Reading the Bible with Fresh Eyes

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.

Let’s Pray
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,
Amen.

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!

Want More?
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! 

27 Responses to Reading the Bible with Fresh Eyes

  1. Stacey November 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    thank you for your beautiful service to God in enlightening others with your ministry. i am a digital gal and love all things portable (think waiting rooms and car trips), youversion.com is a free app, has many translations of the Bible and is available in over 100 languages. i love that i am able to access it from anywhere and at any time as many versions are available to download for offline reading .

  2. Vanesa K November 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Oh my how I needed to read this today. I actually hit delete in my email inbox…then decided against it. God knew I would be blessed by your words from Him today. I am even thinking I will blog about them later. =)

    I chose Romans 8:26-39 in the New Contempory Version. To be reminded of the promises I already know…was vital to my day. Beside this passage in my Bible I have written, “Do you feel alone in the battle? It is a LIE! The Spirit didn’t give up on you. Did you give up on Him?”

    Ouch…and thank you. =)

  3. Tania November 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    I loved your devotion today. I have been praying a similar prayer as I have been reading Luke this week. I was struck by Luke 12:51-53, Jesus asks “Did you think I came to bring peace? and then says He will bring division.
    This made me question what was right in the back of my mind. I was not brought up in a Christian home so got my Christmas story from the TV and school nativity and thought that the Shepherds said that a child had been born to bring peace to the earth.
    I flicked back through the pages to Luke 2:14 and the angels actually say “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men on whom His favour rests”.
    Jesus was born to bring peace on earth but not all men (or women) accept the gift that it is. I’ve read these verses many times and the revelation of His word at different occasions still blows me away.

  4. Joanne November 14, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi Sharon,

    Your words are so true. We can very simply take God at His Word and look for His face and His hand and expect to see the marvels of His relationship and His provision and His power, and His direction.

    The different versions are a fresh look at the same words and speak if we are looking and listening for the Lord to speak! Thank you for your timely reminder.

    Joanne

  5. Linda Hobart November 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

    I certainly agree to open your mind to reading other versions of the bible especially our language is surly so different then 2000 years ago. Although I struggle with my church and even my closest friends that solely believe that you should only read the King James Version. It is the most accurate to Gods words . All other version sway the meanings away from Gods truth. And I do say that one word can hange the meaning of antire sentence or paragraph. So I am torn and I just don’t argue anymore. God speaks to everyone in his unique way.

    • Sharon November 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Hi Friend: The KJV actually isn’t the most accurate translation. The NASB or ESV is the closest to the original Hebrew and Greek. But I know there are certain denominations that hang their hats on the KJV. The important thing is that a person is reading the Bible. God is not limited by man’s translation when it comes to speaking to someone’s heart.

  6. Kate Walsh November 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    I am an honoured guest (Psalm 23:5) Praise God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀

  7. Lina November 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    A very good idea! We have started reading The Story at our church and in our Bible study group and it makes the stories fresh all over again. I really like your story about the elderly man and what he read…great reminder.

    Take care,
    Lina

  8. jehrica November 14, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Hebrews 12:12 (AMP, The Amplified Bible)
    “12 So then, brace up and reinvigorate and set right your slackened and
    weakened and drooping hands and strengthen your feeble and palsied and tottering knees, …”

    GOD ALMIGHTY showed me that I need to reinvigorate my personal relationship
    with HIM =) HE will show me not to fear!!!!

  9. Lauren November 14, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Thank you for this message. I have sometimes wondered if there is one “right” translation and it encouraged me to read your comment above that God is not limited by man’s translation. He sure isn’t! I read Romans 12 in the New Living Translation today—when I came to the part about spiritual gifts, that struck a chord with me—I have read about spiritual gifts many times before, and taken inventories and such, but I didn’t recall reading in the Bible about the gift of showing kindness–I think that might be mine! I always felt that I could do some of them well, but I wasn’t sure if they were really my gift or not, so I am going to pray about what I read today!

  10. KIM PAGE November 15, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    Thank you Sharon for the “freshness” in helping me to “C” God and his words with a new perspective. Awe, refreshing. I choose Philippines 4:1-7 in the MSG. I normally read NLT OR NIV. I needed that,Ive been feeling blah lately. Encouraged 🙂 thanks

  11. Mary Louise Smith November 15, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    Sharon when I read the Bible I read online on Bibleway. I love the different translation.You are right it is like having your eyes open.

  12. Debbie November 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I have to agree…I am studying the book of Genesis with Bible Study Fellowship and am learning so much more than I imagined–I thought I “knew” Genesis! There is always something new to be found in the Bible.

  13. Diane November 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Blessings to you, Sharon! This mornings “verse of the day through Bible Gateway” was a perfect demonstration. Psalm 119:18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. KJV then in the Common English Bible , Open my eyes so I can examine the wonders of your instruction. God’s whole law is his instructions for us, love it! :))) Thank you for your teaching and sharing.

  14. jehrica November 19, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    FIRST OF ALL I WANT TO EXHULT AND LIFT ON HIGH THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST AND HALLELUJAH PRAISE HIM FULLY FOR ALL HE HAS DONE IS WORKING ON AND WILL BE DOING!!!_ 🙂 My prayer=For GOD to replace our fear and anxiety with HIS Holiness!!!!

  15. Jehrica November 19, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

    That is wonderful Diane! I read the Bible Gateway verse of the day as well and GOD ALMIGHTY is amazing how HE will connect Bible verses with sermons, teachings and various devotions through which GOD speaks! Today Bible gateway had a Psalm also- Psalm 1:1-2 (KJV) “1 Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
    2 But his delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in HIS Law doth HE meditate day and night.” 🙂
    HE is looking at for us and the way HE gives us Sudden Glory moments reminds me of Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) “5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,

    “Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”

  16. Lillie November 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    “I’m dancing with the One who made me, and I Am following His lead.”

  17. Shawn November 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    “I’m dancing with the One who made me, and I’m following His lead!”

  18. Barbara Knapp November 21, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    I’m dancing with the One who made me and following His lead! Halleluia( I do not know how to spell the word, but I know the feeling). Amen!

  19. Gina November 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I am dancing with the one who made me, and I’m letting him take the lead!

  20. Sharon November 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    “I’m dancing with the One who made me, and I’m following His lead!”
    Your devotions are are very encouraging, thank you! My husband and I are the pastor couple in our church and your devotions are in the same line as what we are teaching to the congregation. May Gods blessings flow over you as you serve Him, thank you!!

  21. Vicki Monical November 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    I’m dancing with the One who made me, and I’m letting Him take the lead.

  22. Jeanne November 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I’m dancing with the One who made me and I’m following His lead. I will so try to do that. I so want to do that.

  23. Amma S. November 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I just finished today’s devotional based on Mathew 11:28-30. Thank you Sharon so much for your insight. I just want to say ” I am dancing with the One who made me and I am letting Him take the lead!”

  24. Marlene G November 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Few years back I decided to read the bible in a way I knew I had read it ALL. So I mark the date each book is read in the index. Am now on my 12th trip thru the entire Bible. That is the way I keep track and does not include other studies. Thanks, just found your wonderful site. Marlene G

  25. Tami V November 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    I’m dancing with the one who made me and I’m following His lead! Oh I so try because I want to! Thank you Sharon for sharing our Fathers love with us.

  26. Carolyn November 28, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Thank you, Sharon, for your gift of ministry!!! God is our wisdom!!! Without understanding, it is impossible….He gives to us wisdom from above when we ask in faith….I believe HIM…He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him!!!! Praise the Lord!!! His mercies are new every morning!!!!

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