10 Ways to Take in the Word

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Christians are people of the Book where “Thus saith the Lord” and “It is written” are found throughout.

God’s Word began with the cosmic, creative speaking of the Father, came to earth in the Living Word that is the Son, and was inspired as the written Word of the Bible by the Spirit — one matchless revelation! It is to our everlasting benefit that we receive it today, and every day. Here’s how.

  1. Read it silently, just for yourself.Get a reading plan and get started — just one proverb or one psalm a day will do to begin with. As a teenager, I accepted the National FYC’s challenge to take in a chapter a day, with prayer. I’ve missed more than a few days along the way, but what a difference it has made in my life over the long run! God’s Word has been a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).
  2. Read it aloud so you can hear it. This engages more of you in the process — ears and eyes. It doubles the likelihood that grace and truth get into your mind and heart. Faith, says Romans 10:17, comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. When you read the Word aloud, faith is sure to follow.
  3. Read and hear it in groups — like family Bible readings, like interactive small group studies, and in larger meetings where one preaches or teaches the Word while others listen and learn. People do not live well by bread alone, but by every precious word from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
  4. Read or hear it electronically on your phone or talking Bible, on radio or television, or on your latest device. Fair warning: Modern electronics come with a million distractions, many of them a hazard to spiritual health. If we don’t use our devices primarily for positive purposes, like taking the pure milk to “grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2), we are better off without them.
  5. Read it in good literature — like the BA and other faith-based magazines or books in which words of grace and truth are among the main ingredients. To those for whom the Living Word is the true Light of the world, illumination of that reality shines forth in a thousand places.
  6. Sing it. The Psalms and many other verses have been set to music with familiar tunes. Along with their Bibles, more than a few devout Christians carry a hymnbook with them. Most or all great gospel and church music is Bible based. When the word of Christ dwells in us richly, then singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with grace in our hearts to the Lord happens often (Colossians 3:16).
  7. Study it. Bible lessons for personal growth are widely available. Or do it yourself, like this: With Bible, pen, and paper at hand, read Genesis 1:1-3; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3. Jot your take on the main teachings of this classic trio of texts. How are they alike? How does each add to the other two? With a concordance, locate other verses with the word word; list five from each Testament that speak to you. Then read Acts 17:11 (NIV) to learn why some early Christian believers were “more noble” than others.
  8. Memorize it. A basic level of biblical recall is having read and heard a passage often enough that it rings familiar when you hear or read it again. That’s good. The next level is having the passage so fully and indelibly written on your heart-mind by the Spirit that you can say the whole thing without peeking. That’s memorization. Here’s what the psalmist said that the Bible on the inside could do for him: “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Either God’s Word will keep us from sin, or sin will keep us from His Word.
  9. Meditate on it. After we’ve read and heard the Word to a level of familiarity, then we can recall and re-chew it, mulling it over in our mind. Just as a cow regurgitates her food and contentedly chews her cud for more taste and nutrition, so can we ruminate and meditate on the Word we’ve previously taken. A remarkable Bible promise is that if you consistently meditate on God’s Word with full intent to obey its teaching, “then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
  10. Live it. James, the Lord’s brother, urges that we not be content with merely hearing God’s Word, but follow through to the doing (James 1:22).

Neither reading nor hearing nor singing nor studying nor memorizing nor meditating, nor all of these combined, gets us to the highest purpose of God’s Word. As helpful as each of these may be, they are not ends in themselves but only means to a much greater end. God’s primary goal for His Word will become reality in us when His kids just go do it!

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Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.