Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. ~Romans 12:11 (NIV)Last weekend, while visiting the church my Aunt and Uncle attend, a banner sporting this verse caught my eye. I thought to myself, "Yes! That is what I want! I want to have zeal and fervor!"
When I come across a verse that resonates with me as this one did, I like to spend a few days meditating on it. This helps me take God's Word to heart and apply it to my life. This morning, as I begin meditating on Romans 12:11, I'm bringing you along for the ride. I am unsure if there is any proper theological basis in my method, but it works for me (and maybe it will work for you).
First, I like to look up the verse on biblegateway.com to see if there is a particular translation that I prefer. I love the word usage in the NIV for this verse - zeal and fervor are awesome words, but I gain new understanding of those words from the NIRV ("Never let the fire in your heart go out.") and the WE ("Do not hold back.") translations.
Next, I write out the verse on an index card. I stick the card in my pocket, so it's handy wherever I am. I will read and re-read the verse over the course of a few days - nothing passes the time waiting in lines better than rolling the Words of Scripture through your mind.
My usual third step is to take the key words from the passage and define them. Zeal is defined at thefreedictionary.com as: Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance. My shorthand interpretation: Enthusiastic devotion coupled with tireless diligence. Fervor (also at thefreedictionary.com) is: 1. Great warmth and intensity of emotion, and/or 2. Intense heat. My version: On fire for the Lord.
My fourth step is to meditate (or reflect) on the passage. Like I said, my preference is to take the verse with me. Other things I've tried include posting the index card somewhere I know I will see it (computer, fridge), tucking it in the book I'm currently reading, sticking it on the sun visor of my car. Sometimes, if I feel as though I'm just not "getting" what the Lord is trying to tell me in a passage, I will write out numerous copies and do all of the above.
One of the keys to meditation is not simply to read the verse over and over. I need to ask myself (and the Lord) questions about the verse. I'll give you a few examples. How would zeal look in my life? Are there areas where I am currently serving the Lord with passion? Are there areas I am serving but lacking in passion? Do I have spiritual fervor? If not, how can I gain it? What is God trying to say to me through this verse?
The final step I take is to memorize the verse. I generally stick to reciting the verse, out loud, over and over during my morning quiet time. As the words flow from my mouth more easily, I look at the index card less. My brain isn't as quick as it once was (yes, I am getting old!), so I find that it will take me a good two weeks of daily practice to feel confident that I am quoting one verse of Scripture correctly without looking.
As instructed by Beth Moore, I keep all of my verses for the year together (she uses a little spiral-bound index card pad, I use a big ring clip thingy) and once I'm done practicing my current verse I will go back through all my previous verses for the year. This keeps them fresh in my memory, and because I have also spent time meditating on most of them their meaning stays fresh in my heart each time I review.
If you don't generally do any Scripture meditation and memorization, I'd encourage you to give this simple method a try. In fact, I have a summer-time challenge for you! If you would like to join me in 3 months of m & m, there will be prizes on September 15th for those who push through! (Okay, if there are a few of you. If, by some strange act of God moving in lots of hearts, there are more than 5 girlfriends joining in, we'll have to have a draw or something.)
I realize it's short-notice (which is almost insurmountable for a planner like me), but let's start today! If you want to join me, just stick your name in the comments of this post to let me know. Then, pick a verse (it would be handy if you posted that in the comments as well), work on it for two weeks, and we'll gather again on Wednesday, June 30th with our next verse. Don't be discouraged if it's not coming easily! Persevere. If you need to work on one verse for a month to get it deep into your heart and memory - go ahead! The important thing is that God's Word will be "alive and active" in you!*
Even if you are already in the habit of m & m, I'd love for you to join me this summer. (Keeps me accountable!) And if you currently do m & m or have in the past - do you have any special tips that work for you?
* from Believing God, Beth Moore