We just wrapped up a short, summer series on the Psalms. You can check out the series here. The last Psalm we looked at was Psalm 119; the longest psalm – and chapter – recorded in the Bible. Written as an acrostic using the Hebrew alphabet, the 22 stanzas consisting of eight verses each, Psalm 119 is written as an appreciation for God’s Word. The majority of the 176 verses are written to show the comforting, hope-filled, and powerful words of God.
What stands out about Psalm 119 is the deep passion the author has for the Words of God. It is his hope, his source of strength, and his guide in life. He does not take God’s Word lightly nor does he neglect it. He understands that God’s Word is a necessity in his life.
A recent survey conducted by LifeWay Research shows that Bible engagement is severely lacking in our churches. The research shows that when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent).
So how do we develop within our own hearts a Psalm 119 passion for God’s Word?
We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to give us a passion and delight for God’s Word
Developing a passion for God’s Word is a work of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:17 shows us that the desires of the flesh are at war with the desires of the Spirit and one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). If we want a passion for God’s Word, then it starts by praying for the Holy Spirit to give us this passion.
We need to understand that we need God’s Word to live for God.
We need God’s Word like we need oxygen. God’s Word is the weapon in our fight against sin. It’s necessary for survival. All throughout Psalm 119 we see a complete dependence on God’s Word. He understood that if he was going to walk through life and all the temptations and suffering that comes along with it, then he was going to need God’s Word.
Many of us today have yet to grasp that we need God’s Word. Just like we need oxygen to breath, we need God’s Word in order to live for God.
We need to let God’s Word change us
We value God’s Word as the ultimate authority on our lives. We believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, and we frame everything we do using the standards and commands set out in the Bible.
God’s Word is powerful, living, and active. It never changes, because He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His words are breathed straight from His heart to us, a love letter for life, not simply an old-fashioned, outdated book with no relevance for today. His Word is sharper than any two-edged sword.
Psalm 119 reminds us that God’s very character is reflected through His Word, He is Righteous, He is Faithful, He is Unchanging, He is True. He is committed to changing hearts through His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 12:2). How do we see that Jesus is changing us to be more like him? In God’s Word. We need to let God’s Word change us.
“Apply yourself to the whole text, and apply the whole text to yourself” – J.A. Bengel
We need to set aside consistent and intentional time to be in God’s Word
Most Christians will say that they want to take time to read the Bible. The issue is many don’t create a plan. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to lose weight”, but it’s another to create an action plan that consist of eating the right foods, working out, and eliminating weak points.
When it comes to reading the Bible, we have to be consistent and intentional. This means dedicating specific time that allows us to concentrate on what we are reading with out the constant interruptions facing us today. Whether this is first thing in the morning, on a lunch break, or during the brief moments while the kids are down for a nap, it is vital that we find intentional time to engage God’s Word. We can’t expect to just find time; we have to determine the time.
Determine your time then determine what you’ll read. Start in Genesis, read a Psalm a day, read a stanza from Psalm 119, or start in the New Testament. Just start. Set aside consistent and intentional time to be in God’s Word.
It’s time we reevaluate our time in the Bible. When we spend time in God’s Word, we develop within our own hearts a passion for God’s Word similar to the writer of Psalm 119.
“Let the heartbeat of your Bible reading be this simple prayer: “Lord, move this from my head to my heart” – John Piper