When we are being hosted to some fine dining, we seem to know instinctively not to gulp down and gobble up the choice fare. We park our fast-food habits and settle in to savor the experience.
Dwelling with Scripture is like that. It is a focused engagement with the written word so that we might more fully abide with the living Word. The end goal is not information but transformation. Let’s look at how to ‘fine dine’ on God’s Word to us.
We need to ready ourselves to dwell with Scripture. Silence and solitude help. Our expectations are more important. We need to come to God’s written word with the belief that God desires to relate with us and speak to us.
He directs the encounter. We are off on the wrong foot if we hope to manipulate the words from God to say what we want. Humility is a great posture.
Even if we have carved out some silence and solitude, we still bring a chorus of distracting voices. Doug Balzer suggests we clear the air and our minds with this declaration:
In Jesus’ name, I command all other voices to fall silent, that of myself, of other, and of the enemy. Now Jesus is there anything you would like to say to me or show me? Speak now for your servant is listening.
Dwelling with Scripture is not an all-you-can-eat buffet. Less is more. Shorter Biblical passages facilitate focus and avoid mental indigestion. Consider trying the Gospel of Mark. Newer English translations subdivide the Biblical text into units smaller than chapters. That is a good guide.
Pick one of those smaller units. Read it through and get familiar with it. Then read it again, maybe even out loud. Did a particular word or idea from the text catch your attention?
Allow that to focus your reflection. Is God pointing out a new truth? Is he straightening out a wrong idea? Is he correcting a behaviour? Is he inviting you to do a new thing?
Don’t leave out the third step! This is what moves us from information to transformation.
Imagine you are writing a screenplay. Based on your reflection what is the dialogue? What is God saying to you? What do you want to say back? I know, you aren’t totally sure, but relax this is only a draft.
What next? Pray.
- Has God spoken words of encouragement into your life? Give thanks!
- Has he spoken words of correction? Repent.
- Has he invited you to do something new? Ask for his enabling grace.
Then what? Obey. Resolve to put his particular word into practice.
Dwelling with the written word results in us abiding with the Living Word. Our encounter with Scripture changes us. We are made ready and outfitted to follow our Lord and do the good work He has prepared for us to do.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (Jn 10:27 NIV)
This is an excellent post – and most timely.