Dig into the Word, Not the Yard

ID 91092471 © Gerrit Bos | Dreamstime.com

I had done my homework, but still, I was unprepared for the demands of our new family addition. A working dog. Specifically, a Belgian Malinois. Two years later, I’m still amazed by his abilities. I expected our new pup to require a lot of physical activity. What surprised me was his need for mental stimulation. 

Working dogs are smart. They take more effort on the owner’s part than the average dog, but only because their skills far exceed that of the normal family pet. Working dogs need a challenge. Games. Puzzles. Even feeding can be part of maintaining mental sharpness—and mental activity has proven important because a bored working dog means trouble.

If God designed working dogs with a high need for mental stimulation, what does that tell you about us humans? When did you last challenge yourself mentally? Spiritually? Here are a few tips to maintain our mental sharpness the next time we dig into the Word:

Interrogate the text. Put on the investigative reporter hat and ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. What jumps out?

Emphasize different words. Change the emphasis of various words in a verse and see what God reveals. Ex. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1 NIV

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Try a word study. Look up a word (https://www.biblegateway.com) and see how it is used through a particular book, the Old or New Testament, or even through the whole of Scripture.

Memorize Scripture. Try one verse, then try a passage, a whole chapter, or tackle a small book like Philemon or one of Paul’s letters. 

Go back in time. If you have a study Bible—and you should have one—take the time to read the information at the front of each book. Find out what the author said to his original audience. Knowing Paul sat in prison awaiting his upcoming trial and judgment changes the whole tone of Philippians. What issues did he deal with? Do we face anything comparable today?

Ignore chapter and verse breaks. These additions came later. Read the book straight through. Start with a shorter book and read it several times. You’ll get a better feel for the book itself and the flow of that book if you don’t stop at chapter or verse breaks. 

Write down as many observations about the text as you can. Start with twenty-five. Then repeat and see if you can make it fifty.

Mental sharpness helps us both physically and spiritually. A bored mind leads to trouble. Challenge yourself and dig into the Word (not the yard!). 

Workout of the Week: 7 Tips for Mental (and Spiritual) Sharpness

Memory Verse: “Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs. The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.” Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 NIV

Meditation Passage: Ecclesiastes 12:9-13

Do It: Dig into the Word.