By Claudine Lehman
Every child of God has her own journey to travel. As we study the character of God, our walk will grow more intimate and joy-filled no matter where our journey takes us. That’s the very core of personal worship—getting intimately acquainted with God. Our guide book is the Bible and our line of communication is simply talking to God. Personal worship should be a growing, living organism—blooming, beautiful, radiant—but also very personal and intimate, between you and your God. The God who created you knows you intimately, and He desires and longs for you to know Him intimately as well.
God transforms our lives as we live in His Word. These changes or transformation are directly connected to the ministry of the Word in our lives. We need the heart-changing truths of the Word to bring about personal change.
Sometimes I forget that God’s Word is the primary tool for change and growth. I take a little personal wisdom and some personal experience and then go out into my day and wonder why things fall apart, or at best are dull and uninviting . . . no spark or sparkle in my life.
Personal transformation comes from God to you and me through His Word.
The Bible . . . the Scriptures . . . the Word is written to be personal—read, meditated upon and soaked up like rain on a parched garden. Take a moment to read Isaiah 55:6-13, noting especially verses 10 and 11.
It’s the Word that changes people dramatically. The Word brings joy and peace. The rain that soaks the parched land always has an effect. It bathes soil which feeds roots which nourish plants which produce flowers. So it is with the Word of God. It changes what it touches, producing beauty and fruitfulness in people’s lives.
The Word points us to two wonderful realities.
- We are God’s covenant children. He has promised to be our God, to be with us and to bless us.
- It’s all about His glory. It’s not about me.
The Bible is not a spiritual encyclopedia. It’s not a catalog of human problems, coupled with a list of divine answers. It’s more than a command, principle or promise that will fit every need and situation—like a spiritual cut-and-paste system. This kind of study puts self at the center. Personal need is the focus and personal happiness is the goal.
The Bible should open us to the vastness of a God-defined, God-centered world.
Nor should we handle Scripture topically. By getting out your concordance or topical Bible and scanning all the verses on a topic, picking the passages that seem most relevant—we are in danger of misunderstanding what the Word is saying and how it is to be used. This practice often distorts what the Bible is meant to say. Each verse is set in a certain context and taking it out of context will rob it of some of its real meaning.
Every passage is dependent on the whole—all held together by interdependent themes that run through every passage . . . sort of like rebar, the steel rods that reinforce concrete. Without the perspective of the entire book or chapter, we lose a verse’s true meaning.
Finally, spending time in God’s Word reveals three grand themes in the story of redemption.
- God’s Absolute Sovereignty—[Daniel 4:34-35] What is God doing here on earth? He’s accomplishing His plan—always, only and completely.
- God’s Amazing Grace—This theme confronts and encourages me at the deepest personal level. It diagnoses the problems that infect my relationships and give me the only reason to press on. When we begin to rely on grace and extend it to others, we begin to rebuild crumbled foundations. When our lives are grace-infused, love will grow, healthy relationships will develop, and we will bear lasting fruit.
- God’s Overriding Glory—It’s all about Him. He is at the center. It’s not my party. It’s His! [Romans 11:36] At the bottom of all our problems—a broken marriage, a shattered family, forsaken friendships—you will always find stolen glory. We crave glory that does not belong to us, and we step on one another in order to obtain it. We use people to get the glory we love. Sin causes this. But the story of Scripture is the story of the Lord’s glory. As I spend time in the Word, I’m called to His agenda—not mine—to something far bigger than myself. The Word offers me something worth living for.
In summary, the central work of God’s kingdom is change—changed lives. This change is accomplished through the Holy Spirit empowering His Word in our lives.
We live in His Word to get more than solutions, strategies, principles, commands and promises.
We live in His Word to know His heart and His will. Through His Word we learn what is pleasing to Him and what causes Him heartbreak.
We live in His Word so we can rest in His sovereignty (not establish our own), rely on His grace (rather than performing on our own), and submit to His glory (rather than seeking our own).
If you want to truly experience personal worship, you have to get into His Word.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to spending time in God’s Word? Why do you think that is?
Since this is our final lesson, your homework is to go out and apply what you’ve learned in this class. Our prayer is that personal worship becomes a living, growing, transforming part of your daily life.