Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Open the Eyes of My Heart


Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Do you experience your relationship with God in your head, or in your heart? ~Christa Black Gifford, Heart Made Whole

Last Saturday, I celebrate the completion of a year-long reading of the entire Bible.  I began the study on the first Sunday of Advent, 2015, using the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan, which I highly recommend.  As I used The Message for this study, I've decided to explore different versions of the Bible as I prepare to read every word of it again this year.

Yes!  Reading the whole Bible is something I have never managed to accomplish before now.  Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty darned good about this milestone achievement.

And if I'm honest with myself, I'm feeling quite proud, too.  Smug even.

Until, that is, I read Chapter Seven, The Naked Heart, in Christa Black Gifford's book, Heart Made Whole, and encounter this passage:  "It's easy to open a Bible and read a Scripture with your physical eyes and memorize a sentence with your head, but studying the Bible without experiencing the God of the Bible is a total waste of time.  If your pursuit of Scripture isn't leading you to intimate fellowship with God, then you've completely missed the mark."

Ouch!  Gifford's words hit way to close to home.  How many times did I open my Bible over the last year because it was time to read the daily offering, never giving a second thought of God wishing to speak not just to my mind, but to my heart, too?  Had I neglected to invite Him, through the Holy Spirit, to sit with me as I read, to help guide me in truly hearing His Word with my whole being?

Not nearly enough!

So this go-round, I'm changing things up.  I'm committing to begin each daily session of Scripture reading with a prayer, a sincere invitation to God to open the eyes of my heart to what He is trying to show and tell me.  What He desires to reveal of Himself in those particular passages.

I never again wish to simply read God's Word, and dare to imagine that is ever enough.

I long to experience the presence of the One who, as Gifford writes, "just happens to be the most important, intimate, loving, compassionate, powerfully real relationship you'll ever have . . ."

Amen!

~



For the next two Wednesdays, I will be joining fellow Christian bloggers, Jason StasyszenSarah Salter and Glynn Young in a discussion of Heart Made Whole by Christa Black Gifford.  I hope you will join us as we explore this amazing book together.
Blessings!

18 comments:

  1. Reading is never enough without doing what we read. Thanks for this post, Martha - it comes at a needed time.

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    1. Exactly, Glynn! And I'm so glad this post came at a good time for you, my friend.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. Good thoughts Martha! I heard something in a message the other day that resonated with me. In any great relationship, we spend half the time speaking and half the time listening. This was a gentle reminder that I needed. Listening can take many forms...one of which is letting His Word be the conversation.

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    1. Listening can definitely take many forms, PS, and we should be mindful of how much we are speaking "over" instead of listening to what God would have us hear with our hearts and minds.
      Love and blessings!

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  3. So, this is something I've been doing for decades. Which may explain why I have so many different editions of commentary on my library shelves.

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    1. I think that would explain it, indeed, Roy. Every time we read Scripture, I'm convinced God has something new for us to see and understand.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. Hi Martha! I think we always can do better, but that doesn't mean that what we've done has no value. I think it's wonderful that you were faithful to reading and taking the time to learn more! Can you do better? Of course, we all can.
    Your point about putting myself in the Scripture and inviting the Lord in to instruct me is so beautiful, I have to admit. That's a goal for everyone, and I will hope to do that for sure.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. It should be the goal of all of us, Ceil, that's for sure. And yes, we can always do better - God is slowly but surely perfecting us if we allow Him to. I'm sure you're right there with me when I say, "That's what I want!"
      Love and blessings!

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  5. That's so good (and honest). We've all been there, "phoning it in," so to speak. Relationship is hard work! It's not complicated, but it does take real work. Thanks Martha.

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    1. "Phoning it in . . ." That's a perfect description, Jason! And I agree, relationship is hard work, even when you are head-over-heels in love with someone. I want to have that kind of love for the Lord, and devote myself completely to His fellowship.
      Love and blessings!

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  6. Martha, I'm so happy for you and proud of you too for sticking with reading God's Word from cover-to-cover! (There are pastors out there who can't say that.) In 2005 I read the Bible from cover-to-cover for the first time and haven't stopped since, although I've been doing without a pre-written plan since 2007 (it was good for me to be reading in Psalms when my mom had surgery!).

    Like you, I still have my struggles with reading yet not really reading. Does it really get into my heart? Some days are better than others. Yet, it's not wasted time. And yes, I spend time in prayer prior to reading. :)

    And as Jason said, "Relationship is hard work!" All relationships require time (quality time) to grow and stay strong.

    Love and blessings!

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    1. I think it's wonderful, Kim, that you have read the entire Bible so many times and continue to do so! It's also important, too, as you mentioned, to spend time in prayer before we start reading God's Word. Our hearts and minds so need to be open to what He is telling us.
      And I agree - Jason got it right!
      Love and blessings!

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  7. wow impressive and then a big ouch. good lesson for all of us. thanks for your vulnerability and honesty. I once read the whole Bible too and don't recall much of it at all. Now I find just ONE WORD often sinks into my heart better and takes roots deeper when it has the space to grow, not crowded out by noisy words... ahhh, you are making me think tonight, Martha! ( :

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    1. I love that imagery, Jean, of finding one word and allowing it to really sink deeply into your heart. As I was reading Joshua yesterday, the phrase, "Be courageous" kept rolling around in my mind. Maybe God will reveal its importance in my life in the days and weeks to come.
      Love and blessings!

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  8. Martha ... congrats on reading through God's Word! This is something that more of us need to focus on. Reading chronologically through The Message a year or so ago really spoke to my heart.

    Maybe it's time to do it again ...

    Advent blessings to you, friend ...

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    1. Thank you, Linda! I used The Message for this first go-round, and it's easy-to-understand wording really helped me keep at it. Now I'm going for some other versions as the journey begins again.
      Love and blessings!

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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ...