I was in the sixth grade when I heard it.
Growing up in church developed my passion for the Bible. I remember setting down my pipe cleaners as a toddler in the pew to listen to what the preacher had to say. I remember in Elementary school becoming interested in weekly Bible stories. But I did not hear it then. I remember during Middle School being distracted by changes in my body (and especially in the bodies of girls around me), but it was then that I first heard it. A challenge that would alter my world, even though I often fail at it. A new routine that would drastically reshape the way I fundamentally thought about, well, everything!
The challenge: spend time reading the Bible. Everyday.
I realize this is not novel. But it is profound!
Watch the Video: It’s Not What You Think
I was raised in church my entire life, yet my first year of Youth Camp was when I heard this challenge loud and clear (and if I’m honest, I surely didn’t listen to a similar challenge given before my middle school years). It did not come from our camp speaker, who I’m sure was a gifted orator. It didn’t even come from my Youth Pastor, though I knew he loved me. It came from an intern I had never met. And I remember thinking, “This guys seems really nervous. I don’t think he speaks often.” Keep in mind, I had just finished the 6th grade. It wasn’t how he spoke, but what he spoke that changed my life. Does God really want me to read the Bible everyday?
Psalm 1 says
Blessed is the man (or woman) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but his (or her) delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he (or she) meditates day and night.
The psalmist is clear: there are two ways to live. The first, is the way of this wicked man. Verse one shows the person becoming more comfortable with living in sin. First, walking past it. Then, standing by it. Finally, sitting in it. Furthermore, there is a progression of the type of fellowship the person is enjoying with others who sin. From the wicked (we are all wicked in one sense!), to the willing sinners, to those who scoff at anyone who would try to do good. The first path, the path of the natural man, is to walk toward sin, get comfortable with sin, and then embrace sin as normative.
But there is a second way to live. Though, the psalmist does not describe this life in a way I would have expected. Rather than contrasting this life with actions that are admirable, rather than despicable, the psalmist focuses not on the works of their hands, but the desires of their heart. Rather than changing the behavior of the wicked, the psalmist contrast the lifestyle with a change in joy through meditation.
Meditation. The word sounds like it belongs in a book about the occult. I remember a classmate sitting next to me on the bus in Kindergarten meditating as we drove to the local zoo. He broke to say “We are almost there!” And he was right — although it may have had more to do with his being able to read and recognizing we were on the highway exit ramp. Either way, do Christians meditate? Not like the kindergarten bus rider, attempting to receive a word about the future or by trying to clear your head. Rather,
Christians meditate by filling their head with Scripture.
These are the very words of God. As we cling to them as a passionate lover clings to every word in a letter from their beloved.
As we meditate on God’s Word, we grow to delight in His law. This is a crucial factor missed by the majority of Bible-disengaged persons. Did you know the number one reason people read the Bible is to grow closer to God? Not surprising. By contrast, people who do not read the Bible share a common view of the Bible that it is little more than a book of morality. What kind of deranged religion nerds would want to read an ethics book? (My wife and I are both PhD students in ethics.)
While the Bible has ethical implications for us, it is not a book to read purely for ethics. It is a story about a good God who has lovingly sent His son into this world to die in our place for our sin so that we might have a restored relationship with Him through faith in the risen Savior. We were all the wicked who embraced sin. Jesus alone is the righteous one. Yet
God made Jesus who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Jesus. — 2 Corinthians 5:21
What about you? Do you delight in God’s Word? Do you see it as a rule book? When did you begin to understand it to be about a relationship? Have you practiced filling your mind with (meditating on) Scripture? Who is someone in your life you could teach to read the Bible everyday?
It was a simple challenge. An unremarkable communicator. And a lifelong pursuit of being transformed by the Word of God.
Written for Devotionals Daily by Michael McAfee, coauthor with Lauren Green McAfee of Not What You Think.
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Are you passionate about God’s Word? Are you in the Bible every day? If not, let’s receive this challenge together — let’s read it every day! Come share your commitment with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily