Practicing Lent: Personalizing Scripture

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When I was eighteen, a friend of mine gave me a bookmark and I was ecstatic.

Not only because I love to read and always need a bookmark nearby. Not only because it was beautifully handcrafted.

I was over the moon because my friend had cross-stitched my name on the bookmark!

With a name like Sharla, you can’t go to the drugstore and find a personalized toothbrush. Stores do not stock key chains or notebooks or pencils with “Sharla” printed on them.

So having something with my name on it felt so “personal.” It was unique to me. Only another Sharla would want it (and I’ve only met two other Sharlas in my lifetime).

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Recently, my small group was studying 1 Corinthians with the book Live Full, Walk Free. In the last chapter, author Cindy Bultema encouraged readers to personalize 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 by inserting their name in place of the word love.

For example:

Sharla is patient, Sharla is kind. Sharla does not envy, she does not boast, Sharla is not proud. Sharla does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, Sharla is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs.

Honestly, this exercise made me cringe a bit because every statement seemed so untrue. I have been known to envy grandparents who have their grandchildren in the same city. I am definitely not patient when my computer fails to cooperate. (Just ask my husband.)

But the process of personalizing this passage was helpful. It brought me to my knees, asking the Holy Spirit to weave this kind of love into my heart.

Personalizing Scripture can be a meaningful spiritual practice. Sometimes it’s easy to read the Bible like a dusty volume directed at people who lived thousands of years ago. Or hear a passage and think of someone else who needs that message. We don’t always feel the impact of God’s words on our own hearts and lives.

But when we put our own names into the passage it can take on a deeper meaning.

One of my favorite passages is Zephaniah 3:17:

The Lord your God is with you,
    he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you;
    He will quiet you with His love;
He will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV 1984)

Now if I put my own name in the verse:

The Lord your God is with Sharla,
    he is mighty to save Sharla.

Suddenly, God seems nearer. I marvel that the Lord rescued insignificant me from Satan and hell.

He will take great delight in Sharla;

Amazing thought! God’s heart is gladdened by me!

He will quiet Sharla with His love;

God knows I am easily stressed out. He is all too aware of my worries and concerns. But He can also quiet my insecurities and anxieties with His love.

He will rejoice over Sharla with singing. 

What?! I inspire song? And music? What an incredible image of God singing songs with my name.

Now it’s your turn. Put your own name in Zephaniah 3:17.

Revel in God’s love for you. Rejoice in His saving strength. Listen for His love song.

Next step: This week practice Personalizing Scripture. Download a resource with Scripture verses to use for this exercise or find your own. Journal what you learned through these personal words of God.

 

Practicing Lent: Prayer of Recollection

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I settled in my cozy chair, ready to open my Bible and hear from God. Ready to open up to God and tell Him all that was in my heart. But even as I sat in peaceful quiet, my thoughts left the pages of Scripture and ran to my to-do list. As I spoke to […]

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The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Five

Verse Mapping Step 5

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word. In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse. Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of the […]

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The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Four

Verse Mapping Step 4

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word. In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse. Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of the […]

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The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Three

BibleGatewayCross-reference

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word. In my previous posts on Verse Mapping, you learned Step One: Context–discovering the context of your chosen verse and Step Two: Other Translations–looking up your verse in different versions and translations of […]

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The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step Two

John 15-5 in parallel translations

Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, translations, and word meaning of a particular verse in God’s Word. In my previous post, we discussed choosing a verse to study, assembling supplies, and Step One of examining the context of the verse. Verse Mapping Step Two: Other Translations Now you’re ready […]

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The Essential Guide to Verse Mapping: Step One

The EssentialGuide toVerse Mapping

You love Scripture. You read it. You listen to it. You meditate on it. Through it the voice of God speaks to your heart. But sometimes you wish you could get more out of it. Enter Verse Mapping. What exactly is Verse Mapping? Verse Mapping is a Bible study method that examines the context, cross-references, […]

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7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Word of the Year

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I love new beginnings. They motivate me to start new habits and learn new things. That’s why at the beginning of a new year I pick a word to guide the next twelve months. One word to inspire the next 52 weeks. One word to direct the next 365 days. I used to make a […]

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Advent is a waiting season. A time of waiting for Jesus. Two thousand years ago, the nation of Israel was waiting for the fulfillment of the promises for a Savior. They had been waiting for thousands of years. But there was one man who probably was waiting more expectantly than anyone else: Now there was a […]

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Advent is a season of waiting. We remember the world’s long wait for a Savior and we anticipate Jesus’ second return. Often we focus more on the remembering part. Advent means setting up manger scenes, sending out Christmas cards with pictures of Baby Jesus, and singing carols about Christ’s birth. But let’s not forget to […]

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