Imagine you were on medication that was sustaining your life. The prescription of the medicine required you to take it every morning before 6:00 AM and remain perfectly still for one hour; failure to which, you would die. Would you ever forget to take that medicine? Absolutely not. Would you ever fail to get the time to sit still for one hour? Of course not! You know your life depends on it. Who would ever be too busy for the life-saving medicine? Who would feel too lazy to wake up in the morning and take the medicine?
Fellow born-again believers, somehow we forget to take the life-saving medicine of God’s word every day, without which our intimacy with our Saviour is dead! We succumb to temptation easily without it. We live prayerlessly without it. We take God for granted without it. We drift away from fellowship without it. That daily quiet time in God’s word is the medicine that keeps your intimacy with God going. Yet the thought of that intimacy dying does not rouse many a professing Christian to set aside daily time to grow spiritually through reading the scriptures and meditating on them. Why? We are snacking on the sugary snacks of YouTube preachers, devotions made by others and weekly sermons. Yet God invites us to daily whole meals from His word directly. If your favourite preacher is drawing you more to himself and less towards the scriptures, you ought not to be surprised that you are spiritually fat and not fit. We are called to feast on meat and stop weaning from spiritual yoghurt.
Friends, if you truly want to mature and deepen your love for the LORD, I reckon you need at least an hour of daily personal time with His word. An hour! Where in the world would I get that time?! From the extra hour of sleep that you do not need. From the dull time browsing Instagram. From Twitter and from Mark Zuckerberg. From TV. From walking slowly. From arriving late at work. From being too busy to notice you are dying. Spend time with the Father, Beloved. How do you do it? This is how:
Reading the Word of God
Revelation 1:3 says Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. There is a blessedness that the believer gets when they read the Word of God. This blessedness is not limited to the book of Revelation; it applies to the entire Bible. Revelation affirms that reading aloud is key. Research states that reading aloud helps has great benefits; when we read aloud, we retain more information in our memories, understand complex texts more, and we strengthen emotional bonds between us and the hearers.1 In Bible times, the Word of God was read aloud in the synagogues. We can revive that practice as well. The benefits of the research can be ours. We will remember Bible texts more, we will understand the difficult ones and our bond with the Holy Spirit will increase. When you read aloud, your voice is a medium, but the message is the Holy Spirit speaking. One of the ways to ensure you move from spiritual milk to maturity is to have daily Bible reading sessions. I personally set aside time to read one chapter per day. You can embrace the same discipline.
Study the Word of God
Acts 17:11 says Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Paul preached the Gospel to a group of Jews in Berea. The Bible calls these Jews noble for studying the scriptures to ensure that Paul’s teaching was genuine and not false. God desires that we become our own spiritual gatekeepers. There are hundreds of preachers online. There are thousands of Churches in the nations. There are millions of Christian published material. There are several apps. Which ones are true? You can only find out if you study the Word of God. Studying means intensive time and effort applied in researching and examining with intent to establish veracity. When bankers are taught to identify fraudulent banknotes, the emphasis is put on what an original bank bill looks like. Once you know the original, anything that falls short is dismissed as counterfeit. Do not wear yourself out listening to the latest heresies in town. The devil will always invent new doctrines. But if you are sound in knowing the truth, you will easily identity anything false. This will protect you from false teachings, false churches and false spiritual movements that seem good but are enemies of Jesus Christ.
Memorise the Word of God
Psalm 119:9-11 says How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. The Psalmist wants to live righteously. He recognises that the Word of God is the means to do so. He voices his devotion by affirming that he is seeking the LORD with his whole heart. He voices his desire to not wander off. Then he voices the practice to do all these things- hiding God’s word in his heart. He has committed it to memory. And the memory is not just mental assent; it is a heart impression. A believer must devote time to memorise scripture with their mind so that the scriptures can be with them at all times. Memorising Scripture is one step away from having it impressed in your heart.
The Psalmist tells us that the benefit of this is that he does not sin against God- he overcomes temptation. Temptation doesn’t need to overwhelm the believer. The believer can overwhelm the temptation. In Matthew 4, when Jesus faced temptation here on earth, he responded with memorised scripture. He overcame Satan by saying “It is written” at the start of every rebuttal to the temptation. Jesus promised us in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit would remind us of what Christ taught us. Jesus Christ is the Word of God become flesh (John 1:14). So essentially, the Holy Spirit is reminding us of the scriptures. What better time to have the Holy Spirit remind you of the scriptures than in the heat of temptation? Like Jesus, you can quote it aloud and say to yourself, “It is written…” Satan fled from Jesus. He can flee from the believer as well. James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Why not submit to God through humility? Scripture memory is not for Sunday school children and old women. If you humble yourself, you can receive victory.
I often hear believers who lament something sort of this: “What’s the point of all that scripture memory if you don’t practise it? I would rather practise it than memorise it?” It is true that it is a most pointless venture to engage the scriptures and not practise it. But to say that you would rather practise it than memorise it would be to prefer driving a car to fuelling it. It is a most absurd thing to pit the two actions against each other; they are not mutually exclusive but rather, they are complementary. To go for a drive, you must fuel the car. Yet we have a generation of believers who think they will drive spiritual cars without spiritual fuel. No wonder the spiritual sickness and soul maladies in the church today. We have several believers pushing their vehicles to the nearest gas station as they faint and fall in the scorching sun of the world. But when we engage the scriptures, we are refuelled over and over and we can wait on the LORD and not faint or grow weary (Isaiah 40:31).
Meditate on the Word of God
Joshua 1:8 says This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (NKJV). To meditate is to think about scripture over and over until the spiritual power in it embeds itself in your soul and spirit. It is like a cow chewing cud. The cow ruminates on that one piece of grass for ages before it swallows it. By the time of swallowing, the grass is utterly crushed and all the nutrients are absorbed. This formative discipline of meditation needs you to extract all the nutrients in the word of God by thinking about it over and over. If you can worry you can meditate. Worrying comes about when we think about a problem over and over until anxiety is birthed. Biblical meditation comes about when we think upon God’s word over and over until righteousness is birthed. The best way to meditate is to memorise the scripture first and do it word perfectly. A single change in word, letter or punctuation can change the whole meaning of a text. And even if it doesn’t change, it makes for good discipline, handling of the word and faithful devotion for us to be students that get our scripture memory word perfectly. Meditate on the scripture. Think about its context. Think about keywords like therefore and all; do they make a difference? Think about the metaphors used. Paint the pictures in your head. See the log in the eye that Jesus talked about. Go outside and look at a literal log. Quote the verse about as you think of its overt meaning and its subvert meaning. It won’t be long before you start finding hidden treasures in the Word of God. God has placed some of those treasures there for us to discover through meditation. God says in Joshua 1:8 that if we meditate on His word daily, we will be prosperous and successful. Who doesn’t want to be prosperous and successful? We can be prosperous and successful when we gain wisdom from the Bible on how to handle areas in our lives such as relationships, finances and work. But the greatest prosperity and success is in having enhanced intimacy with God. Meditating on scripture brings you into closer fellowship with God. You begin to understand His character, His passions, His hurts and His desires.
Practise the Word of God
James 1:23-25 says For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (NKJV). The sixth formative discipline of practising God’s word is easy to employ in your life when the first five are in play. If you do not practise, then you are like the man in the mirror that sees the error but does not correct it. James is kind. Solomon would have called such a person a fool. Jesus said in John 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (NKJV). So to get practical, here is my suggestion for you. Employ the disciplines of hearing, reading, studying and meditating on a daily basis. Have scripture memory on a fortnight basis. You can memorise a section of scripture then meditate on it for two weeks. After two weeks you can memorise another piece of scripture and meditate on it for another two weeks.
For more details on how to practically spend time with God, see our blog on having a quiet time. Do not neglect the life of the Word.