With recent posts about Easter and the fun weekend I simply posted the daily readings without discussion from our readings on www.oneyearbibleonline.com. I wanted to briefly share a few WOWS from recent readings and just a bit on being in the Word (per the request of some precious blog readers!)
How do you study the Word? Studying the Word will look different for everyone—but I wanted to just share some ideas that might help you dig deeper and give you something else to think about as you read…to get beyond just reading and struggling with your mind drifting off to the grocery or to-do lists (yes, I struggle with this!). Here are some things that have really helped me that I would love to share with my sweet sisters in Christ…
1. Start your time in the Word with prayer. Pray AS you read the Word. And end asking God to help you apply the reading to your life. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and make the Word come alive, to give you understanding and to speak to your heart.
2. Identify each chapters contents. Is it historical? If so–what is the background–what happened before this story? Is it instructional? Are their commands? What is the significance of this situation?
3. Specificially look for the Lord in each chapter. Where is He in this chapter? What is He doing? Based on what you know about His character, what is God’s heart in this chapter? Does it break? Does it bring Him joy? I love looking for Trinity in each chapter too—Where do I see the Promised Messiah? What is the Holy Spirit doing? Where is God here?
4. Visualize what is happening. Set the scene in your mind—doing this will require SLOOOOOW reading (it does for me anyway). I even have to often take out a sketch pad and just jot down the characters…who’s who…so I don’t forget all the characters and I can bring everything together in the end of the reading. THEN…IMAGINE. Try to visualize (for example in Sunday’s reading) Samson walking down the road and physically tearing that lion’s massive, strong jaw into. Imagine his face as he did this–how he was probably filled with fear and then strength from the Lord amazingly, miraculously came upon him. And tearing that lion’s jaw in two was like doing that to a goat instead. Later in the text, giggle at the text saying his wife wouldn’t stop “nagging” him. Did anyone else catch that;). Picture their relationship. Feel his heart break as his wife was given to someone else. Yet the Lord had given Samson great strength…yet his heart longed for his love. And before you know it…your imagining…recreating the scene simply by REALLY READING and trying to picture it…all of the sudden the Word has started to become ALIVE.
5. Pray and seek application. Lord, what do you want me to learn from this text today? Often–the Holy Spirit makes it very clear in the phase of imagining and really trying to understand the text to reveal what He wants you to learn that day. Think about your life. How can you be encouraged, challenged and directed through this reading today?
6. Journal and write down verses that impacted you the most or that simply caught your attention. It might not always be instruction that you want to remember—but some times it might be drama…or something difficult to really believe, understand or grasp. Doing this helps me remember I want to talk about this some time later with a friend, with my hubby or even on my blog.
These are just practical things you can do as you read. But to have the Word really change you—remember studies show you remember 10% of what you hear, 20% of what you read (it jumps up to 50% when you have visuals…so IMAGINE!), 50% of what we do, 75% of what we discuss and 90% of what we teach. I like to remember this for my sweet kiddlings to and give them a chance to discuss and some times even teach the Word to one another.
Monday’s Reading: Judges 16:1-18:31 – Poor Samson! And that Delilah. I can’t read that days reading without going cross-eyed on that lady. He loved her—yet she tried to over and over again bring him down. And in the end…she discovered where Samson’s strength in the Lord came from—his pureness (which not cutting hair was historical and cultural how pureness was identified and how they were set apart)—and she took that away from him. To think about his eyes being gouged out in the end. YET…in the end instead of bringing him down, the Lord honored his final request.
And then…there’s old Micah. Not only did he set up and create idols for others to serve, but he coaxed a priest to join him. Micah was sadly a catalyst of fall for many in today’s reading—and the tribe of Dan would worship the idol for as long as the Tabernacle of God was at Shiloh.
Today’s Reading: Judges 19:1-21:25…today’s reading my friends is a hard one. This is one that makes you shout–WHERE ARE YOU GOD? This girl in the beginning was mistreated by a Levite. A LEVITE! The one group that is set apart for the Lord…and a Levite is the one doing the yuck here. So…this Levite goes to his father-in-law’s house to get his wife…and I can only imagine the fighting that took place between this precious girl and this proud Levite. Each day he said he was leaving, each day–the father urged him to stay another night.
What was urging the father to get him to stay? Why would he do this? I believe this is where the Lord was. I believe it was the Lord urging his precious child to be protected. The Lord knew his chosen Levite would not protect her—yet in the end they left. They left Bethlehem—and as they left and decided to stay the night…there was no one to take them in. (Story sound familiar?) Eventually, they found an old man to take them in…and horrible, sinful, hateful men came to approach the house and demanded the old man send out the man so they could have relations with him. The old man couldn’t stand the thought of that—so he suggested instead they toss out his virgin daughter and this man’s wife. Before anyone had time to act, the LEVITE pushes HIS concubine (wife) out the door and she is abused, raped, and left on the doorstep to die. And as if it couldn’t get worse. It does.
I know there is more to the story. And it is the Word and for anyone who thinks the Word is pretty and fluffy…start reading through it and you’ll see it’s full of injustice, hurt, sin and pain. YET. Yet. yet. God is there. And for many of us—hearing stories like this on the news make us lose hope. Where are you God. Why didn’t you stop it? Why does there have to be sin in this world? AND THEN…the questions begin to change…
How can you use me?
As I imagine this precious girl—my heart begins to ache for girls this is happening to today.
How can you use me Lord to be a light—to offer healing—to help stop things like this from happening today.
Here are my hands…I open them to you. Use me Lord.
And that…is just the FIRST chapter in today’s reading! Wow…amazing isn’t it when we visualize…imagine…and pray for application.
Today…if you are reading along with us (or just happened to read today with us)–and you want to be a part of change for precious girls like the one in today’s reading—go here to sign up in just a few minutes to send this letter with your signature to President Obama for IJM (International Justice Mission) to fight human trafficking. Pray about joining IJM’s mission. I believe the Lord was in that story today–and I believe He still cries over the stories that are happening right now. I also believe He wants to use US…His people…to not be like the Levite in this story and turn our backs—but to jump in and be a part of change, of healing and protection of His sweet creation.