Written on My Heart

Have you ever wondered why some people’s faith just doesn’t seem to make a difference in their life? We all face difficult circumstances. Everyone deals with the trials and troubles of this world. But why do some seem to walk with grace and strength and others get entangled and stuck in the midst of the storms?

One of the keys to experiencing the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control,” is to engage scripture on average four times a week.  Check out the findings of a study done of 200,000 participates from 8-80, in over 20 countries and over 75 denominations:

“The life of someone who engages scripture 4 or more times a week looks radically different from the life of someone who does not. In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” (See more at Center for Bible Engagement)

The Bible is clear that God is compassionate, merciful and full of grace. He sends the rain on those who love Him and those who ignore Him (see Matthew 5:45). So everyone experiences a measure of God’s help in times of trouble. However, one key in experiencing the promises that are reserved for His people is to “be devoted to the apostle’s teaching” (Acts 2:42).

James gives us insight into what this statement means when he says, “Be doers of the Word” (James 1:22). Paul helps when he tells Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul says early to Timothy to train himself in godliness… “Physical training is of some value” but spiritual training is value for both this life and the one to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Jesus knew the scriptures intimately. He was able to discuss them at age 12 with the religious scholars (Luke 2:41-52). He was also able to battle Satan when He was tempted by relying on their truth (Luke 4:1-13). He didn’t use them to control, condemn or crush others; instead He used them to guide people into truth and spiritual health.

One of my favorite Jesus interactions is with an expert in the Law. Jesus had already silenced the Sadducees. Now it was the Pharisees’ turn. They wanted to test Him. So one expert asked Jesus which is the greatest commandment. Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God… and the second is like it, love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:34-40).

The Pharisee was an expert in scriptures, but Jesus pointed out to him the whole point of scripture is relationship with God and others not religion. Jesus valued scripture. He used it to bring out truth. His purpose was to strengthen others.

We find hope in God’s Word. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

We find faith in God’s Word. “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).

We find strength in God’s Word. “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

The CBE Study also found that if a person who engaged “the Bible four or more times a week their odds of giving in to…temptations decreases” anywhere from -28% to -62%.”

The study goes on to say, “Bible engagement also produces more peace and joy in a person’s life, by reducing the frequency of various emotional struggles. Receiving, reflecting on, and responding to God’s Word four or more times a week decreases a person’s odds of struggling with…issues” like bitterness, poor self-worth, extending grace, and experiencing fear or anxiety anywhere from -14% to -40%.

LEARNING FROM GOD. We can pick up a bad habit with one simple decision, but spiritual habits take about 6-8 weeks to develop. I have found when we build spiritual habits into our lives, we begin to experience the promises God has for those who love Him (see John 15:9-12 and my blog post: #simplefaith).

Let me share with you a simple process for building the habit of learning from God by engaging the scriptures at least 4x/wk:

  1. Read a short passage of scripture. Do this at least 4 times each week. I believe you should read at least once a week from one of the gospels.
  2. Reflect on what the passage is saying.
    • What does it say about God?
    • What does it say about others?
    • What does it say about me?
  3. Respond to God by following through on what you are learning.
    • Pray: ask God for help following through
    • Share: tell at least one person what you are learning
    • Act: follow through on what you believe God would have you do

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I want to thank my wonderful wife for sharing the Center for Bible Engagement study with me. She, also, taught an incredible lesson by the title of “Written on My Heart” at Discover Point on Mother’s Day, May 14, 2017. Thank you sweetheart – Kiss An Angel Good Morning!

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