Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. – Joshua 1:8 (NLT)
We all want it.
But the million-dollar question for centuries has been
“Exactly how do I obtain it?”
Further still, it’s even possible to be successful in one area of your life yet not in another.
So an even better question would be
“Exactly how do I obtain success throughout my entire life?”
Here in Joshua 1:8, we’re given two keys to obtaining success in all that we do: (1) mediating on God’s Word day and night and (2) applying what we learn from that meditation.
So what does daily meditation of God’s Word practically look like?
There are two steps to daily mediation that I learned from my spiritual mentor, pastor, and father—Dr. Michael D. Moore (click here to follow other insights from him on Twitter).
Today, I’d like to share them both with you. Here they are…
1. Evaluate the Bible passage that you’re reading in light of its historical context.
Have you ever walked into the tail end of a conversation and the small piece of it that you heard left you stunned and confused? You were confused because you lacked the full context in which the conversation took place.
In all communication, context is essential for clarity and understanding.
This is true for the Bible also. The historical context in which Biblical conversations took place is critical for understanding the author’s intent.
What was going on at the time that the passage was written?
Who were the key players involved?
What was the author’s motivation possibly for writing this text?
Obviously none of us were around in Biblical times to hear these conversations first hand. So we have to depend on additional resources to help us gain context.
Examples of the resources that I am referring to include: (1) An easy to understand Bible translation—I recommend the following: New International Version [NIV], New American Standard Bible [NASB], New Living Translation [NLT], or Contemporary English Version [CEV]—(2) Good commentaries—I recommend the Wiersbe Old & New Testament commentaries—(3) A Bible dictionary—I recommend the Vines Expository Bible dictionary, and (4) The Internet.
Using these tools will help you to determine the context of whatever particular Bible passage you are reading.
Let’s take a look at a practical example.
In Romans 3:3-4, the apostle Paul writes:
It is true that some of them did not believe the message. But does this mean that God cannot be trusted, just because they did not have faith?
No, indeed! God tells the truth, even if everyone else is a liar. The Scriptures say about God:
“Your words will be proved true, and in court you will win your case.”
What is the historical context of this passage? Who was Paul talking about here in the text? What was going on at the time that he wrote it?
When we use our additional resources, we discover that Paul here is referencing the Jews of his day and their refusal to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah as He’d claimed to be. Paul is asking his audience this question: Does the Jews’ unbelief of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah make that claim less valid or true?
“No” Paul answers. He writes that God’s words are to be trusted period—whether or not human opinion confirms them to be true.
Now that we’ve evaluated the historical context of this passage, we’re ready to move on to the second step.
2. Look for the universal principle that can be applied in your life.
Let’s go back to our example in Romans.
Paul says that Jesus’ claim to be the promised Messiah was indeed true—even if the Jews didn’t understand it or believe it. So what is a universal principle that we can apply in our lives from this passage? I believe that Paul here is communicating the following principle:
God and His Word are true and should never be brought down to the level of human experience.
Even if the “experts” disagree with what God has said…
Even if your coworkers don’t believe it…
Even if your circumstances tell you that God’s Word isn’t trustworthy or dependable…
We are never to evaluate our acceptance of and obedience to God’s Word based on what others understand or say to be true.
So what about you?
Are there any areas of your life where it looks as if God’s promises to you are hard to believe? If so, always base your belief and acceptance of God’s promises based on what He’s said to be true—not on what you or others experience.
Again, back in Joshua 1:8, we’re promised that if we will daily:
read passages from God’s Word like the one above…
evaluate their context and application…
and begin obeying the universal principles they contain…
we will position ourselves to not only succeed—but to be successful in EVERYTHING that we do.