Do You Seriously Want a Radically Transformed Life?
It’s tragically sad but true, that most Christians are hell bent (!) on squandering the new life that Jesus died and rose again to bring them.
Statistically – based on the research I reported on in a recent blog – the one thing, the only thing that strongly correlates with radically reduced sin and radically transformed lives, is engaging with God’s Word four times a week or more.
And most Christians don’t. Why?
Mostly it’s because we don’t know how to engage with the Bible in a life-changing way.
But that’s all about to change!
Here are the 4 R’s of engaging with God’s Word and seeing your life transformed. None of it’s rocket science, but do these 4 simple things, day after day after day – and your life will change … radically. According to God. Confirmed by the research (acknowledgements here to Arnie Cole and the Center for Bible Engagement, USA).
Figure out a quiet time that you can set aside to spend with God most days of the week. At least four days, preferably more. It might take some rearrangement of your schedule – but then, if Jesus rang and told you He was coming over for dinner and a chat Thursday night, you’d rearrange your schedule … right?
And find a place where there are no distractions. Disconnect from social media, withdraw from the rat race … just for this short time, each day. It’ll be the most important change you’ll ever make in your life, after deciding to follow Jesus.
Read just a small passage of the Bible. The Gospel of Matthew is a great place to start. I tend to cycle between an Old Testament book this time, and when I’ve read through that – sometimes it takes a few months – I go on to a New Testament book, one time a Gospel, another time one of the letters.
It’s mind-blowingly amazing how many times God has given me just the spiritual food, just the wisdom and insight I need for today, in the very next few verses I was due to read. It’s like manna from heaven.
I don’t read large slabs each day. I go for no more than half a chapter and sometimes it’s only a few verses. I read them slowly, deliberately, trying to pick up what’s going on. It’s like eating, feasting … on the bread of life. This is the spiritual health food you have been hungering for.
This is the bit that people so often don’t do. We skim read – yep, I read my Bible today; tick in the box. But reading the Bible without reflecting on what God is saying, is like biting off a chunk freshly baked bread, without chewing it … or swallowing it.
It’s nice … but it doesn’t do you any good!
I reflect on what God’s saying by asking questions: What’s going on here? What’s the difference between the talent and the denarius in this parable and what does that mean? Why did the disciples want Jesus to go with Jairus, and not stop for the bleeding woman? How come God did it that way? What was Jehoshaphat’s first reaction when he was afraid? How does that compare with what I would have done?
I ask God lots of questions about His Word? And often times, I’m thinking in background about what I read this morning, throughout the day.
By now, the Holy Spirit is usually talking with me, putting His finger on something – because He wants His Word to change my life. Here’s a case example.
The other morning, I was reading the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt 18:23-35). The master forgives one slave a debt of 10,000 talents, but that same slave then refuses to forgive a fellow slave a debt of 100 denarii. My question was – what’s the ratio between those two amounts. Turns out that a talent was around 15 year’s wages and a denarius just one day’s wage for a labourer. Do the maths, and the master forgave the first slave 547,500 times more, than that slave refused to forgive his fellow slave.
There’s a point in that right? God’s anger at unforgiveness now makes sense. That led me to reflect on how much and how often and at what price God has forgiven me. It drove me to prayer – Lord who is it that I haven’t fully forgiven yet. God spoke to me in reply, and some change began to happen in my life.
Now … and only now, has the Word of God led to radical transformation in my life.
I needed to retreat, read, reflect … and receive. Now I’ve begun to feed on the Bread of Life, the Word of God. Now His goodness is flowing through my veins. Now, the sacrifice of Jesus is having a massive impact in my life.
Transformation has just begun!
Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh …
… Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them …
Because of this, many disciples turned back and no longer went around with him.