We invite you to start with reading Psalm 119:11.
In 2011, Willow Creek, the Chicago-based megachurch, released the findings of their “Reveal” study. Over a thousand churches of all sizes, denominations, and locations, as well as 250,000 individuals, participated in the survey. Two of the most significant findings from the survey were around a church or individual’s engagement with Scripture:
Nothing has a greater impact on spiritual growth than reflection on Scripture; “Best-practice” churches (those in the top 5%-scoring responses) “embed the Bible in everything”.
This came as a shock to Willow Creek, who had spent decades pioneering a seeker-sensitive model and pouring all their resources into creating programmes for their members to consume. The assumption was that greater engagement with a church’s ministry programmes would automatically lead to spiritual growth. The results, though, showed that not to be the case. This provoked a dramatic rethinking of Willow’s strategy and focus, most significantly a commitment to helping members engage with Scripture on their own outside of church.
In Psalm 119, written 2,500 years ago, the Psalmist celebrates the power of God’s Word to curb sinful attitudes and behaviours. He knows first-hand its effectiveness in encouraging obedience to God’s law. But what can we learn from this in the 21st Century?
We live in an age where we can celebrate the availability of a written Scripture in almost every language in Europe; the Psalmist had the privilege to celebrate the centrality that the Word of God played in the life of the people. It is widely believed (due to references to passages from the Prophets of exile) that Psalm 119 was written shortly after the Babylonian exile, when the primary symbols of God’s presence among his people – the Ark of the Covenant and the Monarchy – had been lost. God’s presence was now supremely seen in the Torah, the law of God. This is why the Psalmist is so committed to hiding the word in his heart – it is the very voice of God!
Consider your own spiritual health – are you growing in your love for God and your love for others? What spiritual practices can you adopt in your life to keep the fire burning, remembering above all that engaging with Scripture is by far the most significant indicator of spiritual health & growth?
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law, day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)
Spend 15-20 minutes reading Psalm 119 in its entirety. It is the longest chapter in the Bible (176 verses) but rewards the reader who commits to studying its truths. Consider reading through the Bible together as a church or as a small group. Biblica Europe has a helpful resource to help you do this called “Community Bible Experience”.