I have read commentaries, devotions, books, whatever literary offerings available under various names and listened to sermons and teachings in churches, classrooms, on DVDs and on television.Â There are some inspired people out there.Â Some are inspired by God. But one night about a year after I committed my life to Jesus, I was listening to a man of God who I respected and under whom I had grown spiritually as I had listened to him for that year. As I listened to him speak about a particular Bible passage, I followed along in my Bible â€“ and stopped. I read the passage again. I listened to what he was saying. I read the passage again. And a Light when on in my spirit, â€œThat isn’t what that passage says.â€ I went from being spoonfed to reaching out and grabbing a bite and bringing it to my own mouth. That isn’t pride or arrogance.Â That is growing up! I still respect that man. I thank God for him. But he is human and humans do not always â€œthrow strikesâ€ in this baseball game we call our spiritual life.
Like Peter, if I want to walk on the water with Jesus, I have to get out of the boat. I may make a misstep and start to sink but I do not have to worry. Jesus is there with His hand out. Bible study is essential to my spiritual growth. Without Bible study and prayer, I will not be a disciple but only a Believer. Jesus spoke of the seeds that are sown (Matthew 13) and it’s those that fall on fertile soil and are tended that grow to strong, fruit-bearing plants.Â We must exercise our spiritual muscles as we dig into God’s Word and bring it into our hearts so that it is part of our everyday thinking.
A frequent practice of my spiritual exercising in God’s Word is paraphrasing what I am reading. It answers the basic question: What is this passage saying to me? And, yes, I am blessed to have a husband who reads Hebrew and Greek like I read English. He is passionate about worshiping in the Bible. He is a resource for me â€“ but not my primary resource. I would be back to being spoonfed if I only thought what Henry thought, wouldn’t I? With access to the internet, there are online concordances, sites to check Biblical history, and Amazon.com can hook us up to many resource books. But it is in paraphrasing that God’s Word becomes â€“ God speaking to me, like we are sitting together and talking.
So here is my paraphrase of Psalm 91 that I recently submitted to a book that my church published on all 150 psalms: A Living Psalter.
Living in the House of God is also where I sleep peacefully.
I say, â€œGod is where I am protected in the keep of His castle.â€
God will save me from hidden traps and horrible infections that plague me in this world. He covers me as a mother hen covers her chicks with feathered wings; like the King’s armor and castle fortification is the faithfulness of the LORD.
There will be no fear in my life, neither the thoughts in the middle of the night nor the unexpected accidents and traumas that occur during the day.
Though crowds of people may fall away all around me, I will trust God to totally protect me as I see the wicked punished by the LORD in due season because He is not with them.Â For if I make the LORD Most High the place where I live, where I take shelter, then nothing can destroy my heart and my spirit, because God’s messengers will be commanded to care for me.Â Those angels will lift me so that I do not stumble on the obstacles that come into my path, even predators that sneak in like a snake or lion. I will walk all over them!
â€œBecause she is committed to me in her love,â€ says my LORD, â€œI will save and protect her.Â She always gives me credit for the good in her life.Â And I will walk with her when she has troubled times, bringing her through with honor. And after a long life, I, the LORD, will bring her home to an eternal life just as I promised.â€Â (my paraphrase)