Especially when that Word is God’s Word.
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)
Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:21)
I have had this experience so many times: A verse, a passage, or a phrase of Scripture hits me with great power. They address something that needs attention in my life. They speak to me. They illumine what is in the shadows. They reveal a way to walk. They name what needs to be corrected. They provide what is missing for me to flourish as a follower of Christ.
God’s Words are powerful, alive, transformative – and they can literally save us.
Here are six practices for you to connect with God’s Words and experience the holy activity they set in motion.
ONE: Engage with those words. Read the Bible often. You don’t have to read large parts of it at any time. In most cases, a chapter is plenty of Bible. Sometimes a few verses are more than enough Bible. In our time we have lost the habits of reading the Bible. We need to regain them. And I encourage you, even if you enjoy using a Bible App, at least several times a week pick up a Bible and turn the pages.
TWO: Underline, highlight, and make little notes IN YOUR BIBLE. It is an act of engaging. It makes you active. It focuses your attention when you do this. Pay attention to what Jesus is saying to you as you read, for Jesus is the Living Word. Jesus is the Word of God to us.
THREE: Keep a notebook handy for your reflections. Writing, even a little, is a great step for encountering the work of God in your heart. You don’t have to write much. Try this. What is the one take-away insight that was most powerful? Write that in one sentence. Then write a second sentence that answers this question: Why are these words speaking to me? Or, what does God want me to discover and change through these words? Now, one final sentence: How can you apply these words in your life today? You can write much more, but these three questions and three short responses are a HUGE jump in encountering God’s Words.
FOUR: Get into a small group or a mid-size community at Living Word. The Bible is core to all we do. You will have the opportunity every week to study the Bible together with others. Having conversations about the Bible is another enhancer for growth.
FIVE: Use the devotional resources we provide most Sundays to help you engage with a Sunday message in a much deeper way. We took a break over the summer, but will be starting them up again soon. You have a short passage, a short reflection by one of the pastors, and then a question to consider and an action step to take. These resources are very practical.
SIX: And repeat. Do it again tomorrow. Do it several days in a row. Try to do it five or six times a week. Soon you have new habits of the heart and you see change beginning to accumulate in your life. This truth hit me hard again when our Church Board spent a little time this week studying Deuteronomy 17:14-20. This passage is God’s preventive guidance to keep leaders from falling into the sins of money, sex, power, PRIDE, stagnation, and psychological dysfunction. For me, verses 18-19 were especially impactful. They tell the leader to:
- Make a personal copy of the law (a time consuming and laborious, but meticulous and detailed process of immersion in meaning).
- Keep that copy close by, easy to access, a constant presence.
- Be highly intentional and devoted to reading it all the days of his life. Daily and sustained.
- Keep in mind the desired outcome of knowing the Author of the Words, and revering, worshipping, loving the Divine Author we call the Lord GOD.
- Remember another desired outcome of obediently following all that the Lord GOD has commanded, following carefully, not veering away to the left or right.
What a great Word for leaders and for all of us. My point is that these familiar words, once again, hit me with power!
That’s it. These six practices will make a difference right away, and even more over time.
May God’s Word be alive and active in your life today.
May God set into motion the new things you need.