“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25
Another way we disconnect with the Word of God is similar and yet unique. Simply, we can read with our own thoughts, feelings, conditions and circumstances in mind. We do not read with the Author’s intent, but only what we can get out of the reading for ourselves.
This is difficult because we may truly be coming to the Word of God seeking to obey it. But maybe God just wants us to worship Him first!
Maybe God is trying to get across a message that is greater than the one we have in our own minds. Maybe our own self-thought is getting in the way and we’re missing the larger message. Is God’s wider goal for me as His “missionary” to the world getting clogged up with daily needs? Is worship missing?
Certainly, God is speaking to us in our daily needs. God cares about our current situation and our thoughts and feelings. God cares about our prayer requests, and we’re invited to bring them to Him (Phil 4:6). But what of God’s own heart? Do I care to listen to His?
Praying the Prayer of Christ
Amy Carmichael once wrote about coming to God in prayer as though she was slipping in quietly beside Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane in that last fervent prayer for all of us. ALL of us. This was just before the guards invaded his “devotional time” to take him away to trial, public mockery and shame, torture, and separation from the Father and death. Amy’s heart was to wait quietly to hear HIS prayer instead of barging in with her own.
This is what it means to look intently into God’s Word. What is the “perfect law that gives freedom” but Christ Himself! For the Mosaic law only pointed out the difference between holy God and mortal man. It cannot free us! Only Christ holds the Key to our prison of death. To read God’s Word, is to read Christ and His mission of the redemption of ALL the nations (people groups).
Amy’s illustration has guided me since childhood. Not that I am always doing it right, of course! I can “read” my immediate situation in the words of scripture just as easily as the next person. I can open up a devotional book and be tempted to prophesy from the text there that this “Word” came to me just for this moment in time.
And that is not always wrong. In fact, there is something right in it and that is just because God’s Word is immeasurably applicable and dynamic!
But immediately, my heart is “checked”, as if there is a traffic light that switches to “yellow”:
“Slow down, look circumspectly. Reconsider what this Word is saying from God’s own heart, not just to you or to the ones immediately involved in your circumstance, but to ALL God’s children. How does God’s heart beam down like a laser to your heart through the power of His Spirit? What is God moving you to do and to be for His Name?”
Gaining a Wider Perspective
Recently, I began a Perspectives course (www.perspectives.org), which has been like a global beacon confirming this way of reading the scriptures. God’s heart has been for “all the nations” from the very beginning of scripture (Genesis 3:15b; Gen. 12:1-3). God will finish the goal of his heart (Revelation 7, specifically v9, 13-17). We are in the between, the fulfilling of that promise (Romans 1:5).
Reading the scriptures in this way unseats my self-absorbed heart.
God’s Word is an active one. The key to not forgetting God’s Word is to obey it. God’s Word is God’s mission of salvation to the world.
Is my “take-away” from the Word of God in line with God’s mission? Or is it self-centered? Are my prayers in line with Christ’s prayers for the nations? Or are they focused on my immediate world and problems? Am I beginning and ending my thought-life and prayer-life in praise and adoration and thanksgiving? Or do I barge in to the throne of God and order Him to solve my list of prayer needs (even if they are others-centered)? Do I ask God to discern for me what His heart is in the matter? Or do I tell Him what to do from my own logic?
Reading the Bible and praying in this way inspires me re-connect my practical life with the practice of scripture. I am re-connected with the purpose of my life as Christ tells it to me.
And I am changed. I take in life differently. It changes my habits (or is changing them…..oh, how stubborn are those habits!). My value of people and things is different. My plan of life is different. My view of life and death is different. I am renewed by the power of the mission goal of Christ. Life takes on a higher meaning than I have been living.
God’s Word becomes dynamic and active, not passive. It literally moves me to strike out against my own personal sin and it gives me the reason for doing so: those lost souls languishing in darkness and dire need who don’t have Christ, who don’t have the scriptures, who don’t have Hope.
I can see my own disconnects so much better, though I will never see them all—that is what the Church is for. God’s Word applied gives me little room, though, for disconnect. If I am doing, then I am struggling; and if I am struggling, then I am looking up to the God of all comfort for guidance.
Heavenly Father, I am mortified even as I write these words. You know my heart, the good and bad of it. Sanctify my heart, Lord, at all cost so that I do not lose connection with You. I am daily crossed with the choices to sacrifice self and I choose to be powered by Your eternal promise, vision, and glory. Keep me, Lord. I don’t ask that you make suffering easy or comfortable, but that you make me brave and noble. Push me, Lord, to go where my feet and hands and will are stubborn to go. Give me Your view of the world, material things, and the prize set before me. Help me to disconnect from their bondage by the power You have won for me at cost, and let them “grow strangely dim in the light of Your glory and grace.” In the Name of Jesus My Savior, so let it be.
© March 2019 by ReadPsalm119.com.
As a Fire is Meant for Burning
1. As a fire is meant for burning
With a bright and warming flame,
So the Church is meant for missions,
Giving glory to God's name.
As we witness to the Gospel,
We would build a bridge of care,
Joining hands across the nations,
Finding neighbors ev'rywhere.
2. We are learners; we are teachers;
We are pilgrims on the way.
We are seekers; we are givers;
We are vessels made of clay.
By our gentle, loving actions,
We would show that Christ is light.
In a humble, list'ning Spirit,
We would live to God's delight.
3. As a green bud in the springtime
Is a sign of life renewed,
So may we be signs of oneness,
Mid earth's peoples, many hued.
As a rainbow lights the heavens
When a storm is past and gone,
May our lives reflect the radiance
Of God's new and glorious dawn!
— Ruth Duck (1992), translated by Georgina Pando-Connolly (2008) from “Como un Fuego Brilla y Quema”; 1978, Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. by Augsburg Fortress. Music available at hymnary.org.
Facing a Task Unfinished, Keith and Kristy Getty (Lyric Video), uploaded by KeithandKristyn Getty, Oct 14, 2016, [YouTube; 4:46 min]. Video includes chord charts on the screen! A FREE PDF of the song’s sheet music is available at murray.anglican.org (Click on the PDF or the URL).
1. Facing a task unfinished that drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee to go and make Thee known.
2. Where other lords beside Thee hold their unhindered sway
Where forces that defied Thee defy Thee still today
With none to heed their crying for life, and love, and light
Unnumbered souls are dying and pass into the night.
We go to all the world with Kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save but Jesus Christ, The Lord!
3. We bare the torch that flaming fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming that Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same Commission, the same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition; to Thee we yield our powers.
4. O Father, who sustained them; O Spirit, who inspired
Savior, whose love constrained them to toil with zeal untired,
From cowardice defend us, from lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us to labour for Thy sake.
— Original words by Frank Houghton*; original music by Samuel Wesley. New words and music by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash, and Fionan de Barra. (2015 OMF International, et al.)
- Frank Houghton wrote Amy Carmichael’s biography, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur.