I love getting a new version of the Bible. There is something holy and fresh to me about holding a brand new Bible. Opening the cover for the first time, and taking a peek at the insides.
As a book lover and word crafter, I can appreciate a pretty cover, fantastic graphics or eye catching images. Yet if I never open the book, I will miss the point.
If you don’t move past the cover, you miss the meat of the words inside which you are meant to meet. To read. To chew on. To ponder. To be challenged, entertained by.
Without reading the words inside the covers, a book becomes just an ornament on a shelf.
Which isn’t the point of a book.
Nor the point of the Bible.
The Bible, or the Word as I prefer to refer to it as, is designed to help us along our journey.
It not only instructs us, but gives us insight into situations we might experience, and the God we hope to encounter we meet inside.
If you remain a cover lover, the Word will not come alive for you. For the Holy Spirit speaks to us as we read it, whispers the words He has for us in the moment, and reminds us that the Word is an invitation for a fresh encounter with the Living Word, Jesus.
The Bible is meant to be read, digested, interacted with. We are to allow it to shape our mindsets, fix our values, guide our emotions and be a foundation we can turn to in the hard times.
The Word reminds us…
We are not alone.
God is with us.
God is for us.
God is in us.
God lives through us.
God knows us.
God guides us.
We are loved.
Crack open the cover of your Bible, and allow His words to seep into you. Ponder the mysteries. Savor the love. Delight in the truth. Align your path to the one He has for you.
Move beyond the covers into the best part of the Word, for He is just waiting you there!
Words have the power to bless, uproot, encourage, surgically impact or curse.
Sometimes all in the same day.
And when words are both your primary love language and part of your job, words can pierce far beyond the speaker’s intention.
There is One, however, who knows the power of words.
He not only inspired the writing of His written Word, He is continously speaking life, instruction and hope in the here and now.
For He is the living Word.
God also knows the power of a hurtful, deliberate word, for He spends many resources helping us to see how forgiveness can restore us from their negative impact.
There is one Psalm I turn to when I need a reminder of how much words matter to God.
The longest Psalm, it encompasses us from conception and beyond, from pain and hurt to life, from walking a wayward path to one of purpose.
Nor only is His Word is to be our guide, which the psalmist refer to, but He Himself is to be our guide.
The Living Word as contained within the Word.
For the Word is just a bunch of words if you refuse the Living Word access to you, to change you through His words as He speaks life into you. All the weary, wounded, wary or wandering.
Without the Author pointing out the words He has for you to change your circumstances, meet you in the moment, restore your footing on the Rock…. the Word becomes just beautifully, skillfully written poetry or history.
The Word doesn’t want His Words to return without blessing.
He wants us to hear and see Him in the Word. For it is a reflection of who He is, what he can do, where He wants to take you, what He has its store for you, and why.
The Living Word poured Himself into His Word….
●So we would know we are not alone when we feel disconnected.
●So we would see His heart when ours has been ravaged.
●So we would hear His direction when we are at a crossroads.
●So we would sense His Presence despite our loneliness.
●So we can taste His goodness when all we see appears to be dark.
●So we can experience Him more deeply as we get to know who He is.
His Word is relevant regardless of your age, stage, looks, quirks, status or race.
As He has made us all, His Word is designed for us all.
Take a hold of the gift He has given us and invite Him to make His Words come alive to you in a such a way you know you have connected with him.
If you need to chew on one or two verse, do so. Create a graphic, doodle the words, print them out and post them to memorize them.
Allow His Words to come alive within you and bring you back to life.
The living Word is waiting for you within every page of His Word.
The situations may have a historical place in time, but the God revealed and contained within them is beyond time and place, for He is alive!
Invite Him to speak, and wait expectantly for His Words. God has never stopped speaking His love to us since Eden, and will never stop until each of us are home with Him where we belong.
It takes a lot to get me down… usually a combination of illness/injury, eating poorly & not sleeping enough.
But like you, every day something tries to undermine my hope:
I am married to a wonderful man, who tends to be more of an Eeyore in nature, mostly due to his having seen so much in his nursing career over the last two decades.
I have had random twitches joint pain which has still not been diagnosed, leaving me exhausted some nights, and make it hard to fall asleep on others.
I too have had unexpected expenses pop up.
The loss of a loved one.
The dishwasher conking out when it was full.
My order not show up.
Not enough work.
Too much work.
Our complaint lists can keep going and going like the Energizer bunny, if we keep feeding them.
I choose to feed my hope.
Not on fluffy catchy feel better quotes.
Not on physical food or drink.
With the hope that lasts…
God given hope which rests on Him as its sole source.
In a world seeking bargains and making our lives as ease filled as possible, it dumbfounds me to see people spend millions on make it all better in 10 day programs.
If it didn’t take 10 days to get there, it isn’t going to take 10 days to get back out….just saying.
Since my life has had a lot of knocks, whacks and pitfalls, I need a source of Hope that can take all the concerns and worries I have, and then some, for days to come, for the rest of my life.
God is my choice.
He even paid the cost, fellow bargain hunters, so we can come to Him without barrier.
He even invites us to come and find rest in the shelter He has to offer:
He himself is our peace (Eph 2:14)
Come to me,all who are weary and heavy laden (burdened) and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.
He will call on Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”
This is just a glimpse of the treasured promises from God for you.
He knows you.
Despite anything you may have done or will ever do, He loves you dearly.
He made a way for you to come home and be with Him, your heavenly Father.
Jesus calls you sibling, friend, chosen, apple of His eye.
Holy Spirit is within you to guide you, help you in any way you need Him to.
God with us.
That is where I place my hope.
Not on shifting trends, things that pass away and don’t last.
On the foundation of Hope my God has laid down for me.
All my hope is in Him.
The path of hope is waiting for you as well.
Its a journey unlike no other, but with Him leading you, you will always have reason to be thankful, give praise and hope.
(Repost from Sept 17, 2014 as I am out & about getting ready to celebrate one of my babies’ birthday today, and this is one of my fave posts!)
If I told you my story You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go And if I told you my story You would hear Love that never gave up And if I told you my story You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be Of the grace that is greater than all my sin Of when justice was served and where mercy wins Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
If I told you my story You would hear victory over the enemy And if I told you my story You would hear freedom that was won for me And if I told you my story You would hear Life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be Of the grace that is greater than all my sin Of when justice was served and where mercy wins Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
This is my story, this is my song Praising my savior all the day long This is my story, this is my song Praising my savior all the day long
For the grace that is greater than all my sin Of when justice was served and where mercy wins Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in Oh to tell of my story is to tell of Him!
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
And glory shone around
God decided to let the lowly know before the mighty that Good News was just around the corner in the Christmas story.
Notice the angel didn’t show up again in the Holy of Holies as He did with Zechariah, father of John, but the King of Kings was announced to a humble group of shepherds with all the fanfare of celebration you would come to expect from a statesman with might and power!
Fear not,” he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind,
To you and all mankind.”
And like most of us, when we see something of beauteous wonder, we tremble with fear.
Those shepherds were no different than us in their immediate reaction, but the carol reminds us to focus on the message, so we don’t miss the Good News!
“To you in David’s
Town this day
Is born of David’s line
The Savior who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.”
“The heavenly Babe
You there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.”
Here is the best part of this carol in my opinion….
The shepherds were not only told the prophecy of Messiah was coming true, but where to find Him!
And He was in their midst, within arms reach!
Thus spake the seraph,
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song
Addressed their joyful song
“All glory be to
God on high
And to the earth be peace;
From heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease!”
Not only have these shepherds just heard the Good News live from an angel, with directions of how to meet their Messiah, they are then treated to a wonder no one else recorded in the Word has ever enjoyed – a heavenly chorus of angels singing Gloria!
For not even the angels can keep from offering God His due for the arrival of Jesus. Emmanuel, God with us. The Messiah promised through the ages, present with His people.
May we too continue to proclaim the Good News this Christmas to a world full of people who need to see the Light in all His wonder!
This carol was written in 1703 by Nahum Tate (poet in residence to Queen Anne) and Nicholas Brady. This was one of the first paraphrased pieces from Scripture outside of the psalms to be sung in the Church of England.
Your courage matters: that you pray instead of panic, love instead of hate, help instead of hide. Live a sermon people are dying to hear.
In light of all the war, terrorism and natural disasters, how to you keep hopeful and courageous in the storms?
Quite honestly, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t. I’d been running around screaming and crying like a chicken with my head cut off….without Christ.
Coz that’s how I coped with intense situations before I encountered Jesus. I panicked, looked stressed, and so bottled up my fears on the inside i couldn’t help but act out.
Nowadays, when the world seems to be bent on destroying itself, and there is nothing positive in the news?
I pray, even if its only moans, or silent tears.
I seek comfort in His Presence.
I make time to rest, to connect with loved ones.
I ask Him for forgiveness and His healing to flow as He draws near to those in the war zones of destruction and affliction.
I continue to hold onto the One who is my eternal Hope, allowing my equilibrium, my foundation to be founded upon Him.
And equally important, I spend time soaking in the Word.
It doesn’t have to be a long section of scripture to speak to us. Sometimes a few words anointed by Holy Spirit can reignite our love for Him as we see His devotion for us more clearly.
Two such words especially shook me to my core, and have changed my view of God forever…
He is crying over His people.
Coz all people were made by Him in His image, and He adores each one whether they know Him or not.
So if you are overwhelmed to tears over a situation near and dear to your heart?
With the “me” attitude on the rise, it is refreshing to the world to see people living as Jesus did:
Serving God wherever they went as His Living Word, a sermon wrapped in flesh & bone. Sharing His heart with those who are so fearful, their hearts are skipping a beat. Speaking His Words of comfort and hope when all looks topsy turvy.
Today, walk out your faith. Become the living sermon those around you need to see and hear. Rely on Holy Spirit’s leading so deeply you will be struck by wonder at what He will do through you as you live fully dependent upon Him.
The world may not yet know how much they need Him.
But He does, and chooses to use His willing vessels to be the very Message-ers to deliver hope to hurting hearts, those who are dying inside without Him.
Go be the Living Word in action. He is with you as you do, for it is His Presence and Word alive within us who empowers us to do so!
The Bible is full of people who didn’t get it right the first time.
People who ended up broken & down on their luck.
Those who betrayed, wounded & ridiculed one another.
And God loves each one.
In this age where society raises people up to high pedestals and assists in crashing them down when they fall, because we all know we fail at one point or another….it is important to remember one key factor.
God isn’t surprised by any of it.
He knows humanity inside and out.
It was His concept.
We were His idea.
And still are.
God has spent millions of hours & resources, even paying the cost for our sins, since Adam & Eve first went astray in the Garden of Eden.
He knows what we are all capable of within.
When we don’t follow Him, we become the enemy’s playtoy, part of his plan to destroy humanity from within.
God has other plans in place, underway and moving forward
His Kingdom will come to pass here on earth.
The enemy is being and will be forevermore defeated.
In God’s timing,
through His Word
& the second hand and broken vessels He chooses to equip & strengthen in battle.
We all have the ability to live a Remade, new life.
It begins with getting to know God.
And there is no better place to start than His Word.
Inside it, you will find phenomenal stories of His love in action, restoration & new beginnings, woven throughout humanity’s attempts to try to live without Him.
If you are in need of direction, a helping hand, peace, or love, the God you will discover within the Bible’s cover will amaze you.
You see, the Bible is the only hook where the Publisher poured Himself out in words through the second hand broken vessels He chose to use to tell His story.
And He continues to speak through those who listen for His voice, and choose to give Him their all as they do.
The message of the Bible is clear, no matter which translation you read it in.
God loves you.
Just as you are.
And will lovingly, patiently & carefully remake you into the one He has loved from the moment you came to be.
And loves all the more when you decide to let Him take you beyond your sin & past.
Second hand things still have value, despite their age or broken parts.
When a Master Craftsman puts them back together, and places them exactly where they were meant to be, they find their true purpose.
Yours is within the covers of this Book, and found in the embrace of the God who has described Himself within.
Open the Bible, and let the Author not only highlight who He is to you, but how He sees you, both right now & forevermore.
The Bible contains heaven’s Hope for all humanity, especially those who feel cast aside & broken.
Prelude: This post is about the Message version of the Bible. If you don’t prefer this version of the Word, I bless you as you study your favorite version.
However, God has used this version to help me find my voice as a writer, and hear His voice more clearly. Which is one of the reasons I love using it, as one of the versions of the Scriptures I study from. I believe God can and will use any version of the Bible in any translation or language it comes in, because of who it’s Author is. The One who wants all men and women to find Him.
If you don’t prefer this version, I get it. But I would prefer not to have negative comments posted about my choice to enjoy it as one of my favorite books to read.
Thanks for showing respect as you honor my request, just as I honor yours to disagree with me.
Lectio Divinia: the classical method of reading, thinking, praying and living Scripture with the intention of inviting an infinite, omniscient God into your life, as it is, no gloss, no veneer. Lectio divina is more Bible basking than Bible study, as it teaches you to absorb & meditate on Scripture. converse with God openly. and live out what has become a part of you; His Word.
When the Message bible was released, it rocked my world. As a Christian university student, I had studied the bible in several different ways, but found in doing so that it was becoming a text book, and less God’s personal Word to me.
The way this Bible, and in particular their devotional format is designed? To bring the reader into wholeness in His Presence.
There are four key parts to Lectio Divina:
READ– taking the time to read His love story, the Bible. And not just reading it, but savoring it, enjoying it like a perfectly cooked steak or your favorite dessert. Read it closely, taking note of its nuances, key words.
THINK– every word is meant to be read as God speaking to you through it. Meditate on what a phrase or passage is saying, and ask God to make His voice known to you as you seek His knowledge, guidance & wisdom. Read what it actually says, not what you think it should say.
PRAY– God want to have a conversation with you, face to face. He longs to hang out with you over a coffee, unrushed as you enjoy one another’s company. Tell Him what’s going on with you, then wait for Him to respond and share His heart with you, His now words for you. If you don’t get part of what you are reading, just say so. He gets it.
You can read, think, and pray all day, but unless you live in God’s words as well, you miss the point.
LIVE– We are meant to live out the Word with which we are interacting. To bring it deep within, and watch it take root and grow with a flourish when we water the Word. To speak it out over our life’s situations. To demonstrate it with our love, our words, our hands and actions to those around us. The Author is alive, and His Word is too.
When we live according to the Word we have read, pondered and prayed over, God lives through us!
So, it really doesn’t matter what version you prefer to read of the Bible, but how you interact with it! Which is why I love Lectio Divina, because it helps guide us through our Word walk as a starting place for interacting with the Word & its Author. 🙂
To celebrate over 500 blog posts now (!) and only being a few away from 200 followers here at Hope in His Presence, I am offering my first giveaway.
I have one brand new copy of The Message:Solo Women’s Devotional just waiting for one of my blog followers who live in Canada or the United States! Since 99% of my followers are from North America, this giveaway is for y’all 🙂
To enter the draw to win it, please do the following three steps before the deadline:
1. Follow my blog, either through Word Press or email, or follow me on Twitter @HopenHisPresenz coz like you I know sometimes we just don’t have time for all the news coming our way, so whichever way you prefer to connect is cool with me. 🙂
2. Visit my Connect page, and shoot me off a comment via my contact form. Share with me what you love most about His Word! Your first name and email are a must in order for me to contact you if you are the winner!
3. You can only enter once. As this is a small blog, this first giveaway is too!
This giveaway is only open until Sunday night, March 22nd, 2015 at 11:59pm Central Time.
It’s time to fall deeper in love with Him, through spending time in His Word, conversing with Him and seeking His face!
The winner will be announced (via first name only) on Monday/Tuesday here on the blog, after a confirmation email has been received from them 🙂
I can’t wait to hear how the Word stirs up in your hearts!
I have a prayer for you this Valentine’s day, actually for you every day.
It is a prayer Someone else is praying for you too:
YOU are the one He adores.
It has taken me years to grasp this truth, and years more to let it soak in to my soul and become a part of me.
But don’t take my word for it. Take His words for it.
I am sharing just a few of my favourite bible verses with you today, and a few jots & thoughts, to paint you a colour by number outline of His love for you.
HE LOVED YOU TO DEATH:
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Isaiah 49:16
God not only loved you first, He demonstrated this love by giving Himself up for us, so we could draw near and receive His love.
HE IS LOVE:
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Psalm 103:8
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I redeem you. Isaiah 43:4
Love is part of His very character, and He cannot be Himself without it. At the core of who God is, love is. You can’t have one without the other, for God IS love.
YOU WERE MADE OUT OF HIS LOVE:
Oh yes, You shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank You, High God—You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day! Psalm 139:13-16
God doesn’t make junk, you may have heard.
You were made out of love, especially designed, so He could love you and be loved by you. There is only one of you, ever.
Only you can be loved by God in the ways you need to be loved, and only you can love God in the ways He made for you to express love back to Him.
His love moved Him to make you.
HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER:
I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Jeremiah 31:3
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
There is nothing you can do that will change His love for you. Sure, we could disappoint Him with less than stellar behavior, but His love for you, and for me, is rock solid. God doesn’t leave when the going gets tough, His love draws closer to us to be with us through whatever comes our way. He will love us always, now and into forever, no matter what. Wow!
HIS LOVE WANTS THE BEST FOR YOU:
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
He will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:4
God has the best in store for us. What parent or lover really wants to give less than their best to their loved one? God tells us He has plans for our best yet to come, and He comforts us and loves up on us along the way!
HIS LOVE IS WITH US:
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
Song of Songs Chapters 1&2
Not only does these verses, two of my all time faves, remind us God loves us, but they reveals He is with us, rescuing us when we need it, calming with His love, and singing triumphantly over us, a proud daddy & thrilled lover all rolled into one. He is wooing us to Him as a longing lover waiting for His bride to come to Him!
So, what are you to DO about it?!
Here are my A-G tips on what to DO with His love:
1. Accept it. If you can, then you can begin to:
2. Believe He loves you. Truth stands the test of time. God is who He says He is.
3. Care for yourself. If you know & feel loved, you take better care of yourself, as you want to be at your best. God wants us to love ourselves well, and show our respect for His creation, us!
4. Don’t delay. Now is the time to get to know this God of love. We don’t always get another chance when we put things off. If you want to be loved beyond your imagination, God is waiting to be found.
5. Express your love and gratitude back to Him. Knowing we are loved is only half the love story. Responding to the one who loves us in return completes the love.
6. Forgive those who you have loved who have hurt you. Love can be roadblocked by walls around out heart when we have been hurt. Don’t cut off the love you need by refusing to let His love flow. When we forgive, we make room for God to expand His love within us.
7. Go spend time with Him.
Go for a walk together, chat over coffee, read His word, sing songs of praise and adoration, listen to Him. Hanging out with Him will only increase your knowledge of His love for you, and your desire to love Him in return!
Hey, thanks for reading my 514th blog post….very fitting on Feb 14th 🙂
What happens when you go to a book and it doesn’t have the answers where you are looking for them?
You go to the Author. And ask for help to find the right section.
How the Bible is written is intentional.
As is John’s brilliant opening about Jesus.
You see, preparation for Jesus’ birth started from an idea birthed by God.
Jesus would be coming to earth.
God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit made their plans based on that eternity altering decision: Jesus was to come to us.
Jesus was and is and always will be God.
John’s statement in chapter 1 that the Word was God cements this truth: God handled all the preparation work done for Advent since earthly time began; and He chose to partner with humanity in its execution.
Not just partner with us, but become one of us.
I love how the Message translates the coming Jesus:
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood….”
“This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.”
God with us.
John reminds us just what a miracle is on the horizon with Advent.