Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Meditating on Scripture - Doing the legwork



Bible Gateway provides 55 different iterations on the full English Bible.  Some would say, See, the Bible has been changed, it cant be trusted!  The big secret that these sceptics dont know is that Gods Word is alive with meaning.  Through the intervention of the Holy Spirit, God will use a specific passage of Scripture, to speak to the believers heart, in many ways and for many different reasons.  These individuals would not understand the passion the translators and interpreters have for conveying the true meaning of the words and the heart of God.  They strive to listen to Gods voice not their own.
Having recently been challenged to continually trust God in trying times, I have been focusing on verses of Scripture such as Psalm 46:10, which 42 of the 55 translations reads, Be still, and know that I am God.  Many versions italicize the word, am to give it emphasis. A friend from our Bible Study group challenged me to understand the Hebrew meaning of this verse, all Hebrew families knew this verse like the back of their hands, but what they knew was the meaning. In Hebrew, the text of be still means to drop everything! This lead me to the exercise of looking at this verse through all the different translations on Bible Gateway. The results are below.  As always, it is good to read Scripture in context.
Psalm 46:10 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)- Full verse.
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted on the earth."
Psalm 46:10 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Stop your fighting, and know that I am God,
Psalm 46:10 Common English Bible (CEB)
Thats enough! Now know that I am God!
Psalm 46:11 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
11 (10) Desist, and learn that I am God,
Psalm 46:10 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Our God says, Calm down, and learn that I am God!
Psalm 46:10 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
God says, Stop fighting and know that I am God!
Psalm 46:10 GODS WORD Translation (GW)
Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 International Standard Version (ISV)
Be in awe and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 Living Bible (TLB)
Stand silent! Know that I am God!
Psalm 46:10 The Message (MSG)
Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.
Psalm 46:10 Names of God Bible (NOG)
Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am Elohim.
Psalm 46:10 New English Translation (NET Bible)
He says, Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!
Psalm 46:10 New Life Version (NLV)
Be quiet and know that I am God.
Tehillim 46:10 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)
10 (11) Be still, and know that I am Elohim:
Psalm 46:10 The Voice (VOICE)
Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.
Psalm 46:10 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)
Give ye attention, and see ye, that I am God;
Psalm 46:10 Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

Desist, and know that I [am] God,

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Can you forever change the way you read Scripture?


A SPIRITUAL EXERCISE

I was just lent Encounters with Jesus by Timothy Keller.  In the introduction, he tells of a life transforming attitude to meditating on Scripture.  His class was challenged to spend meditating on a single verse for 30-minutes and to “Write down at least thirty things you see or learn from the verse.”  Ten minutes into the exercise Keller was finished (or so he thought) and bored.  He dutifully pushed on and kept looking.  To his surprise there was more.   Virtually the whole class found their most penetrating and personally helpful insights came in the last 15-minutes of the exercise, none from the first 10-minutes.

Last night I read the following from Psalm 64:5 and decided it would be good to apply the same effort: “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.” Fifteen words. I asked God for encouragement and insight.  For me, the exercise ended up taking 45-minutes and produced thirty-three thoughts, or revelations.  They are listed in the exact order I wrote them down.  Notice the progression.


“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”  

1. Let – I must allow myself to do these things.

2. Let – Do not put up obstacles that would hinder my intent and desire.

3. All – Hold nothing back.  If I hold anything back I am making room for self rather than God.

4. Let all that I am – My complete being; body mind and soul.

5. All those things that are ‘fleshly’, i.e. worry, doubt, fear, etc. are an impediment to my ‘waiting patiently’.

6.   Let all that I am wait… - This should be my continual posture.

7. If I am to have the correct posture I must not allow ‘noise’, the voice of the devil or worldly distractions to interrupt my quiet.

8. Where am I to do this waiting? Before God!  I need to wait in His presence.

9. I must not do my waiting cowered in a corner or wrap myself in a ball, hoping that my troubles will simply disappear.

10. Before God – What a privileged position!

11.  Before God – I am making Him my refuge.

12. Let all that I am wait quietly before God – This reminds me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

13. Waiting patiently before God means that I am looking to Him exclusively to bring about the desired outcome of whatever situation I find myself in – His will.

14. Waiting patiently infers that I am in no hurry.  Reminder to self: God’s timing is always perfect.

15. Waiting patiently is a deliberate denial of setting my own agenda.

16. For my hope is in Him – The reason for my ability to wait patiently.

17. My Hope – The thing that I look forward to.  Not a specific, self-dictated outcome, but a ‘God outcome’ – something greater and better than I could have hoped or imagined. See Ephesians 3:20

18. My hope is... – A statement of fact and confidence – not a ‘maybe’.

19. In Him – The place, the very heart of my confidence.  It is not to be found on the outside or anywhere else, only  inside, “in Him”.

20. Let all that I am – This is a prayer/petition in and of itself.  I am asking God to make this possible, to keep any distraction from this desired attitude at bay.

21. Quietly – A place of peace and solitude.

22. This verse should be my perpetual, submissive attitude before God; for my minute-by-minute needs, my daily needs and my lifelong needs.

23. This is a life transforming verse.  I am giving over my whole life to God, for His eternal purpose for my life – which is my hope.

24. My hope is in Him – This reminds me of Psalm 30:5 “but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

25. In Him – My joy, my purpose for being, my future is to be found nowhere else.

26. I need to be quiet in the presence of God.  Even as I write these thoughts, my mind is racing.  I need to learn to ‘Stop interrupting God.’

27. Is the good that God brings out of the struggles of the past few weeks specifically so that I may take this verse to heart?

28. My hope is in Him – Why? Because He loves me. Because He is faithful. Because He is gracious.

29. Although this verse is a ‘conversation with self’, it can be read as a promise.  God will give me patience, quietness, and hope.  It’s what He wants for me.

30. In Him – Certainty!

31. I am to live in a posture of hope.  It allows me to live in a world that seems to be falling apart, yet I am still stop and smell the roses, to take time to praise God for the beauty of His Creation – not letting worry steal my joy.

32. Sometimes we put up barriers between our head and our heart.  I can intellectually articulate all these ‘things’ [concepts and ideas], but am I willing to let them fully permeate my heart?

33. Psalm 62:5 does not give me permission to have a laissez faire attitude, ‘Don’t worry, God will take care of it.’ Rather, God is inviting us into a joint venture, a joint effort.  “My hope [my part] is in Him [His part]

May I encourage you to try this exercise for yourself?  Pick a verse...