In the first post in this series, I discussed the need for us to know Jesus’ voice. The following is a quote from that post:
If we are going to hear God, see what He sees, and walk in what He has for you. You need to know Him for yourself. Not on the basis of what I say, not from the latest book, big church pastor, or favorite worship band……
But you, face to face with God. It’s your relationship with Jesus. Walk with Him and talk with Him. Not just one day, but day after day. When you fail, get up if you can and continue. If you can’t get up, just cry out and reach out to Him. Pursue intimacy with Jesus. Everything flows from that place.
The first discipline that deepens our intimacy with Jesus I want to discuss is engaging with Scripture.
In a sometimes controversial statement, I often remind our congregation that “We don’t have a relationship with a book, we have a relationship with Jesus.” We don’t worship the Bible. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees,
“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life.These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:37-40)
However, the Bible absolutely is God’s inspired word to us. We must remember the purpose and place of the written word. It reveals God to us. It is the authority for faith and practice for us. It is full of God’s instructions and promises. It provides us all of the pointers to who the Savior is and what He is like! So it is imperative that we read it, study it, engage with it, discuss it, and let God speak to us through it. We must not neglect or ignore it.
Look at these verses:
“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
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” – James 1:22
‘Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:4
- God’s word is powerful and works in us to hold us accountable and bring internal change
- God’s word is the foundation for teaching, correction, training in living in right relationships so we can be about the Father’s business
- God’s word is to be put into practice
- God’s word is life giving to us
God will meet us in His word. He will speak and reveal Himself to us as we spend time in the scriptures.
We must approach the scriptures with humility. We do not want to be cavalier with the Bible. It is a rich, complex, ancient, beautiful, mysterious, and miraculous text. As tempting as it is, we need to try and not approach the Bible as if it only speaks to our lives and problems in 2016. It is so much bigger than that.
Everything in the Bible was written from, to, or about people with specific customs and norms with history and circumstances specific to them. Context, context, context. We must not read ourselves into the text first. We need to first read it for what it says, how it says it, in its intended meaning and then let the Holy Spirit reveal things to us. An incredible life transforming revelation is waiting for you smack in the original context. When you read a verse and you get excited about it, read the whole chapter or story that surrounds it. See what other passages say about that text or subject. Use the cross-references and concordance. When you see the words “so”, “therefore”, “because”, etc. take the time to read why those words are there. Take the time to read books in the Bible in their entirety so you understand the whole message of the author. That is not to say that there are not times where one or two verses of a passage will resonate with a circumstance in your life or speak directly to you. God most certainly will do that. We just want to be faithful to make sure that what we receive does not violate or twist what was originally written. That way we are kept accountable and solid in hearing what we believe to be God’s voice. If you are wondering where to start, begin in the book of John. It’s an intimate account of the life of Jesus. After you read John, head on to the book of Acts and learn about the birth of the church and the move of God’s power advancing all the way to today!
Read the Bible! Study it, chew on it, put it into practice, sing it, shout it, and meditate on it! The more you do the more you will see Jesus all over it! The more you will hear His voice. The more you will know His heart.
Remember, God’s heart from before time was to love and be loved in return (1 John 4:8, John 3:16, 1 John 3:1, John 1:12, and so many more). When Adam and Eve fell, sin and death entered the equation. However, God has pursued mankind ever since. He is always revealing Himself. Therefore, it would be no different in the written word He has provided for us.
Intimacy with God is deepened and fostered by the reading and studying of His word.
Here are some resources to help you on your journey:
- www.blueletterbible.org – Great online Bible with multiple translations, commentaries, and more. The real prize is the ability to quickly look up the original meanings of the words with just a click.
- www.biblegateway.com – Great online Bible with multiple translations, commentaries, and great readable layout
- YouVersion Bible App for Android and iPhone – Great Bible with multiple translations, daily verses, reading plans, and social community options
- Churches and Podcasts online – there are a bazillion available.
- YOUR LOCAL CHURCH! Get plugged in and get involved in a small group or Bible study. Get people to journey with you!
In my next post on Intimacy and Discipline, I will cover “Being Present”. Stay tuned…….