This is Pastor Dave writing to you before taking my sabbatical.
If you’re reading the psalms describing Who God is, pray them back to God, turning them into a form of worship, devotion and meditation. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers” (Ps 1:1-3, ESV).
The word “meditate” in the Bible is different from eastern meditation. Meditation in the eastern worldview is “emptying the mind.” In the Christian worldview meditation is “filling the mind” with the Word of God. In Hebrew, the word picture is that of digestion. The picture is a cow chewing the cud. A cow doesn’t just eat grass. It eats it, then the gastric juices start working it, then the cow throws it up and chews on it more because it has renewed flavor. In other words, it squeezes every ounce of nutrients before finally digesting it. That is the way we are to be when we take in God’s Word. It involves serious thinking. Do you seriously take time that you might know the Scriptures? Sometimes we get impatient in our study of God’s word, we don’t understand it or when we apply it, it doesn’t yield immediate results, but we must think like a farmer. What would happen if you planted a seed in your garden and then dug it up each morning to see if anything was happening? It would die and never produce fruit. You have to have faith that the seed is doing what God created it to do.
One of the weapons our Lord used to fight against the enemy was memorized Scripture (Matt 4:1-10). The psalmist says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11, NIV). There is no substitute for memorizing the Bible. Pastor John Piper said it this way, “Memorizing Scripture allows me to hit the devil in the face with a force that he cannot resist to protect myself and my family from his assaults. What are you hitting him with? He is millions of times stronger than you. And he hates you and your family, and your marriage, and this church, and God. How anybody walks through this devil-ruled world without a sword in their hand is beyond me.” Memorizing Scripture strengthens your faith. Paul said, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17, ESV). Memorizing Scripture helps you overcome temptation to sin. God’s warnings and God’s promises are the ways in which we are able to overcome the deceitfulness of the devil.
God did something amazing for me years ago when I sat in a summer class in a seminary classroom and I heard Dr. Mark Bailey, the president of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), look at us students and recite a small portion of Isaiah 53. Probably just 4-5 verses. I was stunned at the beauty of God’s Word spoken like that. I had never heard it before like that. He just recited it by memory, no commentary, just the Bible. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever heard in my life. I had never heard anyone do that before and it absolutely blew me away. I made a decision right then and there to begin the process of Bible memory and I cannot tell you how helpful in my spiritual life this one thing has been. There is incredible value of memorizing Scripture.
Psalm 119:14 says “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.” (NIV) Great riches? Think about that. Sometimes we think about God’s Word and we think, “This is life restricted!” It’s all about do’s and don’ts. Thou shalt not this and thou shalt not that. That’s not the case at all. The psalmist says, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Ps 119:32, NIV). God created you and He knows how the design works best. A life lived in accordance with the Bible is life unleashed, a life running on all cylinders. This is life how you were meant to live. Read the psalms and live life to the full!