Working God’s Word Into My Heart

Luke 6:48-49  is a beautiful scripture that explains why some folks either don’t like to read the Bible or read it without joy while others can’t get enough of it.

“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” (The Message)

Studying the Bible is like self-examination. It’s wonderful when the Word works its way into my heart, but it’s terrible when over analyzed. The Word of God is the only literature that is literally alive. I have books I’ve read ten times or more, but there’s no comparing them to the Bible. As I began my study of Mark this week, I was reminded of how much I love his Gospel. I said the very same thing a few months ago when I went through the Gospel of John.

Every time I read Jeremiah, I am awed by the way the prophet’s poetry touches my heart. David’s psalms reach into my soul, break my heart, or lift my spirit depending upon where my heart is at the time of my reading. Revisiting a book of the Bible is like meeting an old friend. My love for them bubbles to the surface, and I cannot contain the emotion they stir up in my soul. Last Sunday, Pastor Jeff challenged us to read the Bible together this year. He asked that we not look at the challenge as a chore but rather as a way of getting closer to God. I had to grin because I’ve been there and knew just what he meant. I appreciate God’s Word more than ever before in my life and lose track of time when I’m in it.

To me, the Bible is a beautiful love letter read over and over until the pages grow soft and the ink fades. There is tragedy, pain, and hurt in the pages, but that’s what makes it real. Love isn’t about getting what I want; it’s about sharing the hurt and the joy with someone who hears my heart. God’s Word does that beautifully as it points to Christ’s precious love, a love so amazing and real that it takes my breath away. I marvel each time it works its way into my heart.

A friend told me today that the ladies in her Bible study discussed the fact that we might live to experience a time when our Bibles are taken away from us. I told her that isn’t a problem if the Word is in our hearts. It can’t be taken from my heart from anyone other than me. It isn’t the printed book I cling to but rather the healing Word that lives in my heart. The Holy Spirit gives the Word life. I have a relationship with God’s Word just as I have a relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God.

Arguing over what a passage means is the best way to keep God’s Word from taking root in my heart. I love the book “The Blue Parakeet” by Scott McKnight. In it, he discusses the ways in which the Bible has been picked apart by those who would use its precious words to promote their agendas. It’s like taking a love letter and breaking down the syntax or picking out grammar and spelling mistakes. That ruins everything. Jesus fulfilled the law and became the Word. He knows the Word intimately. He is my model when it comes to God’s Word. Satan knows God’s Word well, but he hasn’t allowed it to be worked into his heart. It’s all in his head, and that’s obvious in his encounters with Christ. He is the perfect example of using God’s Word to promote his personal agenda. God forbid that we ever follow his example!

Next time you read God’s Word, let it wash over you like a stream of living water. It sometimes cuts deeply into my heart, but it opens up a beautiful space each time it does. God’s Word isn’t always just what I want to hear, but it is always just what I need just when I need it.

I love that about it!

Working God's Word Into My Heart

God Is Love

1 John 4:7-16 is a favorite scripture because it gets to the heart of love. It is easy to say God is love, but do I hear the sobering words of verse eight. If I don’t love, I don’t know God. Plain and simply stated, that verse calls for a life of love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.  We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” NASB

Christ gives access to love. If I decide to abide in love, God will abide in me and I in Him. That’s the miracle of Christmas. I’m afraid love is often lost in the lust that surrounds the season meant to celebrate true love.

There are close to five hundred references to love in the Bible, and that didn’t surprise me at all. God is love, and His Word is a beautiful love letter that I read over and over again. Each time I read it, it thrills and fills like a warm spring rain in a cold, barren desert.

The world wrings me out and sometimes hangs me out to dry, but God is faithful to fill and refill. In fact, I am learning that love is about being filled and emptied and refilled. It isn’t riding a crazy roller coaster or a sitting on the mountaintop alone with God. It is about getting into the world, seeking the truth, and connecting to God in others. God is love and exists in all who love Him.

I have friends with whom I have the sweet connection of Christ’s love. It is the most precious thing in this world, and I thank God for allowing me to share my journey with those who share a love for Him. Henri Nouwen says that God will connect to God. Christ’s love connects me to Him and those in my path.

Sharing God’s Word and love is what I am here to do. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I hope to do just that. Christ came to give access to God’s love, and that is the miracle of Christmas. I pray that 2013 is a year filled to the brim with God’s love. May we share our journeys with one another in a way that allows the honesty to love through laughter and tears. Tears and laughter are only for a short season, but love is forever.

What’s Wrong With Worrying?

Worry seems harmless enough. Doesn’t it show that I’m staying on top of things? Isn’t it a sign of maturity and responsibility? Shouldn’t I be thinking ahead and solving problems? Isn’t it important to ponder past mistakes? The answer, according to Matthew 6:25-33, is a clear no!

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” NASB

The scriptures from Matthew’s gospel make it perfectly clear that God does not want me to worry. I’ve learned to see worry as a measure of my faith. Fretting shows a lack of faith, and worry is a sin. That keeps worry at a distance. If I believe God is who He says He is, worry has no place in my life. That’s very easy to say, but I’m afraid it isn’t as easy to live out. Seeking God’s kingdom and remembering Christ’s righteousness help me hang out with the Holy Spirit and tell worry to take a hike:)

My stubborn need to be in control and know what is coming are the seeds at the center of my worry wart. God promises to be with me always, and that is more than enough to calm my fear. Fear flees in His presence. Living in the moment is sometimes very unpleasant, but knowing that God shares the hurt reminds me of another beautiful promise.

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 NASB

There are many more examples of such reassurance in God’s Word.  Joel 2:21-27 tells me He is in with me, and He is my God.  I still fall prey to fear and let worry take up space in my heart and mind, but I’m learning to look to His Word and let it surround me. It embraces and stills as nothing else. Keeping God’s Word near my heart and in my head is the best way to learn from and find joy in this amazing journey:)

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