Don’t just read the word of God, take the time to study it and when you do, the word of God will read you. Allow the word to turn the pages of your heart and reveal the areas that need a spiritual makeover. We are being perfected so there is always something to work on. We rush through reading the bible and instead of having a bible study we have a quick drive-by bible reading. We then lament that we are in the word, but we are not seeing any change. Could it be that we just need to slow down and digest what we read? Could it be that we need to take the time to meditate and answer questions that allow us to connect with the material before us? When I was in school, for me to grasp the material, I had to read it more than once. I took the time to look up words in the dictionary to ensure I understood what I was reading. I highlighted certain sentences; I jotted down notes to summarize what I just read in my own words. Whenever I took this approach, when it was time for the test, I did well. Why? Because I took the time to study the material instead of just reading it, so the material was in me. I try to take the same approach when I study the word of God.
Below are a few practical ways I study the word of God.
-I pick a specific scripture that addresses an area that I need to work on. For example, I have been studying Proverbs 29:25 because I have had an on and off relationship with the fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 NLT says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.” For the first few days of my study, I focused only on that verse and allowed the Lord to speak to me. I looked up the verse in different translations.
-After a few days, I googled this exact phrase, “cross-references for Proverbs 29:25.” This search led me to many scriptures that carry the same theme as Proverbs 29:25. I chose a few of those scriptures/passages and read them over the course of two weeks. I took my time to digest them. I highlighted key phrases, I took notes, I sat and reflected on what I read. I prayed prayers connected to those scriptures.
-At the end of the two weeks, I took some time to jot down all I learned. I did not open my bible to gather the information; I wrote what I remembered on my own. I then asked myself the following questions for this study, “What are my symptoms, How do I fear man? I took some time to reflect on my areas of struggle and wrote honest answers to these questions.
-I concluded this study by praying for deliverance from the specific things I wrote. I suspect that this will be more than a one-time prayer.
I encourage you to slow down and spend time studying the word of God. You will not regret it. I would love to hear from you. How do you study the word of God?
Psalm 119:11 NLT
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
For a long time, I knew that sugar was not good for my body. I spent a lot of time researching and studying these truths. I could rehearse different facts about the adverse effects of sugar and even shared it with others. However, I was still eating it. I knew the truth, but I wasn’t living it out. Knowing truth and living in truth are not the same thing.
Don’t be impressed with how much bible people know, rather be impressed with how much bible they are living out. It is so easy to be swept away by those who skillfully share the word of God while ignoring the rotten fruit that comes from their lives. Jesus is more concerned about how we allow the content we have learned to shape our character and impact our actions. It’s not just about learning the content, we are called to live it! 1 John 2:3-6 says “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” Again, the emphasis is on DOING not just KNOWING!
When I began to eliminate sugar from my diet and apply the knowledge I learned, I started to experience many positive changes. The same is true for us and our relationship with Christ. Focus on learning His word AND obeying it. As we obey, we then become more like Christ. Let your actions reflect that you are living in truth, and this is how we know we truly belong to God.
Jesus’ response to the adulteress woman in John 8 shows that compassion is not the same as condoning sin. The woman’s accusers were ready to stone her. Their main motive was to trap Jesus, it was not about upholding the law. Jesus, however, was ready to forgive her. He tells her that he does not condemn her but neither does he condone her sins. Before she leaves His presence, Jesus tells her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” The forgiveness of God is a package deal, it’s a release of what you did wrong but also a warning to not return to your sinful habits.
When ministering to people we must not offer cheap compassion; one that tells you that we are all sinners and that Jesus understands, without ever addressing the need to turn from sin. This approach opens the door to compromise and produces rotten fruit. In our culture the calling out of sin and a call to repentance is mislabeled as condemnation when in fact it is true love and compassion. In John 3:17, we are reminded that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. That salvation comes when one receives the love of Christ AND turn away from sin.
We must also not be like the Pharisees and call out sin because we have impure motives and hidden agendas. We should not call out sin because we want to make ourselves look more righteous or with the intent to humiliate the sinner. We also should not do it for the sake of winning an argument and prove our point. We should address sin because we have true concern for the soul of the sinner. When love is our motive, we are more like Jesus and can be effective in reaching the lost.
Mathew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” It is necessary to explain why peace is needed before one can understand the job of a peacemaker. Sin separated us from a Holy God. However, Romans 5:1 reminds us that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross made reconciliation with God possible. The blood of Jesus allows us to be at peace with God the Father. Since I have been reconciled to the Father and I am at peace with Him, I am now called to bring that same peace to others (2 Corinthians 5:18). Simply put, being a peacemaker means that I bring the good news of salvation to a dying and confused world. Peacemakers are reconcilers. They pray with great fervency for revival to break out in the land and for the hearts of people to be turned to God.
Peacemakers will often offend those who are in sin because they speak the truth of God’s word. That truth is sharp and powerful and goes straight to the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Those who choose to continue in sin will never receive the peacemakers. However, rejected truth is still true!
There is so much chaos going on in the world and the root of it all is sin. Well-meaning individuals employ different strategies to accomplish world peace. However, world peace can NEVER happen through human plans, it can only be accomplished through the blood of Jesus. Good actions and legislations cannot bring lasting peace, only an acceptance of the finished work of Christ on the cross can do that. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting peace. Afterall, He is called the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6.
Oh, that the church will arise and embrace the call to be peacemakers!
I love the promise in Mathew 5:8 that the pure in heart will see God. This seeing is not limited to when we see Him face to face for all eternity. This seeing also refers to the connection, the closeness, the sense of intimacy with God that is gained when our hearts are pure. I love how Psalm 24:3-4 puts it, “ Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure.” When you have a pure heart, you see God so clearly. He reveals His truth to you when you are studying His word. Purity of heart opens the door for you to sit at the table as a member of the family and feast on the bread of life. He floods you with His presence and you “see” Him show up on your behalf and shower you with mercy and grace. It’s also worth mentioning that trouble and difficulty are tools that God uses to bring our hearts to a place of purity. The fire of difficulties serves as a spiritual detox. Impurities rise to the surface in the fire, and we are able to be purified. I encourage you not to shun the idea of difficulty because it gives you clearer vision to see God.
Mathew 5:8 states, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
When we think of purity we think of something without blemish. However, purity of heart is not about being perfect, it is about being consistent and sincere in my pursuit of the one who will continue the work of perfecting me until the day of His return (Philippians 1:6). This was a hard truth for me to understand because I have a natural bent to please, especially those in authority. I recently had an ugly cry session with God and I was repenting and felt so broken over the wrong attitude that I had the previous day. I felt like I disappointed Him. God gently reminded me that my willingness to not make excuses or be comfortable with my sinful behavior the previous day is what makes my heart pure. I had to pause and really soak in such an affirming truth from my father. As long as we live in the flesh, the pure in heart will make mistakes BUT they are quick to humble themselves and repent of their sins. They are more grieved that they sinned against God and are not just sorry because of the consequences that follow. The pure in heart do not abuse the grace of God and use it as an excuse to keep on sinning. Instead, they use grace as a stepping stool to be delivered from sin.
Purity of heart speaks to inner purity. It’s a heart that is dedicated to God, one that seeks to please Him, a heart that is honest, and fully devoted to Him. A pure heart is one that says, “I don’t care what man thinks of me, I only want to please you, my allegiance is to you, and it is not divided.” Their constant song is that of the psalmist in Psalm 51:10, “create in me a clean heart and purify me.”
We must resist the temptation to be like the Pharisees who were more concerned about looking good on the outside. Jesus calls them out in Mathew 23:27 and tells them they are like whitewashed tombs-beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sort of impurity. He goes on to say in verse 28, “you try to look like upright people outwardly but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” OUCH! Jesus uses such language of disdain, but this lets us know how serious He is about us pursuing purity of heart.
Let us pray and pursue purity of heart!