For the word of God is living and active… (
Several years ago I went on a mission trip to the West Indies. Part of our mission included distributing reading glasses to the islanders. I’ll never forget handing a Bible to a leathery-faced, elderly man.
“Can you read this?” I asked.
In polished Old-English, he began, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” I listened as he delivered a well-rehearsed Psalm 23 in perfect King James. Interestingly, this was not a King James Version of the Bible; it was The Living Bible. He was not reading the words. He was quoting them from memory.
We tried on various reading glasses, chose a pair suitable for him, and then I handed him the Bible again. “Let’s try that again,” I smiled. “Read this for me.”
He looked at the pages and a grin spread across his crinkled mahogany face. “The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.” This time he read the words.
That’s why I read the Bible in different translations. I can grow so accustomed to the words on the page that I miss the meaning in my heart. Various translations keep me from glossing over the words carelessly.
Suppose we, like my island friend, read God’s letter to us with fresh eyes, and just suppose we believed Him. What would that do to our not-so-great expectations in our relationship with Jesus?
Brennan Manning, in his book The Furious Longing of God said this: “Because we approach the gospel with preconceived notions of what it should say rather than what it does say, the Word no longer falls like rain on the parched ground of our soul. It no longer sweeps like a wild storm into the corners of our comfortable piety. It no longer vibrates like sharp lightning in the dark recess of our nonhistoric orthodoxy. The gospel becomes, in the words of Gertrude Stein, ‘a pattering of pious platitudes spoken by a Jewish carpenter in the distant past.’”
Do you want to raise the bar on your spiritual expectations? Do you dare? Then read the Bible with fresh eyes—and believe it. “Oh, I believe it,” most Christians would say. But let me give you just one example. Jesus said: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things then these, because I am going to the Father,” (John 14:12).
Do you believe that? Do I? It is startling. I even feel uncomfortable reading the words out loud. Why do I have an easier time believing the words are for someone else, rather than for me?
[tweetherder]When we base our expectations on God’s Word rather than what we see happening in the spiritual lives of others, they grow pregnant with possibilities.[/tweetherder]
Some argue that God doesn’t work today like He did back in biblical times. Who says He doesn’t? Don’t tell the folks in Nigeria who have seen countless blind receive their sight. Don’t tell the folks in the underground church in China that God doesn’t rattle jail cells and set captives free. Don’t tell that to the little boy who walked out of the hospital cancer-free with no medical explanation for the cure. Don’t’ tell that to the thousands of people who have not had their great expectations of God civilized and educated right out of them, and who experience miraculous glory moments in the mundane on a regular basis.
So here is my charge to you today. Pick up a new translation of the Bible and read it as if you are reading God’s love letter to you for the first time. If you aren’t in a position to purchase a new translation, visit www.Biblegateway.com. They have the Bible in many translations right at your fingertips.
Dear Lord, I love Your Word. Open my eyes to new truths that I have never seen before. Forgive me for glossing over Scripture as if it were old news. Help me to read Your Word as if it were the very first time.
In Jesus’ Name,
What do you Think?
Today’s challenge is easy. Pick up a different translation of the Bible than you are used to and read a familiar passage. I would suggest The New Living Translation, The Amplified Version, The New King James, or a paraphrase (rather than a translation) called The Message.
Let me know what God showed you in what you read.Leave a comment and let’s share our treasures!
My new book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More, is all about raising your expectations to experience the full, abundant life that Jesus came to give. If you’ve settled for a ho-hum, so-so, Christian life, it is time to start enjoying the abundant life Jesus came to give. God wants you to experience His presence every day through moments of sudden glory where He makes His presence known. Ready to get started? Download a free sample chapter, watch the free videos or order your copy on my website!