How Do You Make God's Word Relevant?
In 2017, I wrote the W.O.R.D. Bible study method to help you dig deeper into the Word of God. In this Four-Part Series, we are breaking down each part of the W.O.R.D. method to give you a better understanding of how you can get the most out of your Bible study time.
In Part One, we spoke about the importance of and how-to Inscribe (write) the Word. This is the first step in the W.O.R.D. method. Part One is packed with incredible stories, insight, and information. If you haven’t read that post, start in Part One.
Part Two went into detail on how we observe the Word. Answering who, what, when, where, and why on a passage of Scripture helps us to read the Word in context observing key people, places, and themes.
In today’s post, we are going to learn how to make the Word of God RELEVANT to our lives today. Sometimes, we read the Word and say, “What does this have to do with me?” We are going to discover how to make a passage of Scripture relevant to our every day. Using examples from a fictional friend named Sadie, we are going to also do a few passages together.
For the original post on the W.O.R.D method and a brief overview of how this plan works, click here.
Part Three. Making the Word Relevant.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” - Romans 15:4
1. The Relevancy of Scripture.
Unfortunately, there are many preachers, teachers, and churches that believe that the Old Testament Scriptures aren't relevant to us today. I guess they skip over Paul's teaching in Romans 15:4.
The New Testament AND the Old are both written for our instruction. They were written that through the teaching of the Scriptures, we might have hope. While we no longer live under the authority of the Old Covenant, God has not changed. His character, righteousness, holiness, and moral law have not changed. Therefore, all Scripture is relevant to us today.
As Christians, we are going to have tribulations - pressures. Romans 15:4 comforts us that when we dig into the Scriptures, we will find hope and encouragement as we endure those trials. It is a promise from God, and God does not lie.
2. How do you Make the Word Relevant?
Start with prayer. As you read a portion of Scripture, pray and ask the Lord how this passage is relevant to your life today. Quiet your heart and mind and hear the Lord speak in His still small voice. Ask Him to bring things out of the text that you may not have seen before.
Ask questions. They may include:
How can you make this passage personal?
How can you apply it to your daily life?
Does the passage instruct, encourage, or correct?
What changes in your life does this verse encourage you to make?
3. Some Passages Are Easier.
Let's do a verse together. We will start with a passage that is easier to make relevant to us today. For the sake of this article, let's create a fictional character named Sadie that can answer these questions for us.
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” - Ephesians 4:31-32
If she was studying out this verse using the W.O.R.D. Method, "Sadie" would have already WRITTEN the verse and OBSERVED the key facts. Paul is the author, and he is writing to the church at Ephesus. She knows that this letter was not written to address any problems in the church. Instead, it was a letter of encouragement. Knowing this information, Sadie can move onto making this passage RELEVANT to her today.
How can you make this passage personal? - I (fictional friend Sadie) can make this passage my own by realizing that there are times in my life when bitterness raises its ugly head. That bitterness from an old boss and her treatment brings up anger and wrath. I just can't shake it. My new boss is great, but I am always worried that she is going to flip and so to protect myself; I gossip about her, talk badly about her, and as Paul says, I speak evil.
How can you apply it to your daily life? - This verse really convicted me because I am doing precisely what Paul warns the church at Ephesus. I've got to get rid of it. This anger, bitterness, wrath, the horrible words I am saying about my boss are turning me into someone I don't recognize. I need to crucify this flesh.
Does the passage instruct, encourage, or correct? - Most definitely instructs and corrects!
What changes in your life does this verse encourage you to make? My new boss isn't saved. What a horrible testimony I have been. I want her to see Jesus through me. So, I am going to walk in on Monday shining with a new heart of forgiveness. I am going to quiet the voice of my past. The past is gone and over. I am going to live in the new day God has given me in my work.
This example shows how our fictional friend Sadie can apply this verse to her life. Do you see how it is done? How even though a verse written for a specific church in an ancient city on the west coast of Asia can still apply to us today!
4. Some Passages Are Harder.
Let's try another verse that, on the surface, will seem more challenging to relate to us today. Again, we will walk it through with our fictional friend Sadie.
“At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you.
Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars . . .
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.” - 2 Chronicles 16:7-9, 12 ESV
If she were studying out this verse using the W.O.R.D. Method, "Sadie" would have already WRITTEN the verse and OBSERVED the key facts. Ezra (according to Jewish tradition) was the author. He was writing to the returned Jewish exiles.
In chapter 16, she reads about the end of the reign of Asa, the third king of Judah. Using the tools listed in Part Two, Sadie studies that Asa (whose name means healer) started his reign, maintaining the true worship of God; Ridding the nation of idolatry and immorality. The Lord blessed Asa giving rest and prosperity through his reign. But upon reading verse 12, Sadie sees that when faced with affliction, Asa sought help from everyone but the Lord. Asa really did live up to his name. He thought he had the power in himself to be “the healer”!
Reading in context, Sadie is now ready to make 2 Chronicles 16.
How can you make this passage personal? - I ("Sadie") feel so depressed. I feel sad all the time. I feel hopeless. I guess like Asa; I am afflicted. Wait a minute . . . have I been Asa? I talked to my doctor about the depression. I have searched Google for nights on end on how to cure this illness. I've searched #curingdepression on Instagram to see what has worked for everyone else. I've I talked to my best friend, my husband, my coworker, my Pastor, and a Christian counselor for hours on end trying to find healing from this sadness. Their advice has been great . . . But it's not working.
How can you apply it to your daily life? - That's my problem! I haven't gone to the Lord with my depression. I haven't laid it at His feet or relied on Him to show me what to do. I haven't opened my Bible not once to see what the Word says about it. I've relied on everyone and everything else except the One who sees and knows my heart of hearts. I have been Asa, but no more. I've tried to get through this in my own strength, but I can't. I need Jesus!
Does the passage instruct, encourage, or correct? - It instructs on how NOT to live like Asa, but kind of also encourages. Asa started off good. I did too. As an early Christian, I used to go to the Lord with everything, and He always answered in His time and in His way. His answers were always good and full of life. I am encouraged that I can go back to Him. He hasn't shut the door on me. Asa could have gone back to Him too, but as verse 12 shows, he didn't. Even in his affliction, he never went back to the Lord. I don't want to be like that.
What changes in your life does this verse encourage you to make? I will go to the Lord first. My doctors, friends, spouse, Pastor, and counselor are great. But I cannot rely on them. Only the Lord knows my heart and the thoughts of my mind. Only He can bring healing. I'll continue going to therapy, but I will make sure that I put the Lord before me. He is first before all things, all advice, all doctor's orders, all of it! I will get back into the Word every morning. Reading and inscribing the Word each day. I am going to start the day with prayer; Giving this depression to the Lord and rebuking the enemy that would try to keep me burdened with this sadness. I will stop Googling, stop Instagramming, and stop searching for instant fixes and gratification. I am taking this to the feet of Jesus, and I know that He will heal me because He is my Healer.
This example shows how our fictional friend Sadie can apply this verse to her life. Even though the verse was about a Judean King in the Old Testament, with the Lord's guidance, Sadie can apply even this verse to her life. It may be more difficult than a Psalm or one of the Epistles, but as we said at the beginning of this post, the ENTIRETY of the Word of God is there for us for encouragement leading to hope.
I hope that these questions and examples have been a help to you as you learn to make the Scriptures relevant to your life. Remember Paul’s words when you are tempted to think a portion of Scripture isn’t relevant. Maybe at a particular season in your life you don’t struggle with anger or bitterness, like Sadie. But you daughter, son, or coworker might. How can you help them through their seasons of struggle? The Word is always relevant!
In the final part of this series, we will discuss DECLARING the Word over our lives.