Tips on getting Life out of the Word
I recommended that people would read the word – go through an epistle 3 times. Once in a sitting. Sit down and read an epistle all the way through. Then later when time allows, do it again. Read at least 3 times before you take any notes or try to figure anything out. What is the motive behind this?
Getting into the Thought of God
Number one, the main motive is to get you out of your own concept. Your own concept (our own concept) is a veil that keeps us from really touching the Lord Himself in the word and getting nourished from it. We come to the word and we see something that triggers something we’re trying to work out or some idea in our mind, or a set of beliefs that we have about a certain things, and we immediately resort to those things as the point of reference. Then we are not really contacting the word in a pure way. We are dealing with OURSELVES! We’re pretty much contacting ourselves when we come to the word in that way! This has to be broken down little by little. So, the idea of going through the scriptures 3 times like that is to just follow the train of thought in the word. What is it saying? Not what do you think or what does it make you think of, or what questions does it bring to mind, or what problems do you want to solve or what you want to figure out. In this, you stay away from that. You just read it.
So, you pass through the word several times – the idea is to follow the train of thought in the word and let the whole book stand on its own. A lot of times we get bogged down in a verse. What does the verse mean? But we should step back – what does the chapter mean that the verse is in? What does the book mean? What is being said? It’s amazing how much time we can spend in the time and come away with nothing of God’s thought and only just confirm our own suspicions, bias, fears and ideas, and still not even know what the books in the Bible are about! I always say when people come to me with this verse and that verse from diverse chapters trying to show that you can lose your salvation or something, it is good to ask them “Well what’s the chapter about where you found that verse? What is the book about?” It’s funny to turn it around. What’s Hebrews about? What’s Galatians about? Oh, you’re quoting that verses from 2nd Peter? What’s 2 Peter about? What’s that chapter about? The answer to the accusation is usually in the chapter! If you can summarize what the Chapter is about you usually have the answer to the “problematic verse”. But we laser focus on a verse and forget all the context around it.
So, mentally this is a good exercise. So that’s the first thing. What is the flow of God’s thought without your own opinions intruding?
Building a “Reservoir of Recognition”
The other thing (the second thing) is to build in yourself a “reservoir of recognition”. What does that mean? When I’m in Philippians and I come across a concept, I’ll recognize that this concept is also in Colossians 3, 2 Corinthians 4… In other words, other verse’s start coming to mind confirming that point. So, you’re building a reservoir for the Holy Spirit to bring remembrance. Because that’s His Job. He brings to remembrance everything Jesus said in His word. He stirs the word up and brings it to mind. In a lot of my messages I’ll be talking about a certain point and a lot of scriptures will come to mind as I’m talking about it and I’ll find myself quoting from diverse places to reinforce the point. That reservoir had to be laid. This is my term “reservoir of recognition” and I’m not talking about memorization. You don’t need to memorize it all. But if you have seen it before and have familiarity with it, and understand its context, the Holy Spirit can work with it and bring it to mind in the right time. That becomes a way that He speaks to and through you. Now when you get into the word and you start to see something it’ll come at you from a whole bunch of angles from the scripture because the reservoir is there, and the Holy spirit can do this.
So, number 1) get past your own understanding and see the thought of scripture. You don’t have to be a scholar for this. Just be hungry! 2) Building a reservoir of recognition so that you are not ignorant but have taken a tour of the scriptures. So, when someone comes at you with a twist you feel like “I recognize what they’re saying but it contradicts the context.” It’ll all come to mind.
Getting the Life
Then the third thing is to get the Life. The word is not to be a source of just information, but a source of life, as food to nourish the inner man. Peter says desire as newborn babes the sincere milk of the word that you may grow by it. You might say “well that’s just for babies” but we are supposed to be like that every day. Paul said be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Yes, study to show yourself approved, but even more important be renewed in the spirit of your mind. To be renewed in the spirit in your mind is to empty your own concept and to be able to come to the word like a newborn. I have no history; I don’t have concepts and baggage that I’m bringing to the word. I’m getting it straight as if it’s new right now. That had to be aw work of God on you – the circumcision of the heart to take down your own strength and soften you so that you can be sensitive to Christ in the word. He said you search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but you won’t come to Me that you may have life. So, some people say that this means you’re supposed to pray contemplatively and not give so much attention to the Bible. The only way to know Jesus is throughout the word because He is the word. So, you cannot come to Him without coming to the word. However, you can come to the word without come to Jesus. And that’s what most of us do. We come to the bible as a book of information and facts and never touch the life in the word. Jesus said if you do not drink my blood and eat my flesh you have no Life in you. The flesh profits nothing, but the word that I speak to you is Spirit and is Life. We don’t get profit from the word when we come to it with our fleshly mind. WE have to open ourselves up and remember that it’s the “poor He fills with good things. The hungry He fills with good things. But the rich He sends empty away.” This is a principle. When we come to the word, we need to have nothing. To get life we need Him to meet us in our time in the word. So, this is a deep way to deal with the word than just dealing with the surface. What is the word essentially? It is the flesh of Christ when it is made Spirit to nourish our inner man. If you have not experienced this, it’s really something important. The word should taste different to your inner man than a newspaper or a Sci-Fi book or a news article or a dictionary. If it is the same to you as those things, that’s not good. You should have some kind of experience with the word that makes you go “wow, this is a book of wonder.” IT should produce a kind of awe. Eventually you should be able to draw life from it where you’re nourished and watered and comforted and supplied inwardly with life and you feel different because you’ve got Peace and you’ve touched Christ! There’s no shortcut to this. I can’t give you a method to deal with it. It’s between you and the Lord, and it’s something you have to pray about. Pray the word. Slow down. The Bible makes a difference between clean and unclean beasts in the Old Testament based on the way they eat. The clean beasts have multiple stomachs and “chew the cud” they regurgitate and chew it again and again which gets every last bit of life out of it. The unclean eat it devour it and it just passes right through. So, I’m learning to really sometimes just pray the word, slow down. Colossians is a perfect book with so much rich truth. I’ve loved those verses in the middle of Chapter 1. He has transferred me. He has delivered me out of the authority of darkness. He has transferred me into the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. I say these very slowly. When I speak the word, there’s a cadence to it. I don’t speak the Bible words the way I speak regular words. To me, they are spirit and life and I want to speak them in the spirit. So, there is a certain way I engage them that comes out of my time in the word. I don’t know quite how to describe it. I’ve been with groups of people that had methods for this, but that’s not the point. Whatever it takes for you to digest the word again and again and enjoy it. Do you enjoy the word? Does it supply you? Have you experienced that? The charismatics want to bump into the spirit and raise their hands and sing their hearts out hoping to feel something. But you can do this in your car. I was reciting the first chapter of Colossians last night before bed. As I did I felt so much peace inside. I felt and experienced the Spirit that comforted me. That’s what we need. That is what produces fellowship and ministry. Most of the channels unfortunately that eventually come against OSAS and “apostatize” – in many cases they didn’t seem to have the Spirit in the way that they handled the word. I can’t make that a general rule but often there’s a dryness in their speaking and the bible is handled primarily intellectually. You can sense this once you’ve been watered by the word. You can sense dryness of those that handle only the letter and those who have the ministry of the Spirit which gives life. There’s a difference. And it’s not emotional delivery. It’s something in the taste that is conveyed. We need to get into the life of the word which is Christ Himself and pray that the Lord would take us there.