Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…What is something The Lord has been teaching you lately?
That is a question I like to ask people. I don’t ask it to corner anyone or put them on the spot, though I am sure by the facial expressions I have received when asking, that I have at times inadvertently done just that. However, to those I know enjoy a close walk with their savior, I love asking. Why? I suppose it is because I just love hearing what the Lord is saying to others because it usually blesses me with some new view of who God is and just how very good He is to us. Sometimes I have to admit, I ask the question to begin the conversation so I can also share some wondrous revelation I have experienced.
How do we have such revelatory times with the Lord? Obviously we have to spend the time seeking Him. His word tells us that it we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. (James 4:8) That particular verse goes on to intimate that as we do that, our thoughts will become less divided between the cares of the world around us and the God we seek to know better, and our minds will become singly settled on Him. So we have to decide that hearing from God is our intention and set aside time for it to take place. Walking closely with our sweet, sweet Savior and hearing the wonderful words of affirmation and instruction from our Master will never happen by osmosis…it is a product of intention.
For me that means I have to set a specific time aside. I am too easily distracted to simply decide that at some point everyday I will spend time with Jesus. For me it has to be scheduled. As I said last week I love to fly by the seat of my pants…but let’s be real…that attribute, as fun as it may be, has not produced my biggest successes in life. No, those have happened by intention…devoted intention. I’m not saying it is this way for everyone, only everyone I know of…if we are going to regularly spend time with God we have to set a specific time aside to do that. The interesting result is a heightened awareness to the time He has set aside for me. To my amazement, I have found that He wants to spend regular time with me as well, though He is more generous than I am, He desires to pay attention to me 24 hours a day…7 days a week, 365 days a year! What a God He is!
Over the years I have used many different strategies to spend time in God’s word and in prayer. Though there are times when I get better at “praying without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) that is something I continue to need to work on. I love the time that I do spend with the Lord in prayer, it is often the highly emotional part of our relationship, and I love it when I am overwhelmed by talking with Him. As to being in His word, I have enjoyed lots of different ways of doing that. I have appreciated reading from cover to cover though I have to be honest and admit that there might still be a sense of personal accomplishment that I feel when I do that. It does help though to give a context to His word that is not possible any other way. On that note I will say that I absolutely enjoyed reading through the bible using a chronological Bible. Having it all laid out for me in a timeline really increased my understanding of the Old Testament historically. I have utilized the read through the bible in a year plans, the hunt and peck method, and unashamedly I have even spent time in the word using Bible roulette, reading that day wherever my bible opened.
This past month however, I have been doing something a bit different that I want to challenge all of you to do. I have become a sponge. Sponges have always intrigued me…I’m simple I know. But I am always amazed by how much you can get a sponge to absorb. If you let it soak for a while and then squeeze it over a bowl it is astounding how much liquid comes out! This decision to soak in God’s word came about quite by coincidence. I had been reading through the book of Ephesians and on February 1st I found I was at Chapter 5 beginning that day with verse 22. For those not familiar with the scripture it is some of Paul’s most referenced writing on the topic of marriage. As one who counsels mostly in that realm, I am always interested in what God has to say about it, and looked forward to what I would read that day. I paid close attention to the words hoping I would see something new. God did not disappoint. I did get something new and enjoyed it so much. I have always reveled in the ability of God’s word to continue to produce more depth with each encounter. It was then and there that I decided I would read that passage (Eph. 5:22-33) each day for the rest of the month. I figured that doing that with a scripture about marriage during the month that is centrally dedicated to love might be a good idea. I have not been bored. I have read it now 18 times and will read it for another 10 days. Each day I have absorbed more truth than the day before. I am finding depth that would not be possible in a one-day skim over the surface. As my soaking in it has increased in duration so has my understanding proportionately. By concentrating on it solely I believe I have absorbed exponentially more than I would have through 28 visits to it separated by weeks, months or even years. Maybe when the month is complete I’ll do a podcast sharing all that God has shown me through this exercise.
When does the liquid come out of the sponge? When pressure is applied to it. Likewise, one of the beauties of being a sponge of God’s word is that when we are put under pressure and feel wrung out…it is He who emerges and not us…what a beautiful and wonderfully desirable result.
Want to take the challenge? Chose a scripture passage you want to know more about; it doesn’t have to be the one I chose. Determine you will read it each day for the next 30 days. Remember the idea is to absorb…so soak in it. Resist the temptation to geek it out. I have had to remind myself that it isn’t a Bible study and put the Greek–English bible, the concordance and my favorite commentary down…let the Holy Spirit do the revealing and teaching. See what comes out of the word and is absorbed by you so that it can come out again next time you are under pressure. If you choose to, tell me what God is teaching you, I’ll be all too happy to hear.
So now, soaking up God’s love letter to you like a sponge…Go be awesome!