Every now and then my husband and I get a chance to sleep in until we decide to get up. As young marrieds without kiddos, we cherish the time to just lay in bed as long as God gives that to us. The time before little ones appear at the foot of our bed.
On these days, I wake up to his big brown eyes looking down on me. He has usually been awake a little longer than me, and uses his peace and quiet to reflect on our marriage. To learn me a little more before I rise.
To study me.
You see, my husband knows that God made life to go on for eternity–not to be here one minute, stagnant, and gone the next. There is always a new freckle to observe. Always a new passion or disdain to discover.
For when you are dealing with living beings, there is always something new to learn.
The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
How funny that the writer uses that language–living and active–to describe a book. It cannot walk. It cannot talk. At least, not in the way we consider walking and talking. When God inspired the words of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), He meant for them to travel far beyond the mouthes of his apostles. He knew and planned that these words would travel through time and space, would be disputed and disdained. He knew that no
matter how the world sought to tear them apart, outlaw them, and mock them, that they would stand strong and true.
If we want to be radical Christians, if want to be faithful and true, we have got to look past our schedules and get into this radical, faithful, and true book through which God breathes.
John Piper said it beautifully in one of His Ask Pastor John podcasts: “That kind of Christian, living in that kind of crazy, counter-cultural, uncomfortable way of serving the glory of Christ is not going to come into being by mere natural cause — casual, ordinary encounters with the Bible. Something radically different has to happen in the presence of the Bible for this person to come into being, and to be sustained for sixty or seventy years of spiritual warfare.”
So what does that mean for our walk? What does it mean to have “radically different” encounters with God’s Word. Well I don’t know where it ends, but I do know where it starts.
Set Aside Time
When we don’t set aside time for our God, we won’t spend time with Him. Plain and simple. Christian, we have an enemy who wants us to be as far away from Jesus as possible. He wants to make sure our focus is on the things of this world–not the things of the kingdom.
We are also naturally selfish people. We want our “me” time. We want to spoil ourselves. Or even more distracting, we convince ourselves that we do not have time in our schedule. We want what we want that more than a Savior who will speak into our lives. A Savior who will beckon us away from ourselves and into His Kingdom.
So set aside some time, beloved sisters.
Whatever you have to do, whether it is getting up 20 minutes earlier, staying up 20 minutes later, or shutting off the TV for the last hour of your day, if we cannot find time our schedules right now, what makes us think we will find time in them tomorrow or the next day?
Don’t wait until next week. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Block your time with the Lord off now and do not let anything interfere with it.
Context is Key
Once you have set aside your time, get to know the pages between your fingers. Hold them as you consider what the writer of these words may have been thinking. Learn about the history. What was going on at that time. How was the writer struggling? How was he delighted in the Lord?
Ask yourself these questions:
Who is the author?
Where did he live?
Did he live before or after the Messiah had come (Old or New Testament)?
Who was he writing to?
What was his purpose for writing?
You will find a lot of these answers within the text, but I want to challenge you to go beyond and check out some commentary (notes Christian scholars wrote on all the context surrounding the scripture).
Then turn to the cross references in your Bible. You know, the little letters besides the verses? In the margin, there should be other passages of scripture. Flip through the pages and read those. See what God had to say about this subject before He sent His Son. See His consistent heart. His steadfast love.
I am not asking you to get to know the context because I believe the Spirit cannot move through God’s word without it. He can. He will. However, we have been given a unique opportunity to better understand what was being written and why it was being written.
Take for example the verse, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
It is the beloved verse that is written on football helmets all over the country. It is whispered through prayer before big tests we did not study for or before we go into interviews.
These words were written by a sick, imprisoned Paul. He had been tortured so much in his lifetime, people marveled over the fact that he was still alive. They knew it could only be God sustaining him. This verse is his reminder to the church that we can stay faithful through the hardest, most painful of things that God has called us into.
How much cooler is that verse now?!
God wants so much more for us than to score that touch down, ace that test, or kill that interview. He wants to work in and through us. He wants to sustain us when we cannot sustain ourselves.
All of this information can be found any any Study Bible or commentary. Make this investment Christian, or find one online (one that you can trust). When we know the heart behind the men God used to breathe out these words, they can better be breathed into us.
Reflect With The Lord
After you get to know the scripture, reflect on it. Ask God what this means about your life.
Notice I said ask.
Oh man, is it easy to tell God what His word means for me! I just love to put my own spin on everything I read from this book, and if I do not get on my knees before the perfect, sovereign King of the universe, I can easily make myself the perfect, sovereign queen of my own world.
Reflecting with the Lord has looked about fifty ways throughout my walk. It been me opening my journal and writing my prayers. It has been sitting on my bedroom floor, asking God to fill that space with His voice and wisdom. It has been singing out in worship. There is no wrong way to open your heart for Him to speak. There is no way we can mess up His voice. The only wrong we can do is cloud it out with our own.
If this book is what we consider to be the Word of God, why is it so hard to discipline ourselves to open it up? Yes, our schedules are busy. No, we cannot seem to get a quiet moment to ourselves. But do we not think that the same God who spoke these words into existence and have allowed them to remain in their true and original form for thousands of years would not bless our time alone with Him?
He who created time wants ours.
He who spoke our lives into existence beckons that we spend some time hearing from Him.
He doesn’t need our attention. He is bigger than that. Yet He knows that affection for Him is the best thing for us.
Our eyes fixed on His presence is how our faith is perfected.
And so I ask, do we cherish God’s Word more than silver or gold or anything this world tells us to hold fast to? Or is it a box we check off the list?
Do we crack the pages of Scripture open once a week when the pastor tells us where to turn or are the thin papers fading for being opened and studied so much?
Whatever the answer, yesterday was yesterday and today is today. We do not have to be defined by how new or worn our Bibles look. It is only about what we do going forward. Go forward with me, Christian.
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Speaking of going forward, over the next eight Sundays, I will be going through the Book of Romans with you if you want to join me. If you are not already doing so, head to my home page and click the word “follow” to have this study sent to your inbox weekly. Below are some different tools you can use to start your study of scripture as well as a video to help you practically get started.
I love you dearly, my sisters in Christ. Now go forward and live your life as loved daughters of a perfect King.
Open your Bible Notebook: http://www.lifeway.com/Product/open-your-bible-notebook-P006106596
Bible Study Pens: http://www.lifeway.com/Product/bible-marking-kit-P001151773