how He uses Scripture to guide us.
1 How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3 (HCSB)
Psalm 1 is one of my favorites. In fact, I have a whole second post dedicated to it. The full psalm is a great contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous. Keep in mind what we discussed about imagery in Hebrew poetry during part three of this series. Let’s make sure we’re clear on this:
- Tree = Strength/Perseverance/Health = We’re directly told that the Righteous are like this tree. Take a moment and picture this tree beside a stream. I see something tall, strong, and with large branches. This is why I see this tree as a symbol of strength. You can also say that it is one of perseverance (standing strong through all the storms because of its strength). Whatever you picture, it’s clear that this tree is healthy. You can even say that the tree, itself, is a source of life for others because it reliably bears fruit.
- Stream = Life – If the righteous are like the tree, then that means the water takes on the part of “the Lord’s instruction.” I mentioned it last week, but water, especially for ancient cultures, is often a symbol of life. Without water, life would not be possible. It’s also important to note the relationship between this stream and the tree. Without the stream, the tree would not be able to grow so strong. The stream is the source of the tree’s health.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
That’s pretty straightforward on the purpose of Scripture. I looked up the Greek word translated as “complete” in vs. 17. It’s ‘artios’, and, apparently, this is the only time it is used in the Bible. There are also translator notes that suggest ‘artios’ actually means “complete or fitted with a special purpose.” Interesting, right?
The greatest source for learning God’s Voice is not our mentor or a few chapters in the Bible; it is the entire Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is inspired by God. In other words, the entire Bible is God’s message to us. If you want to learn God’s Voice in your life, then it starts by opening up your Bible.
But I have a suspicion that most people begin to doubt the importance of reading the Bible the very minute that somebody tells you that it’s important. You think, “Well, I don’t know. I think I’m doing pretty good on my own.” Or maybe you’ve been in church for a while so you think, “I know what the Bible teaches.” In one way or another, you are going to question just how important reading the Bible is to your faith. (We talked about immediate doubts a little bit in this blog post.)
Reading God’s Word vs. Meditating on God’s Word
A lot of Christians are simultaneously guilty of adding too many requirements for Bible reading and not taking things far enough. How many times have you been chided from a pulpit for not reading the Bible every day? Have you ever been encouraged to not eat breakfast until you’ve read the Bible that morning? I have. But here’s the thing, there is no commandment for daily reading of Scripture. It is also foolish to act like this is a mark of faith. There have been many points in time where Scripture was not readily available for the masses to read. Even today, there are Christians in closed countries who do not have this option. Can you imagine their reaction if you told them they needed to read the Bible every day?
On the flipside, can you imagine their reactions if you told them you have four Bibles in the house and don’t read any of them?
I know this has to be a strange way to open up a discussion on why reading the Bible is important. I just want to make sure that we’re clear, though. You should read the Bible, but you should be reading it out of a desire to grow closer with God. Reading the Bible should be an act of worship for you, not a chore that you feel burdened with.
While others will envy us for how easily we can access God’s word, I envy them for the emphasis that they put on meditation and memorization. You see, if all you’re doing is reading your Bible, then you’re missing out on something important. Like James writes in James 1:23, being a reader of God’s word without applying it is like forgetting what you saw in the mirror after you walk away. And to apply it, you need to learn to meditate.
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
Psalm 1:2 (HCSB)
What is Meditation?
There are many words in the Bible that are traditionally translated as ‘meditate’. In fact, meditation comes up in Genesis and occurs so frequently throughout the Bible that it is clear this is something important to our faith. So what is meditation?
Most of the original language words fall under two meanings:
- Mulling over or reflecting on – This would be considering what a passage could mean. In other words, this is exactly what we do in the ‘Learn It’ section of our devotionals.
- Murmuring – Repeating. In other words, memorizing.
If you put those things together, meditation is basically a fancy word for the act of growing your knowledge of the Bible. I advocate memorizing Scripture (even though I haven’t seriously done it in a while). But even if you aren’t memorizing Scripture itself, you should be memorizing the principles or the gist of the Scripture passage.
This principle is exactly why I choose to put so many of my blanks on my “Read It, Learn It, Apply It” worksheet. It’s not that I expect you to write lengthy responses if you use the worksheet. I just want you to write something so you meditate on what you read.
Why You Should Be Meditating
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,”
2 Timothy 3:16
Again, this is pretty straightforward. Here’s some other points you need to think about, though:
- Rebuking/Correcting Can Be Personal
- We’re Called to be Teachers of God’s Word
- Training in Righteousness
Rebuking/Correction Can be Personal
We normally think about an entire congregation being rebuked and corrected by Scripture durin ga sermon. Do you remember that final Bible verse that I shared with you in part three of this series? No? Well, here it is again:
While this verse was really written to Israel, it’s a very personal statement. We can use context to gather that God is promising to tell one person, the person directly responsible for guiding Israel, when he goes off of God’s path. We don’t have to wait for Church or our next mentor coffee date to be rebuked and corrected; this process can happen one-on-one with God.
I’ve told you all the way through this series that “God’s Voice” doesn’t necessarily mean that you are actually hearing God with your ears. There are many ways that God speaks to us. A lot of the times, He speaks to us through Scripture.
But how is He supposed to warn us (through His Word) when we go off the path if we’re not physically reading a Bible when we start to misstep? I know that’s wordy. Go ahead and reread the sentence again if you need to do so, but just remember I’m asking a rhetorical question.
Obviously, God cannot remind us through His word in this situation…unless we have it memorized. And while we do have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, I find that memorized Scripture is one of the methods that the Holy Spirit uses to guide us.
This alone should be reason enough for you to meditate on God’s word.
Called to be Teachers of God’s Word
Yes, you. The one reading this post. No matter your Spiritual gifts, all Christians should be unified in one goal (Philippians 2:2). That goal is the Great Commission:
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (HCSB)
If you think about what I wrote about artios, this idea is present in today’s Scripture as well. We need to study the Bible so that we can be complete for a purpose. So here’s the question: How are you supposed to be a teacher if you don’t even know what you’re supposed to be teaching?
And if you know that you should be sharing the Gospel with others but don’t, then answer this question: Why do you expect to hear God’s Voice when you don’t do the things He has already told you to do?
In the next part we’re going to talk about the role that a willing heart plays when it comes to hearing God’s Voice.
Bonus Mom Point: Training in Righteousness
The form of ‘training’ used in this verse is normally reserved for children. While the Bible does talk about grown adults as “Children of God” and “babies in the faith”, the point is, Busy Moms, that we have been given a monumental task. We are in charge of raising our children up to know God, to love God, and to follow God. We are the first mentors our children will ever have.
But if we’re going to do this, then we have to know God’s word and God’s voice for ourselves.
Should I Read the Bible Quickly, or Study the Bible Closely?
There’s a lot of debate on this. You’ll come across a lot of Bible Reading plans within so many days. On the other hand, you’ll also see people who advocate you just reading the Bible a few verses at a time so you can really get a good understanding of what you’re reading.
I think that both approaches have their merits.
A quick pace is good for:
- getting a good overview of the entire Bible or of an entire Book
- looking for verses that connect together
- helping you find a question that you want to answer about God/theology/etc.
To be honest with you, quick reads make me look much smarter than I really am. I’ll skim through a multiple books of the Bible in an hour if I’m looking for something (like how frequently God spoke to people in the Old Testament). Because of all the times I attempted (note: did not succeed) to read the Bible in a year as a teenager, I also have a general idea to look for certain stories or verses when I am preparing these blog posts.
A slow pace is good for:
- Really digging down into the Scripture to find out what’s going on
- Hermeneutics – this is the practice of examining Scripture through the context of the culture that it was written for. An example of hermeneutics would be from last week, when I talked about what a trumpet might signify in the Roman culture. If you’re trying to read so many chapters in a day, it’s much harder to research little details for hermeneutics
- Remembering the details
A slow pace is similar to what you get in a Sunday morning sermon or in posts like my devotionals. You spend a long time digesting just a little chunk of food. It’s also easier to meditate on a little bit of Scripture than it is to meditate on three long chapters!
At the same time, I think that, if you’re not very well acquainted with parts of the Bible, you would be better off discarding all notions of “Bible Study” (even my earlier points on meditation!) to just read through quickly.
Learn the basics of the stories. Then, you can go back and begin to work on really understanding and applying the Scripture. A lot of times, it’s easier to understand what’s happening in Scripture when you have the big picture in mind.
Tip: Want to use my “Read It, Learn It, Apply It” but feel like you need a faster reading pace? Just keep your answers very short and simple. Instead, focus more heavily on looking for connections.
- Ask yourself: “When was the last time that I meditated on God’s word? When was the last time I meditated on God’s word without somebody else guiding me?”
- Ask yourself: “Am I prepared to teach others and my children about God’s word?”
- Do: Select a book of the Bible that you’ve never read or haven’t read recently. Start working your way through the book.
- Do: Select a passage of Scripture to memorize.
- Pray: “God, help me to hear Your voice through Your word. Help me to remember the precepts that You have given us. Guide me as I teach Your message to others that I meet. Amen.”
(You can read the final entry in the Learning God’s Voice series by clicking here)
If you want to dig even deeper into this post, then you need to connect with the Chaotic Life community. Comment below with one of the following:
- How you meditate on God’s word
- One of your favorite Bible verses
- How learning God’s word has impacted your life.
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