When I first got out of college, I got a job in a town about two hours away from my hometown. There were very few people my age in this small town, and I was a brand new youth pastor waiting to see what God had in store for me. I was floundering for a few months, since I had no friends my age and knew very few Christians outside of my church. However, I was lucky to have some older women in the church who looked out for me and took me under their wing. One in particular knew that I needed to be grounded in the Word and invited me to a Bible study with her. I had been reading the Bible and memorizing verses for years, but I had never really studied the Bible in depth to see what it said. At this inductive Bible study, I fell in love with Scripture—and the need to study it became a serious part of my life.
The spiritually healthy habit of getting into Scripture is an important one! In my opinion, there are three ways to get into the Word, and all three should be practiced consistently:
- Get into the Word by reading it. This is the very first step to getting into the Word. The Bible is a love letter written by God to humanity. If you are in a relationship with God but not reading the Bible, it is like being in a relationship with a human being but not reading letters they write you. It’s quite simple: reading the Word—even just a little bit every day—helps you get to know your Creator and His desires for you! Jesus said that we should live by God’s Word as if it is food to sustain us (Matthew 4:4). If you haven’t been reading the Bible every day, you can start with a very simple plan, either by YouVersion or you can buy a hard copy and being to read a few verses or chapters each day. But the mandate is clear: to know God, we must read His Word.
- Get into the Word by studying it. Studying means taking the Word apart, comparing the Word to the Word. I don’t mean reading a book about the Bible, but studying the Word itself. What does the original Hebrew or Greek word mean? Where is this word or phrased used elsewhere in the Bible? And when you study the Word, do it with others for accountability! Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Scripture doesn’t just discern our own intentions and thoughts, it shows us God’s intentions and heart in comparison. When we study the living and active Word, we are learning more about ourselves and our God. In other words, to understand God, we must study His Word.
- Get into the Word by meditating on it. To meditate on something means to “think deeply, to focus one’s mind for a period of time.” This is where I fall short the most. Meditating on Scripture is difficult for me because it means taking the time to be totally silent and to turn a Scripture or passage over in my mind so I can absorb it. Lately, I try to practice it along with reading. The Psalms say that we should meditate on Scripture day and night (1:2; 119:97; 119:48). Why meditate? Because when we get silent, listen, and turn Scripture over in our minds, that is when we can clearly hear the voice of God, which tends to come in the quiet (see 1 Kings 19:11-13). That means that to hear God, we must meditate on His Word.
I hear many Christians complaining about knowing God, understanding God, and hearing God—and my first question is always, “Are you spending time in the Word?” We need to read, study, and meditate on the beautiful love letter that God has written us so we can become spiritually healthy! What one way will you choose to get into the Word today?