Lessons in Discipleship (4) دروس في التلمذة

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LID#4 – The Word Hand Illustration

This is Dr. Ed Hoskins, welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith.
Today’s session is getting God’s word into our lives. We’re going to use another illustration. This one is called the Word Hand. First, let me tell you a little about myself. I’m a retired physician. I spent 34 years in family medicine and student health, but I became a Christian 50 years ago. I was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international non-denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.” I’ve been on staff with that organization since 1980. Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I learned from the Bible and under the guidance of the Navigators during that time. What I learned then I now pass on to you.
Today’s session is how to get God’s word into our lives. We will make use of another practical illustration, the Word Hand. To start with, why is God’s word important? Let’s turn to the Old Testament and look in the Psalms briefly. In verse seven of Psalm 19 it says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.” In other words, if you’re an ignorant person and if you apply God’s word, it will make you wise. It can also mean that people who don’t apply God’s word may themselves look wise but they really are quite ignorant.
In that same psalm, in verse 8 it says that the word of God gives “joy to the heart” and “light to the eyes.” In verse 10 it says that it is “more precious than gold” and “sweeter than honey.” Verse 11 says God’s word gives warning as well as “great reward.”
Now let’s look at a few more benefits of God’s word from Psalm 119. Verse 105 says “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”
Wow. This is a very turbulent and confusing world we live in with wonderful promises that come from God’s word. In verse 165 it says, “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.” Again, these are some wonderful things about God’s word and I love it.
Here’s another benefit from God’s word. It’s one of the only two things in this world we can invest in that will last for eternity. The other eternal investment is the souls of people. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus promises, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” These are all fantastic reasons for emphasizing the importance of God’s word in our lives.
Now let’s look at an illustration, the Word Hand, and how to practically get God’s word into our lives. Let’s start with the little finger. It is probably the weakest finger we have. The little finger is like when we hear God’s word. The ring finger is next to it and little bit stronger. That’s like reading God’s word. The middle finger is next and can be compared to studying God’s word. Next to it is even a stronger finger, the index finger, and may be compared to memorizing God’s word. Each finger gives us more strength. But what adds the most strength of all is the thumb. That is meditating on God’s word, thinking about what it really means and how to practically apply it to our daily lives.
In fact, every time we hear God’s word, we should meditate on it. If we read God’s word, we should meditate on it. When we study God’s word we must meditate on it. The same applies to memorizing God’s word. We meditate. We get maximum strength from the hand when we use all five of the fingers together.
Now let’s look more closely at what God says about each finger in our Hand Illustration. Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” For our second finger, reading God’s word, it says in Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy.” For the third finger in our illustration, studying God’s word, Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” For memorizing God’s word, our fourth finger, in Psalm 119:11, King David writes, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Incidentally, nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to memorize God’s word. But it does imply there are tremendous benefits to memorizing it. Finally, for our thumb, we meditate on God’s word. In Joshua 1:8 it says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Now let’s look at the various levels of retaining information. At the very best, we remember possibly 10 to 20% tomorrow of what we hear today. I do know in some cultures they are taught to listen and retain much, much more. But in general, think of it like a classroom setting. We go and listen to a lecture. If all we do is listen to the lecture and then take a test on it several weeks later, we are lucky if we retain 10 to 20%. Now, if we add reading the lecture notes as well as the textbook information, several weeks later when tested, we retain up to 60%. Now, if we add studying to our hearing and reading, when tested we may be up to 80-90%. But if we want 100% on our test we must add memorizing to all the above.
From a process standpoint, what moves things from head knowledge into heart knowledge? It’s meditation, actively chewing over all the information. It makes the above information available and usable.
Let’s try to bring all these things together. We want to really grasp God’s word. If we only use the thumb and little finger, hearing and memorizing, our grasp of God’s word is pretty weak. It would be fairly easy for someone else to come along (like Satan) and take God’s word away from us. But now, to the thumb, we add both the 4th and 5th fingers. Thus, our grip on God’s word is a little stronger. If we add the middle and index fingers it’s nearly impossible for another person to snatch God’s word from us.
This is just an illustration to show how to get a grip on God’s word with our hand. At this point, let’s look more closely at meditation. One extremely effective way I’ve found over the years for meditating on God’s word is to pray and ask questions. I specifically like the following three questions:
1-What does it say? That is, what are the facts?
2-What does it mean? That’s interpretation of the facts. It’s going deeper.
3-What does it mean to me? This is personal application. This is the most important question of all. Remember, the Bible was never meant merely to give information. It was meant to change our lives.
Now for a quick review of the Word Hand. The little finger is hearing God’s word. The ring finger is reading God’s word. The middle finger is studying God’s word. The index finger is memorizing God’s word. And with the thumb we meditate on God’s word, practically applying it to our lives.
Here’s a summary of our brief presentation today. First, God’s word is an expression of God himself. In fact, God’s word, according to the Bible, is an expression of who Jesus is. Jesus is literally God’s word walking around in human flesh. Second, God’s word is one of only two things we can invest in which will last for eternity. Third, we actively take God’s word into our lives by hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it. Fourth, when exposed to God’s word, meditate on it. Pray and ask questions about it and then apply what we learned. Fifth and final, remember that God’s word was never meant merely to give us information. It was meant to change our lives.
Well, we will see you next time for another session of Lessons in Discipleship when we cover the topic of Sharing the Gospel Part One – What is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?
That wraps up today’s session. Thanks for coming and being a part. Until next time, keep following Jesus. He’s worth it.

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