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20 Ways to Engage the Scriptures
July 29, 2020
This side of heaven there is nothing more wonderful we could ever hold in our hands or engage with our minds than Elohim’s Word as given to us in the Scriptures. Countless passages in the Scriptures on the Scriptures affirm just how incredible and life-giving Scripture is (See Joshua 1:8; Deuteronomy 6:-6-7; Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 19; Psalm 119: 9-11, 105; Matthew 4:4; John 6:63; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12, just to name a few). Joshua tells us that engaging with the Word of Elohim will lead to success in life and the same promise is repeated again in the very first Psalm. Elohim has so constructed the world that the vibrancy of life is dependant upon his Word—empowered and revealed by his Spirit.
We must make every effort to get into and stay engaged with the Scriptures as the predominant force in our lives. To do so is to arrange our lives around Elohim himself— because that is just what the Scriptures is: A clear expression of the mind and thoughts and heart of Elohim as he seeks to be in relationship with us. Elohim inhabits his Word. We love the Word of Elohim because we love Elohim himself. He even goes so far as to call his Son “The Word” (John 1:1; John 5:39).
Here are 20 ways to encourage people everywhere to engage the Scriptures and re-center their hearts and lives around Elohim’s Word. Some you’re certainly already aware of. Others will be new to you. A handful may jump out as just what Elohim has in mind for you or for your assembly. Note: You will not find here a prescription for how much time one must spend in the Scriptures. This is not meant to be a regimented structure but rather an inspirational piece to encourage people to engage and enjoy the Scriptures more. In Acts 17 the Bereans were described as being in the Word daily. I’ll leave that as Scripture’s simple recommendation for all of us.
1.Survey the Word
Whether it be the whole of Scripture, an entire book in the Scriptures, or a given passage, capturing the big picture makes a deeper engagement of the Word more accessible and productive. There are different survey you can enagae in:
Satan’s Deception. Adam’s Consumption. Noah’s Boat. Abraham’s Faith. Joseph’s Dreams. Pharaoh’s Oppression. Moses’ Escape. Doubters’ Wandering. Joshua’s Conquests. Judges’ Strength. David’s Slingshot. Solomon’s Wisdom. Prophets’ Proclamations. Israel’s Scattering. Mary’s Delivery! Jesus’ Miracles. Rabbi’s Lessons. Lamb’s Death. Resurrection! Spirit’s Arrival. Disciples’ Testimony. Paul’s Letters.
assemblyes’ Multiplication. World’s Demise. Heaven’s Triumph!
The value of a survey is that it gives perspective on the rest of a passage, short or long, and contextualizes all other Scriptures engagement.
2.Listen to the Word
Whether it be listening to ourselves read the Word or hearing someone else read it to us, listening is a wonderful staple of “Scripture consumption.” Listening is an intake strategy that offers an opportunity to hear the Scriptures when busy lives so often push it out of our schedules. Depending on the recording, one can listen to an entire audio New Testament in 15-20 hours. The whole Scriptures can be completed in 75-85 hours. (Here’s an idea: “Fast” from TV and discretionary Internet use for 30 days and listen to the entire Scriptures in a month instead. Be prepared to have your thought processes changed!)
3.Read the Word Silently
Probably the most common form of engaging Elohim’s Word in our time, silent reading of the Word, is the fastest way to take in Scripture. The average person silently reads 250-300 words a minute. Its advantages include privacy, ease, speed, and volume of intake. Silent reading allows for quick overviews and a first pass before preceding deeper Scriptures engagement. At 300 words a minute, one can read the entire Scriptures in approximately 42 hours. An hour of rapid reading a day could get you from Genesis to Revelation in six weeks! Or you could slow it down slightly and read The Scriptures in 90 Days (12 pages a day).
4.Read the Word Aloud (Privately)
People in centuries gone by, particularly the contemporaries of Messiah, spoke the word aloud when they read it. That’s what the Ethiopian Eunuch was apparently doing when Philip “stumbled” onto him in Acts 8. Reading aloud slows us down to approximately 125-140 words a minute, half the speed of reading silently. Reading Aloud helps take in Scripture through two gates, the eyes and the ears, and is far more engaging than silent reading. If this is a new idea for you, you might find it a little awkward at first. And if you don’t find a place where you’re comfortable doing it, others might think you’re a little odd. But I do encourage you to try it.
5.Read the Word Publicly
Certainly our faith cannot be fully realized when we are isolated as individuals. A corporate reading of the Word in a public context creates a community dynamic of praise, honor, obedience, grace, and hope. I don’t know of anything that can strengthen a body of believers more effectively than an extensive corporate reading of Elohim’s Word. D.L. Moody once said, “The world has yet to see what Elohim will do with a man who is fully consecrated to Him.” I think it’s equally true that “The world has yet to see what Elohim will do with a assembly that fully embraces Elohim’s Word.” Corporate reading of the Word is the best place I can think of for aligning a assembly with Elohim himself.
6.Discuss the Word
I’m reminded of the Rabbis in training in the movie Yentl. They had as much fun discussing the finer points of The Torah as fans at a football game. Discussions about meaning, interpretations, doctrinal substance, and sheer trivia can be a productive means of engaging the Word and driving it more deeply into our hearts. Get in a Scriptures study or choose a friend and a passage and jump in!
7.Hand-copy the Word
This exercise can be far more stimulating that you might guess. Hand-copying the Word slows the brain down and synchronizes the mind with the meaning of a passage. Scriptures on one side. Journal on the other. Practice your penmanship as you go. Copying the word is a tremendous way to nourish the spirit and align the mind with the thoughts of Elohim. Take. Eat. Enjoy!
8.Study the Word
Probably the broadest of these engagement techniques, study of the Word calls for a close examination through multiple approaches. Analyze the grammar. Observe the facts. Find parallels. Note the verb tenses. Consult commentaries. Investigate the original languages. Post a question on a discussion forum. Compare with other Scriptures. Ask someone else for insight into a passage. Buy a Scriptures software program. Do a word study. Do a character study. Pick apart a passage. Investigate using the productive approach of “Observe, Interpret, and Apply.”
9.Cross-reference the Word
When Peter said that no Scripture was a matter of private interpretation, I take that to mean that it doesn’t stand alone. Each passage is understood in light of other Scriptures because it is part of the integrated message of the whole of the Scriptures. Cross-referencing one passage with another related passage can release as much light into the soul as opening into the night the door of a lit room. Use a concordance. Use in-line references found in a study Scriptures. Use a computer search capability.
10.Stress the Word
Some don’t like to take large passages. Instead, they prefer to meditate on a single verse, phrase, or even word. One way to really “squeeze some extra nutrition” from a passage is to use contrasting stress as you repeat a text. For instance, consider the fresh angle from each stress in the following from Psalm 23:YHWH is my shepherd.
YHWH is my shepherd.
YHWH IS my shepherd.
YHWH is MY shepherd.
YHWH is my SHEPHERD.
Choose a favorite verse and “chew” on it with some contrasting stress. Try Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:28, Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 40:31, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16, or another favorite passage.
11.Highlight the Word
A specific approach to studying Scripture is to type or copy a passage of Scripture onto a page, triple-spaced. This allows ample space for note-taking, diagramming and highlighting a passage. One type of diagram that makes things leap off the page is to circle all the pronouns in a passage and then connect them by lines to the noun which they reference. Another diagramming approach is to take six different colored markers and use each to highlight:
3) adjectives and articles,
5) conjunctions, and
Watch even more insights and meaning leap off the page!
12.Paraphrase the Word
Good translation can be defined as taking the meaning from one language and capturing it accurately in another language. Paraphrasing is like that, only it is capturing the meaning of a passage and re-expressing that same meaning with different words. For instance:“For Elohim so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”can be re-expressed as: “The Creator of us all had such a deep love for us that he willingly sent the only Son he ever conceived to die in our place!” (Notice some of the meaning that is implicit is sometimes brought out explicitly in a paraphrase. Remember, the goal is accuracy in meaning.) This isn’t an attempt to turn us all into Scriptures translators. But it is an exercise that attunes our hearts to the meaning expressed in a biblical passage. The paraphrases don’t have to be of publication quality. Though, if you come to like this type of exercise, you might be surprised by some of what you write and want to share it with others.
13.Dramatize the Word
If drama can bring life to life, then certainly it can be a useful means of bringing Scripture to life. Dramatizations of the word can be completely spontaneous and amateur exercises or they can be professional quality productions that are scripted, rehearsed, costumed, recorded and replayed. They can bring a narrative story to life or they can articulate a poetic passage through dance and physical expression. A Scriptures study group may attempt to capture a passage through an interpretive drama or a worship drama team may memorize and re-enact a passage. In any case, the Word comes to life as it takes on three dimensions, motion, and sound.
14.Sketch the Word
For the right-brain artistic types among us, sketching the Word is something that is second nature. But even for those of us who do better with straight lines and right angles, sketching the Word can be a rich experience capturing the big idea of a passage or even details best highlighted with a picture or illustration. Here are a few sketch ideas:
• Choose a passage like YHWH Ha Masciash’ reference to swallowing a camel and enfold it into a three-panel comic strip.
• Find an event in the Scriptures like the stoning of Stephen or the raising of Lazarus and see how many details you can weave into a sketch.
Select a more abstract or difficult passage like Romans 6:1 about dying to sin and see what you might illustrate with a sketch.
15.Memorize the Word
David said he hid the Word of Elohim in his heart to avoid sin (Psalm 119:11). Scripture memorization is a foundational exercise on which many other forms of Scripture meditation are based.
• If you struggle memorizing a passage, try this: Read that passage aloud three times in the morning, once at noon, and three times at bedtime, every day for three weeks. By that time you’ll find yourself with a surprising grasp on the passage!
If you struggle with the pride associated with memorization, keep the actual goal of memorization in mind: Meditation. It’s not ultimately about reciting a passage word-for-word from memory. It’s about having a passage at the full disposal of the mind at any time Elohim might want to teach you from it, so you can meditate as you…”Sit at home…Walk along…Lie down…and Get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
16.Personalize the Word
Personalization of the Word simply has to happen or something ultimately is missing. Whether by reading or recitation, it’s exhilarating to insert your name into a passage. For instance:
• “For Elohim so loved Frank!” (John 3:16)
• “What shall Suzette say? Shall she go on sinning that grace my increase? By no means! Suzette died to sin!” (Romans 6:1)
“Even Tom grows tired and weary and young men stumble and fall. But as Tom hopes in YHWH, he will renew Tom’s strength. He will mount up on wings like eagles!” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
17.Sing the Word
The dynamic combination of Scripture and music are two elements that should be brought together as often as possible!
18.Display the Word
Some passages are just so wonderful they are best artistically displayed in some fashion. Such passages might be Scriptures promises to keep in front of us or reminders in our walk with Elohim, such as Joshua 24:15: “As for me and my house, we will serve YHWH”. Consider commissioning a calligrapher to artistically transcribe your favorite verse in a frameable drawing or painting. Or create a colorful depiction of it yourself in PowerPoint, print it on a color laser printer and have it framed.
19.Teach (or Preach) the Word
Standing in front of a group of people with the responsibility of teaching a Scriptures passage will bond you with that passage like little else. If forces you to study, comprehend, and handle a passage so that you can speak with confidence and knowledge rather than ignorance. Put another way, teaching a passage has a way of rapidly “purging our ignorance”—if we study faithfully and responsibly, of course.
20.Do the Word!
Perhaps the most critical of all means of engaging the Word is doing it. James laments the vanity of hearing and not doing it (1:23) and YHWH Ha Mashaich stipulates in Matthew 7 that “putting it into practice” is the requirement for building a house that will withstand the storms of life. Besides, hearing and not doing the Word injures our own soul and robs us of spiritual confidence even in ourselves. Furthermore, it’s hearing and not doing the Word that undermines our testimony with those who have yet to believe; it leaves us with no credibility. So, when we engage with the Scriptures and find ourselves in conflict with it—we must move from where we are to where the Scripture is. Micah 6:8 says that Elohim requires us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him. What’s the last act of justice for the oppressed in our world that you performed? When is the last time you exercised mercy on someone who needed compassion or forgiveness? Is your life marked by humility? Here in this one verse are several opportunities to “do the Word”—your next steps in the adventure of engaging the mind of Elohim and walking with him through life’s journey.
What about Busy Schedules?
It’s all fine and good to identify ways to engage the Scriptures. However, it begs the question, “What about the fast pace of life and busy schedules?” I think the answer to this is lies in the priorities we set. It is possible to spend time in the Word just as it is possible to watch TV, write emails, surf the web, go to ballgames, eat food, sit in traffic, and mow the lawn. Clear thinking, prioritization, and motivation can foster
the discipline that leads to consistent Scriptures engagement. We know that if we fail to eat enough protein and vitamins and simply consume pounds of sugar a day, we’ll reap the health consequences. The same is true of our spiritual diet. We need to forego the various forms of “cotton candy” that creep into our schedules like excessive game shows, reality TV, chat rooms, and magazines and choose activities that are best for our souls. Eating junk food makes our bodies ache for nutrition. Do you feel your soul calling out for greater spiritual sustenance?
Discover the Mind of Elohim!
Engaging in the Scriptures is the clearest way to take an inside look into the mind of Elohim, discover his thoughts, and join with his heart. HWH Ha Mashaich says in John 17:3 that the definition of eternal life is knowing Elohim. For those who believe, it’s already started. And there is no better way to know Elohim—and experience life—than through meditation on his Word. Here you have 20 different tools for taking hold of Elohim’s thoughts. May Elohim fill your heart with himself as you engage his Word!
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Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahwah Ha Mashiach for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
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