|(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)|
Being Transformed – Part 2
By Eric Elder
Last week we looked at three ways to renew your mind by taking control of the amount and types of media that you consume, from TV and movies to books, magazines, newspapers and blogs. This week, we’re going to look at three more ways to renew your mind and all three have to do with increasing how much you consume of something else in your life: God’s Word, the Bible.
For if I had to give you just one idea for how to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” that far surpasses any other, it would be this: to get as much of God’s Word into your mind as you can, as often as you can, and with as much understanding as you can.
When you do this, your mind will be renewed and your life will be transformed, just as the apostle Paul encouraged the Romans to do in his day when he said:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).
So today, I’d like to give you three ways to get more of God’s Word into your mind: 1) read God‘s Word, 2) memorize God’s Word, and 3) study God’s Word.
First, I want to encourage you to read God’s Word, and read it often.
Whether you read just one verse a day, one chapter a day, or ten chapters a day, if you keep filling your mind with God’s Word, you’ll find that your mind is renewed on a regular basis.
If you want to live the life that God wants you to live, then you’ll need more than just physical food to keep you going. As Jesus said:
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
God wants you to have spiritual food as much as physical food, and a steady diet of it. The good news is that if you’re on a diet of God’s Word, there’s no limit to how much you can eat! You can feast on God’s Word as much as you want, as often as you want! You can never have too much of God’s Word!
Yet some people are famished in their spiritual lives because it’s been so long since they’ve had any spiritual sustenance at all. Don’t let this happen to you! If you don’t have a copy of God’s Word in a language that’s easy for you to read and digest, then I’d encourage you to get one soon. There are also many websites that contain the entire Bible online for free. The website I use most often is called “The Bible Gateway,” which contains the entire Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.
I’d also encourage you to have a plan in mind for how you want to read the Bible, whether you start at the beginning and read the whole thing from cover to cover, or whether you pick a plan that includes selected readings from various books of the Bible. One website that has several plans for reading the Bible is called YouVersion. If you go to their home page, you’ll find a variety of reading plans to fit your interest. You can print them off and check them yourself, or have the system highlight a passage or send it to you by email each day.
I’ve done many plans over the years, both online and on paper, and I’ve liked each of them for different reasons. My first time through, I just read my Bible straight through in a year, reading 3-4 chapters a day, starting with Genesis and finishing with Revelation. At other times, I’ve alternated my readings between chapters in the Old and New Testaments, plus a reading from the Psalms or Proverbs every day. And at other times, I’ve taken my time and read as thoroughly as possible, taking three years to read through the entire thing.
Currently, I’m going through a plan that my daughter tried last year and loved which takes you through the entire Bible in 90 days, called a B90X. Since it takes a person reading an average speed about 90 hours to read through the entire Bible, this plans takes about an hour a day for 90 days. If you read half an hour a day, it’ll take about 6 months; 15 minutes a day, and it’ll take about a year. I’m actually doing this 90 day plan by listening to the Bible for an hour each day on on my phone, using an app from the YouVersion website. While I’m not able to get through a full hour every day, I’m hopeful that at least I’ll finish sometime this year if I just keep going!
But whatever way you do it, just be sure to do it. Read God’s Word over and over, and you’ll find yourself transforming as you do.
Second, I want to encourage you to memorize God’s Word.
Don’t think that you can’t memorize it, because you can! Here’s a surprisingly easy way to memorize even whole chapters at a time. If you’ll read the same passage of the Bible out loud every day for thirty days, you’ll be surprised to find out that you’ve actually memorized it by the end of the month, if not before, without even trying to memorize it.
My wife has done this with our kids, for instance, reading Psalm 139 to them every day, sometimes once or twice or three times a day. Amazingly, the kids all knew the whole chapter word for word within just two weeks, and all they did was listen to it being read to them. And of course, my wife was able to pick it up at the same time, too.
You might also want to try writing out a verse or two on a small card and carrying it with you wherever you go. Then you can pull out the card whenever you’re waiting in line, or taking a walk, or riding in a bus or train or car, reading it over and over until you’ve gotten it stored away in your mind. You’ll be amazed at how God can speak to you through through one or two verses even while you’re memorizing it, and how it will come back to your mind at a later time, when you particularly need it. Some people try to memorize the chapter and verse numbers along with the passages so they can easily find them later on, while other people just focus on the words themselves. Either way, the important thing is to “hide God’s Word in your heart,” as the Bible says:
“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
If you’d like a list of some great verses to memorize, I’ve posted a list on my website called “The Top 100 Verses in the Bible.” This is a list that you can read, print out, or write on note cards for yourself. It’s free, and you can get it by just clicking the link: Top 100 Verses
So my second recommendation is to memorize the Bible, so you can recall it to mind whenever it’s needed.
Third, I want to encourage you to study God’s Word.
While you can get so much from reading the Bible just as it’s written, you can get even more out of it when you study it in-depth, whether on your own or in along with others.
Even some of the people mentioned in the Bible have found it useful to have others help explain to them what it means. When a man from Ethiopia was reading the book of Isaiah, Philip saw him and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man from Ethiopia replied:
“How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” (Acts 8:31).
So Philip stopped and explained the passage to the man. The man was so moved by what he learned, that he put his faith in Christ on the spot, and asked Philip to baptize him in some water nearby.
There’s a reason we have pastors and teachers, authors and speakers. They’ve often spent a fair amount of time studying the Bible themselves, plumbing it’s depths and testing it out in the face of the reality of life. By learning from their wisdom, you’ll be able to see some of the precious jewels that they’ve already discovered, and you’ll be better able to apply them to your life as well. Or, as Isaac Newton famously said:
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
When you take the time to learn from those who have gone before you, you can stand “on the shoulders of giants” too, seeing what they’ve seen and then going further yourself. I’d also recommend not just reading what others have said about the Bible, but talking to others, too. As God said to the Israelites when He gave them His commands:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8).
There’s so much to learn from others that I hope you’ll make use of the wealth of knowledge that is contained within the books and people around you. Spend some time at your local Christian bookstore, if you have one nearby, or browse for books that might be of interest on websites like http://www.christianbook.com. I’ve also written several devotional books to encourage people to read their Bibles, some of which include study questions at the end of each chapter that you can use for personal reflection or small group discussion, like the questions I’ve included at end of this message today.
If you’d like any of my books, you can get them anytime from InspiringBooks.com, or I’d be glad to send you a copy of one of my books directly for a donation of any size to our ministry. Just use the links at the end of this message to pick out one you’d like.
I believe that the Bible is so important to life that I’ve never written a single devotional without basing it on at least one, or usually several, passages of scripture from the Bible. I know that the most important things I could ever tell you are already contained in the words of the Bible. The rest of what I have to say simply highlights or underscores what I’ve already discovered in God’s Word.
In conclusion, I want to encourage you to read God’s Word, memorize God’s Word, and study God’s Word.
When you do this, you’ll find that it’s the best possible way to renew your mind, to transform your life, and to discover God’s will for your life. As the Apostle Paul said:
“Do not conform any longer 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” (Romans 12:2).
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for giving us Your Word, and for those who have preserved it and translated it and helped us to understand it throughout the generations. Help us to read Your Word on a regular basis, to hide it in our heart when we can, and to study it alone and with others so we can learn as much as is humanly possible. Lord, help us to renew our minds and transform our lives as we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. As I mentioned above, I’d be glad to send you one of my devotional books to help you study the Bible on your own or with a small group. While you can order them anytime from http://www.inspiringbooks.com, I’d be glad to send you one directly for a donation of any size to our ministry. Just click the link below and you’ll be able to make a donation and pick a copy of any of my books as our way of saying thanks. Your gifts really do help us as we reach out to others all over the world, and we’re glad to send you a gift in return! Thanks so much!
Get A Book!
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 12:1-2. What are some ways that reading the Bible has helped you to renew your mind? And in what ways has renewing your mind helped in transforming your life?
2. Have you ever read the entire Bible from cover to cover? If so, how has that helped you in your life? If not, in what ways do you think it might help you? Are there any goals you have in mind for reading God’s Word this year?
3. What advantage do you think there might be to memorizing verses or passages from the Bible, compared to just reading it? Would you like to try to memorizing some more passages of Scripture again this year? Remember, here’s a link to the Top 100 verses in the Bible if you’d like some ideas of where to start: Top 100 Verses
4. What value have you gotten from reading other books about the Bible? What value have you gotten from talking to others about the Bible? Are there any steps you’d like to take this year towards studying God’s Word more in depth, whether on your own or with others?
To read more from this series, Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind, please visit:
To get more inspiring books and music like this, please visit:
To make a donation of any size and choose a book as our way of saying thanks, please visit:
To find us on Facebook, please visit:
To invite Eric to speak to your group of any size, whether by Skype or in person, please visit:
- This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – Being Transformed – Part 1 (terri0729.wordpress.com)