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Christian Living

How to Meditate on God’s Word

Discover How to Get More from Your Time Spent with Scripture

Reading and studying the Bible is a great start to better understanding Scripture and the truth in holds. I highly recommend daily Bible reading and encourage everyone to do so—both those who follow Jesus and those who are curious about him. But to get even more from a passage, the key is to meditate on God’s Word.

Though I read the Bible every day and study Scripture most every day, I don’t meditate on it as often as I should or as often as I’d like to. But when I do, the insights I get are profound.

That’s why I wish I’d spend more time to meditate on God’s Word. Emphasize the word time. It takes time to meditate on Scripture.

Though I schedule time to read the Bible—and relish my investment in learning more about God and myself, meditating on the passage requires more time and—though the reward is sweeter—the results aren’t as vast, just deeper.

Here are my tips to achieve the best outcomes when we meditate on God’s word:

Read Slowly

The first key is to slow down. I learned this when studying the gospel of John while researching and writing my book Living Water. To grasp meaning from John’s poetic writing required that I slowed down from my regular reading pace to allow the words to sink in.

Decreasing our speed is even more important when we meditate on God’s Word. We must slow down and be deliberate. Focus on each phrase of each sentence, even each word.

Consider its significance and what its presence may teach. This is how we get insight we’d normally miss reading at our normal pace.

Read Over and Over

The second key is repetition. This is not a rote reading to log a certain number of reps but an intentional rereading to get more from the text.

Though when reading slowly, I sometimes reread a sentence to make sure I haven’t missed something, this rereading is different. It’s examining the same passage on multiple days, with each pass revealing more insight into the text.

Some people recommend rereading the same text seven times, one day each week. Yet seven isn’t a magic number when we meditate on God’s Word. It’s more of a guideline.

Sometimes new truths emerge on my fourth or fifth read, while other times I gain a deeper understanding on my tenth pass.

This requires patience, which may be the reason few people invest the time to meditate on God’s Word.

Pause to Reflect

Next, don’t rush from one phrase or sentence to the next. Instead, pause to consider the words. Yes, we may have already determined our primary understanding of the text, but consider a fresh perspective, a secondary meaning, or a deeper truth.

The Bible is multilayered with significance buried within, but it takes digging to find it. This is why we must be willing to pause from our reading and consider carefully what we’ve just read.

Write Observations

Record the insights we uncover as we meditate on God’s Word. This may be in a journal or computer file. Having spent several decades immersing myself into Scripture, I have a computer document for each book of the Bible and have notes for each chapter of each book.

Don’t let my lifetime of results, however, intimidate you from beginning. Remember, I once started with nothing.

Instead, let my outcome encourage you to envision what you can achieve if you commit yourself to meditating on a regular basis.

When we seek direction from the Holy Spirit, our insights become much greater. Click To Tweet

Seek Holy Spirit Guidance

My parting tip is not the final one but instead an overarching principle. Each step for meditating on God’s Word requires seeking Holy Spirit guidance if we are to achieve the best results.

Yes, these first four tips do produce results if we rely on our own intellect, but when we seek direction from the Holy Spirit, our insights become much greater.

Whether we’re reading, studying, or meditating on God’s Word, the Holy Spirit can amplify what we’re doing. Jesus told his disciples that the Father would send them an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to teach them all things (John 14:26).

Just as the Holy Spirit taught Jesus’s followers 2,000 years ago, he can teach us today. All we need to do is ask him to speak to us and guide us when we meditate on God’s Word.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Meditating on God’s Word

Our Actions Are Birthed Through Our Thoughts

It’s essential to read the Bible, but beyond that we should also study Scripture. Even more important, however, is meditating on God’s Word. This is because when we meditate on what the Bible says, it changes what we think about, which affects what we do.

Read the Bible

As followers of Jesus, we learn more about him and how to be his disciples through Scripture. By reading the Bible we get a glimpse into the life of Jesus to see what he said and what he did. Then we can emulate his actions and obey his teachings to become more Christlike.

Study Scripture

Reading the Bible is a great start. I do it every day and encourage everyone to do with as well. Yet beyond reading God’s holy word is to examine it. We should study Scripture.

In the Old Testament we see Ezra devoting himself to studying the law, that is the Jewish Scripture—the Old Testament of the Bible—specifically the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (Ezra 7:10).

In the New Testament, Jesus commends the Jews for their diligent study of the scriptures, which testify about him (John 5:39). Today we have both the Old and New Testaments for us to read and study so we can learn more about Jesus—and about God.

Meditating on God’s Word changes what we think about, which affects what we do. Click To Tweet

Meditate on God’s Word

Studying scripture is a rewarding endeavor, but we must make sure we don’t do it to amass knowledge but to inform our understanding of God. Paul warns the church in Corinth to pursue love over knowledge, saying that knowledge puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1).

Though the context of Paul’s instruction is about food sacrificed to idols, his warning to not allow ourselves to become proud over our knowledge is a warning we should all heed. We don’t want to take pride in our knowledge about the Bible, to become puffed up by what we know.

Instead, we should take the next step and meditate on it. We should hide God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). We do this as we read, study, and meditate on the Bible.

Studying Scripture puts the Bible’s words in our minds; meditating on God’s Word puts it in our hearts. This is where it needs to be; this is where it must be if we are to apply what we read in the Bible to what we do and say.

Drive Our Actions

As we meditate on the Bible—as we hide God’s Word in our hearts—the desired outcome is that we won’t sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Though meditating on God’s Word won’t make us sinless, it will help us to sin less.

This is because what we put into our minds influences what comes out of our mouths and what our body does. Meditating on God’s Word changes what we think about, which affects what we do.

The old computer saying is GIGO—garbage in garbage out. What we enter into a computer is what we can expect to get out of it.

The same is true in our lives. If we fill our minds with junk—with the thoughts of the world, evil, and ideas contrary to the Word of God—that’s what we can expect our minds and our bodies to produce.

Yet if we fill our mind with the thoughts of God, by meditating on God’s Word, we can expect a positive and God-honoring result.

May it be so.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Ways to Access the Bible

Don’t Take Scripture for Granted

Each morning I began my day by reading and meditating on God’s Word. I use a printed copy of Scripture for this. Throughout the day, however, as I write about the Bible, I go online to research and study. I use BibleGateway.com. On Sunday I don’t carry a printed Bible to church, but I do carry God’s Word with me electronically. I use the YouVersion app.

This means that most of my ways to access the Bible are online.

My friend William recently reminded me of the importance of having the written Word of God. In this time of hyper vigilance, the app store could remove Bible apps from their repository. Even worse, powers hostile to Scripture could restrict or even eliminate our access to online resources.

It’s a chilling thought. It’s also not that farfetched. It could happen. Here are four ways to access the Bible. May we strive to maintain all four.

1. The Printed Word of God

As my astute friend pointed out, having a printed copy of the Bible is the best solution should we lose our access to online Scripture resources and apps. I have several copies of God’s Word at my house. I use one every day and consult the others occasionally. But I don’t value the diversity of Scripture that I have at home because I can readily access it online—at least for now.

This is a reminder to treasure the printed word of God.

2. Access the Bible Online

When we access the Bible online, it’s convenient and fast. I’ll continue to use it for as long as I can. And I’ll be more appreciative of it, knowing that it can be taken away in an instant.

3. Digital Version of Scripture

I recently downloaded a public domain copy of Scripture on my computer. It’s the WEB (World English Bible). It’s nice to have an electronic version of Scripture on my computer and backed up in multiple places—just as I meticulously backup copies of the books I’m writing.

It would be devastating to lose one of my books. It would be even more disastrous to lose the electronic copy of my Bible.

May we hide God’s Word in our hearts. Click To Tweet

4. Our Hearts

I take each of these three options for granted, having easy access to anyone of them at about any moment. Yet I know each one could be taken away. History shows that to be true. What then are we to do?

The psalmist writes that he has hidden God’s Word in his heart (Psalm 119:11). This is the surest way to make sure we can always access it.

Access the Bible

May we read and study the Bible. And as we do, may we hide God’s words in our hearts.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Celebrate the Gospel of John

Slow Down to Appreciate the Poetic Rhythm and Evocative Style of the Apostle John

I once quipped that the book of John was my fourth favorite biography of Jesus in the Bible. Another time I wrote about the Ten Most Difficult Books in the Bible. To the dismay of many, I included the Gospel of John in my list.

Given this, it may seem surprising that I’ve written a devotional Bible study about the book of John, called Living Water.

I embarked upon this effort because readers requested it, and the Holy Spirit confirmed that I was to do so. As I studied the Gospel of John more thoroughly so that I could write about it, God grew my appreciation for the apostle’s words.

I learned quite quickly that the key to embrace his evocative writing and poetic rhythm, was to slow down. Slowing down is sometimes hard for me.

Though I can read Matthew, Mark, and Luke at a normal pace and glean much from those words, that reading speed left me frustrated with John. What I needed to do to better appreciate his words was to read slower, to mull over one phrase before moving on to the next.

Though I always strive to meditate on Scripture as I study it, embracing John required that I be more intentional.

Once I slowed down, however, the profound beauty of John’s words became immediately apparent to me. Even though I’ve read John’s good news at least twenty times in my life, this last reading stands out as the best by far.

This is all because I took my time to really contemplate each word, each phrase, and each sentence to better comprehend its meaning.

When I did this, God’s Holy Spirit guided me in drafting my book, Living Water, about the Gospel of John. I’m most pleased with the results. It’s one of the most personally rewarding books I’ve written. I’m proud of those words, which I hope is a God-honoring pride.

Once I slowed down the profound beauty of John’s words became immediately apparent to me. Click To Tweet

Given what I’ve learned—that I needed to slow down to appreciate John’s writing style and profound content—it’s wise to go back and do the same thing with the other nine on my list of challenging books in the Bible. Indeed, I’ve already done this with Isaiah and am in the process of doing so with Revelation.

This is a good reminder of what Paul wrote to Timothy when he said that all Scripture comes from God and is useful to teach and train us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Yes, every book of the Bible is beneficial, if we will but take the time to appreciate it.

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Should We Meditate on God’s Word?

As We Read the Bible May We Imagine All God Has in Store for Us

I’ve always been wary of meditating. It seems so mystical, so ungodly. This is because I encountered the idea of meditation from Eastern religions, not biblical Christianity. Though there are many types of meditation, I’ve heard most about transcendental meditation. As I understand it, the goal is to push aside all thought, to empty our minds.

Two Concerns about Meditation

Emptying my mind of all thought alarms me for two reasons, so I won’t meditate in this manner. First, the Bible says to hold every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5). It doesn’t say to empty our minds of all thoughts, but to control them.

Second is when Jesus teaches about impure spirits. He warns against an impure spirit that finds a house (a mind) unoccupied and clean. It goes out and rounds up it’s even more wicked friends to go there to live, making the person even worse off than before (Matthew 12:43-45).

These are the two biblical reasons why I won’t empty my mind of thought.

What the Bible Says about Meditation

Just because we best know this concept of meditation from Eastern religions doesn’t mean it’s not in Scripture. The word meditate occurs eighteen times in the Bible, with meditation showing up three more, in the NIV. A recurring theme in these verses is to meditate on God’s Word and on God’s goodness.

Meditate on God’s Word or Imagine?

In Psalm 1:2, the writer proclaims blessings on those who delight in God’s law, who meditate on it day and night. Though most translations use the word meditate, other versions say ponder, study, recite, think about, and focus. When I read the Bible, I ponder it, study it, recite it, think about it, and focus on it. Given these alternate understandings, I’m happy to meditate on God’s Word.

Now let’s turn to the next chapter in Psalms. It talks about people with evil intent. Various translations of Psalm 2:1 describe this action as devise, plot, and make. Some versions, however, use the word meditate, with others saying imagine.

May we meditate on God’s Word. Click To Tweet

Do the words imagine and meditate mean the same thing? I understand that the Hebrew word translated meditate in Psalm 1:2 is the same word that’s translated imagine in Psalm 2:1. This suggests that as we meditate on God’s Word, we can imagine what it means, how we can understand it, and the ways it can inform our lives.

The word imagine also occurs elsewhere in the Bible. In Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he talks about God being able to do even more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Meditate on that.

I have a good imagination. I can imagine additional details for the various stories we read in the Bible. I can also imagine myself in those ancient situations and doing today what God tells us to do.

May our meditations on God’s Word use our imagination to amplify its impact.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Form a Habit of Regular Bible Reading

Hide God’s Word in Your Heart

God gave us the Bible so that we might learn about him and draw closer to him. While some people think of the Bible as God’s instruction manual for right living and proper performance, I think of it more as a love letter.

Because God loves us (Romans 5:8) and wants us to be in relationship with him, he adoringly provides the Bible to us to guide us and draw us to him. The Bible, along with Holy Spirit guidance, stands as God’s greatest resource for us to live a life worth living for our Lord’s honor and glory.

All we need to do is read its words.

How’s that going for you? This isn’t a question to make you feel guilty. It’s a gentle prod to encourage you to embrace regular Bible reading. Just as we need food to sustain us physically, we need a regular helping of God’s Word to sustain us spiritually.

Read and Study Scripture

How you go about immersing yourself in God’s Word is up to you, as guided by the Holy Spirit. But don’t leave this to chance, because if you do, life’s issues will push Bible reading aside and you’ll never find time to do it. Instead be intentional.

Form a habit of daily Bible reading, study, and meditation.

Schedule time each day to read God’s Word. Commit to doing this daily until it becomes a habit, as natural as eating and sleeping.

You may want to use a daily devotional or Bible study to lead you in immersing yourself in Scripture. Or you may opt to follow a daily reading plan that will intentionally and methodically guide you into reading and ingesting large sections of Scripture over time.

This will produce a holistic understanding of its contents. The main thing is to have a plan for reading the Bible, and follow that plan.

Though I’ve used daily devotionals and Bible studies to direct my reading of God’s Word, I prefer a daily reading plan. There are several Bible reading plans to choose from, and I have four options for you to consider.

An Annual Bible Reading Plan

I like to read the entire Bible each year. This includes reading the sections I like and the sections I struggle with. This is so that in one year I’ll complete a comprehensive survey of the entire Bible.

It only takes twelve to fifteen minutes a day. But this is a small commitment to help us grow in our faith and pursue a healthy spiritual life.

A New Testament Bible Reading Plan

If reading the entire Bible in a year, carving out a quarter of an hour each day, seems like too much of a commitment, I get it. I’ve been there. How about three to four minutes each weekday? That’s how much time it will take to read the New Testament in one year.

An Old Testament Bible Reading Plan

If you’ve read the New Testament and want to expand your Bible reading, but aren’t ready to embark on reading the entire Bible, consider a thorough look at the Old Testament. By reading ten to twelve minutes a day, you can read the Old Testament in one year.

Monthly Bible Reading Plans

If none of these options feel like the right fit for you and you want to start out small—or start midyear—consider a monthly Bible reading plan. This is a great way to get started in regularly reading the Bible.

Any Bible reading is better than no Bible reading. Click To Tweet

Pick a Plan and Commit

There are a lot of options to reading the Bible. Pick one and commit to it. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Any Bible reading is better than no Bible reading. Remember, God gave us the Bible so we can learn more about him and be in relationship with him.

This is the most important relationship we’ll ever have. Don’t squander it

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Meditating on God

The word meditate is a verb. Verbs are action words; they are doing words. To mediate means to reflect on; to contemplate; to think about something deeply (especially spiritual matters).

I often meditate on what God tells me in the Bible and through his Spirit. The result of one such season of meditation culminated in some insight that I passed on in my post, “God is Omni.” In it I shared three characteristics of God and made three corresponding conclusions about our relationship to him.

Interestingly, the first two conclusions occurred to me quite quickly, while the third did not show up for several months.

During that time, I would periodically meditate the three “omni” characteristics of God and the two insights he had given me, pondering—meditating—on what I was sure would be a third insight. Then one day, God revealed it to me.

Had I not been meditating on it, I am quite sure it would have remained hidden. More recently I began meditating on the phrase “tree of life.” I will share more about that next week, as I continue to cogitate—that is, meditate—on it.

When I was meditating on God’s “omni” characteristics, it was generally for less than a minute at a time, but occurred almost every morning. Then one day the sought after insight was suddenly given. Other times, I will meditate while in prayer, asking God for his input—and then listening.

On still other occasions, I jot down ideas that I revisit from time to time, adding any new thoughts that have been revealed. Lastly, I meditate by writing, be if for a book, a blog, an article, or a journal entry.

However, regardless of the form that my meditations may take, the eventual result is always a deeper and more fuller understanding of God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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