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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Meehan » James Meehan - The Bible, What It Means For Me

James Meehan - The Bible, What It Means For Me

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    James Meehan - The Bible, What It Means For Me
TOPICS: Culture Makers, Bible

Well, welcome to this week's episode of Switch Uncut, where we're talking about the Bible, the B-I-B-L-E. You know what it means to me. My name is James Mehan, and with me is our friend Caitlin Cafree.


That's good.

I'm not gonna spell any words.

That's probably wise. Okay, so with that being said, for those of you who have been a part of this series of videos, you know that what we want to be able to do is help answer some of the big questions about faith, following Jesus in the Bible, by specifically looking at a passage or several passages of scripture and breaking down, what does it mean? And then how do we live that truth in our daily lives? Because following Jesus in our modern world and following Jesus as a teenager can be really difficult.


And we just wanna be able to come alongside you and support you as we do this. And so this past week at Switch, we began a brand new message series titled "Who am I"? where we are exploring the truth of who God says we are.


Now with this series, we are bringing with it a spiritual practice.


These are simply disciplines and habits that we can do that we can practice so that we can actually become more like Jesus. Because the beautiful thing about following Jesus is He invites us to become more like him.


And it's not something that happens just by us working harder or trying to be better.


But actually it's the power of His Spirit working within us.


As we engage with Him, as we study the scriptures, as we live in community, as we serve others, every single one of those things helps us become more and more like Jesus.


And so with that being said, this series, the spiritual practice is scripture memorization. Thank you for the drum roll. If you didn't drum roll on the other side of that camera.

You're fired.

That's horrible.

Just kidding.

I know, I almost said something that would been way meaner, but I didn't because one of the fruit of the spirit.


Is self-control.

Dang it.

So Caitlin, with all of this out of the way, will you please read to us this first passage of scripture?

Yes, so this is from Psalms, the very first Psalm that we have in our Bibles. I'm gonna read the first three verses. "Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or stand around with sinners or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They're like trees planted along the river bank, bearing fruit each season; their leaves never wither and they prosper in all that they do".

Mm. Yes, please. I would like to prosper in all that I do.


I don't ever want my leaves to wither. So what should I do? Well, what the Psalmist is telling us is that it comes from delighting in the law of the Lord.


So that's delighting in the scriptures, the truth of God's word and meditating on it day and night. And so this is a thing that's really important for us to recognize about the Bible is that it is unlike any other book.

It's good.

Right? It's not like Harry Potter that you kind of just read through to enjoy the story and the characters and to get to the next book, which you actually, you can do that with the Bible. But the truth is that the way the Bible is meant to be read is as a book that we meditate on, that we come back to over and over and over again, that we think about that we talk about that we wrestle with and it is through all of that that we can better understand the truth of who God is and what he wants for us.


You see, the Bible is not a book that we go to to simply collect information. It's a book we go to so that we can have an encounter with God because He loves you. And the way that he communicates so much of what He wants you to know is through the scriptures. And so this is why we're taking an entire series, six weeks, to talk about and practice scripture memorization. Because as we are describing the different things that God says about who we are, about what makes us us, about the value, that no matter what we've said or done, or has been said about us that cannot be taken away, it can sometimes be really difficult to actually believe those things, right? Like we can hear it, we can read it, but actually believe it so much that we live it day in and day out is really challenging. And this is where a habit like scripture memorization comes in. It's through this practice of coming back to these key passages of scripture over and over and over again and studying them so intently that they get deep enough in us to produce a change that we become like who the Psalmist describes, people who delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night, we become like trees planted along the riverbank because our roots go deep.


Into the truth of who God says we are. And when that happens, we will bear fruit each season. Our leaves will not wither, and we will prosper in all we do. If we wanna become the kind of people who can truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love others as same way that God through Christ has loved us, a habit like scripture memorization is a really, really powerful practice to help us do that.

Yeah. Now it's always important to acknowledge that these practices we're describing are not a way for us to earn God's love or favor. Right? That is not what we're talking about. We're not talking about a bunch of steps that you have to accomplish for God to love you. Not even close. It's kind of like the opposite.


It's things that we do to help us trust how much God actually loves us.

That's great. And so as I describe these ideas, and we're setting the tone for what scripture memorization is, Caitlin will you read this next passage of scripture for us?

Yeah, okay. So another one from Psalms, this is Psalms 19. "The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true, each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are warnings to yours servants, a great reward for those who obey them".

So a couple things I wanna highlight. The Psalmist here says that the words of the Lord, His commands, the scriptures, are more desirable than gold.


Even the finest gold. So pause here, do you actually believe that?


'Cause I'll be honest with you. If somebody presents me the choice to either be given a Bible or a whole mess of the finest gold, I will probably take what I think is the pragmatic approach. And I will go get that gold so I can buy myself a Bible and then also have that gold to do other stuff with, maybe I'll buy you a Bible, maybe I'll you a Bible.


Whoever, you know what I mean? And it's like, I think it's funny because we read that, and the Psalmist is making a really bold claim. Yeah.

That the commands of God, the words that are spoken through scripture, that His Holy Spirit has inspired are more desirable than gold. And the thing that's important here is the Psalmist doesn't say they're more valuable than gold, but more desirable than gold. Cause I think most people would argue, at least those that consider themselves followers of Jesus, that the word of the Lord is more valuable than gold. But how many of us actually desire that more than gold?

Right. Right.

And I would say very few.


If we're being honest. Now if you are the rare exception, who's like, "I don't care about gold, I just want scripture," then comment down below, tell us your 10 step process that helped you get there so that we can learn from you.


Because that sounds absolutely amazing. Now the next thing that the Psalmist says is that the words of the Lord are sweeter than honey.


Even honey dripping from the comb. So like in my context, I'm not really thinking as much about honey as I'm thinking about Chipotle, especially when they did that special where they had, oh gosh, what was it? Oh, it was the, the brisket. They had chopped brisket for like a month, but it only lasted for a month because it sold out so quickly that like, they were never, you had to get there like as soon as they opened.

Yeah. Otherwise they would be gone. And I only got to have it I think two or three times and every time it was the greatest burrito I've ever eaten. My mouth is watering as I'm thinking about that.

Oh gosh.

And it's like, okay, if I had to choose between spending my lunchtime.

Hmm, whoa.

Reading the Bible.

Whoa. Or getting a chopped brisket Chipotle burrito, I'm telling you right now, I'm picking the burrito.

This is confrontational to me.

Right? Like, that's how I feel. That's being honest.

Dang, that's good.

And I think the reason why is because I don't have the same perspective and I haven't experienced the same truth at the Psalmist has.


Because the Psalmist sets all of this up by saying, "The instructions of the Lord are perfect".

Yeah. Yeah.

They revive the soul. They're trustworthy and they make us wise. They're right. They bring joy. And this is the thing that I think is so fascinating.


Is somehow the Psalmist had such an intimate relationship with God, had such a love for the scriptures that that's how they described the words of the Lord.

Yeah. More valuable than a whole bunch of gold, more desirable, sweeter than a Chipotle chopped brisket burrito.


I don't know about you, but that's the kind of perspective, that's the kind of relationship with God's word that I want.

So how in the world do we get there? Like what went wrong to where this seems so hard and I'm being confronted by the fact that I would rather eat a burrito than read the Bible.

That's a really great question. I think it is one of those things where, when we think about what it is that Jesus has invited us into.


It is to know God and be known by God.


And the thing is, when we talk about knowing and being known.


It's really all informational.


It's like, "Hey, have you heard about this thing"?

Hmm. Did somebody show you that two plus two equals four?


Have you heard or been told about all of these things? Rather than the knowing that Jesus talks about is an intimate relationship.

Yeah. And this is what we've all been invited into.


Is to know God personally, not just as some distant being that wants a relationship with us, sort of like pen pals.


But actually our perfect and loving Father who wants to be with us every step of the way and to remind us how loved we really are.

Yep. And, and I think when you've experienced that, then these words come to life.

That's good.

And when it comes to reading the Bible, one of the things that we talked about earlier is this idea that we don't just read the Bible to collect information. We don't just read the Bible to be entertained. We read the Bible to have an encounter with God. And that's what makes this book so special.


Is that the same Holy Spirit that inspired the writing of scripture is working in the reading of scripture. And so when we are able to slow down and allow the truth of God to bury itself deep in us, the Holy Spirit works through that to bring these words to life in ways that doesn't happen with anything else that we read.

Yeah. That's good.

All right, ready for the next thing?

I'm ready.

Next passage.

Next passage, jumping to New Testament. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true, to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we're wrong and teaches us to do what's right. God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work".

Mm. Come on 2 Timothy 3:16-17. So what we've been doing here is talking about the Bible.


Talking about the power of scripture, talking about how it is better


than we could ever even imagine.

Yeah. And it's one of those things that so many of us know and have been told about the importance of the Bible, but very few of us have actually seen it in action.


You know, I remember back when I first became a Christian, I read the Bible every single day because I was supposed to, but not at all because I wanted to. Like, and it took several years of that discipline to eventually move me to this place where I began to enjoy reading the Bible.


Like my kid is now one year old, and like one month, so 13 months, my wife deals with some health stuff and then he just started going to daycare. And when you take a one year old and put 'em around a bunch of other one year olds, all of the germs get spread. And so he's been getting sick.


Which has been getting my wife sick, which has been getting me sick.

Dang it.

And so like our routine for the last month has just been all sorts of crazy.


And so to actually get the time that I want to be in God's word in the morning, to meditate on the scriptures, it's been really hard, like it's honestly just been like, get a little bit and go on my day.


And today was the first day in a couple of weeks where I got to have uninterrupted time with Jesus and my goodness, today has felt so different.


Because I've learned to experience the truth of these words.


But it didn't happen overnight. It took time to really see how scripture teaches us what's true, makes us realize what's wrong in our lives.


Corrects us, teaches us and God uses it to prepare us. And so we're saying all of this to say the Bible's really special.


It's really powerful.

It's good.

And when we learn to read it, to engage with it in such a way that we encounter the God who is behind these words, who is within these words, who is working through these words, that's what changes everything.


And that's why we're taking an entire series to talk about scripture memorization.


This spiritual discipline that we do to help take these words and not just be something that we read on a page, but something that gets written on our hearts.


So that no matter what we're going for, we can recall these truths, bring them to mind and allow that truth to reframe our current situation.

Yep. And so when we talk about scripture memorization, Caitlin, talk a little bit about what that's looked like for you in your own faith journey, because I know that's been an important practice for you.

Yeah. I think for me, it started from a place of kind of like we talked about in the beginning, more of an academic pursuit, I'm supposed to do this thing...

Come on. and maybe possibly it will even get God to, you know, like approve of me a little more.


It was very much a like, I don't know, competitive thing, very much like a legalistic thing, very much like a, I just, this is what I gotta do.


So I can be, you know, a good Christian, but I have...

The best kind.

Right. That one. But I think what the journey that God has taken me on and the beautiful thing about these verses that we just read is like, it's become so much less of an academic pursuit and so much more of an intimate pursuit.

Mm, yeah.

Like it is the pursuit of intimacy with Jesus that I want his words to be in me.


So that they come out of me.

That's good

In my normal everyday life.


And it has completely transformed the way that I go about this practice. I'm trying to think of the best way to explain. I kind of just sat there and memorized it like a textbook at first. Like that kind of thing.

Yeah yeah.

But now the things that are, that I'm being motivated and challenged to memorize as far as scripture goes, are the parts, are the verses that speak to the parts of me that I want Jesus to continue transforming.

Yeah yeah.

And so I will grab hold of a specific truth and I will find the place where the word of God speaks to that. And it like gets deep down in there and I will just meditate on it kind of like the first verse talked about, I'll just kind of play it over and over again in my mind, I'll set a reminder on my phone so that I see the words every morning and that's kind of what it's been looking like for me in this season, as I'm just kind of allowing God to confront those parts of me that I really want to look more like Him.

That's so good. So I'm gonna read this quote and then I'm gonna give you kind of my three step process us for scripture memorization. Now the reality is, is that with any of these practices, the goal isn't to do it exactly like us.


The goal isn't to follow some script that you read about online. It's to figure out how you can engage in this in such a way that brings you closer to Jesus and helps you become more like Jesus. So I'm gonna read this quote from Eugene Peterson, who is a brilliant author, he's a pastor for a whole lot of years. And he says this, he says that "Christians don't simply learn or study or use scripture. We assimilate it".


"We take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love. Cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son".

That's good.

What Eugene Peterson is telling us is when we read the word of God, we do it to encounter the God of the Word, because we know that He's gonna transform us. He's gonna make us more like His son, Jesus. And He's gonna empower us to do what we've been called to do as his people, so that we can go out to the world.


To bring justice, compassion, evangelism, and mission to those people that are in desperate need of it. This is why we memorize scripture, so we can become more like Jesus.


Now here's my process. You ready? So every morning when I do my quiet time, I'll read through whatever section of the Bible I'm reading.


And then I will highlight whatever verse or verses jumps out at me.


And then I will take that and I will write it down word for word in my journal.

Cool. And so I start by reading it, then I write it and then, I have a problem, I like to talk a lot. And so I just talk about it a bunch.


And like that is literally my process for memorizing scripture, three steps. Read it, write it, talk about it.

That's so good.

Caitlin can attest that when I learn something that's exciting about the Bible or whatever, I'm gonna tell her about it. And it might have nothing to do with anything else that's going on, but I'm just sitting, thinking about it, I'm meditating on it.


Because this truth hit me in a way that I wanna share it with somebody else and in the process of sharing it.


It actually helps my own learning.

That's so good. Be a little bit better because through sharing and saying these things, it's once again forcing me to recall it.


To share it and it just drives that truth even deeper into me.


And so if you're going on this journey of saying, "You know what, I wanna take the step to be in memorizing scripture," what I'd encourage you to do is find a verse or verses that really jumps out at you, that is a truth that speaks to the part of you that you want to change to become more like Jesus, like Caitlin described, and then write it down, word for word, type it in your notes, put it somewhere where you can continually come back to it. And then after you've written it down, take some time to read it out loud and then talk about it with other people. Because that truth that God is using to shape you might be something that's really encouraging to somebody else.


Because when we take the word of God and we share it with others, God uses that in really special ways that we may not even realize in the moment. Caitlyn, what do you think?

I think that's so good. And the other thing that keeps coming to my mind is like, it's okay if the first method or thing that you try, doesn't work for you.

Yeah yeah yeah.

Like be humble enough to be curious about yourself. And like the way that God wired you and like try some different things and see what works best for you. I'm an auditory learner, that means like things stick in my mind when I hear them.

Interesting. Sure.

And so sometimes what I'll do when I'm like really trying to get something in me is like, I'll go in my Bible app and just play that passage or whatever out loud.

Yeah, yeah.

And hear the like narrator's voice and just get that into my mind. I'll just listen to it over and over again. And so that's a way that has been helpful to me.

That's great

Because that's how I learn. But I had to learn about how I learn.

It's a lot.

So there's just a piece of encouragement. Don't be upset if like our process doesn't work for you.

A hundred percent.

Like God wired you differently. And you learn a little differently than the rest of us. And so figure it out, try some stuff.

Right, and being a spiritually mature Christian, isn't determined by how many verses you've memorized.

So true.

Right? Jesus says the greatest command is this: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. and love your neighbor as yourself. The measure of our maturity is always love.


The reason why we memorize scripture is to help us better love God.

Yep. And better love others.

That's so good.

And so this is our invitation to you to join us, as we go on this process over the course of the next six weeks of taking the truth of God's word and internalizing it through memorizing it.


And we've got some different resources that are gonna be coming out throughout the series, like a Bible plan specifically designed to help you do that. And then every week in our messages, we're going to build our content around a handful of really powerful passages of scripture that we think might be useful for you to internalize, to memorize so that you can be like the kind of person the Psalmist described at the very beginning, somebody who meditates on the word of the Lord day and night, a tree whose roots go deep, planted on the river bank where you'll produce fruit in every season. Your leaves will never wither and you'll prosper in all you do.

That's awesome.

That's all I got. Last thoughts?

Last thought. Again, you're not on this journey alone. Like we're with you. We're going through the process with you. Also the Holy Spirit who we talked about last week.

Ooh, okay, call back.

Okay. Get ready. He, like one of his literal jobs is to remind us of the things that Jesus has taught us. And so the Holy Spirit is in you, guiding you through this process because that's what He's there for. So, yep, that's all I got.

Come on, the Holy Spirit, that's a great way to end it. So thank you so much for joining us for this week's episode of Switch Uncut. If you've got questions or thoughts or anything we can be doing to support you, comment it down below. Make sure to like the video, subscribe if you haven't and we're looking forward to seeing you next week.

Bye guys.

See y'all.
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