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Applying the Bible

The initial working title for this post was “Don’t read your Bible”. I was talked out of it – it’s a bit too much of a click-bait, because what I really mean is “Don’t just read your Bible”. The book of Psalms starts like this:

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law [lit. “torah”, instruction] of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

Don’t just read your Bible. Many Christians throughout history either wouldn’t have been able to read, or wouldn’t have had a Bible TO read. We are so privileged in our generation to have access to the Bible in our mother tongue and the ability to read it, not to mention a wealth of resources to help us read it well! But reading it isn’t enough. Don’t just read your Bible but instead, meditate on God’s word. This, according to Psalm 1, is how to be blessed!

When we see that word meditation we often think of emptying our minds, but Bible meditation is the opposite of that. The blessed man meditates on something – the law or instruction of the Lord. He doesn’t empty his mind. He fills his mind with God’s word.

And he does so day and night – the bar is high! The blessed man’s mind is full of God’s word at all times. It is planted deep in him and grows until it fills all areas of his life. Very different to what often passes for our “quiet time”, a bleary eyed skim read of 3 chapters and a psalm every day before work, or whatever it might be.

Double-minded

The book of James describes the danger for the Christian of being double minded”, literally “two-souled”. This means that it is possible to genuinely believe the gospel and be a friend of God on the one hand, but to live in ways that are inconsistent with what we believe on the other. We can behave not like friends of God but like friends of the world, blending in with the ideas, values and behaviours that surround us – whether that’s in our attitudes towards money or career or sex, in our priorities and what we want out of this life, in how we spend our time and our energy, or in the way we treat other people. These behaviours don’t come from nowhere. They come from worldly thinking – thinking the way the world around us does. Worldly thinking produces worldly behaviour, and so our thinking needs to change. Hence the need not to just read our Bibles, but to meditate on God’s word.

How do we actually do this? Over the next few days we’re going to look back over some of the big truths we’ve seen in Mark’s gospel over the past few Sundays, and begin to meditate on them. And we’re going to do this together as a church family. In Mark, we’ve seen lots about the Lord Jesus, about ourselves, about what it means to follow him, about our need to be served by him, and about his coming again in judgment. But we don’t want to just be hearers of the word, we want to be doers. We don’t want to be double-minded, friends of God on the one hand but trying to be friends with the world on the other. We want to be like the man of Psalm 1, delighting in and meditating on the truths of God’s word.

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