By Kelly Shaw
Kelly is a member of the SVM2 international facilitation team and currently lives among the unreached.
Have you ever read a story that seemed completely foreign to you? In the newspaper, we read stories of people living in villages with little electricity or we read of the areas rocked by earthquakes and the massive devastation left.
I confess that I have never lived in a remote village or experienced firsthand the destruction of an earthquake, and yet I can identify on some level with their suffering as we all face suffering in this world.
This morning I picked up a book and began reading. At first this story too seemed set in a place that was so far removed from my own circumstances that I found it difficult to engage in what the people were experiencing. Yet, as I continued on, the story leapt off the page and into my heart.
I found myself completely identifying with the problem these people faced. The story that had at first been foreign was now resonating deep within my soul. This story was from the book of Judges. While the Lord can speak to us through many stories or books, the one book above all others He loves to speak through is His book, the Bible.
I have met many people who have sat down with their Bible for their obligatory 10 minute devotional and walked away having checked off something on their to do list. Whether the stories seem too foreign to them or they don’t know where to begin, they end up pushing their time in God’s word to the tiny space left after everything else.
For those followers of Jesus who neglect to spend time in the Bible, they simply do not value the difference it can and does make in the life of a believer. Often, for these the Bible is dead like every other book, written by and for people who lived centuries ago in a culture, time and place completely foreign to our own.
Yet, the Bible is not dead, but fully alive. The writer of Hebrews describes the energy and vitality found in the Scriptures.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12
Jesus Himself also points out that the Scriptures are not merely good reading material, but our very source of life.
“But He (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”” – Matthew 4:4
Jesus answers Satan in the wilderness from Deuteronomy 8:3, proving by His very answer the power of the Scripture itself.
If something is alive, then it possesses energy and activity. There is nothing alive that constantly stays the same or does not move. Thus, if the writer of Hebrews refers to the word of God as living then it should produce activity in our life.
The Word of God is not an ordinary book that is static and says the same thing no matter how many times you read it. Rather, the Word of God is alive! The Lord of the universe desires to speak to us through the Bible. He desires for us to learn about Him, His character, His heart, His emotions, His divinity, and His humanity.
On many occasions I have sat with a group of people reading the word of God, after reading each of us will pull various insights that spoke to them. We find insight into the ways of God that He loves obedience and faithfulness. Perhaps that particular Scripture highlighted God’s beauty, mercy, justice, or love. The combination of a multitude of perspectives brings a rich fullness to our understanding of God’s word.
This same thing can happen with an individual. I have read a portion of Scripture and then six months later or a year later I read the same Scripture and I glean some new nugget of truth. This can be because of the circumstances in our lives, our level of spiritual maturity, our sensitivity to God speaking to us, or particular lessons that God wants to teach us in certain seasons.
No matter what the reason for seeing something new the beauty and goodness of the word of God is that there is always life to be gained from being a student of the word of God.
The key to the living word of God is first actually spending long enough in it to glean truth from it. If we never open the Bible because we are too busy, then we miss out on countless opportunities to nurture our spirits on the life that comes from the word of God.
How do we know if something is powerful? We see a visible effect. If we see a powerfully strong man, we might see him lift extremely heavy objects. If we see a powerful woman with great authority, we might see the effect of people heeding her advice or quickly following the directions given.
How do we know that the Bible is powerful? We must look at the impact it has upon us.
Before proceeding farther, we must highlight Paul’s own condition placed upon reading the Scriptures. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 3:15, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Faith is the key to unlocking the power of the Scriptures in our lives. Faith enables the Scriptures that are “sharper than a two-edged sword” to come and discern the thoughts and intents of our hearts. Alas apart from faith, we cannot see or understand the wisdom of Scriptures.
Expectation accompanies faith. Therefore, as we approach the Scriptures with faith we also come with expectation, not of a duty fulfilled but of an encounter experienced with the Living God.
Coming with faith and expectation, we read the Bible as an opportunity to hear God speak. If we are willing to take the time to pray before we read the Bible, examine the Scriptures for principles of how God speaks and interacts with His people, ask the Lord to help us apply these things in our own lives and meditate on these Scriptures throughout the day, we will find our time in the Word of God not a task, but a joy!