Monday, September 24, 2012

Investigating Words

Today, I thank God that He speaks so specifically to me, and that He’s the One Who wants to relate in a special way to everyone.

In worship this morning, we sang “Mighty to Save”  — to God. The song’s not at all new to our church, but it refreshed me. As we worshiped, I studied a bit. And I remembered a Bible study method.

I started picking up specific words in the song.

“Everyone needs compassion...”
Over the last several months the truth of my need for receiving compassion grew dauntingly real as someone dear and close to me needed it in a critical way.

“A love that’s never failing…”
In the throes of pain, shock and crisis, the concept of a never-failing love becomes a go-to comfort and promise. And when I’ve made a mistake, or someone I love is in grave danger, I have begged, “Let mercy fall on me,”(her/him). And the words of a song glorify God and His mercy.

Singing, “The hope of nations,” I consider my friend, Janelle, born on the Navajo Reservation, the Navajo Nation. She indeed brings hope to her nation by allowing her Lord to work through her.

And “My God is Mighty to Save.” Mighty.

To another woman worshiping with the same song, she perhaps emphasizes the word “everyone” in the phrase, “Everyone needs compassion.” This Christ-follower experiences cruelty at work from someone, and longs for compassion. Then she recognizes by the Holy Spirit that the manager acting cruelly, may need to experience compassionate help herself. Everyone needs it.

For a young man discerning a call from God, the word nations in the phrase, “The hope of nations,” leads him to a deep swallow, and a thanks to God for the Holy Spirit nudge, which comes in the form of a life direction shift toward international missions.

Do certain words especially resonate with you in music worship?

What about during Bible study? Have you experienced moments when you felt God brought specific words and phrases in Scripture to your attention because of a challenge or victory in your life? Do you enjoy wonderfully wasting time in the Word? Do you study the Bible much at all?

I’m thankful for those lazy times of discovery in the Word. And I urge seeking people to dig into the Word, and intentionally emphasize different words, and let the verses of God’s love letter to you become integral with your identity.

I love Ephesians 2:10.  God rewards me greatly when I pick apart specific words and appreciate them. I like comparing specific words of the excerpt from the letter to the church in Ephesus in different translations.

Ephesians 2:10
New International Version (NIV)
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10
New Living Translation (NLT)
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

(Both versions copied from

In the NIV version, we are called God’s handiwork. It sounds purposeful, as if His great skill and attention were fully on the task of making me. In the NLT, we are called God’s masterpiece. I like that even better. In fact, I love it. I gain the sense of “and he called it good.” I feel God’s deep pleasure in my mere existence when I read that I’m His masterpiece.

In the NIV version, how I read it, the phrase “created in Christ Jesus,” reminds me Christ Himself is my Creator, too.  It’s one of those tricky Trinity moments, a conscious reminder – in my personal mind and interpretation - that Jesus is God, God is one, and thus Jesus made me and is too, Creator. That may not be the contextual meaning, but it’s something I gain. And it’s good.

In the NLT version, I think more of my rebirth in Jesus Christ when I accepted Him as Savior. I see the moment of being cleansed by His sacrifice and defeat of death. Both views, Jesus as Creator and Jesus as Savior, hold true. Still, the nuances of words say slightly different things to me, even though the overall meaning I understand matches exactly for both translations.

Ah, I wonder so much why it is I find such adventure in the Bible. My curiosity and hunger will remain insatiable; they’re a gift from Him, not a habit or character quality of mine. And in the truth of that, why is it that I would ever fail to set aside time with God in His Word? I definitely miss out when I pass on it for a day.

Reading the passage aloud, I can emphasize different words. When I say “we” louder than the rest, I remember I’m part of the Body of Christ. All of us are God’s masterpieces, all of us with special works prepared for us.

When I say “advance” from the NIV version with more conviction, I am touched that God foreknew that I would accept Christ and desire a kingdom purpose. When I whisper the word “good,” I consider how much the world needs more good works, good things.

To a person feeling dubious about the Word of God, none of this may convince you. Still, I invite you to try it.