discipleship

Destined for Transformation

cocoon-butterfly-insect-animal-39862.jpeg

BY DAVE STEEL

In his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, John Ortberg introduces us to a cranky old guy named Hank. Judgmental and joyless, complaining and contemptuous, he’s “the man who never changed.” “But even more troubling than his lack of change,” says Ortberg, “was the fact that nobody was surprised by it.”[1] After all, Hank had spent his whole life in the church.

Some of us have grown so accustomed to the “Hanks” in the church—and our own lack of genuine transformation—that we’ve all but given up on seeing—much less experiencing—a transformed life.

But that’s a bit like enrolling in nursing school without expecting to become a nurse or securing an electrician apprenticeship without any hope of ever being an electrician. Jesus said,

“The student [disciple] is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” (Luke 6:40; italics added)

Jesus’ goal in calling you to follow him is to train you to be like him. This has been God’s plan from the start. As the apostle Paul put it, “Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). Now if you’re anything like me, then becoming Christlike definitely qualifies as a transformation! And this is the point.

If you’re a disciple of Jesus, you’re destined for transformation.

It’s what we signed up for when we said yes to Jesus. But we have to want this transformation if we’re going to experience it in this life. Paul explains the choice before us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). Our metamorphosis depends on our refusing the prevailing mindset of this world, while renewing our minds in the ways of Christ.

While the power for transformation clearly belongs to the Lord (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18), we have a responsibility in seeing it come to fruition. There’s no auto-pilot when it comes to discipleship. If we’re going to navigate a deformed world to our destination of a transformed life, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves. We have to want it enough to make a habit of saying no to the prevailing mindset of this world and yes to what God tells us through his Word and his Spirit.

The process of becoming Christlike may seem slow, but we can draw encouragement from the small victories along the way, like the one my wife pointed out recently. It was Saturday, the day before I was to deliver a sermon at a pastor friend’s church while he was away. I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to finish my message when our twelve-year-old son burst into the room noisily lamenting a computer malfunction that had just ruined his Minecraft video mid-recording, which he had intended to upload to YouTube. He was devastated and wanted me to do something about it. I had no idea how to help, and frankly I was irritated by the interruption. So, with some stern words, I told him he wasn’t handling the situation very well and sent him to his room. I let out a sigh and returned to preparing my sermon on how to live a transformed life. But within a couple minutes I heard myself say to my wife (who was sitting at the same table and heard the whole thing go down), “I guess I didn’t handle that very well either.” I got up and went to my son’s room. I apologized for being impatient with him, and we had a proper conversation about his computer issue.

I sensed something significant had just happened, but it was my wife who later suggested that I had just taken a small step in my own ongoing transformation.

She was right. I'm on my way.

 

[1] John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 29.

The Joy of Trials

BY DAVID STEEL

It’s good to know where to go for solace when you desperately need it. More than once, challenging circumstances have driven me to the first few verses of the epistle of James, where God has met me with fresh perspective and encouragement. Lately, I’ve been ruminating on these verses once again.

The original recipients of James’s letter were Christians scattered by persecution. They knew what it was like to leave their home, their job, and their social network—all at once. While I know nothing of the kind of persecution those early believers experienced, I do know something of the stress of leaving home, job, and social network to step into an unknown future. We’re about to do this again, and that’s what has drawn me back to James’s advice. Sooner or later, all of us who follow Christ are going to need to hear this. James says,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
— James 1:2-4

James could have advised us to be joyful despite our circumstances—to rise above the negative messages that get in the way of reaching our goals. Had James done this, his voice would easily have gotten lost in the sea of advice so prevalent in our culture, as evidenced in so many commencement speeches this time of year. But James is offering something altogether different.

What God holds out to us is not joy despite our trials but joy because of them.

It sounds like a typo, but it’s not. I checked.

James is saying that the reason we should consider our difficult circumstances to be sheer joy is that they provide an opportunity to stretch our faith in God which, in turn, expands our capacity to trust him even more. Hard times create the conditions where faith and perseverance can flourish. And when that happens we start to become spiritually mature. It’s a process that takes time. But stick with it and eventually you’ll start to resemble Jesus more and more. You’ll be a complete, fully formed disciple of Jesus who exhibits all of the virtues he exhibited. Imagine how wise and loving and courageous you would be!  

This perspective on difficult circumstances jars us out of our self-pity and points us to something deeper, more worthwhile, more enduring. It provides a glimpse of who we were meant to be when we’re all grown up. The thought of it emboldens us to embrace with joy the difficult circumstances required to get us there.

Do your work, perseverance. Do your work.

Our Responsibility to Fight Hypocrisy

DAVE STEEL

Have you ever known people who pretended to be virtuous and godly, when in reality they were self-serving and phony? Did their hypocrisy make you angry enough to turn to a public forum to denounce their duplicity? If so, you have something in common with Jesus.

Here’s a sample of what Jesus declared publicly to the hypocrites who would eventually get him crucified:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
— Jesus, Matthew 23:27-28

Jesus hates hypocrisy, and so should we.

But before we post our tirade on social media against the hypocrites in our life, we should consider something else Jesus said about hypocrisy:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
— Jesus, Matthew 7:3-5

Christ’s words should give us pause. He was justified in pressing charges against hypocrites because he himself was free from hypocrisy. We are not.[1] If we’re honest, we have to admit that we fall short of our own standard of morality, let alone Christ’s standard. Whether you’re an atheist or the apostle Peter,[2] we’re all guilty of pretending to be more virtuous than we really are. We’ve all played the hypocrite.

In a strict sense, the accusation that “The church is full of hypocrites” is true. But by the same standard, the entire world is full of hypocrites, including the hypocrites who complain that the church is full of hypocrites.

Pascal reveals our double standard when he writes, “We do not like others to deceive us; we do not think it fair that they should be held in higher esteem by us than they deserve; it is not then fair that we should deceive them and should wish them to esteem us more highly than we deserve.”[3]

What makes someone a hypocrite is not that they lack moral virtue, but that they pretend otherwise.

Most of us already agree with Jesus that hypocrisy is wrong. What we easily forget is that our responsibility to fight it begins with identifying and denouncing whatever self-righteousness we find in our own hearts.

Given time, all true Christ followers rise above hypocrisy. We’ve already admitted our need of forgiveness and transformation in coming to Christ. If we’re truly following him, we’ll become more honest about our need, not less.

 

[1] This, by the way, does not imply that we’re disqualified from ever judging behavior as right or wrong. What the immediate context (Matt. 7:1-5) makes clear is that what is prohibited is not judgment of any sort but hypocritical judgment in particular.

[2] See Gal. 2:11-13.

[3] Blaise Pascal, Pensees and the Provincial Letters (New York, NY: Random House, 1941).

A Question for Assessing Your Spiritual Progress

Pexels

Pexels

By Dave Steel

There’s nothing like a long road trip to create space to reflect. Recently, somewhere between Florida and Illinois, I found myself contemplating my discipleship to Jesus while the rest of the family passed the time in open-mouthed slumber or headphone-transmitted entertainment. (As the designated driver, these options weren’t open to me.) Something about that cross-country trip got me asking an introspective version of the question, “Are we there yet?”

Usually, when someone asks the Are we there yet? question what they really mean is, “Are we making good progress?” If the goal is to be like Jesus (Luke 6:40), then I know I’m not there yet. What I need to know is, Am I making significant progress toward the goal?  

Taking this question seriously can be both difficult and disconcerting—difficult in that it can be a complicated question and disconcerting in that it inevitably strips away our self-righteousness. This should not keep us from facing the question, however. Sometimes we need to take stock of where we are.

While a careful study of Christ’s earthly ministry (such as the one undergirding the Get Discipled series) can reveal a detailed portrait of a fully trained disciple, there is one trait of a mature disciple that stands out among the rest.

When asked to identify the greatest commandment, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:37-40). “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus said “if you love one another” (John 13:35).

It is love that heads the list of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). In fact, the apostle Paul wrote a whole chapter on the priority of love (1 Cor. 13). “If I have a faith that can move mountains,” Paul says, “but do not have love, I am nothing” (v. 2). He concludes the chapter by noting that, “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (v. 13).

In light of such passages, a simple question emerges for assessing our spiritual progress: “Do I love others more now than I did a year ago?”

Am I becoming more patient and kind toward people? Am I less prone to envy and “one-up-manship” than I used to be? Am I seeking to honor others more and myself less? Am I quick to forgive? Do I bring the presence of Christ into my relationships? Am I faithful, thoughtful, hopeful, and loyal toward the people God has put in my life? Could my family vouch for this?

“Do I love others more now than I did a year ago?”

I know I’ve not arrived, but I’m finding that just keeping that question in mind is helping me to be more open to the spiritual progress I seek.

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).

A New Song for a New Year

BY DAVE STEEL

 

We are born homesick—longing for a land and a way of life we have never directly experienced, but which we know is somewhere, or at least ought to exist. —James Wilhoit

 

My family will tell you that I like to tie on the feedbag as much as the next guy. Still, I look forward to New Year’s Day, even though it can’t compete with the more flavorful holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s because, as much as any holiday, New Year’s Day gets me reflecting on what God is doing in my life and where he’s taking me.

Each of us is on a spiritual journey. We’re all headed somewhere. This is just as true for those who rarely think about spiritual things as it is for those who are preoccupied with them. For me, the start of a new year is a chance to reflect on the journey.

I imagine ancient Hebrews doing this during their pilgrimages to the temple, driven by a desire to feel close to God and to pray to him.[1] On their way up to Jerusalem, they would sing “songs of ascent.”[2] Psalm 84 vividly portrays the longing of the pilgrim when it says, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (v. 2). These pilgrims would “go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion” (v. 7). In other words, they were strengthened by God along the way, which is why the psalmist prayed, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage” (v. 5).

The writer of Hebrews explains that they admitted, “they were foreigners and strangers on earth. . . . they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13, 16).

Centuries later, Jesus came proclaiming a kingdom that’s “not of this world” (John 18:36). And when we answered his call to discipleship, we too became spiritual pilgrims in the best sense of the word. We may have experienced surprises and set-backs this year, but like our ancient counterparts we press on, celebrating our progress and anticipating our destination in due time.[3]

Discipleship is a journey, one that fulfills an ancient longing to be with God. We yearn for the heavenly city prepared for us. Along the way, we sing songs of hopeful anticipation.  

My prayer for you is that as you anticipate this new year our Lord would put a new song in your mouth, a hymn of praise to your God (Ps. 40:3).

 

[1]Many of the psalms of the Bible were sung during these pilgrimages up to Jerusalem, fifteen of them (Psalms 120-134) being designated explicitly for this purpose with the label “A song of ascents.”

[2]See Ps. 120-134.

[3]See also Phil. 3:13-14.

What Your Obedience Reveals about Your Heart, Part 1

BY DAVE STEEL

In the New Testament, obedience to Christ is the standard evidence that someone is a true believer. There faith and obedience are inseparable. Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw faith and obedience as so intertwined that he said,

“Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.”[1]

If this is true, then obedience is not optional for a disciple of Jesus. Nor is helping others obey Christ optional for the disciple maker. And since a Christian is both a disciple and a disciple maker, the topic of obedience to Christ must be of utmost importance to us as believers.  

But do you ever find yourself downplaying the importance of obedience in order to steer clear of legalism? Jesus gave us good reason to repudiate legalism when he repeatedly chastised the Pharisees for it. But we need to take care that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. A legalist obeys in order to earn God’s approval. A disciple obeys because he has received God’s grace. The fact that obedience to Christ has been counterfeited in the pursuit of self-righteousness doesn’t make Holy Spirit-driven obedience any less valuable or necessary.  

The apostle Paul alludes to the necessity of obedience when he opens his Epistle to the Romans by describing his apostleship as a mandate to “call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom. 1:5; italics added).  He closes the letter with that same phrase: “the obedience that comes from faith” (Rom. 16:26). In between these two bookends, Paul unpacks what that phrase means, though no one is more concise than the apostle John: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands” (1 John 2:3). Obedience, according to John, is a litmus test for authentic faith in Christ.

James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, devoted an entire chapter of his Epistle to this subject, concluding that, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (Jas. 2:26). Doug Moo explains that James is here saying that, “Faith that is not accompanied by works ceases to be. It becomes mere profession and has no claim to be biblical faith. . . . James is not arguing that works be ‘added’ to faith, but that one possess the right kind of faith, a ‘faith that works.’”[2]

Numerous other passages could be cited, but these will suffice in demonstrating that, in the words of Jonathan Lunde, “Biblical faith inevitably expresses itself in obedience. Where the latter is lacking, the former is most likely illusory.”[3]

So ask yourself, “Do I find in my heart a holy desire to do what Jesus says?” If so, never deny this urge. Trust it. Act on it. It reveals that something supernatural has happened in your heart: you have come to faith in Jesus Christ.   

The urge to obey Christ reveals something else about your heart as well. We’ll address that in my next blog post.

 

[1]Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, rev. ed. (New York, NY: Collier Books, 1963), 69.

[2]Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 144.

[3]Jonathan Lunde, Following Jesus, the Servant King: A Biblical Theology of Covenant Discipleship (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 279.

What Christ Followers Have to Offer a Weary World

BY DAVE STEEL

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29). No doubt our world is just as weary now as it was when Jesus first offered this invitation some two thousand years ago. It was intended for all of us, which is why Christ followers have something to offer this world. 

“The world can get on very well without you and me,” D. L. Moody said, “but the world can not get on without Christ, and therefore we must testify of him.” Jesus’ first disciples did just that, declaring, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). 

This, as it turns out, is Christ’s will for all his followers. Shortly before his ascension to heaven, Jesus solemnly charged his disciples with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). 

This final charge of Jesus is often referred to as “The Great Commission”--and for good reason. Notice that it’s backed by all authority. It extends to all nations. It encompasses everything Jesus commanded. And it remains in effect until the very end of the age. It’s a great commission. It’s our commission.

It means that to follow Christ is not just to know him but to make him known as well. Disciples of Jesus make disciples of Jesus. As Paul told Timothy, “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Writing during the nineteenth century, Charles Spurgeon shared a timeless word about the joy of pursuing this commission: 

Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner, for never did I know perfect, overflowing, unutterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling order till I first heard of one who had sought and found a Savior through my means. I recollect the thrill of joy which went through me! No young mother ever rejoiced so much over her first-born child, no warrior was so exultant over a hard-won victory. Oh! the joy of knowing that a sinner once at enmity has been reconciled to God by the Holy Spirit, through the words spoken by our feeble lips.

If you’re a follower of Christ, you have something significant to offer a weary world. Introduce them to the one who offers rest for our souls. 

What Awaits Us at the End of Our Journey?

BY DAVE STEEL

Why do we spend so much energy pursuing earthly carrots like affluence, accolades, and pleasure when we know these things can’t satisfy our deepest longings? And why is it that these things disappoint us so consistently? 

King Solomon gave us a clue when he said that God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Eccl. 3:11). Nothing temporal will ever truly satisfy us--not money, not the praise of others, not any earthly pleasure, trophy, or commodity. We yearn for something eternal, something transcendent. C. S. Lewis reasoned that, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We were made for heaven. Followers of Jesus rightly consider it their home. Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). The apostle Paul certainly took this promise seriously. He wrote, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20; cf. Heb. 13:14). 

Ultimately, the reward that awaits us at the end of our earthly journey is Jesus himself. He’s what makes heaven so desirable. 

But the biblical writers also spoke of an inheritance that awaits us there. The apostle Peter calls it “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). The apostle Paul adds that the indwelling Holy Spirit serves as a deposit guaranteeing this inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). What these biblical writers are saying is that our heavenly inheritance could not be more secure.

Still, the apostle Paul also spoke of this heavenly prize as something worth striving for. He said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). As Christ followers, we strain toward the finish line not to earn the prize but to claim it. Christ has secured it for us. 

For disciples of Jesus, then, this life is a journey to our true home. What awaits us at the finish line is a joyous reunion with our Savior. There we’ll enter into our heavenly inheritance. Disappointment with the fleeting pleasures of this world will give way to what is eternal, transcendent. Our deepest longings will be satisfied. 

We’re going home! 

The Secret to a Disciple's Resolve

BY DAVE STEEL

At one point in Jesus’ ministry many of his fair-weather followers found his teaching too difficult, so they quit following him. So Jesus asked his closest disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67). That’s when Peter came up with this profound reply: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God?” (vv. 68-69). 

We will always have unanswered questions--sometimes big ones. But there comes a time when we know enough about Jesus to be convinced that he’s our only hope of ever sorting it all out. It’s what keeps us following him when others call it quits. We simply have nowhere else to go. 

In a culture that values having lots of options, it may seem regressive to suggest that there’s only one person to whom we can go for eternal life. On the other hand, there’s something incredibly freeing about being done with dead-end pursuits regarding life’s big questions and discovering what we’ve been looking for all along. In any case, when you’ve just seen Jesus walk on water, as Peter had (John 6:16-21), it seems a little silly to keep your options open in case a more impressive teacher comes along. 

Peter would later testify publicly that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Likewise, the apostle Paul declared that, “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). 

All this is corroborated by Jesus himself, who declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). 

As disciples of Jesus, we may not be able to explain everything Jesus said. We may not understand everything he’s doing even now. We’re still learning, still growing. But regardless of what we still need to learn from him and about him, we know this: Jesus holds the keys to life’s ultimate questions. 

Herein lies the secret to a disciple’s resolve. Even if we’re confounded by something Jesus says, we continue following him because of what we do understand: he has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God.

Where else would we go if not to Jesus? Then again, he’s all we need. 

A Dozen Reasons to Meditate on the Scriptures Often

BY DAVE STEEL

From time to time, we all need to be reminded just how crucial it is to read and reflect on the Scriptures as disciples of Jesus. In case it’s been a while since you’ve thought about it, here are a dozen reasons to meditate often on the Word of God. Let these thoughts stoke your desire to live for Christ.

1.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to listen to the voice of God.

All Scripture is God-breathed . . . (2 Tim. 3:16)
Prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:21)

The Bible is no ordinary book. If you’re fortunate enough to have a copy, you can read the words of God himself!

2.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to embrace what is right and true.

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. (Ps. 33:4)
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)

What is truth? Only by squarely facing this question can we live well. Jesus said that the Bible is truth.

3.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to reveal the true state of your heart.

The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

Don’t be surprised if you start becoming more honest with yourself when you take time to reflect on Scripture. That’s what it’s supposed to do.  

4.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to invite God’s blessing into your life. 

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Josh. 1:8)

For a Christ follower, the obedient life and the successful life our bound together. Meditating on the Scriptures in order to obey what it says is a formula for true success.  

5.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to equip yourself to resist sin.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. (Ps. 119:9)
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Ps. 119:11)

How will you keep your heart from being stained by the evil of this world and by your own sinful desires? Scripture keeps us on the right path.

6.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to build your life on bedrock.

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matt. 7:24-25)

How will you prepare for the storms of life? Meditate on the Scriptures and you’ll be shoring up your foundation to withstand whatever comes your way.

7.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to anchor your life in what’s reliable and enduring.

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Ps. 119:89)
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matt. 24:35)

Want to leave an enduring legacy? Scripture will teach you how to live for what lasts.

8.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to feed your spiritual growth.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet. 2:2)

When an infant’s growth is stunted due to lack of nutrition, doctors call it “failure to thrive.” Tragically, this also happens in the spiritual realm when we neglect God’s Word.

9.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to shine a light on where you’re going.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Ps. 119:105)

Have you ever felt like you were in a dark cave, confused and unable to see the way forward? That’s when the Bible becomes a headlamp.

10.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to be trained to serve God well.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

Meditating on Scripture forges our character and trains us in the ways of God.

11.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to fight the good fight.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)

The Bible is the one offensive weapon God gave us to fight off those unseen forces that would discourage and destroy us. We must learn to wield it skillfully.  

12.  To meditate on the Scriptures is to be a faithful conduit of God’s truth.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim. 2:15)

Being a faithful disciple of Jesus includes sharing with others what he’s teaching us. This requires careful listening and learning on our part, which is another reason we meditate on God’s Word.

There are a dozen reasons to meditate on the Scriptures often. Can you think of some others?