We’re so glad you’ve joined us today and we hope you have gathered friends, food, and your Bible to feast and fellowship on God’s love right along with us.
Father God, thank You for making the way for us to gather in Your name through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Open our hearts wide to what You have for us. And may our time together be a blessing to You.
Our Gather studies focus on building community through fellowship and the exploration of spiritual disciplines. Practices which prepare our hearts for God’s blessing of growth.
This month’s Gather focus is Lectio Divina, Latin for “Divine Reading.” It is an age old monastic practice of meditation and prayer centered on Scripture with the intention of promoting communion with God and increased knowledge of His Word (Wikipedia).
Think back to your first encounter with God’s Word. What age were you? Who pointed you to God’s Word? What was your experience?
What routine do you have in your life when it comes to reading Scripture? How do you most often approach God’s Word?
At the heart of lectio divina is a willingness to create margin in your life to hear God’s Spirit speak to you through His Word.
–Sister Talk: Faith
Spending time in God’s Word is not just a matter of reading it. Or memorizing it. Or knowing the order of the books of the Bible so you can find a verse quickly.
Being in God’s Word is one way we come into God’s presence to get to know Him and allow Him to transform our lives to be more like Jesus.
Is there a time in your life when you recognized God’s presence with you as you read the Bible?
Jesus was and is the Word Made Flesh (John 1:14). He showed us perfectly how to live out Scripture because He Himself was the Word. When we follow Him as disciples, the Word should become flesh in us too.
This may sound complicated but it’s not.
Basically there are four components that make up lectio: reading, thinking, praying, and living.
–David Crowder, Praise Habit
Over the next four weeks, we will practice the four components of meditating on God’s Word.
Our first focus, is being Present in our reading of Scripture.
present (‘pre-zənt) — now existing or in progress; being in view or at hand; existing in something mentioned or under consideration; attentive (obsolete)
Being present as we read the Bible, is the process of recognizing God is at hand and being attentive to what He’s saying to us in His Word. Being aware of God’s existence in Scripture and knowing His Word is relevant to our present lives.
Practicing silence and listening is an important part of being present. We approach the Word with Him, and let go of trying to get something out of Scripture, making sense of it ourselves, or looking for what we must “do” to follow Him.
In being present to God through His Word we allow the Word to sink deep, trusting God to use it in us whether we understand it or not. It requires a letting go of what you think you know, and making yourself present to Holy Spirit’s teaching.
Besides being present, we also need to present ourselves to Him through the Word.
present (pri-’zent) — to bring or introduce into the presence of someone especially of superior rank or status; to make a gift to; to give or bestow formally; to lay (as a charge) before a court as an object of inquiry
How have you presented yourself to God when reading Scripture?
When we present ourselves to God through His Word, we give Him permission to work in our lives. We welcome God to use Scripture to make sense of us, rather than us trying to make sense of Scripture. We give Him authority over our lives and accept His Word as truth.
His Word doesn’t change — His Word changes us.
Have you noticed God’s Word transforming you in some way?
Presenting yourself to God when reading or thinking about His Word is an exercise in humbling yourself before Him. Setting aside what you know, what you’ve learned, what you’ve heard about Scripture, and letting Him speak to you through His Word.
What do you think or feel about letting go of what you know or have learned previously about Scripture? How might it create margin to hear?
Read Hebrews 4:12-13
God’s Word is living and active. When we present ourselves to Scripture, it will do its work in us. Piercing our souls, dividing our spirit from the things of the world. Revealing and working out the darkness within.
Are there moments in your daily life when you hear or remember God’s Word? Did it speak to the situation in that moment?
Preparing our time together for this session of Gather has drawn both joy and resistance from deep within me. My natural bent is to revel in the joy and ignore or escape from the resistance.
I can best describe resistance as the “don’t want to’s.” A sort of ‘meh’ feeling that comes over me when I consider meditating on His word. If I’m really honest, practicing silence is a struggle these days which leaves me wondering what’s going on with me. Have I moved away from God in some way?
During a conversation with the sister about our Gather time I noticed my resistance might just be an invitation to move forward and allow God to work out this issue in me. I truthfully can’t see the root of this, but I know He can. I trust He will reveal His truth in His time.
What we can’t see, God can, and He uses His Word to expose us to His truth. Who He is and who we are before Him: sinners in need of a Savior.
Read Psalm 119:12-16
These verses reflect the heart of one who desires to be in God’s presence by humbly presenting Himself to God to receive His teaching and understanding. The psalmist’s words express the four components of meditation or lectio: reading, thinking, praying, living.
If You will teach me, I will do the work of learning. I will honor You through Your Word.
With his eyes fixed on God’s ways, he meditates on His precepts, prayerfully asking God to teach him, with a heart set on not forgetting His statutes and finding delight in them as he practices His way.
Lectio divina or meditation is a way we practice entering God’s presence and listening with the intent of giving our lives over to His Way.
Acknowledging His presence as we read and coming with a willingness to give our hearts to Him through Scripture, we discover Him within the pages of the Bible.
Is there a time in your life when you recognized God’s presence with you as you read the Bible?
My first experience with finding God present in His Word came at a difficult time in my life. Really in the middle of a crisis.
I was about five years into my walk with God and I had been a student of His Word. Participated in Bible studies, regular in Sunday school, and practicing daily devotionals and Scripture reading. But what God revealed to me about His Word at this time in my life was… different.
My dad was having a “routine” surgery to replace a heart valve. He told us not to come down, it would all go fine. Well… it didn’t.
The news came through my brother that the surgery was not successful. My dad was in Cardiac ICU receiving full life support. The surgeon was hopeful his heart would strengthen enough to be able to accommodate the new valve, thus the extensive measures to keep him alive until that time.
None of this was going the way it was supposed to. It was the first time I waited patiently all day, pushing back worry and trusting God. My dad was receiving blood and life-saving measures he never wanted. This was a disaster and it set my heart reeling. I literally felt as if the world was tumbling and I could not get my bearings.
We packed up our three young children and headed to my brother’s house which was not far from the hospital my dad was in. I had absolutely no peace. no comfort. When we arrived, all I wanted to do was to go take a shower.
With three small children, the shower, wherever it was, had become my prayer closet. I cried out to God. And I sensed Him telling me to go to His Word: “Open your Bible…”
Previously, God had sent me to specific Scriptures, chapter and verse. Even before leaving the house that day He had directed me to Psalm 123, which eventually spoke to the situation, but in the moment, I didn’t understand.
Quickly getting out of the shower, I dried off and dressed, pulled out my Bible and opened it… I began reading where my eyes landed… on Psalm 103:
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
As I read through Psalm 103 — all twenty-two verses — my world stop spinning. My feet found solid ground to stand on. It was the first time, I presented myself to His Word and found Him truly present. The God who is to be praised with all our souls, the One who knows and has compassion and mercy. The One who has all things under control.
We ask you this week, to present yourself to Scripture, trusting you will find Him present when you do.
We’re focusing on one verse this week, actually for the next four weeks.
“Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Homework Instruction for Week 1:
- Present yourself humbly before God in His Word. Ask Him to teach you.
- Read the Scripture daily.
- Be present to God by letting go of what you know, what you’ve learned in the past.
- Listen and be.
Lectio Divina – Journal Cover (We printed ours on white card stock.)
Lectio Divina – Journal Pages (These pages are designed to be printed two-sided, flipped on the short edge.)
Lord, teach us Your way through Your Word. Bless us with truth. Grow us to be a light glorifying You with our lives. May others see Your love through us.