Many people love to play games that test their knowledge. Recently, a colleague and I were testing a Bible-knowledge game. Since we were seated in an open area of our office, those nearby could hear our conversation. Soon questions ranging from Noah’s ark to the woman at the well were being answered by those within earshot of us. It was a delight to hear various staff members volunteering responses to Bible questions.
A knowledge of the Bible is important, but God desires us to be saturated with His Word and to internalize it so we can grow in our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to make us more like Christ (Eph. 4:20-24). Consider these benefits of internalizing the Bible: joy and rejoicing (Jer. 15:16); spiritual success (Josh. 1:8); a tool in spiritual warfare (Matt. 4:1-11); correction (2 Tim. 3:15-16); light for our path (Ps. 119:105); wisdom with problem solving (Prov. 1:1-2); and stimulating faith (Rom. 10:17).
Learning about the Bible just to increase our knowledge can lead to spiritual pride (1 Cor. 8:1). But allowing the Holy Spirit to transform us by the Word helps us navigate through life’s twists and turns and respond in love to God and to each other.
My hunger for the truth He satisfies; Upon the Word, the Living Bread, I feed: No parching thirst I know, because His grace, A pool of endless depth, supplies my need. —Sanders
Many books can inform, but only the Bible can transform.
There is no record in the Bible of God speaking to anyone in any form—including dreams, oracles, or visions—from the time of Joseph to the time of Moses. When the people of Israel were led out into the wilderness, it is likely that they had little knowledge of the God who had delivered them and was leading them to a new home. The commands given through Moses were meant to reintroduce God to them and to help them to be people who would be a light to others (cf. Isa. 49:3). By keeping God’s words always in front of them (Deut. 6:6-9), they could live by those words and be transformed into people who showed God to the world.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the Bible to many people around the world. Because I can speak only English, I often work with interpreters who can take the words of my heart and translate them into the language of the people. Effective communication is directly dependent upon the skill of these translators. Whether it is Inawaty in Indonesia, Annie in Malaysia, or Jean in Brazil, they ensure that the meaning of my words is clearly expressed.
This work of translation resembles one facet of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s people. In our times of prayer, we don’t always know how we should pray (Rom. 8:26), and verse 27 encourages us, saying, “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” When we go to our heavenly Father in prayer, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid by translating our prayers according to God’s good purposes for our lives.
What a provision! Not only does God desire for us to share our hearts with Him, He even provides us with the greatest interpreter to help us as we pray. We can be sure that our prayers will never get lost in translation.
Thank You, Father, for the provision of Your Spirit. I’m grateful that when I pray I can rest in Your help to make my prayers what they need to be. Teach me to lean on His perfect understanding of Your desires.
The participation of the Spirit assures that my prayers line up with God’s purposes.
Today’s passage is filled with hope and comfort. Though Paul describes the deep suffering and groaning of both humanity and creation, his emphasis is on the nearness of our God and His affectionate care for His creation. Paul encourages readers in Rome—and us—with the thought that God knows us so well that His Spirit prays for us, translating our weak words into prayers according to the will of the Father (vv.26-27).
One of the early games that many parents play with their children involves a fake scare. Dad hides his face behind his hands and suddenly reveals himself while saying, “Boo!” The child giggles at this silliness.
Being frightened is a fun game until the day when the child experiences a real scare. Then it’s no laughing matter. The first real scare often involves separation from a parent. The child wanders away innocently, moving from one attraction to another. But as soon as she realizes she is lost, she panics and lets out a loud cry of alarm. The parent immediately comes running to reassure the child that she is not alone.
As we get older, our fake scares become sophisticated—scary books, movies, amusement park rides. Being scared is so invigorating that we may begin taking bigger risks for bigger thrills.
But when a real scare comes, we may realize that we, like the ancient Israelites (Isa. 30), have wandered from the One who loves and cares for us. Recognizing that we are in danger, we panic. Our call for help does not require sophisticated words or a well-reasoned defense, just a desperate cry.
Like a loving parent, God responds quickly for He longs to have us live in the protection of His love where we need never be afraid.
In Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s text, we see the great heart of patience our God has toward us even in our worst moments (see 2 Peter 3:15). In verse 18, Isaiah says that the Lord waits “that He may be gracious” to those who fail. His exalted position is one from which He exercises mercy on our behalf. Isaiah issues the challenge that we also are to wait upon Him, for He alone can bring justice into our broken world.