How Do I Feed On God’s Word?

aaron-burden-113284-unsplash (1).jpgYesterday, I wrote on the importance of feeding on the Word. Today, let me add another reflection on that theme—namely, what it looks like to actually feed on the Word of God.

Certainly, if God calls us to live upon every Word that proceeds from his mouth (Matthew 4:4), it should not surprise us that he is not silent on what it looks like to feed on his word. Just as the health professionals have protocols for what consists of healthy vital signs, so does Scripture with respect to how to feed on God’s Word.

How do I feed on the Word of God?

In Donald Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Lifehe takes two chapters to outline “Bible Intake.” In his chapters (summarized here), he includes five ways to feed on God’s Word.

  1. Hear It (cf. Romans 10:17)
  2. Read It (Matthew 19:4)
  3. Study It (cf. Ezra 7:10)
  4. Memorize It (cf. Psalm 119:11)
  5. Meditate On It (cf. Psalm 1:2)

Similarly, but with even more specificity, Psalm 119 gives us at least six ways we can and should feed on the word of God. Continue reading

“Give Me Life . . . According to Your Word”: How God’s Law Leads to Gospel Life

ben-white-131241There is a way of thinking today that says life and liberty are found by rejecting or rewriting the law. Personal expression is all that matters: “Just be yourself . . . Be authentically you!” And if any rules or laws—be they religious or otherwise—get in the way, just reject or rewrite those restrictions.

Importantly, Scripture is not silent on this matter. And it teaches the opposite. Instead of rejecting the law as a place of life and freedom, it actually says that life is found in keeping the law. Or to be more specific, life is enjoyed as one seeks to obey the law. Yes, Paul says that the law does not have power to make alive (Romans 8:3), but that is not all he says about the law (see Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:13–14).

Moreover, Psalm 119 demonstrates what a heart cries, when it has been circumcised by the law. In other words, whereas mere obedience cannot earn life; those who have been made alive by God will hunger and thirst for life in the law. Obedience to the law is not antithetical to life; it is the very essence of life under the Lord.

So let us consider how Psalm 119 cries out for life in the Word of God. Continue reading

Seeking God in His Word (Psalm 119:9–16)

rhythms-of-holinessYesterday, Ben Purves, our Pastor for Student Ministries at Occoquan Bible Church, continued our series on spiritual disciplines. What follows are some discussion questions and resources to go deeper in Psalm 119.

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Psalm 119 is one of my favorite Psalms. Both the longest chapter and prayer in the Bible, this 22 stanza psalm is a literary masterpiece. Written as an alphabetic acrostic, it is a beautiful celebration of God’s Word. The psalmist calls the reader to delight and rejoice in God. This last Sunday we looked at the second stanza (vv. 9-16) and considered how we might treasure God’s Word as we head into the New Year. You can listen to the sermon here.

Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10  With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11  I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12  Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes!
13  With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14  In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15  I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16  I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

Discussion Questions

  1. What words are used to describe the Scriptures, and how do they open up different dimensions of God’s Word?
  2. What attributes of God are revealed in the text?
  3. What are the two petitions of the psalmist in vv. 9-16? What does each petition reveal about the psalmist?
  4. Practically — what does it look like to guard our hearts with the Word of God?
  5. What should the relationship be between our love for God, his word, and sharing the gospel?
  6. How would you characterize the heart of the psalmist?
  7. How does one get his heart to be like that of the psalmist?
  8. How might your heart become a treasure storehouse of the Word of God?
  9. What steps might you take to increase your joy in God and His Word in 2017?

Further Resources

Articles

Books

Soli Deo Gloria, ds

Finding Life “According to Your Word”: What Psalm 119 Says to Tired, Doubting Souls

lifePsalm 119 is a elongated exaltation of the truth, beauty, and goodness of God’s Word. In twenty-two stanzas it leads the reader to consider all the ways in which God’s Word intersects our lives. There are dozens of themes to consider, but one that stands out is the way in which the Word mediates and regulates our relationship with God.

While most systematic theologies present the doctrine of God’s Word in categories of inspiration, authority, sufficiency, clarity, and inerrancy, Psalm 119 speaks of the Word in purely existential terms. He commends us to pick and read—Tolle Lege!—because of what the Word has promised and produced in his own life. Psalm 119 is devotional theology of the highest quality, and for those struggling to get into the Word of God, it’s praise for God’s Word may be the very thing a tired and doubting soul needs to (re)turn to the Word. Continue reading

Why Should I Read My Bible?

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is composed of 22, 8 verse stanzas. In the original Hebrew, the Psalm follows the Hebrew alphabet, so that verses 1-8 all begin with “A” (or aleph), verses 9-16 begin with “B” (bet), and so one. All together, Psalm 119 contains 176 verses extolling the wisdom, wonder, and pleasure of knowing God’s word. The Psalmist has drunk deeply from the well of God, and he resounds with praise for God’s gracious revelation.

It is interesting, over twenty times, the Psalmist comments on the joy-producing character of God’s Law. He is not simply reading “the Bible” because it is the thing to do. He genuinely loves it and his heart overflows with a pleasing theme. Hear a few of his jubilant words:

  • In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches (v. 14).
  • I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word (v. 16).
  • Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors (v. 24).
  • I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (v. 47).
  • I delight in your law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces (v. 70-72).
  • Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight (v. 77).
  • How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (v. 103)
  • Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart (v. 111).
  • I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law (v. 162-63).
  • I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight (v. 174).

Would you describe God’s as the Psalmist does? In comparison to all created things, the Psalmist describes God’s word as more delightful than riches, more wise than learned counselors, sweeter than the finest delicacy, and more wonderful than the rarest treasure. Such a description gives us a vision of what knowing God is like.

In fact, creation which overflows with wonder and delight was made for this very purpose–to lead us to God. As Psalm 119:64 tells us, “the earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!” Creation is designed to stir within us a desire to know and delight in God through his word. Sadly, we have taken this invitation and prostituted ourselves with the messenger, instead making preparation to see the King (see Rom. 1:18-32). Creation is but a shadow of God’s substance; it cannot tell us who God is and how we can know him personally. Thus creation can never ultimately satisfy us.

We must take up God’s book and read to know God and to enjoy him forever. Augustine once said our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee. And rest, peace, and joy are available not in lavish vacations or accumulating created goods, but in knowing God through his word. Then and only then, can we rightly delight in God’s creation.

Getting back to the original question: Why should I read my Bible? It is not simply to be “good” people or even “good Christians,” it is not because the pastor said so, or because we simply like reading the world’s best seller. We read our Bible’s to know God and to take pleasure in him. It is true, that what we find in the Bible often makes us uncomfortable and uneasy–because the light of God’s word exposes our darkness. Nevertheless, such conviction of sin is a genuine marker that you are on the right path to faith in God’s grace and everlasting Spiritual joy.

Why should I read my Bible? Because in it we find God in the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ, which is the means to our greatest happiness. One of Satan’s greatest ploys is to keep us out of the Bible. Why? Because Satan is a miserable person, and he hates God and all those who share his image. He hates God’s word and the joy that it brings, and he wants to kill, steal, and destroy your eternal, abundant joy in God. How does he do it? By replacing joy in God with trifling, temporary pleasures in this world. This is how the world, which is under his temporary rule, runs (1 John 2:15). Don’t be deceived! Pick up your Bible and read, for in it is a world of joy! Just read Psalm 119.

Feeding on the word with you,
Pastor David

[This post was taken from my weekly devotional at http://www.cbcseymour.org called “Feeding on the Word.”]