In CS Lewis’ classic book The Screwtape Letters a demon, Screwtape, is training his nephew on how to tempt humans. He writes, “whatever their bodies do affects their soul. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: In reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.”
Here is truth.
If Satan can keep the Word of God out of your mind, he will be successful without putting one thought in.
So, how about getting in the Word this summer? I wrote a little devotional called Summer in the Psalms—Book One, which you can download from our church home page. The book of Psalms is divided into five different books, Book One is chapters 1-41.
The purpose is to get everyone us into the Word of God this summer, whether you are camping, watching services from home, or going to a church building. By getting into the Word, I mean into the Bible, not into sermons, not into commentaries, not into YouTube. I love what others have to say about the Bible, but this summer we want to get into the Word. Period.
Warning: This will be more difficult than reading a devotional.
When you read a devotional, someone else has gone through the joy of getting into the Bible, finding cool truth, cutting it up into bite-sized morsels, and feeding it to you. It’s easy eating, but you miss something.
You miss hearing the steak sizzle on the grill. You miss the wonderful smell. You miss cutting in to see the perfect color. You miss biting in.
There is nourishment in pre-chewed steak for sure. But for the joy of discovery, for a renewed relationship with the Author of the Scriptures, nothing beats getting into the word for yourself.
Here is how it works:
Starting MAY 30, we will start going through the Psalms, Book One together. Each week we will go through just one Psalm in detail, then read two or three more over the weekend. Week one we will examine Psalm one. Each day is one small step in evaluating that Psalm so that at the end of the week you can list your discoveries. Each month we will use a different Bible Study Method to go through that one Psalm in detail. The Psalms are printed out in the booklet for you in the NIV, but feel free to use other versions to compare in your study.
Some help for you:
I figured this would be new for many of us, so I put an example of a week’s study below. I chose the first eight verses of Psalms 119, (A Psalm we are not doing this summer) as most of the Psalms we are studying are pretty short.
OK, below is the Psalm just like you will find it printed in the booklet. Then I put the booklet questions in bold type, with an example of possible answers in italics.
Example: Psalm 119:1-8
Ps 119:1 (NIV2011) Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— 3 they do no wrong but follow his ways. 4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. 5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. 8 I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.
DAY 01: Observation: Read Psalms 119:1-8 three times. Don’t try to make conclusions or applications yet, just observe the story. Then either
- Paraphrase it; that is, rewrite it in your own words, or
- Outline it
So, here is my outline
- Blessed Are
- Those who are blameless
- Those who walk according to God’s laws
- Those who keep God’s laws
- Those who seek God
- They do no wrong
- They follow God’s ways
- Your ways are known and to be obeyed
- If I would be steadfast in obeying your decrees
- Then I won’t be put to shame when I read the Bible
- Then I will praise you as I learn the Bible
- I will obey, don’t give up on me.
OR, if I was going to do a paraphrase instead, this is what it might look like:
I’m blessed when I know God’s word and do it. Therefore, I need to know His word and follow it with all my heart. God took the time to tell me how to live, and I will be blameless if I will just follow it. I must persevere in obeying what I learn so that I don’t embarrass myself when I do these devotions. Thank You, Father, for giving me Your laws. I’m going to do what You asked, I know you won’t give up on me when I mess up.
DAY 02: Observation: Write your observations for each verse. Ask yourself, “What is being said?”
Verse 1: I’m blessed and blameless when I follow God’s word.
Verse 2: I’m blessed when I follow with all my heart–not partly but completely.
Verse 3: I can’t do anything wrong when I am following God. That’s pretty cool to know.
Verse 4: God’s laws aren’t suggestions.
Verse 5: If I would just follow consistently that would make all the difference in my life.
Verse 6: Gods word should be encouraging not embarrassing.
Verse 7: I will worship as I do these devotions.
Verse 8: I will obey, period. God will be there to help me, even when I mess up.
Day 03: Interpretation: Write the meaning of each verse or section. Ask, “What does this mean? What is being taught?”
This is the hardest step for me. I would write something like…
I noticed that in the NLT the word that the NIV translates “blessed” is translated “joyful.” So, I think what is being taught is that those who study God’s word and put it into practice bring joy and blessing into their lives. The blessing doesn’t seem to be material or success, but a clean conscience, of following the Spirit and knowing you are pleasing God. It even brings joyful worship as we obey and as we study. As a result, it is foolish not to know and follow the Word of God.
Day 04: Correlation: Find cross-references for what you think is being taught in this Psalm. Is it taught anywhere else? You can use the little notes or references in the margins of your Bible to help.
The first I thought of was the rest of Psalms 119. Every verse seems to have some emphasis back on the Word of God and how it helps us. I also thought of Proverbs, those verses about God’s wisdom, and Deuteronomy 6 about training our kids in God’s word. Then I cheated and googled “obeying God’s word verses.” A few I found that seemed to really fit were;
- Dt 28:1 (NIV2011) If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
- Jn 14:23 (NIV2011) Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
- Jas 1:22 (NIV2011) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
- Ro 12:2 (NIV2011) Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Day 05: Application: Start three sentences with “I will…” You can also try praying the Psalm, it may be easiest to pray your paraphrase.
I prayed my paraphrase. Starting with; Heavenly Father I know I’m blessed when I know Your word and do it. Therefore, I will keep up this study this summer and follow with all my heart…
It may look like a lot but remember this is five days’ worth of study. It really doesn’t take that long. And remember, you only need it to impact you, no one else. This isn’t for a grade; it’s for relationship.
Here is truth.
If you can keep the Word of God increasing in your mind, you will be successful without worrying about what you need to keep out.