Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Printed by Permission from Scott Shade:
Yoke Ministries April 5, 2010 eDevotional
The Lord has assigned an important role to Scripture in our growth in Christ. During the last supper Jesus taught his disciples a good deal about the Holy Spirit's ministry. In one of his comments Jesus told them, "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26) This promise is available for us today just as much as it was for Jesus' first disciples. The challenge for us is that we were not present when Jesus spoke with his first disciples. This is not as much of a difficulty as it first appears. Jesus arranged it so that we did not need to be present when he taught the crowds, healed the sick, rose from the dead or ascended into heaven. He ensured all the stories and information we needed would be written down and collected in scripture. He also provided his Spirit to be continually present with us.
Cindy, my wife, is a wonderful cook. As good a cook as she is there are a number of meals that taste better the second day. She cooks the first day, and the flavors mix and mingle into something richer by the second day. I wanted to choose a particular dish to use as my example, but I couldn't decide between chili, curry chicken, black beans and rice, soup, or a few others. We also enhance flavors by marinating ingredients for a period of time or letting meals slowly simmer.
Our role in fulfilling Jesus' promise from John 14:26 involves more than just reading scripture. One such activity is more akin to Cindy preparing a meal that tastes better after it simmers. In 2 Timothy 2:7 Paul told Timothy to "Reflect on what I'm saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." Paul doesn't tell Timothy the Lord will give him insight if he only reads the letter a time or two. Insight, Paul says, comes as we reflect on the scripture we read. We need to read, but reflecting on scripture is vital to our life if we want to move from hearing the words to understanding them and being formed by them. Let his word simmer in you. This simmering time is vital for us in gaining understanding.
In addition, understanding does not come to us just because we reflect on scripture. Jesus said the Spirit is the one who teaches and reminds us, and Paul tells us that understanding comes from the Lord. Our reading and reflecting on scripture provide the Lord with key ingredients he uses in our transformation. This is one of the reasons we fill our lives with scripture. Like one of the meals described above, the process of the richness of scripture permeating our lives with flavor from God takes time. It takes our reading and reflecting on the word. It requires our seeking the Lord and opening our hearts and minds to receive understanding from him. The Lord has promised to work in us in response to this faithful effort. Therefore, try the following:
Select a brief section of scripture, even one verse. Think about the passage as you pass through the day, as you pray, when you lie down to sleep, and when you wake in the morning. Spend a week with this passage or verse. You'll find that as you spend time with the Lord's word in this way that the Spirit does indeed give insights into our relationship with God and others. Use John 15:5, for example.
You can't hurry good chili, and you equally can't hurry your formation into the image of Jesus. Don't rush. Read and let it simmer. Remember to stir the pot frequently by reflecting on what you've read.
Ask the Lord to give you understanding and insight.
Ask for strength to act on the word.
If the passage is short enough, write it on a card or in an electronic device so you can refer to it at any time.
Write some of your thoughts and reflections in a notebook.
Read some additional resources on the passages.
This does not replace our regular reading and praying, but is intended to work in conjunction with them.
Every blessing as we pursue maturity in Christ together