Words are incredibly powerful. They carry a creative (or destructive potential). If I think back on life-shaping moments, many of them are linked to things people have said, either to me or about me. Some of these words have shaped my core beliefs - they have become lenses through which I see myself and the world. The old adage: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” rings hollow.
We are in a conversation about how our lives flow in the direction of our core beliefs. While there is a structure in how our beliefs flow into our thoughts, which drive our feelings and become actions, life is way more of an art than it is a science. It is way more fluid and flair than logic and linear.
DO YOU WANT A GOOD LIFE OR DO YOU WANT TO BE GOOD AT LIFE?
Most of us would like a good life, right? It is subjective though. What is a good life? Happiness, prosperity, peace... all of the above? What if there was a way, to be good at life, rather than to have a good life? I would say that to be good at life is to learn to live in the way that you were created to live. To learn the art of life.
At the beginning of Matthew 4, Jesus is in a defining moment. A conversation, a test, facing off against the evil one himself. He is isolated, facing a decision, a challenge...
Matthew 4:1-4 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Verse 4 grabbed my attention. From what Jesus says, God speaks, and His word sustains life.
In this verse, we have three pictures of God's word. First, Jesus the word: the revealed self-expression (John 1). Second, we have this idea of life, the Gospel life sustained by God. The Gospel is the word about Christ by which faith comes (Rom 10:17). And Jesus mentions the written word.
To live, man must learn to hear God. This is the art of life.
Now the Hebrews have an interesting word - Shema. It means more than just "hear". It means to hear, to pay attention, to understand, to be willing, and to respond.
To live, man must learn to shema God. This is the art of life.
Here are some thoughts on this:
I/ Live with the Expectation that Things Will Change
God's word brings order from chaos. It brings light into the dark. It stirs faith and moves forward. It has within it creative power. When God speaks, things change. You are called to believe that the word of God will change things. It will bring order from chaos in your life. It will shape you, send you, encourage you, move you forward, and sustain your life.
Expect that He will speak to you, that he wants to speak to you! Live with this expectation. Make it a core belief in your life.
II/ Learn to Tune in Here and Unfollow There.
Our lives are filled with so much NOISE! So many voices.... God is speaking, but we may be missing it because we drown His voice out. Just like the old FM radio that has a tuning dial to hone in on the right frequency and cut out all the noise.
Are you looking for sensationalism or a still small voice? You might not hear an audible voice, but you may recognize that still small voice in your spirit. Are you focused on how God speaks, or where he speaks?
III/ Let the Practice Flow From the Principle
The principle is that God speaks, and learning to be good at life is based on hearing His voice that sustains life. Don't be too focussed on the practice, but rather let the principle that God wants to speak to you shape your practice.
Imagine that you entered a big competition, and then received a message that the organizers had a message for you. You would do whatever you could to get that message!
What is driving you?
Is your focus "get into the word" or to "get the word in you?"
Is your motivation guilt, or to grow in knowing God?
Are you reading history, or getting to know the author?
Do you want to do this for knowledge (information), or truth (revelation)?
My goal is not to tell you to read your bible but to inspire you to learn to hear God for yourself. And the best way that you can do that is to take the written word (your Bible) and open it up and find Jesus the word, and the message about Him (the Gospel). Be ready to shema the still small voice of the Holy Spirit as you begin to read.
Some thoughts to get started
The best Bible translation is the one that you read.
The best way to do this is to read for yourself.
Set an input goal not an outcome goal - for example, read for 10 minutes a day, rather than a chapter a day. And if that 10-minute window means one verse, or one page, or one chapter, that's great. There is no rush.
Keep a journal
Read aloud to yourself
Aim for the same (quiet) place and same time
The art of life is to learn to hear (shema) God, because doing so will change everything. His voice is a creative force, it brings light in the dark, order from chaos, peace in the storm, courage, strength, and wisdom
Take a read through Luke 24 to see how much Jesus wants people to discover the word!