I am a firm believer in systematic approaches to taking in the Bible, the word of God. Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt 4:4). That was Jesus’ view of the Scriptures, and He said that in the context of being tempted by the devil. Suffice it to say, His disciples need to be readers, students, and memorizers of His word.
A couple of years ago I developed an approach to Scripture out of an acronym, because everything holy has to be boiled down to an acronym (kidding!). I call it to “RPM” approach to the Bible. Think of it as the way in which we “rev up our spiritual engines” (sorry). As Christians, we are to READ the Bible, PURSUE the meaning, and MEDITATE and MEMORIZE the word of God.
Have a plan on how to attack the Scriptures every day. Last year I read 3-4 chapters a day in the Old Testament and one chapter per weekday of the New Testament. I plan on doing something similar this year. Here is a copy of 2011 NT Reading Plan. If you are interested in a year long plan through the whole Bible in canonical order, check out Denny Burk’s plan. The LiveVersion iPhone app also has several plans. Use mine, use someone else’s, use your own. Just read the word.
Pursue the Meaning
As believers we are called not only to read God’s word but to understand it. All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). To just read the Bible is to treat it like any other book. We are called to go beyond that, that we might know our God and He might make Himself known.
Something I have found helpful is to take a Moleskine Cahier journal (you can get these at Barnes & Noble or other bookstores), or something like it, and use it as a notebook as I pick out one book of the Bible and give my attention to it for several months, or even a whole year. Buy resources (good commentaries and such) to help with this, so that by the end of six to twelve months, or however long you decide to do it, you know that particular book a lot better than you used to.
Meditate and Memorize the Word
The psalmist declares, “Oh how I love Your law! It is my mediation all the day” (Ps 119:97). The discipline of Scripture meditation is by and large lost in modern evangelicalism. At the same time, we need to be memorizing Scripture. It is simply a practical way in which we can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a means by which God sanctifies us in time and space as Scripture comes to mind, especially in tough times (see also Jesus in the wilderness).
Again, I say get a Moleskine Cahier journal and address both meditation and memorization. I came across this “Memory Moleskine” idea a couple of years ago. It is extremely useful if you are interested in memorizing an entire book. This year there is a group going through Philippians using this method. I, personally, am taking the last couple of days of the year to decide if I want to join them or go with a different book. You don’t have to do it this way, but it’s one good way you can go about meditation and memorization.
Is RPM a corny acronym? Absolutely. Is this approach to the word of God a healthy and vibrant multi-faceted approach to what we live by (Matt 4:4)? Absolutely. I pray you’ll consider it for 2011, but even moreso I pray that God will use His word to affect His purpose for His glory in your life.