The Bible app on the IPad (YouVersion) allows me to set a timer for the Word to be read to me as I lay down to sleep. I love hearing the ‘ancient words, ever true’ and they wrap themselves around me, filling my mind. My most recent choice has been the Psalms and last night in the dark the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd… He leads me” were the last words to enter my consciousness before I slept.
And, I rested in those eternal Words! From childhood my mind has been shaped around the knowledge that God is present, that He has a purpose for me, that His will is more important than mine, that the best life is found in Him, that eternal life can be owned now through faith in Christ. Where did that knowledge come from? The Bible! I am blessed to know how to live, not merely to exist.
Does the Scripture fill your mind?
I am not talking about knowing how to parse every word, dive into the ‘original’ languages, or know every footnote of history that gives Scripture a context. While those things are certainly of merit, it is important to get the wisdom and God-centered worldview of the text into our minds. We need a reference point outside of ourselves, an external source of Wisdom. “The Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose speech is corrupt.” (Proverbs 2:3-12, NLT)
It is not just knowing the words that matters to me. I want to align my will with the truth revealed. Here’s the song of Psalm 119 – “I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, God; train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. ” (Psalm 119:11-16, The Message) Countless times in my life, just as I start to speak or act, some phrase from the Scripture comes to the forefront of my mind and the correction saves me from living in a way that would lead to regret. The Spirit uses the text to lead me away from those impulses that would bring short-term satisfaction but long-term regrets!
Invest time in reading the Bible! Don’t just start at Genesis and hope for the best. For the novice that can be daunting and discouraging. Instead, begin with the Gospels. Soak your mind in the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Include a Psalm each day to close your reading. Graduate to the letters of the New Testament, understanding the principles of Christian living. Make sure you read from a modern language text. The New Living Translation is a good daily reader. The Message (often quoted here in CWTW) is a paraphrase of the Bible that can help you to absorb the truth, but use it as a supplement, not a primary source. Get into a good Bible study, led by a person who is solid in faith. Avoid the ones where the Bible is treated like literature instead of Truth. Be cautious about a teacher who makes much of lesser themes.
Become a person full of the Word.
Here is a word from the Word. May it be your prayerful choice today and every day.
“God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom, and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets, invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me— promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics— but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel; preserve my life through your righteous ways! ” Amen
(Psalm 119:33-40, The Message)