The Bible is a Living, Breathing Document Designed to Bring Life!

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The Bible is a living, breathing document designed to bring life to the heart and soul of its reader!

The writer of Hebrews makes a most powerful proclamation in this regard when he says, in Hebrews 4:12 – 13,

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Indeed, no creature is hidden from His sight!  This stout proclamation alone ought to inform any serious reader of the Word of God.

Yet, so often, we approach the Word of God in such haphazard, low regard manners.

Years ago in one of my first seminary classes, a professor stood before us and echoed these ancient words as he said,

“The biblical text must first interpret us before we seek to interpret it.”  

I’ve never forgotten his admonition and I’ve tried to develop my ‘study’ habits in concert with it!  In other words, each time I approach God’s Word, I submit my will, mind, heart and soul to the interpretation of the text, before I seek to interpret the text itself.

While I preach for a living, and am often called on to share a message from Scripture, I believe this insight is pivotal for the faith development and maturation of everyone who longs to be a disciple of the Messiah.

The past five to six posts have focused on why we need to develop – or redevelop – the ancient art of slow or deep reading.  I am referring to this art as, Contemplative Reading. While this art – as all art – is one that’s full of flexibility, it’s built off of a blending of the ancient practice of Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading) as well as modern interpretation tools.

I hope you find the process meaningful in your desire to walk humbly with our Lord!

Step One: Select Your Text

  • For this portion of the practice, you’ll want to select a passage of Scripture that’s 4 – 6 verses long.  The reason for selecting a smaller passage is connected to the listening phase of the rhythm.  The smaller the passage, the more focus and reflection you’ll be able to give.  You will have the option of broadening the selected passage (which may be necessary) as you transition to Bible Study portion of this rhythm.

If you are struggling to find a text to select, you may want to choose one from the following list of Scriptures that I find meaningful in my discipleship journey!

Texts to consider contemplating:

  1. Psalm 51:1 – 6
  2. Genesis 1:26 – 31
  3. Psalm 27:1 – 6
  4. Isaiah 61:1 – 6
  5. Psalm 23
  6. John 15:9 – 15
  7. Colossians 1:1 – 4
  8. Matthew 22:34 – 40
  9. Revelation 21:1 – 8

Step Two:Begin By HEARING the Word.

  • Read the selected text slowly, aloud!
  • Listen for the Holy Spirit and His stirring as you read. Listen for answers to the following questions:

“What portion of this text captivates me?”

“Is there a word or phrase that stands out or grabs me?”

“What do I hear the Lord saying to me through this text today?”

Pause for a moment (I suggest one – five minutes) in silent/meditative prayer.

  • Read the text a second time. As you do, ask the following questions of the Holy Spirit:

“Why am I drawn to this word/phrase?”

“How do You want me to hold this phrase today?”

Pause for a moment (I suggest one – five minutes) in silent/meditative prayer.

  • Read the text a third time. As you do, ask the following questions of the Holy Spirit:

“What actions would You have me take in response to your leading?”

Pause for a moment (I suggest one – five minutes) in silent/meditative prayer.

  • At the end of your final reading, jot down your responses and/or reflections God has given you during this time.

Step Three: Read the Text in Several Different Translations.

With your notes from your time of contemplative reading in hand, begin now to transition to a traditional study of the text.  Such a study helps assure us of God’s voice as we seek to experience His truth before we share it with others.

  1. Suggested translations:
    • New American Standard.
    • New Living Translation.
    • Common English Bible
    • English Standard Version.
    • New King James Version.
    • Tree of Life Version.
  • Highlight the similarities and differences between translations.
    • Every translation is a commentary of sorts so it’s helpful to notice differences and highlight those portions where words are translated differently.
      • Circle words that are repeated.
      • Jot down questions that arise as you read.

Next week we will shift to discovering some modern Bible study methods as we explore how to develop a word/phrase study of important terms!

Disrupting to Renew!

About Bizgainey

Learning to hear the gentle whisper of God loosed in the rushing waters of life
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