Loving God (4)
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6.6-9
And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31.10-13
These words and all the Word
We love God by loving His Presence, and resorting there often. We enter God’s Presence and can grow in love for Him, by loving His Word. What Moses taught concerning the Law of God – the entire corpus of his writings, Genesis through Deuteronomy – the rest of Scripture echoes concerning the whole of God’s Word.
Scripture describes what it means to love God’s Word. God calls us to feed on His Word (Job. 23.12); to find it the joy and rejoicing of our hearts (Jer. 15.16); to delight in and love the Law and testimonies and statutes and precepts and rules of God (Ps. 119), to meditate in it day and night (Ps. 1), to be sanctified by the Word of truth (Jn. 17.17); to learn all the counsel of God (Acts 20.27); to seek the profit for good works it holds (2 Tim. 3.15-17); to meet and know Jesus in every section and passage (Jn. 5.39; Lk. 24.27); to delight in the sweetness and learn from the bitterness of Scripture (Rev. 10.8-10); to be transformed by the Word (2 Cor. 3.12-18); and to have the Word of God dwelling in us richly, that we may learn, obey, and teach it joyfully (Col. 3.16; Heb. 5.12-14).
Developing this kind of relationship with Scripture is work. Good work. It takes time, demands effort and attention, and requires that we be willing to change; but the rewards such a relationship provides make it well worth the effort. Foundational to all the works God has prepared for us as His redeemed and saved people is the good work of seeking the Lord in His Word. We love God when we love His Word, and as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling in His Word and by His Spirit (Phil. 2.12, 13; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).
But what goes into the work of loving God’s Word? Obviously, merely owning a Bible is hardly any evidence that we love God. It’s a good place to start, however, at developing those disciplines that will enable us to increase in loving God as He intends.
Let’s look briefly at five different kinds of good work we can do in loving God and His Word.
Reading God’s Word
Loving God’s Word begins with reading it. We should think of our reading of God’s Word like Job did – that it was more important to him than his daily food. Developing the daily discipline of reading God’s Word is that key to nurturing love for God. Set aside the time. Adopt a reading plan. Be faithful and diligent to read from the Word every day, and your love for God will grow continuously.
Further, be sure you read all of God’s Word, and that you read it over and over again. We can never plumb the depths of Scripture, and there will always be something fresh and new to discover, as well as things familiar to review. Read daily, and read it all; it’s all about Jesus and His love for you.
Meditating on God’s Word
Meditation is slow, contemplative reading. In meditation we focus on a small portion of Scripture within the larger section of our reading. We ponder the themes and messages of the portion, asking questions about each word, looking to the Spirit to direct us to other parts of Scripture, to shed more light on the focus of our meditation. In meditation we pray the Scriptures back to God, rehearsing our insights, raising questions for clarification, and sharing our conclusions and applications with our heavenly Father.
Meditation can be greatly enhanced by journaling, even if it’s just making marginal notes in your Bible. The discipline of writing keeps you slowed down in reading and reinforces important observations and insights that, because you have written them down, you can review again and again.
In studying Scripture we search and dig for deeper meanings; make important connections with other portions of Scripture; and tease out specific applications for daily living. We try to see how the passage we’re studying fits into the overall context of the book in which it appears, the time when it was written, and the overarching narrative of Scripture as a whole.
In studying Scripture we will ask more probing questions, consult others (such as teachers and writers), and connect what we’re learning from this portion of Scripture with similar lessons elsewhere. We might bring in a wide range of tools to aid us, such as study guides, Bible dictionaries, commentaries and devotional guides, and a thorough concordance. The more we study Scripture, the more what we learn will sink into our souls; and the more we’ll realize just how much more of Scripture there is to learn.
Memorizing God’s Word
Memorizing Scripture can help to set the Word more firmly in our soul, so that it’s ready in our minds, shaping our affections, and establishing right priorities for our lives. The key to memorizing Scripture is simple: repetition, repetition, repetition.
Write out the verse you want to remember, and recite it aloud frequently, each time adding a little more of the verse to your memory, until you have the whole of it, word perfect. Rehearse the verses you’ve memorized when a few moments in your day allow it, and you’ll keep them fresh and ready to help guide, encourage, or prompt you for whatever the Spirit wants.
Sharing God’s Word
We should all be teachers of the Word of God, as we have seen. This begins by sharing with others what we’re learning – new insights from our reading, lessons from our study, applications we’re working to master, and new verses we’re memorizing. The more we share Scripture, the more Scripture takes deep root in our soul, where it works with God’s Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ.
All this reading, meditating, studying, memorizing, and sharing of God’s Word is designed to help us apply and live the Word obediently, trusting God to grow and equip us for ministry, as we let His Word do its living and powerful work in our lives (Heb. 4.12).
We love God by being often in His Presence, and we can be in His Presence by being daily and regularly and ever-more-deeply in His Word. If we love God, we will love His Word.
1. What can you do to improve your time in God’s Word?
2. Why does it make sense that if we love God we will love His Word?
3. How would you help a new believer get started in loving God by loving His Word?
Next steps – Transformation: Review your relationship with God’s Word. Make improvements in each of the five areas mentioned in this article. Give thanks and praise daily for God and His Word.
T. M. Moore
For more detailed guidance in growing to love God’s Word, order a copy of our book, The Joy and Rejoicing of My Heart, by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.