There’s a very beautiful picture of the character of God in Isaiah, the 55th chapter. The context of the chapter is an invitation into the salvation of the LORD.
In the beauty of God portrayed in those verses, there’s one thing that pops off the page. No matter which translation I study, the words are powerful to me & they come from verse 11 where we receive a promise that God’s Word never returns void or empty & where He sends it, it will accomplish what He wants & it will prosper everywhere it goes.
Under the New Covenant of & with Christ we are reminded in John 1:14 that God sent His Word to become flesh, a human being & make His home among us by an act of unfailing love & faithfulness & through this we have seen God’s glory; the glory of the Father’s Son.
I cannot reflect on the those verses without feeling such a bittersweet string of emotions inside my heart. In my own life I feel gratitude for the ability to have the freedom to study this Word, His very Word through the Spirit’s guidance & have my life affected by the love letter written directly to me. But, at the same time I feel an ache for the lack of seriousness or validity many have created for this communication tool of life that He left for us. The Bible is consistently discarded as a mistranslated, ancient, old book that’s un-relatable. Primarily because it’s not telling people what they want to hear. When words convict, they’re instantly discarded as false.
The Ancient of Days may have left us writings that are aged, but they are anything but ancient in their delivery. It takes a lot of time, prayer, sacrifice & direction from God to hear His voice through the string that sews together the Old & New Testaments through the promises He has for us with Jesus.
People use God’s words as a means to prove they’re right instead of looking for the truth of who God is & who they are to Him. We’ve reduced teachable moments at His feet to cherry picked “verse of the day” devotionals & wonder why we’re spiritually starving & lack joy.
We find comfort in asking God, “Who Am I?” When He simply wants us to start with the declaration of who He says He is, “I AM.” The Bible WILL tell us who we are & what we should do, but we won’t find clarity in these answers until we allow them to be found 1st through the lens of who God is in character & as our Creator.
Many times we seek out scriptures to make us “feel” a certain way when we read them. We’ll tread water in the Psalms, & the Gospels, with little time in the books of the Prophets or Judges. Most of us have built our faith from the emotions we feel on any particular day & if we feel happy, we claim relationship with God; feeling low, we feel our relationship with Him is distant.
I have often told the class I teach, the heart cannot fully love who it doesn’t truly know. If we want to love God more & love Him deeper, we have to know Him personally & how to truthfully think about Him. Jesus commands us to love the LORD with all of heart, souls, mind’s & strength. We aren’t asked to love God with Beth Moore’s mind & our favorite author’s heart & the best conference speaker’s soul- we’re called to do so for ourselves.
A study of the Bible that truly equips will never lack in allowing a person to be taught to approach Scripture to hear what God says directly, not the writer’s opinions of what God says. When we allow the latter method to remain in our lives, we adopt an idea that these other people know more about the Bible than we ever could, so we stop seeking the Spirit’s direction & we resign ourselves to a stack of books, blogs & podcasts because picking up THE Book has started to cause us discomfort & struggle. We’d rather be conveniently persuaded by another’s opinions, than inconveniently taking the time to research truth on our own.
Before we can ask what the specific verses say to us, we have to ask what did they say to the original audience? To view parables, law codes, poetry, historical views or geography in a way that doesn’t frustrate & cause us to rush through, but in a way that causes us to pause & allow God to slowly humble us & explode our understanding. To give ourselves goals & time frames that invest in seeking direct curriculum, allowing ourselves to actually be lost & feel lost in the process, so He can find us.
Too often in my past I failed to embrace the struggle I was in, in Scripture & I gave up or looked for a short cut. When I realized that God was using that frustrating moment as a teachable moment, to push me a bit farther, to seek out original text or go one level deeper, it was THERE I found Him. Something beautiful about the Lord that I’d never known & in that instance I also found out things about myself. From those realities I found a new way to live & a new way to heal. A new way to approach & fall in love with the Bible.
All 66 books of the Bible tell a story about the creation, falling, redemption & restoration of humans. It’s each of their stories, but also the story of our own lives. You will find the kind of God who waits to show you His love. What I found about myself wasn’t that there was a God with unnecessary expectations for my life due to a dusty old book that kept people from “living their lives.” I found that through Jesus Christ there was freedom. And everything I needed to be free & stay free was written right there for me to know.
I also found conviction through God’s words & I think that was my biggest struggle so many years ago. I had a false mentality that what gave me instant satisfaction was more profitable than what God could provide. I came to know those things in my life that I’d white knuckle gripped, never actually gave me happiness, they just kept me bound to deeper sins. When I learned how to part with the sin(s), I learned how to see their roots & many of those roots were yoked to areas of me that had never been healed or loved in the right way; the Godly way.
Sin is an inconvenient word these days. If you are studying God’s Word & never find personal conviction re: the sin in your life, if it doesn’t change your walk, then please pray for a redirection in your journey to the cross. Any sin walls on your path will block the fullness of the blessings & the plans that God has for your life. Not many people want to bring that up because it isn’t PC, but someone who cares about you truly having a relationship with God that’s your own, will teach & direct you in a way that allows you to see/feel that for yourself.
I encourage you to seek the Bible for understanding & truth, for explanation & for clear application as to how you’ll put it into use. Let that be a prayer you repeat until it becomes a natural part of your seeking. Ask questions, “What does this say? What does it mean? How should this change me? What does this say about God?” And always make steps to pray throughout your time in the Word. You can use the acronym PART. P-raise & glorify God for what He reveals. A-dmit or confess the hindrances, distractions & sin tripping you up. R-equest assistance & forgiveness. T-hank God for all He is, all He’s done & what He’s going to do!
James 1:5 tells us that we will receive wisdom by asking our generous God for it. Prayer is the means that we implore the Holy Spirit to guide us & take up residency into our study & personal time with Him. When we commune with God through prayer & pursue Him through the Bible, He changes our desires & creates a hunger in us for more time seeking spiritual things & less time wasting ourselves to worldly desires.
As we approach this season of celebration & honor regarding the birth of Christ, let’s not forget HE was the fleshly word. His life, His ministry, His death, His resurrection & His return, turn us all back to the Scriptures. Trade the rush of the materialistic season, for the peace & small whispers of God in uninterrupted silence. Honor the wonder of the old rugged cross shaped tree before standing in awe of the dressed up, twinkling one. Remember, for most Christians the holidays bring a spiritual feeling & sense of God’s presence because people are looking hard for Him in childlike anticipation. Taking Advent journeys through Scripture, creating family moments & bonding over the Christ story, finding holy spaces to breathe in gratitude. No wonder Christmas feels so magical, because every heart is exposed in hope, love, & seeking.
However, the same feeling of December can occur in March & June & August. He’s always there, & so is the fullness of His wonder. But, we must be willing to stop running circles around the truth to grasp onto the temporary & decide to run the long race with endurance, hands wide open.
If God would’ve given us any more methods to know Him, besides prayer & the Bible, He would’ve made that known, but what was provided was done so in a way this personal, because these things can never be taken from you. No-one can take your prayer life & no-one can remove the Word of the Almighty when it becomes implanted in your soul. Before you can love, you have to know, & before you can know, you have to carve out time to be taught, & before you can be taught, you have to be emptied of yourself so you can be filled to full capacity with the Spirit’s Fruit.
My prayer today is that for you reading this, your desire for the next year will be to grow in relationship & deep love for God, maybe for the 1st time in your life. And to utilize the direct word, Spirit & prayer tools that are unlimited resources for you, personally. You can never have too much God & the more you want the more you’ll receive. The biggest gift you’ll receive this season is the blessing that awaits you when you walk into the storehouse of His provision & unwrap His will for your life.
2 Timothy 3:15-17, NLT, You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.