Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Words of Life

Ink and paper, phonetic sounds and syllables, all come together to make words on a page. Yet, why are the words of the Bible considered unique, life giving . . . even alive? 

While in high school, my daughter was assigned the reading of Genesis, Job, Isaiah, and Psalms by her public school literature teacher.   Likewise, my son, while in college, has run into professors who are open to discussing Bible verses in class as it applies to their topic.  Yet, these secular teachers lack a crucial element  in their interpretation of the Scriptures--the Spirit of God.  This is where the Bible differs so drastically from other works.

I am fascinated with how I can be so familiar with a section of the Bible for my entire life, knowing it forwards and backwards, when suddenly, one day I see something brand new.  I know it is the Spirit of God that causes the words to 'leap off the page' and into my heart.  That was the case for me just a few days ago as I read the account of Jesus at twelve years of age. 

The parents of Jesus were among the caravans traveling home from the Passover, when they noticed Jesus missing.  (Luke 2:41-52)  As I serve the Lord in what I believe he has led me to do, I can easily fall into a rut.  I wonder, how long does it take for me to realize that Jesus is no longer in "my" programs?   So often, we forge ahead with our agenda, completely unaware that we have left Jesus out.  

Oh, it would not appear that He is missing.  Other people would not know it by first glance. We even use His name and speak all the right words, but the whole reason for why we are there has been lost.  Are we sensitive to the needs of the people we serve, or only driving ahead with our planned material?  Can we be flexible with our structure to match the needs?  Joseph and Mary assumed Jesus was among their group of travelers somewhere.  How often do I make assumptions that God is present, when in actuality, He isn't.  His work becomes lost in the crowd of my business. 

Just as the Scriptures are empty without the Spirit of God to reveal them to us, so our programs are futile unless the Spirit of God is actively working through us and in the lives of those we serve.   Structure is a wonderful thing, but when I rely on it too heavily I miss opportunities God might have ready in that moment.  
Joseph and Mary had to turn and go back to Jerusalem to look for Jesus.  When at last they found Him, He declared that He must be about His Father's business.  So too, we must always seek the heart of God in what He has called us to do.  I must be sensitive to His voice and seek to remain within "my Father's business", lest I only run a program. (Luke 2:49)  I must truly love the people I am serving rather than simply adore my smooth ironed out system. 

This is one reason I seek to pray in earnest, because I'm constantly aware that I have a need for His presence and that nothing I can do will produce life giving Spirit.  All I can give is the shell.  The life comes from God Himself.  Prayer is the most important factor in ministry, but the easiest to neglect.  When I ignore prayer I miss the presence of God and His heart for what I'm doing.   I become an agent who has lost her purpose.  May it never be so.

Yet, this Spirit that lives in us is the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.  We're talkin' some serious power here!  But more than the power I desire His very presence, for unless God goes before me, I may as well not go up from here.  This one thing I need, to be "quickened with life by His Spirit in the inner man." (Rom. 8:11)

1 comment:

  1. This was a great reminder that I was able to utilize last week when speaking at one of the Christian schools in town. They asked me to speak on the importance of knowing the Bible and daily Bible reading/devotions. I shared the gospel first and then spoke about the actual topic.;) They had a whole week on spiritual renewal topics and on Wed. four kids accepted the Lord as their Savior!