Having some renewed energy lately, I’ve been tackling a few early Spring cleaning projects. I spent one morning digging through kitchen drawers and cupboards and organizing them. Clutter at times overwhelms me, so this was long over do. When I was finished, I was amazed by how much space I had! Everything tidy and in its place, I had no problem finding any item I needed quickly and easily. With this kind of success I decided I would then tackle my bedroom closet. Once I had discarded, recycled, and donated items that no longer brought me “joy”, (thanks Marie Kondo), I found with great delight more space. The challenge now is not to fill up the drawers, cupboards and closets again with unnecessary junk and be disciplined to keep my new-found space tidy.
I was challenged last Sunday by a powerful message given by Dr. Steve Booth, who was the guest speaker at our church. Steve and his wife, Susan are professors at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Not only was Steve my professor in New Testament studies when I attended the CSBS, we boast a twenty year friendship with the family. Their son, Caleb, a brilliant artist, designed the covers for my Wounded Trilogy books. They have been so faithful to pray for me over these many months and years. I am truly blessed by them! This Sunday, continuing the sermon series Pastor Gary has been teaching through, Steve brought a message that continued the focus on the importance of reading the Bible daily.
As a Christian, reading the Bible has become a critical discipline in my life. Using different reading plans over the years, I know the daily “nourishment” I receive from being in the Word. I have experienced His Comfort, Provision, Wisdom, Direction, Encouragement, and Love because His Word is “alive and active” in my life.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
The challenge everyday is making space in my own heart to prepare to meet God, read, and meditate on Scripture. Then I need to be willing and able to apply the lessons God wants me to learn from reading His Word. Steve referenced the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20) and though I have read and studied this passage at length, Steve referenced a conversation he had with George Guthrie who wrote “Read the Bible for Life”. Guthrie, an avid gardener explained that in order for seeds to germinate and sprout properly, they not only need fertile soil but also enough space to grow. I had always focused on the type of soil (the heart) being prepared to read and understand the Word of God, but the concept of making space for God’s Word was new to me. In the Biblical parable, the first three soils are inhospitable to proper seed growth because there is inadequate soil preparation and lack of space for the seed to grow. The fertile soil is prepared, free of weeds and has space enough for a seed to sprout and the plant to grow tall and healthy.
The application is clear. To make space for the Word of God I must:
1. Prepare my heart. I must clean up the “space” in my heart before, during and after reading His Word. I must remember the Word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I must try to remove the heart clutter, the things that crowd out the meaning and message of His Word like unconfessed sin, and unforgiveness. I need to make room in my heart for growth.
2. Set aside time (space) each day to read the Bible. I must make reading the Bible a priority.
3. Focus. If my mind is cluttered with daily concerns and my never-ending to-do list, I won’t focus on what I’m reading. In fact, my mind will not have sufficient space to comprehend what I’m reading because it’s too overwhelmed and disorganized with other things that can hamper my ability to hear from God through His Word. Therefore, I need to ask God to give me clarity whenever I read His Word.
It’s amazing how full God’s Word can fill up my heart space!
I thought my readers might enjoy Steve’s entire message, so I’ve posted the link to our church’s YouTube channel. Feel free to also enjoy the rest of Pastor Gary’s Sermon Series on Bible reading. The messages will bless your heart!