I grew up during a time that emphasized the “Quiet Time”. We had retreats, seminars, classes, studies, and more sermons than you can count that were designed to teach us how to have a quiet time with God. If we were really devoted to our devotions than we would get up earlier to have this elusive moment with God. The tactics used were usually guilt and shame. If you really loved God you would do this. If you were really committed you would read every day. If you missed a day, then you must not really love God. We were being pushed in dutiful readers of the Word that simply became a checklist. We would mark our envelopes, receive praise, and take the awards. Of course we would lie. It was almost as if we were driven to do it. Who does not want praise vs. guilt? Who does not want honor vs. shame? When it all backfired, we could run down the aisle weeping and rededicate our lives only to do it again at camp, revival, new year, and more. We found ourselves in an obscene pattern of guilt. The very thing we were trying to avoid by doing the checklist we came into contact with anyway.
In a current culture that does not read as we once did, there is a question as to whether we should spend our time reading the Bible. Unless it is in 160 characters or less, how would we ever finish? We live in a Biblically illiterate moment in history. The Bible is the best-selling book every year, but the least read.
Is it outdated? Is it irrelevant? Is it useless? Absolutely not!
The Word of God is living, powerful, and necessary in our lives as it contains the message God has for us. As the people waited on the Plains of Moab, Moses began delivering the final messages of his life. God knows the entire future of Israel. He knows that they will demand a king. He knows what will happen as a result. Look at the words of Moses in Deuteronomy which were 400 years before it would happen.
18 When he is seated on his royal throne, he is to write a copy of this instruction for himself on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to remain with him, and he is to read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to observe all the words of this instruction, and to do these statutes.
20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his countrymen, he will not turn from this command to the right or the left, and he and his sons will continue ruling many years over Israel.
When, not if, the demand a king to lead them, Moses instructs what the King is to do. He is to acquire a copy of the scriptures and read them everyday. He is to meditate on them, observe them, and learn them. Moses is telling the people that the King is to have a “Quiet Time” all the time. However, this was not some checklist. Moses was not prescribing a duty simply to be mindlessly accomplished. The king was to keep the word close and read it, but that was not all. This is what we do. We buy new translations with cool colors and funky covers. We keep the word close through out computers and phones. We breeze through a reading and then it ends. Moses added that through the reading, the King would learn to fear God and to observe the instructions. These are relational terms. Moses instructs to not simply go through the routine of daily meditation, but to do so with purpose. From Genesis 3 where everything went wrong, God has been working to redeem humanity. Israel was to be the beacon of light to the nations of God power and personal attention, His love and affection. Being close to the Word and reading it leads to a deeper love relationship with God because of the revelation found within the Scriptures. We continually see God reaching out to the World through Israel to bring them to Himself. We read the Bible because it leads us toward God. He teaches us how to live life. Verse 20 reveals three benefits of this improved relationship:
Humility – a student of the Word recognizes that life is not about the fulfillment of our dreams, but those of God. The scriptures reveal the importance of God’s plan that is to be fulfilled through us as much as it is for us. We are an instrument and extension of God’s grace, mercy, and love.
Focus – a student of the Word hones a razor-sharp focus on personal purpose as it plays out in the Kingdom of God. When our life purpose is viewed in a larger than life purpose such as that of God, we aspire to new heights. We begin to let go of the entanglements and run free to finish the race for which we have been called to run.
Legacy – a student of the Word naturally lays the groundwork for the next generation. The humility and focus lead to a life that is inspiring. The atmosphere in the home of those who have firmly placed faith in Jesus and develop this relationship through communication and meditation is amazing! Those homes see the proverb come true: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. This legacy is a the result of modeling as much as anything. A legacy is built that will last generations.
Have you read the Bible today?