This post is Part 1 of a 4-part series on internalization. In case you don’t know what I mean by “internalization,” I use that word instead of “memorization,” because the goal should be to know the Word, not just the words. (wink) Today we’re going to look at the benefits of internalization. After all, there’s no point in jumping into the “how” until you’re convinced of the “why.”
I recently read through the Bible Savvy series by Pastor James Nicodem. One section of one of the four books lays out a few benefits of internalizing. While I’ve been talking about these for a long time, he has put them much more clearly and simply than I have, so here you go…
Internalization Makes the Bible Portable.
When I think of internalization, my mind always goes back to the first chapter of Joshua. Here’s the scene: The Israelites have spent four decades wandering through the desert. Moses has died and the leadership mantle has been passed to Joshua. The people are on the edge of the Jordan river. They are about to cross over and finally – finally! – settle in the Promised Land. First stop – Jericho!
You can think of Joshua 1 as the pre-game pep talk. Check it out…
After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’s assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses. Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great river, the Euphrates River—all the land of the Hittites—and west to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.”
“Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. (…) For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9, CSB, emphasis mine)
Ra. Ra. Raaaaa! Now that’s a pep talk!!
I have a confession. I left out two verses. They go right where the “…” is in the second paragraph. Here they are…
Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. (Joshua 1:7-8, CSB, emphasis mine)
Now let me ask you something. Is it even possible to carefully observe everything written in something you don’t know? Ouch.
If we don’t internalize the Bible, how will we meditate on it all day long? How will we carefully observe what is written in it?
I don’t know about you, but during my Bible reading is not the most difficult time for me to live out what I’m reading. It’s later in the day, when I’m out in the world, dealing with people! That’s when I need God’s Word on my mind.
I need it to be portable. Internalization is the only way I know how to do that.
Internalization Makes the Bible Preventive.
It’s always a good idea to stop sin before it starts. Check out these verses:
But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15, CSB)
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word.” (Psalm 119:9, CSB)
I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, CSB)
Internalizing God’s Word helps us stop sin before it starts. Or at least before it grows! When we internalize passages of Scripture, the Holy Spirit can bring them to our minds whenever He wants to.
When you are unsure of what to do next, it’s helpful to be reminded of this truth from James 1: Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.
Or when your mind is drifting toward temptation, you might need this reminder from Philippians 4: Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.
Or when you feel beaten down or alone, these words from Psalm 56 could flood your mind: This I know: God is for me.
Internalization Makes the Bible Productive.
Early on in my “internalization journey” a friend of mine encouraged me to internalize II Timothy. I am forever grateful. The last few verses of chapter three frequently come to mind…
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:14-17, CSB, emphasis mine)
As I came to these verses in my studying, I felt God ask me this question: Ok Keith, are you wise for salvation or are you happy being a dumb Christian?
My heart’s desire is to be wise for salvation. To be productive. To bear fruit. To be equipped, and to put my “equipped-ness” into action. The more our minds and hearts are soaking in God’s Word, the more productive we will be in our efforts to live a life that glorifies Him by serving all His children.
- Internalization Makes the Bible Portable.
- Internalization Makes the Bible Preventive.
- Internalization Makes the Bible Productive.
My hope and prayer is that you’ve been convinced of the benefits of internalizing the Bible. In the next few posts, we’ll move from benefits to how-to.