I want more of the presence of God in my life. I desire to understand the heart of the Father, to walk as Jesus did, and to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in cultivating the fruits and the gifts of the Spirit. It’s not easy, but anything worth pursuing requires a degree of sacrifice and an unwavering direction to press on regardless of the circumstances that may come.
It’s no wonder that I was blessed by attending my church’s denominational family camp this year. As the Lord would have orchestrated it, our prayer meeting transitioned to becoming a prayer team for the weeklong camp. One of the featured speakers called us up to minister to those who needed it where we witnessed lives being transformed through encouragement from the Lord (words of knowledge and/or prophetic words) and demonstrations of healing. What a wonderful place to be in!
Even with this tremendous blessing to see the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s movement, this is not the lingering desire that impacted me as of this writing. What gave me this continual hunger for more of who God is was the message this Pastor left with us with. While the demonstration of the Spirit was great, the message on the importance of the Word of God was impactful enough to leave within many of us a burning desire to know the Scriptures in a powerful and transformative way.
As a result, I have to share the power and the importance of the Word – the God-breathed, life-sustaining, and immeasurable words that make up the Old and New Testaments.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
When we read the word of God with intentionality and pursuit of His presence in our lives, we are learning about who the God of the Bible is all about. This is true… but only partially! We are not simply reading for factual information, we are meditating on the Scriptures for a relational connection. This is what makes the word of God “alive and active”, it participates with us to shape us into the image of Christ. What better way to shape us unto Christ than Christ Himself!
“In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God” and “the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” – John 1:1-2; 14.
In other words, there is the mind-boggling notion that the Word is living because the Author of the world is the Word Himself. Wow!
Here’s an incredible truth about that: we don’t just read the Scriptures, THE SCRIPTURES READ US.
The living nature of the Scriptures being “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) cut us to the places that go far beyond our human limitations; the Word penetrates to the dividing of the soul and spirit, joints and marrow. This means Jesus Christ, by His living word and through His indwelling life, enables us to differentiate between our soul (our mind, will, and emotion) and our spirit (the deepest part of us where God dwells). Specifically, part of Jesus’ ever-present ministry to us is to reveal what comes from our own thoughts, feelings, and desires and what comes from His leading.
This means if I want to know the will of God, I need to be in the Word. I cannot think I know what He wants for me if I am not daily coming to God for Him to see my heart and speak to me. Remember, I’m not only reading Scripture for my knowledge but for Christ to analyze, convict, and encourage me.
Sadly, we have become comfortable in being ‘familiar’ with the Word rather than meditating on it so we know it and it knows us. Have you heard the saying ‘familiarity breeds contempt?’ How true this is when it comes to the Bible! As of right now, the Bible is more readily accessible than ever as an app that each person with a smartphone can download. Yet how much of the Word do we actually know?
I know what you’re thinking – you’ll hear a verse and you might be able to piece it together and guess bits of it. Or you might hear it and know the reference once it is spoken to you. Yet this is only familiarizing yourself with the Word by recognizing it. The real question is, can you speak that verse verbatim since the “Word has been stored in your heart?“(Psalm 119:11). I can honestly say that I’ve let technological convince determine my level of comfort. I am only familiar with the Word instead of intimately grasping the Word.
What do I do? What do we do?
The Word of God makes this clear: meditate on the Word day and night.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2
As we dedicate our time to read the Scriptures, we are placing a priority of what truly matters to us. It’s one thing to say “I love you” to someone you care about, it’s another to back up those words with actions. If we say the Lord is the Lord of our life, where is He placed when it comes to spending time with Him? How much of our day is carved out for an intentional and focused time by meditating in the Scriptures? It goes back to how much we value our relationship with Him.
And there are some incredible benefits to spending quality time in the Word… there is! Here are a few:
- You want victory over what you’re facing? Heed to the words Joshua received so that he could be successful in his mission: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8
- You want to live a life of purity before the Lord? Let the Word will be your focus. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your Word.” – Psalm 119:9
- You need guidance? The Word will guide you daily in the steps you need to take: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” – Psalm 119:105
- How about protection and provision? The Lord’s ways provide a refuge (Psalm 18:30) and a foundation (Matthew 7:24)
- Lastly, we’ll be blessed if we not only hear the word of God but obey it (Luke 11:28). If we only listen and not put it into action, we are only deceiving ourselves (James 1:22-25). I want to live a blessed, full, and victorious life. How about you?
I’d encourage you to take time to reflect on your current devotion to reading the Bible. Perhaps you’re like me, where I realized my casual and passive approach to the Scriptures is not demonstrating the hunger I truly want for more of God’s presence. I am not content to only take part in the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, but I want the indwelling presence of God to go deep in my life. As noted, this pursuit is having Christ be the center through my reading of His Word… for that is who He is! Try to find a Bible reading plan to get yourself started and dedicate yourself to reading it. If you already have intentional time to read the Scriptures, great! I’d encourage that you make sure to spend time meditating on portions of Scripture and not only read for reading sake. If led by the Spirit, start keeping those verses that you deem important to memory. You never know – those verses can come at the right time when you need them, not just for others, but to build you up when you need it.
Have a blessed week!
“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.” – 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT)