Process the word of God or, in other words, don't just think on the Word
and meditate on it but dig deeper into it and really analyze it. It is not
how many times you have been through the Bible but how many times the Bible
has been through you (and how thoroughly). Understand what truth is really
revealed in each passage and even in many cases by words used.
One cool example of this word usage is in John 1:14.
In English it says "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt
among us". That's good to know that Jesus put on flesh to dwell among
us. Well by examining the words used. We see in Greek this word
"dwelt" is actually skenoo which means to set up
tent or to tabernacle. It means also to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle
of old, a symbol of protection and communion). Just as the Jews approached
God's throne (the ark) through the Tabernacle we can approach God's heavenly
throne through our tabernacle, Jesus Christ.
"Rightly dividing" means we are to figure out the who, what, when, why, and
where of the scripture. Who is the passage for? Who is it about? What is
it about? Is it symbolic or literal? And there are so many other questions
to ask. Coverdale wrote his plan of study in the preface of the 1535 translation
of the Bible: "It shall greatly help ye to understand the scripture, if thou
mark no only what is spoken or written, but of whom, and to whom, with what
words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering
what goeth before and what followeth."
A friend of mine uses what he calls the 3 three's to study scripture:
type - doctrinal historical inspirational
time frame - past present future
audience - Jew Christian all mankind
To fully understand any scripture the reader must decide if it is doctrinal,
historical, or inspirational for each audience and time period. For example
- the laws of sacrifice are historical for the present Christian but for
Jews of the Old Testament past they were doctrine.
Psalm 119:48 says, "My hands
also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will
meditate in thy statutes." We are to meditate on the word of God and
he has promised to teach us from it. Psalm 32:8
says "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which
thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on
your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make
your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"We should be careful not to give all our time just to reading the Word,
to see how much we can cover, but, after reading a portion, we should carefully,
prayerfully turn it over in our minds, and appropriate in our hearts" - Wilber
M Smith (from Profitable Bible Study)
Meditation is good - it's medication for the soul. Really think about the
scripture passage as you read it over and over again. We should picture ourselves
in the Word. See our selves as a sheep in the green pastures by a gentle
stream. Put your self in the "all" of
Romans 3:23 and in the
"whosoever" of John 3:16.
We should walk a mental mile in the shoes of the Apostles.
James wrote "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth
therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man
shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:25) Let's look at the law of liberty,
the freedom we have in Christ recorded in the Bible, and continue in looking
but don't just study and process it but also be doers.
Being doers means we apply it or act on it. Once you really understand by
the study and processing of scriptures apply it to your life. Live by the
word of God. Understanding the truth but never acting on it does no good.
Understanding the gift of salvation but never accepting it does no good.
Understanding the plan of salvation but never following it does no good.
Understanding the Word of God but never believing it does no good.
Apply it to your life and act on the revealed truths of it. Study and
memorization is great. Processing them to get the ideas behind it and knowing
where to look for the answers is even better. But they are useless if we
don't use those answers.
Like the wise old sea captain who stood on the bridge of his ship day in,
day out that opened a small box and peeked inside before giving any order.
He never let anyone else see the contents. Finally the day he retired, all
the men of the ship rushed to the bridge and cut the lock off the little
box to see what was there. What had been his guide in so many orders? Hidden
inside was a piece of paper that read "left - port, right - starboard". We
too need simple guiding words written on our hearts.
Why do we study and process? The psalmist gives us the answer in
Psalm 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that
I might not sin against thee." We learn the Word to avoid breaking
it. We have to really know it to apply it. Even Satan knows the scriptures.
He even used scriptures to tempt Jesus and used Gods spoken word in order
to deceive Eve. If Satan knows the Bible you better know it better. DL Moody
said, "God did not give us the scriptures to increase our knowledge but to
change our lives." Knowledge is useless until it has been applied.
Psalm 119:105 states, "Thy word
is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Illuminating a
path is not necessary if we sit comfortably on our hindquarters all day long.
We need to see where we are going only when we are going. "The Christian
ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult,
and left untried." (G.K. Chesterton in What's Wrong with the World. Christianity
Today, Vol. 39, no. 1)