The Importance of Reading Scripture

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.

Psalm 1:2 (NLT)

Who of us meditates on the law of the Lord, day and night?

I can honestly say that I don’t meditate on God’s Word nearly as much as I should. I don’t memorize enough scripture, and I have an awful tendency to treat my time in God’s Word as little more than a checklist item. Does anyone else do the same?

However, it is through the scriptures that God reveals to us who He is, what He’s done for us, and what He calls us to do. How are we supposed to follow in His steps if we don’t read the Bible and understand what following in His steps means?

I’ll be the first to admit that it can be far too easy to fall out of reading God’s Word, so here are a few practical solutions to help us meditate on the law of Lord day and night.

  • Read the Bible first thing in the morning.

If you can, I’ve found this to be particularly helpful because I’m starting off my day by surrendering to God. Also, I’m making sure I focus on God before I get distracted by everything else life might throw at me throughout the rest of the day.

  • Find a Bible reading plan.

If you don’t know where to start, find a plan to help you. There are many of them out there. Here’s a link to a few. Or, if you’d rather not be confined to a plan, pick a book-any book-and just start reading!

  • Don’t just read the Bible.

Think on it. Meditate on it. For me, this can mean writing notes about what I read, journaling about what touched me in the passage, praying about what I read silently, or writing a prayer in my journal. I also underline things in my Bible and make what I’ll call “word art” in the margins to highlight the things that stood out most to me. In short, when I take the time to write about what I’m reading, I force myself to consider more deeply what I’m reading instead of simply checking it off of a list.

  • Memorize scripture.

This can be a hard one for me to stick with. I start off strong, memorizing one or more verses a day, but inevitably, I peter out after too long. However, the best way for us to be able to tackle whatever life throws at us head-on is by already having God’s Word stored in our hearts, ready to combat whatever comes our way.

I hope some of those ideas help you. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Let’s hold ourselves accountable for being in God’s Word consistently. After all, it’s our best resource for getting to know Him.

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No Excuses

God is faithful. He is there through the seasons. He is there through it all. Scripture says that there is nothing that can separate from His love. That means nothing of this world, no external forces, no one, and nothing can create a rift between us and God.

God has always been there, is always there, and will always be there. Even when it feels like He’s not.

As I’ve talked about before, I notice a very distinct change when I’m having good, consistent quiet time versus when I’m neglecting it. Currently, I’m in a season of neglect. As such, I feel far from God, and I’m starting to doubt. I’ve even gone so far as to begin to question my relationship with Him. Is He still there?

Of course, the “right” answer, the good, Christian, church-approved answer, is easy to rattle off. Of course he is.

But it didn’t satiate the qualms I was having. Until I stumbled across this tweet:

tweet

And I was comforted by the reminder that God is faithful. Even when I’m not, He is. I don’t know why reading this tweet had a different effect on me than the self-utterances, but it did. Maybe I just needed to be reassured of God’s faithfulness by someone else.

But, with this newfound assurance, I quickly caught myself slipping into dangerous territory. I started using God’s faithfulness as an excuse to continue my neglect.

If God’s always faithful, no matter what, then it’s okay if I don’t have consistent quiet time. It’s okay if I push Him off to the side, since He’ll always be there.

In the midst of this train of thought, I had to stop myself. No, that isn’t okay. No, that’s not how a relationship with God works.

Yes, God is always faithful, and yes, God will always be there no matter what I do or how I mess up. That is no excuse for us to neglect our time with Him and be okay with that.

God is always faithful in that His Holy Spirit that dwells within us will consistently nudge us back towards God. He is faithful in that He won’t let us continue walking away from Him. The Holy Spirit, to believers, serves as a constant reminder that we can’t just walk away from God. We are nothing without Him.

God’s faithfulness isn’t an excuse for us to live however we please. No, God’s faithfulness is a constant call for us to choose Him over the world.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

Who Am I To…?

Sort of in the same line of thought as last week, all too often we let fear control our minds. God sets an opportunity before us, call us to do something that’s, admittedly, maybe a little crazy, and we respond to God with a list of ways we aren’t qualified to do that job.

Moses did the same thing. Moses, the man who parted the Red Sea, told God that he wasn’t qualified to do what God called him to do.

Moses had, only just before the exchange to come, run out of Egypt and away from his people out of fear. He was living nearby, with the family of the woman who came to be his wife. One day, while he was out tending the sheep, we happen upon the burning bush scene.

You know, the one where God talks to Moses through a burning bush and tells him that he needs to go back to Egypt and lead his people out of their slavery and into a land of their own.

And here’s how Moses responds:

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’

God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

Exodus 3:11-12 (NLT)

Moses questions God! Why me, God? Who am I to do what you’ve asked me to? Who am I? 

But God calls us to work for his kingdom, and we can’t just sit idly by, refusing to do that work because we aren’t good speakers or aren’t talented enough or aren’t (insert adjective here) enough.

In the New Testament, Jesus talks a lot about fruits. He says that Christians should be distinguishable by their fruits, meaning that those who have faith in God should be able to show that they have faith in God by their acts.

Now, I’m not saying that we are saved by acts. No, we are saved by faith and faith alone. However, once we make that declaration of faith, the Holy Spirit comes upon us and begins working with us to make us more like the creation we were meant to be.  This work manifests itself in notable ways-notable actions-in our lives.

In the same way that we are called to produce good fruits through the Holy Spirit, Moses was called to perform this incredible act for God through God. 

When Moses questioned why he was the right guy, God’s answer was simple enough. “I will be with you,” he said. That’s it. Why are we the right guy for whatever task God has laid for us? Simply because God is with us. We don’t need a long list of qualifications to work for God. We simply need God.

So let’s refuse to let fear or insecurities keep us from being stewards of God’s kingdom.

After all, we can’t stop what God is planning on doing. If we sit idly by, telling God over and over why we aren’t the right person for the job, even with his help, we might just miss out on our chance to make an impact in that particular area.

Moses, a bit later in Exodus, kept trying to talk God out of making him talk to Pharaoh to free his people.

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”

Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you.

Exodus 4:13-14 (NLT)

God gave in. He essentially said, “Fine. You think you aren’t good enough, so I’ll just choose someone else who is good enough.”

God’s going to carry out his plan, with or without us. If we refuse to follow him in our actions, he’ll get someone else to act in our place. So let’s not miss out on our opportunity to make a huge impact. Act when God calls us to act.

We don’t have to do it on our own. God is with us. We just need to trust him.

 

 

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep…

Did anyone else used to pray, as they were going to sleep at night, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…”? I had a frame of the written prayer and everything.

I don’t know if I fully understood what it meant then, but looking back at it now, I think there’s a sort of simple beauty in those words. We’re telling God, “Okay, I’m going to sleep (my most vulnerable state), and I’m trusting you to guard my soul.” It’s kind of reminiscent of some of David’s prayers in the Psalms.

For example, in Psalm 4, it seems that David and his people are experiencing some sort of trouble (my Life Application Study Bible says it could be written in the midst of a drought or other disaster, or that it could be referring to David’s enemies). However, David concludes by saying, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

What an exclamation! No matter what sorts of troubles we’re going through, we can rest in the protection that can only come from God. We can sleep even though war rages on all sides of us because our souls rest in God’s hands.

I struggle at times with fear. I’m a scaredy-cat, to be completely honest. I make up completely unreasonable, illogical stories that could happen (or so I tell myself) and thus work myself into a state of irrational fear.

A lot of times this fear keeps me awake at night, sometimes for hours. (Note also that this fear doesn’t necessarily have to be fear, in the most common sense of the word; it can also be worrying or anxiety.)

But David assures us that we can go to sleep in peace (without fear) because God is keeping us safe.

This protection is referenced so many times throughout scripture.

Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation-so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?” (NLT)

Mark 6:49-50 says, “but when they [the disciples] saw him [Jesus] walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!'” (NLT)

And there are even more references than that. The Bible tells us time and time again that God is watching over us and that He will protect us against the troubles of this world.

Therefore, why do we fear? Do you remember when the disciples were in the boat and a storm started brewing? They were afraid, and Jesus was asleep! They started panicking, but as soon as Jesus woke up, he quieted the storm and looked at the disciples. “Why are you afraid?” he asked them. “Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 NLT)

Why don’t we learn from the disciples and not have the same faithless fear that they had? Turn our fear into faith. Call out to God. Know that He will rescue us.

Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Jesus to look at me and ask me “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”