Bringing Word to Life

The WORD is living…we don’t need to ‘bring it to life.’  We need to bring our lives to life by weaving the Truth into our days.  This is much more than reading a command or a promise and then seeking its fulfillment in your reality.  The Bible is literature as well as life.  Reading is a practical matter as well as a spiritual one.  As this new year opens up before us, I wanted to share some tips and incentives to help those who want to feast on the Word but have not yet found the right ‘recipe.’

Choose a translation

I have favorite translations but my favorite understanding about which is best is this:

The best translation is the one you will read.

We don’t commit to that which we cannot understand.  Are some translations more accurately aligned with the original?  Yes.  Are some translations more challenging to read?  Yes.  Is the Holy Spirit necessary in any reading?  Yes.  Find a translation that you literally can read and follow what is being said.  Use the multiplicity of online sites to explore the translations before you invest your money.  Bible Gateway  is one of my favorites.

Remember:  The Bible tells the story of God…a seamless story from Genesis to Revelation.   Before you read the Bible, pray.  Ask God to give you insight into Himself as you read.  It is HIS Story!  Look for Him in it.  Ask for His help.

Choose a version.

We live in a world that offers hundreds of versions of the Scriptures.  The first version I read through provided daily reading options.  It included selections from the Old & New Testaments, Proverbs and Psalms.  I read quickly, so that first trip through only required a 15-20 minute per day investment.  It worked well because there was variety in the reading–even when I was in a ‘begat’ passage in one section, I had other sections that kept me pressing on.

There are dozens of other versions though that emphasize various aspects of the Word:

  • chronological – pulls all of the verses pertaining to a time period together and presents His story in time order
  • historical – aligns  Bible history with secular events
  • study – provide topical assists and cross-references

Christian Book Distributors is a great resource to check these out.

Choose a plan

The real world is busy.  If we don’t make conscious choices about how we will spend our time, we still make choices.  The only way to decide to do something is to decide and do it.  Reading the Bible is no different.  Choose the plan (e.g. time and place) that you feel will work for you and get at it.

Don’t forget the options that electronics allow.  Use a Bible App and let the phone read it to you as you drive to work.  Or use an online Bible like E-Sword.   Remember:  the best Bible is the one you will use!

When you miss a day, pick back up the next day.  The calendar is not the driving force of reading through the Bible.  Determine to do it and do it….whether it takes you 365 days or 100 days or 30 days or 3000 days.  Just do it.  A plan is like a budget; it is a framework that you aim to live within.  Make adjustments as you need to.

Enjoy the Feast!

The Bible nourishes life.  As you sit down to read, enter into the reading.  Let yourself be part of the words on the page.  Imagine the feelings of the ones you read about.  Consider the sounds and the setting described.  Ask questions of the text.  I often write these things down as I go or I will lose them as I read.  It’s common for me to jot down things like “Really?” or “How could that be?”  God will meet you in the questions; He will answer them if you ask and listen to the answer.  The Word is timeless.  What was True–really TRUE–is True.  Truth is not situational or cultural; it is timeless.

An example from my time in the Word this morning might help clarify this vital piece.  I am back in Genesis.  I read this morning how Abel became a herder of sheep and Cain coaxed fruit from the ground.  It struck me:  one nurtured life and one focused on working the ground that was cursed.  My questions from that were:

  • What does it look like in my life when I nurture life?
  • What does it look like when I ‘work the cursed ground?’

When you ask questions of God, be sure to take time to listen.  He speaks quietly in our heart.  He speaks through circumstances and people.  He often says things that challenge us and require us to turn or press on beyond our comfort zone.  But He is worthy!

choose this day

 

Life Change Lessons from a Play Station

A new calendar always inspires thoughts of change.  The desire for good, for fulfilling lives beats in every heart.  It feels like life gets in the way blocking our progress.  The wisdom book of Proverbs explains why:

There is a way that seems right to man…but it is the way of death.  (14:12 and 16:25)

Our new video game offers a light-hearted look at this reality.  It’s been decades since I played video games…think Atari Ping Pong.  Madden 15 on a Playstation is another world!

Our earthly lives are in a vastly different world than God’s Truths…but His ways work in this world and are a necessity for full, abundant living!  Here’s some things I’ve learned from our PS3:

  • I can be totally oblivious to the obvious.  The signals the kids readily see and feel (like a vibrating remote) give them information on what to do next.  I often don’t see it…and if I do, I don’t what it means.  I’m lost in the PS3 world.
  • Not knowing stuff is a hindrance and a frustration.  Success depends on knowing what things mean and what you are supposed to do about it.
  • Thinking I know what I’m doing doesn’t mean I am doing it right.  The game isn’t broke or rigged against me just because I’m not winning.
  • Instructions that don’t understand what I don’t know don’t help me…they just confuse (or irritate) me!
  • Failing repeatedly is discouraging and makes me want to quit.
  • Practice helps.  Perseverance pays!

Those little glimpses offer great truth for real life.  The plan of God provides answers for each of those problems.  The Word and the Spirit give direction for a winning life!  Many great resources exist to find Bible answers but faithful, consistent, determined digging on your own can never be beat. My life forever changed the year I made the decision to read the Bible all the way through for the first time…sporadic reading was useful but disciplined reading was transformational.

Whatever goals you set for the New Year…and goals are good…aim for integrity.  Blend the natural and the spiritual–don’t try to separate what God designed to be in union.  Jesus came to this earth for purpose–and He lived with intention.  God has plans and purposes for each of us.  We must seek to know His will and live with intention.  As you plan your steps for the coming days, give thought to why Jesus came.  Let God reveal the specific steps you need to take.  Then commit those steps to God, and He will produce in a greater way than you can even think!

Understand that walking out those steps will take discipline and sacrifice.  We cannot ‘go with God’ and continue on our own path.  There must be integrity between our words and our actions.  That does not mean we aim to be perfect; it means we seek to know what God would have us to do…and then we walk toward His goals rejoicing in His mercy, patience and love!

We cannot enjoy the glories of God on Sunday and lock Him away Monday through Saturday.  His glory must flow in the workplace, in our recreation and even in our private activities.  He is worthy of our honor 24-7.  His presence in every moment of our days is both our privilege and our responsibility.  Oswald Chambers states a hard truth with great clarity:

“God is not actively involved with our natural life as long as we continue to pamper and gratify it.”

In the center of the Bible, the Psalmist offers this powerful plea:

Keep my steps steady by your word; don’t let any sin rule me. Psalm 119:133

When sin rules in our lives, our lives become a commodity…an object to trade.  It devalues us and robs us of the inheritance Christ delivers to all who will believe!  The natural world is what God gave to Adam & Eve.  He intended us to enjoy it all by walking according to His Word.  As long as Adam & Eve did that, they had the beauty of the natural and the spiritual.  They enjoyed the very presence of God.  One choice to walk in their own wisdom, separated them from the source of life.  Jesus restores the choice of life, of God connection.  Unity between the natural and spiritual is the essence of abundant living, and an awesome life is possible in Christ!  Choose HIM!

What choices will you make for your the new year?

There are foundational disciplines of faith that must be in place to walk in His ways.  Join me for Fit Faith to build strength in your faith walk!

Tools for Growth – Divine Reading of the Word

Faith in Jesus Christ is both simple and complex.  Romans 10:9 is absolute truth:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus Christ completed the work of salvation.  Living a believing life is not always quite so simple.

Loved ones die.  Tragedies happen.  Lives shatter.

Macro Monday - Joanne JohnsonHope hides in the despair.  Pressing in to find the hope takes courage and strength beyond our capacity sometimes.  Many have walked this road before us–many walk with us.  It is always too soon to quit.  For personal assistance, visit my Personalized Mentoring page.

The Bible is the source of the answers, but it makes no sense to those without the Spirit of God; sometimes it baffles those with the Spirit.  The devil loves to cloud our minds; he does it well.  God is greater.  God wrote the Bible (through forty-some scribes over a few hundred years); He understands it and wants us to as well.

Far too many think they cannot read the Bible.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.  Satan knows the Bible–he uses it all the time.  We MUST read the Word and know it…know the history, the facts and know the heart of each passage.

Listening with the ears of the heart is an art.  In the second century after Christ’s death, this method of reading the Scripture began to be taught.  It was (is) called Lectio Divina or Divine Reading.  It is a deliberate, intense way of approaching the Holy Bible.  It is a way of digging for the hope when despair chokes.  There are many articles on the detailed depths of Lectio Divina, but here is the simplified version.  As you read ask God to show you in the Word:

  • Who He is.

  • Who you are.

  • What He wants you to do with your life.

God created us to be connected to us.  He wants us to know Him and His love–and to share it with others.  You will find that message again and again in the Scriptures.