Rightly Dividing the Word (5)
I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, to the very end. Psalm 119.112
Lights coming on
In my own experience of reading and studying the Scriptures, the more consistent I am at the kind of approach we’ve been considering in this series, the more I experience the Word of God as the living, penetrating, transforming, joy-giving revelation that it is (Heb. 4.12; 2 Cor. 3.12-18; Jer. 15.16). Others have found this to be true as well. As we come to the Scriptures submitted to them as the very Word of God, seeking Him and His will by savoring every word and truth, and searching the Scriptures and the great teachers of the Christian tradition, something happens in our soul.
Lights begin to come on – some red, some yellow, some green.
When this happens, you know the Spirit of God is at work. He flashes red lights on certain aspects of our thinking, or certain of our ways, that simply must stop. We can plainly see, in the light of God’s Word, that these thoughts or feelings, this way of treating others or that bit of conduct – these are not in line with what God wants us to be or do.
Some yellow lights may flicker as well, warning us that this way be dragons. Something we’re pondering, some fear or doubt we keep avoiding, some otherwise harmless preoccupation we indulge – these could lead to sin if we’re not careful. Pay attention here; don’t fall through these temptations into sin, but learn to deal with them so that you will continue to grow in the Lord.
And then there are green lights: “Go ahead, do this,” “Obey the will of the Lord,” “You’re free to speak or live this way,” “This person needs a word of witness,” “Go and do likewise,” and so forth. All these lights come flashing on, sometimes all at once, and then we can know that the Lord is really unfolding His truth for us, and we’re in a very good position to get the most out of our time in God’s Word.
But for that to happen, we need to move quickly into the next facet.
Whatever is required
We must be willing to surrender to the Lord whatever is required by the various lights His Spirit shines into our soul.
Surrendering to God and His Word is a conscious, repeated act, not just a general frame of mind. It’s something we must be ready to do every time we’re meeting with the Lord in His Word. First, of course, we need to surrender the various components of our soul to the teaching of God’s Word. We must affirm and confess with our mind the truth that God has shown us. We must give our heart to delight in that truth, so that we love it and long for it to be our truth. And we must resolve in our conscience or will to carry out whatever is required of us.
Such surrender is accomplished first in prayer, as we respond to God and what He has spoken clearly to us, committing our very soul to Him for obedience to His Word. Unless we set our soul on obedience, inclining not only our heart but our mind and conscience as well, to perform the Word of God, nothing of transforming significance is going to occur.
Next, we need to surrender our time to the Lord. Whatever He is requiring of us is going to work itself out in the time of our lives. Today. Right away, maybe even as soon as you have finished your time with the Lord. Look ahead to the day and consider where, in the time before you, you will carry out whatever the Lord has shown you in the light of His Word. Commit that time, that anticipated situation, to the Lord. Think about how you’ll fulfill the requirements of His Word, and then plead with the Lord to make you willing and able to do what He is showing you (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17; Phil. 2.12, 13).
Finally, as you head out into your day, surrender your attention to the Lord, so that you go into all your activities in communion with the Lord, praying without ceasing, walking circumspectly (Eph.. 5.15), and listening for the prompting of His Spirit. Thus you will be ready to act in faith and obedience on the Word He has taught you for today.
Paul exhorts us to make the most of our time by paying careful attention for the opportunities we have for doing good (Eph. 5.15-17; cf. Gal. 6.9, 10). The Spirit will be present to guide us, but we must be willing to hear Him as He prods or directs us to speak or act in a way consistent with what we’ve committed ourselves to perform. The more we live this way, the more such a way of living becomes just who we are, and the things we are learning from God become part of our daily manner of being in the world.
Surrendering to God’s Word will be more likely to occur in the time of our lives if we include this as part of our time in the Word. When the lights start flashing, listen for specific applications of His Word to your life, soul and body, and engage in conversation with the Lord, until you have committed yourself and your time to walking the path He is illuminating before you.
If you will surrender to Him while you’re in the Word, you’ll find that you are much more likely to surrender to Him when you’re in the world.
1. Give an example of the “lights coming on” as a result of your reading, meditating, and studying the Word lately. How did you respond?
2. What is involved in surrendering your soul to the Word each day?
3. Meditate on Psalm 90.12, 16, 17 and Ephesians 5.15-17. From these two passages, suggest an approach to surrendering your time to the Lord each day.
Next steps – Transformation: Try this today: Read this article again, asking the Lord to “turn on some lights” in your soul. Jot down any red, yellow, or green lights you see, then surrender yourself to them at once. Carry out what God has illuminated for you during the day, then pray your experience back to the Lord before you retire at night.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- T.M. Moore
- September 1, 2017
Yield to it, whatever it requires.
Rightly Dividing the Word (5)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.