Just Keep Reading

Text: Joshua 1:1-9

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…” —Joshua 1:8

One time I was flying with a foreign airline and I was reading the panel on the seat in front of me—you know, the one with all those safety instructions that we seldom take the time to read. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out the meaning of the first line as it was written in an unfamiliar language. What seemed like a millennia later, I gave up trying to decipher the words and continued to read the next two lines. By the time I got to the third line it was written in English! I wrestled so long with that first line that I didn’t realize I just had to keep reading and the interpretation was already there in my native tongue.

I’ve been reading through the Bible every year for close to thirty years now. One of the things I have learned over time is that the Bible is the best interpreter of itself. Oftentimes we may be wrestling with a passage of scripture and we get stuck on trying to figure out its definitive meaning, when God has the revelation for us only as we keep on reading. He tells us in Proverbs 2:3-5…

Indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Some of the most outspoken critics of the Bible, and those who say it contradicts itself, are the ones who fail to keep reading. They fail to take in the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and fall short of realizing the context of what they are reading. That’s why one of the greatest things we can do in making disciples is to teach people the discipline of becoming self-feeders (not just waiting for sermon delivery on Sundays!).

I love how the Bible describes those early Berean worshipers as having “more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). That’s a picture of self-feeders for you. They didn’t just wait for the professional scholar to give them the interpretation; they studied the word for themselves to see if Paul’s teaching was true. Perhaps those folks over in Thessalonica were being spoon-fed sermons while those Bereans were cutting up the meat for themselves and chewing on it as they searched the Scriptures daily (just a thought).

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding come from searching God’s Word like a hidden treasure. That’s why we should have a daily Bible reading plan. God promised Joshua that He would be with him everywhere he would go. But He also promised the young leader that the key to being faithful and fruitful was directly correlated to Joshua’s abiding in the Word. This was God’s command:

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:6-9

God made it clear to Joshua: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips” (NIV).

If you keep reading and meditating on scripture, revelation is inevitable. God will make things clear to you as you seek Him out with diligence (Jeremiah 33:3). Of course you will never be able to discern all of the mysteries of the Godhead (for then you would be God!), but you will surely find clarity into instructions for living a life that is pleasing to God (1 Timothy 3:16). He has promised to equip you and to prosper you as you abide in His Word.

Maybe you have drifted away from a daily meditation of the Bible. It’s time to get back on that horse. There is a treasure waiting for you in those pages.

PRAYER

God, we understand that the Bible isn’t just words on a page. Hebrews 4 tells us Your word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. Proverbs 3 tells us that biblical wisdom bestows favor and well-being, brings peace and prosperity, and can even prolong our lives. What a treasure! Holy Spirit, teach us how to abide in Your Word daily as did Joshua. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection, Small Group or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you missed something that later seemed so obvious?
  2. What events in your past remind you of God’s faithfulness and help you to trust Him today?
  3. What specific steps did the Lord instruct Joshua to take in order to be successful? (Joshua 1:7)
  4. What did God say meditation on the Book of the Law would accomplish? (verse 8)
  5. Do you have a daily Bible reading plan? If not, you can find one here.

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