Gracious God, who inspired faulty and feeble people in times past to write for the purpose of changing lives, please let some of that spirit–a double portion, even, as I am faultier and feebler than they were—rest on me as a writer.
Grant me the productivity of Moses, who though he lived in an age before paper or press is credited with “the books of Moses,” revered as Torah by one generation after another.
Grant me David’s lyricism and imagery evident in line after line of psalm after psalm, from “The Lord is my shepherd” to “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Grant me Isaiah’s facility with word and phrase, he who wrote “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” and “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Grant me Solomon’s wisdom, Ezekiel’s vision, Jeremiah’s compulsion, and Daniel’s spine.
Grant me Hosea’s courage in telling my story, and in obeying and reflecting you in its every twist and turn.
Grant me the Gospel writers’ recall. Luke’s accuracy. Paul’s intensity. James’s practicality.
And grant, please, whenever my end approaches, whatever my final book or sentence may be, a finish like that of your servant John the Revelator.
All this I am so bold to ask only through the merit of my Savior, Lord, and King, in whose name I ask it, amen.
My German shepherd was starving to death, and we didn’t know what to do. Sophie got twelve, yes 12 cups of food a day and at a year old, she was only forty pounds. After many tests, the vet diagnosed her with a pancreatic problem, called EPI, which kept her from digesting her food. As a result, whatever she ate went through her system without nourishing or feeding her body. With the help of pancreatic enzymes, Sophie is now thriving.
As a culture, America is starving. So are some of her churches. Why? We live to eat but don’t eat to live. We are not feeding on the one thing we need most, the Word. God made us to have intimacy with him through his Holy Spirit, prayer, and Scripture. Without the catalyst of God’s Word, we won’t thrive spiritually.
We need to digest the Word before we can absorb it and do what it says. But if we barely open the Book how will that happen?
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit…”
The word living means God’s words are alive, and they give life. Active is the Greek word energes which resembles the English word energy. God’s Word and words are full of life and energy. God’s words are to achieve something in our heart and life. Scripture needs to become more than head knowledge. We shouldn’t let it go in one ear and out the other, because we need the Word to be heart knowledge so it can be absorbed and nourishing to our very soul.
God’s word is sharper than a sword, able to pierce through the soul and spirit. The word pierce means to penetrate or get through. This may be one reason we may not care to read the Bible. Unless the Word penetrates our heart, we will not grow and change.
Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions, and our spirit is what the Creator breathed into us. They are often at war with one another. Our spirit communes with God through the Holy Spirit while our soul is everything which makes us who we are.
So, why would the Word divide the soul and spirit? God wants us to be Spirit-driven, not soul-driven. The Spirit is love, peace, truth, patient, gentle, kind, self-controlled, faithful, and joyful. This is how God wants us to function.
The soul can be moody, self-centered, turbulent, depressed, thoughtless, self-driven, lacking self-control, and deceitful. Satan influences our soul, by manipulating our thoughts. If we are not in the Word of Truth, under the perfect power of the Spirit of Truth, we get off track.
God wants us to be Spirit-led and Word-led. One without the other is only half the equation. Unfortunately, many overdo one or the other. We become so Spirit-led we assume everything we think is of the Holy Spirit and will act and speak out without the guidelines of Scripture. However, being overly Word-lead can stifle or quench the Holy Spirit so we can no longer hear him because everything becomes an intellectual experience. There needs to be a balance.
In Hebrews 5:11-12, the author rebukes his readers for becoming dull of hearing. He says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food.”
The Greek word for dull refers to “a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.”  Isn’t that how we can feel, too?
Studying Scripture takes time and effort.
God does not think less of us if we are not in his Word.
But, have you ever thought how it must sadden him to see the time we invest in things having no Heavenly value?
Do we spend too much time on our phones, iPads or binge watching our favorite shows on Netflix? Yes. Do we need to improve? Yes. Am I preaching to myself? Yes.
The answer lies in putting those things away for a set time each day and getting out our Bibles to let the Holy Spirit guide us through the Word one verse at a time. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Reading one verse and letting God speak to you through it is better than reading one chapter or an entire book just so we can say we did it.
If you are a parent, can you imagine letting your ten or fifteen-year-old still drink from a sippy cup or a bottle for each meal? Unfortunately, that is the state of a lot of churches in our country. We need more than milk; we need solid food. We need to get back to reading, discussing, and studying God’s Word. Our spiritual health depends on it.
Before you delete this post as heresy, read the next sentence.
I’m not suggesting that we do away with this familiar passage in Ephesians 6; I just think it would be good to move beyond the symbolism and dig deeper into the practical application.
The Apostle Paul used an illustration that would have been readily understood by his First Century audience: the attire of the Roman soldier. This example has been eagerly adopted by modern day story tellers in settings that vary from the pulpit to backyard Bible study groups. The metaphor creates a vivid image as a visual aid on a flannel board or a re-enactment for a pint-sized soldier with an aluminum foil helmet and a cardboard sword.
But what message did Paul want his readers to come away with? Certainly not to become better acquainted with the battle gear of their sworn enemy. What then should we…
The connection between James and the Sermon on the Mount is striking in that there are so many that James could almost be a commentary. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that another curious feature of this connection is that while there are more direct correlations between James and Matthew than there are with Luke, James’ language is actually quite similar to Luke in its phrasing.
While it seems unlikely that he had those Gospels at his fingertips, it is highly likely that the teachings of Jesus on that occasion were treasured and protected by the early church, and James would surely have been at the forefront of such an effort. In a letter that serves the purpose as the primary New Testament document of moral instruction, what better source to draw from than the Sermon on the Mount, the highest and most exacting moral teaching of all history?…