Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee. (Psalm 119:11)
If we wish to be blameless (Psa. 119:1), if we hope to be blessed (Psa. 119:2), if we desire to live righteously (Psa. 119:3), if we want a shame free life (Psa. 119:6), if we long for lives marked by a spirit of thanksgiving (Psa. 119:7), if we want to be marked by purity (Psa. 119:9), and if we long to prevent apostasy or wandering from the true faith (Psa. 119:10), then we must treasure God’s Word in our hearts. This is the remedy to overcome sin in thought, word, and deed. The first core value1 is Scripture saturation. To treasure something is to hold it in high regard. I treasure my wife, children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. I treasure my health. I treasure my close friends. I treasure my books. That is, I go to great lengths to preserve and improve those things dear to me. You, no doubt, do the same.
So to treasure God’s Word in our hearts, in the very essence of our being, is to be very careful to take it into our lives and to act upon it (Matt. 7:24-27). In light of the multitudinous ways our minds, eyes, ears, and consequently our hearts are bombarded with error, it is vital that we become soaked, saturated, satiated with Scripture. You cannot get enough Bible. Jeremiah says that he found and ate the words of God, that they became the joy and delight of his heart (Jer. 15:16). Jesus said that we live by the Word of God (Matt. 4:4). The writer to the Hebrews calls it a sharp and two-edged sword that pierces the division between soul and spirit and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the human heart (Heb. 4:12). David said that it was his meditation all day long (Psa. 119:97).
What, then, do I mean by ‘Scripture saturation’ and how do we do it? Every Christian ought to set aside some time every day, preferably in the morning (Psa. 5:3), to read God’s Word in a systematic fashion. There are many tools available to help you with this.2 However the manner in which you read it is vital. Reading the Bible merely to get through the reading of the day, to check it off your ‘to do’ list is no good. To read it merely for its literary value will not feed your soul either. And, reading it only with your mind short-circuits its sanctifying power in your life. Instead you are to read the Bible in ‘3D’, with your mind, heart, and will. You are to read your daily allotment of Scripture as though you are reading it for the first time. You are to read it existentially – put yourself into the life situation of the text. When you read 1 Samuel 17, David’s battle with Goliath, vividly see the story in your mind. Ask God to cause you to come alive to the text by the Spirit. And after you have read the passages for the day, ask yourself this question, ‘So what?’ What does this mean practically for me this day? With the acrostic SPECK, you can ask more specifically – is there any sin to avoid, is there any promise to claim, is there any example to follow, is there any command to obey, and is there any new knowledge of God, of myself, or of the world that I learned today and what difference can this make in my life?
And since the Word of God treasured in our hearts keeps us from sin and promotes righteous living, does it not stand to reason that we ought to be in the Word several times per day? William Wilberforce, the great emancipator of the slaves, spent an hour in the morning, an hour at noon, and an hour at night soaking his mind, heart, and will in the Word of God. He often recited all one hundred and seventy-six verses of Psalm 119 on his nightly walk home from the British Parliament. Perhaps you should find the time to read two chapters of the Bible in the morning, one at lunch-time, and one in the evening.
But I suggest true Scripture saturation is also aided by Scripture memorization. Early in my Christian life, while Bill Gothard was speaking to fifteen thousand people at a time, for a full week3, I remember being amazed at the amount of Scripture he had committed to memory. I have sought to follow his example for the last thirty-six years. It is much harder today than it was in the beginning, but setting aside time each morning for daily memorization work and systematically reviewing chapters I have learned in the past has been a wonderful encouragement to me.
While you are driving to work, while you are exercising, or while you are working around the house download sermons from great preachers and listen to them. Pray for your pastor that he may be gripped by God’s Word so that he may preach it to you in the power of the Spirit. Go to church each Lord’s Day expecting to hear a word from God. And finally, spend a few minutes a day reading great Christian literature. There is so much wonderful material available to us today – from the Reformers of the sixteenth century, to the Puritans of the seventeenth century, to the great revival preachers and theologians of the eighteenth century, to the godly men and women of the last two centuries. But read and listen with a distinct purpose – to have the Word grip your mind, heart, and will so that you may become more and more like Jesus. Because the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, and inspired Word of God, it is your lifeline. Soak your soul in it.
- I see at least eight core values for any true servant of Christ – Scripture saturation, meditation, adoration, supplication, sanctification, propagation, proclamation, and consecration. I hope to take these up one by one in these devotionals.
- I have long used the M’Cheyne reading diary published by Banner of Truth which lists every day in the year with generally four chapters to read daily, taking you through the Old Testament once, and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
- The Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts was a remarkable movement of God. While none of us would agree wholeheartedly with all that was taught there, nonetheless many wonderful principles were taught that have helped thousands.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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