Early in my new faith journey I came across the following from Proverbs.
I found it was very similar to the first part of Psalm 1 where the path to a fruitful life is described.
What to avoid, and what to focus upon.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. (Prov 4) NIV
Those two sections of scripture have influenced the direction I became determined to take, with special attention being given to God’s word.
I wanted to approach the Bible in a much more focused way than merely fulfilling an obligation to read so many chapters per day to get from beginning to end in a certain time frame.
Both the Psalm and Proverbs references speak of a deeper level of interaction with the word.
Blessed is the one…
…whose delight is in the law (word) of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law (word) day and night. (Psalm 1) NIV
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart (Prov 4) NIV
I was also mindful of NT references to being DOERS of the Word and not hearers only, noticing that the man who built on sand is likened to those who actually HEARD the word, but did not act on it.
My current situation became a wake-up call that I needed to take God’s Word VERY seriously; something requiring deep thought leading to action.
But what kind of action would be required that did not merely become a de facto pursuing of the law as the way of righteousness as stated in Romans 9, in which Israel had failed? I found the answer is in the immediately preceding part of scripture, where a “righteousness that is by faith” was obtained by the Gentiles.
Doing the word is much more than obeying commandments. That approach didn’t work for Israel (mainly because they more eagerly practiced the sacrifice commands done as sin offerings, than obeying the behavioural commands that would have dealt with their sin before it was committed. See Jer 7:21-24 Sadly that is a similar attitude held by some Christians who see God’s forgiveness as a foregone conclusion despite their lax attitude to sin).
Being a doer of the word includes BELIEVING it; having faith in what God has said and living our lives according to its truth.
That requires a deeper relationship with the Word than just reading it.
As noted in Psalm 1 and Proverbs 4 – the word needs to be kept in our heart, and meditated upon day and night. It needs to become PART of us, renewing our minds to transform our lives according to His will instead of being conformed to the world around us.
Back to my personal journey and how I’ve started a new and more intense relationship with scripture.
To date it has taken a number of parallel approaches.
1) Reading through the whole Bible (reasonably quickly) to understand the broad revelation it contains.
For this I’m using The Books of the Bible, a publication that removes chapter and verse numbers from the text to give a smoother reader experience, unencumbered by the often intrusive and ill-placed divisions of those man made additions to the bible, and the text is printed in a single column across the page instead of the common double columns used on most bibles. That also makes it easier to read, like a “normal” book.
It also presents the individual books in a more logical sequence than the familiar, traditional order of books. For example Luke and Acts are presented together, followed by Paul’s letters in order of writing rather than according to length.
2) Study of particular topics in which urgent understanding is needed (such as my studies regarding healing)
3) Slower book by book reading, taking notes as I go. For this I turn to a more traditional bible with chapters and verses, which despite the problems they may cause for reading, can be a worthwhile aid for study. I have a bible with slightly wider margins for notes. Like The Books of the Bible, the NIV that I use for note taking is a single column “readers” bible.
4) During my “whole bible reading” mentioned in point 1 above, I also occasionally write down anything that stands out as significant in my note taking bible, so I keep it in easy reach as I read the other one.
This varied approach I’ve been able to apply to bible study and reading has been quite profitable, and has led to an almost natural process of meditating on the word – with my mind frequently being turned to what I’ve read and studied. I find myself making connections across scripture seeing parallels and threads of truth woven between books and even across its diversity of writers and periods of history.
I’m several weeks into this journey now and while my relationship to scripture is progressing well, there are other areas that need my attention.
To be continued…
But as a final note, as I was typing this I was able to put into practice some of what I learned in my healing study.
Gloria was cooking dinner and burned her wrist on a hot pan. As she immersed it in water, I commanded healing in the name of Jesus. She was able to remove her arm from the water completely free from pain.
Gloria has been following my healing studies with her own, and has now experienced two healings within a week. The above being the second.
A few days ago she realised that a long standing problem with her knees had gone. For more than 18 years she had experienced difficulty standing after a sitting for a lengthy time or any movement that put pressure on her knee joints. She also she found it impossible to kneel without discomfort.
About two days ago, while cleaning the bathroom floor, she realised she was kneeling to do it, on both knees without any pain or discomfort.
She can now walk better, can kneel, and even demonstrated an ability to walk on her knees (not that she’d have any reason to do that in day to day life, apart from proving that her longstanding knee problem had been healed).
That healing was clearly an unsolicited gift from God. Previously no thought had been given to ask for the problem to be fixed, having lived with it for so long.