Tag Archives: Word

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

 

Can you really hear from God?

I think perhaps this is the most common question folks have.   The short answer is YES!  His Word is the place to begin, but He speaks individually as well.  You will find other pieces on this blog–and many other places–to help you explore the topic.  This is a recent compilation of tips on hearing from God.  How does He speak to you?  Share your experiences in the comments!

Hearing from God is the interpreting of life in the context of God.  It requires the Holy Spirit, so looking at the arrival of the Spirit is useful.  In Acts 2, the Spirit filled the ‘house.’  When God is all around, hearts are set on fire.  When your heart is on fire, your life speaks that God is real.  

You hear from God and you speak in a way that helps people understand GOD IS REAL.  BUT not all people will understand.  Some of the people at Pentecost thought the disciples were crazy or drunk.  The timing may not be right for another, but that does not negate what you hear.  

  • Hearing from God is receiving a Personal Word.  If you hear someone speak of a ‘rhema’ word, this is what they mean.  Christ is the ‘logos’ come to life.  God never speaks in a way that contradicts the written Word, the logos, the life of Christ.  He brings the WORD to bear on your unique circumstances.
  • Hearing from God requires humility…a willingness to fail, a willingness to be judged by others.  Humanity is prone to error.  It is possible to misunderstand and/or be misunderstood when you listen and speak of God’s word to you.
  • Hearing from God requires courage. God doesn’t speak just so you can sail through life without struggle.  Paul got on a boat that went down; was bit by a viper; blocked from some ministries; imprisoned; beaten and ultimately killed.  Danger is part of the package:  faith is fearless.
  • Hearing from God requires confidence in God.  If you get it wrong, if the results are not what you wanted…it is okay.  It is not about us anyway…it is all about God.  He is greater than the mistakes you (or another) will make.
  • Hearing from God requires living in freedom…living in the presence of God.  
  • Hearing from God requires the grace of God…for yourself and others.  
  • Hearing from God requires faith in God.  Getting it wrong or getting into situations you never intended opens the door for seeing His power and provision.
  • Hearing from God is Holy Ground.  Don’t take Him for granted.  Don’t ignore what He tells you.  Sin separates us from God.  It can block our hearing Him…and His listening to us.

BEWARE:  “God told me to tell you.”

God is all about relationship.  He prefers to speak directly to us, but sometimes God will ask one person to deliver a message to another.  Be cautious as the speaker or the hearer when you hear, “God told me…” Remember, humanity is prone to error.  “God told me” can border on a manipulative tactic.

The advice I like best about the idea that God is telling you to speak to someone:  if you want to do it, it probably is not God nudging you.  If it is a message you don’t want to deliver—that’s probably God.  (Think Samuel or Moses).

If someone is telling you “God said…”, go talk to God.  What is the reaction of your spirit—your gut response?  Do you know it is right but you don’t want to do it?  That’s God.  However, when in doubt, don’t.  If their message doesn’t resonate in you–follow your peace.  Don’t let someone put their burden on you.  Listen to God.  

Don’t automatically negate another’s word for you…God has been known to speak through donkeys.  At the same time, refuse to negate their burden.  God, indeed, may have given it to them.  Just because it is not yours does not mean it is not valid.

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

Know that the devil does not want you to hear.   God’s goal of speaking is always relationship & unity.  He calls us closer to Him so we will know Him more.  “How shall they know unless they hear?”  There are any number of things that can interfere with hearing from God: stuff of life, busyness, worries, fear, resentments, unforgiveness, sin…  The very things that block our hearing are the things God stands ready to use to transform us.

The things you struggle with are the places God is speaking to you.  Don’t run away.  Don’t throw out accusations at others (or God).  Don’t fall into despair.  Seek His face in the darkness; He is there.

God speaks all the time.  He is the great I AM who is always present.  He is LIFE itself.  The pure in heart see God…and when you see Him, you will speak LIFE and others will hear.  You will know He is present as you share in worshipping Him with others.