Finding Your Language
Chapter taken from Growing In God's Word
Written By Cypress Ministries
Copyright Material, all rights reserved
Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him;
and He vanished from their sight.
And they said to one another,
"Did not our heart burn within us
while He talked with us on the road,
and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
Luke 24:31-32 (NKJV)
We all have a “spiritual language” when we begin reading God’s Word. God desires that not only do we hear Him but that we understand Him. When the sign was hung on the cross above Jesus, it was written in several languages, so that everyone there would be able to understand what it said. And on the day of Pentecost, again every language was represented. When we begin to read the Bible, we need to be able to understand what God’s Word is saying to us; otherwise, it falls on deaf ears. If you are having a hard time understanding His Word when you sit down for your quiet time, it may very well be that you are not in the “right translation” for the season you are in. I would like to explain what I have learned about my language over the years that might help you to become more “fluent” in yours so that you will see how God will grow us in His Word and speak to us at different times through the different translations to make His message clear to us.
When I first started reading the Bible, it was in the New International Version (NIV) and though it awakened me to His Word, I found myself struggling to really grasp what God was saying to me. Some days it seemed like I was reading English, but some days I felt like I was looking at something written in Greek. I felt very frustrated. I couldn’t understand why so many around me were crazy about the NIV when it left me feeling like I was only halfway full. Now, don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed my NIV Bible, but part of “me” felt like I was missing, like I was only getting half of the message that God was trying to teach me. I tried a few other well-known translations, but that was worse. I couldn’t understand anything at all. Then one day I stumbled across the New Century Version (NCV) Bible, and to my heart’s delight God’s Word exploded in me!
Looking back, I now understand why. You see, it was the Bible translation I needed at that time in my walk with God. There were things that God needed to prepare in me (and show me), and I was not getting it in other translations because it wasn’t time for me to be “in them.” My friend, God is so good at knowing how to prepare us for what He has for us to do, and several years later (and where I am at now), I can see the difference. The NCV gave me God’s Word in a simple language that was more personal, which is what I needed at the time. Though it is a “thought for thought” translation, it took me (at the time) deeper into His Word in a way that I could “begin to walk.” Now I AM NOT saying this is the translation everyone should start out with; but for ME (because of what God was preparing me for) it was perfect.
- Please hear me when I say that this is where God met ME in His Word-- and though He met me here in a simpler writing-- know that He didn’t let me stay here! God very much wanted me to grow--and “GROW ME” He did!
When God first started making Himself known to me, He did it in little ways so that I could recognize His voice and even His handprints. Also in the NCV as a “baby Bible student,” it spoke to me in ways that I could accept it as being from God to me. Now I still took my NIV Bible to church, and used it for online studies, but for my own personal walk (and growing in a deeper relationship between just Him and me), the NCV allowed me to accept His Word more personally. For instance, one night in a very difficult time I sat crying in my car asking God, “Am I on the right path? Am I even on a TRUE path?” I just so needed to know if I was going in the direction He wanted me to, or if I was being deceived and following something my own heart was leading me to believe instead. As I went to bed that night I realized that even though I had read Scriptures earlier that day online, I had not read my daily Bible. So, I got back up and opened it to the correct page for the day, and this is what I read:
My child, listen and accept what I say. Then you will have a long life. I am guiding you in the way of wisdom, and I am leading you on the right path. Nothing will hold you back; you will not be overwhelmed. Always remember what you have been taught, and don't let go of it. Keep all that you have learned; it is the most important thing in life (Pr. 4:10-13 NCV).
Because of my “hurting heart” the fact that the verse started out with “My child” it was as if God was wrapping His arms around me, and my heart eagerly accepted His embrace. In most other translations it says “My son…” and I can tell you that the night I am writing about, my heart and mind were not in a state where I could have easily accepted this wording as God speaking to me. Now I know that when doing a deeper study, it is easy to see when God is speaking to males specifically and when it can be applied to “people” meaning that the gender being spoken to was in general. However, because of the way my daily Bible stated it, (in my hurting heart) I heard God’s love as a father to me.
It also said, “I am leading you on the right path.” This was exactly what I had been praying about earlier that day. It was what I needed to know, and here it was. Something else about that night was I realized that it was a “God thing” that I had not read my Bible earlier in the day, because when I really needed to see it, was after I had prayed. God’s timing was perfect; there was no way I could have known that this was the verse waiting for me that night.
The extremely interesting thing about this whole incident is that just the other day (as I write this), I was praying about a situation that has come up. It seems like I am at a standstill, and looking at where I am at during this time, and I was questioning if I am still where God wants me to be, or have I got off track somehow... I sat in the place where I like to pray and went over things in my mind. I laid it all before God, seeking direction. Proverbs 4 came to mind, and I realized it has been quite a while since I have read it. For some reason (which makes sense to me now) I couldn’t bring all the words to mind like I usually could, so I opened my Bible that I had with me so I could read it.
Now the Bible I have started taking down to the river with me this past summer is the New American Standard Bible (NASB). My other Bibles-- the NCV, NIV, and even my New King James Bibles (NKJV)-- are all too bulky and have way too many notes and things in them that could get messed up at the river. Therefore, over the summer I went and bought a small NASB that I could take with me when I want to go down and sit by the water and meditate on God’s Word. (I actually have a larger NASB and an English Standard Bible too, but I have them more for in-depth studies, and my writing and teaching.)
So anyway, while I was at the river the other day contemplating my situation and praying, seeking God’s direction, I opened my (NASB) Bible to Proverbs 4 and read: Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life.
The first thing that really struck me was “accept my saying” because sometimes we can hear something from God but not really accept it, and until we do, the message can’t be rooted into our hearts. This is very important in our walk with God. I also smiled as I read it for the words “I have led you…” gave my heart peace. But, something I realized was that four years ago (when I was asking “am I on the right path?”), I needed to see that YES God was leading me, which was how the NCV helped me to see it before when I read “I am leading you on the right path…” But in the season I am in now (and the situation I am facing), I needed the assurance that I was still where God wanted me be, and had not gotten off track somehow. Seeing the verse read as, “I have led you…” gave me the peace I needed for this time in my life.
When I got home that day I also looked up Proverbs 4 in my NKJV-- just to see how it read in a different translation-- and was delighted (and even more encouraged) because it said:
Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life (Pr. 4:10-13 NKJV).
The verses in the translations mean pretty much the same thing but because of the slight wording difference, both translations have spoken to me in the way I was seeking God’s direction at different seasons in my life. When I was just beginning, God knew that I needed a Bible worded in a way that my heart could hear Him, and that would help me on the journey I was starting. Plus, He knew how (and what) I would be praying, so He placed in my hand a Bible that would speak to me in a way I could understand, but didn’t change His Word-- well didn’t change the overall meaning-- and was in a simple writing style that I could relate to at the time. Looking back, now I realize it was the “milk of His Word” that I needed as a new Christian. Also, before, I needed assurance that “He WAS” (because He was getting ready to start me on a new journey), but now I am strengthened in knowing He HAS.
As I grew in His Word, God slowly brought me into other (stronger) “word for word” translations that now speak to me in such a powerful way that it makes me wonder, “Why couldn’t I understand that before…” The simple reason is that at different times I (we) need to be able to be given His Word in bite-size pieces that fit the season we are in. The lesson here is that sometimes we simply need time to feed only on milk until we are ready for more solid food.
Another example (and I could give you many), is three years ago-- as I write this-- I was praying about the “vision” for Cypress Ministries I felt God had been impressing on me. A few days later Jeremiah 1 was brought to my attention, and I read about God giving Jeremiah a vision then asking him what he had seen. Jeremiah spoke the vision aloud, and God confirmed it by telling him, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that My word is fulfilled” (verse 12 NIV). At the time, it gave me confirmation that God was saying “yes” to my prayers about the vision for Cypress Ministries.
However, recently, I was praying about a promise I know God has given me, but has not come to pass yet. As I was praying (and lifting the promise up to God); I was reminded in my spirit of this verse in Jeremiah 1. So, I prayed the words out loud, stating that I know God is faithful, and I know the promise He has given me, and that I know He is watching to see His Word come to pass; so I am waiting in faith and believing… It gave me comfort to claim His Word from this passage. It also helped to strengthen me so I could continue to stand in faith without wavering.
A few days later, I was checking my email and a post I had received quoted this very same verse! I was so excited because I had not seen this verse come up in any devotionals I had read in the longest time, so I knew that my prayers a few days before (two to be exact) were Holy Spirit led. I could feel Him strengthening me, and the tears that were threatening to spill out were quickly dried up. After reading the email, I got to my knees and thanked God for being with me, and for showing me He is listening and that YES, He is watching to see that His Word will be fulfilled.
HOWEVER when I got to my office and printed out the email, I took a closer look at it. This is what I read: Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word." I was a little surprised, and my heart pounded in my chest! I re-read it and went to my computer to see what Bible translation the writer had used. Come to find out, they had used the New King James Version. So, I got my NKJV Bible out and sat down to slowly read Jeremiah 1. And there it was, it had not been a misprint in the email, my Bible said, “… for I am ready to perform My word.”
I am still (even as I write this), taking it in because it gives me so much hope that, maybe the season has finally come where I will see certain promises come to pass. You see, I have been “standing in faith” on the way I memorized it several years ago from my NIV Bible, and even my daily NCV Bible says it pretty much the same way, “I am watching to make sure My words come true." BUT seeing it now in my NKJV that “God is ready” fills me with renewed hope!
Though I have read Jeremiah 1 in the NKJV before, somehow this verse has now taken on a new meaning. I know that it is because God is bringing to light His Word for me into a new season (and in a new way), so it gives me hope. I am keeping a watchful eye to see God perform His Word-- because now I see it as “God is ready…” Does this mean it will happen tomorrow? I would LOVE for it to, but I cannot say that it will. I only know that before when this verse lit up in my heart it was that God will see His Word fulfilled, which meant sometime in the future. Seeing it brought to my attention now in a refreshed way gives me hope that maybe the “future” is pretty close!
♥♥♥♥ So my friend, if God’s Word is not making sense to you, first ask God to open your mind and help to give you an understanding. Then if you still feel like you are missing His message to you, maybe you need to turn to a different Bible for a season. I used my daily NCV Bible until it literally fell apart, and no more taping it together was going to help. Eventually I went and got myself a new one, but by the time I did, I found that I was starting to open up and feel more comfortable in the other translations that once baffled me. Now I have a whole set of Bibles that are my lifeline. It is so awesome how at different times, God will speak so clearly to me in the different translations. He knows just which one I need, and when I need a refreshed look into His Word.
I often tell people when they come to me having a hard time reading the Bible that the next time they are at the bookstore to sit down with five Bibles and open them all up to the same passage and just slowly read and compare the books. The one that “lights up in you” and seems to really make sense is “your language” at least for a short while. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Bible you were reading before is wrong; it simply means God needs to open the eyes of your heart in a different way, so that He can speak to you more clearly in the season you are in. God really does want you to understand His Word; otherwise, you will have a difficult time growing your relationship with Him, and that is NOT His will for anyone!
Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him;
and He vanished from their sight.
And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn
within us while He talked with us on the road,
and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
(Luke 24:31-32 NKJV)
Don’t be afraid to open up to different styles of writing. Take some time to find one that “fits” you so that you can feed from the milk of His Word. Allow for God to meet you where you are in your spiritual walk. Let Him speak to you in ways that your heart can really open up and know Him. Let Him open your mind up to perceive Him in life around you. And then let Him grow you and move you into the more solid food from His Word as He strengthens you.
One last thought for you is this: (something I just want to stress) though a thought-for-thought devotional Bible (like the NCV that I started reading) is very nice to read during your quiet time with God, and can certainly stir your heart, allow for Him to bring you into a stronger word-for-word translation (too) for deeper studies as He grows you in your spiritual walk. It’s one thing to spend a season in an easier thought-for-thought translation while God nurses you (and brings comfort and healing), but be sure that you mix in solid teaching from a word-for-word translation too, as God leads you, so that you can develop a deeper understanding of His literal Word, and stay rooted in the truth of His Word. I know personally that if I had depended only on my devotional reading, then I would have missed the “richness” of His Word, and the whole counsel of His Word. Keep in mind that while the milk is necessary and is good for a ‘child’ so is more substance of food. For me, I now thrive in reading His Word. I constantly go to Him asking for Him to “teach me more…” But I will tell you this too; there are times when I go curl up with “a glass of milk” and sit at HIS FEET (as Mary did), and ask Him to refresh me.
Something to consider (as you are able), is to have at least three Bibles. The reason being is that it will enable you to have fresh eyes (and ears) to His Word as He speaks (and confirms) His message to your heart. Keep one Bible that you can totally personalize. In this Bible, mark in it as He draws you closer to Him. “Color-code” and tab it as you discover God personally. Allow for this Bible to be a personal conversation between you and He, as God teaches (and leads) you. It doesn’t matter if you are a male or female-- or even how old you are. With this Bible, you are simply God’s beloved child having a one on one conversation with “your Dad” (very personal with tears and all). Then have a 2nd Bible you can take to church or use during your group studies. Use this Bible more as a “study Bible” where you can take notes as other leaders teach you and gives you food for thought. In this Bible search for meaning-- inquire, and research, and compare Scriptures, and really “dig into His Word” as a student hungry for truth and meaning, that will fortify you. This will help you to come to understand the “broader view and history” of His Word.
But also consider keeping a 3rd Bible that you DO NOT write in (that you do not make any marks in), and save this Bible for times when God wants to give you a fresh word. Often times in our daily Bible or study Bible, it can be easy to get distracted by all the notes (and places where we have highlighted verse), that we miss seeing something “new.” Use this Bible to just read with an open mind as God leads you to-- and then when something is impressed upon you, use your other Bibles to look it up and study it. Keep this “clean Bible” as a way for God to give you fresh new insight, or to bring you deeper into something you may have missed, or just wasn’t ready to “see” before.
When I read my clean Bible, it's like I come before God with no agenda (or preconceived thoughts) and just say, “Ok God, whatever YOU want to talk about-- whatever YOU want to show me-- here I am.”
I know that Bibles can be expensive (which is really sad), but there are several free websites where you can read God’s Word in different translations. I list some sites for you at the back of this book on the resources page. Also, we are working on a free online Bible, that you are welcome to use. It’s located on our LampPost Publications website. It is also our goal to have an online daily Bible from Cypress Ministries that can be printed out free of charge—so be on the look out for it as well.
- NOTE: some Bible translations are a “word for word” translation (such as the ESV, NASB, and the NKJV). Meaning that they have been written to follow -- and keep as closely to the original wording as possible. Then there are devotional style Bibles that are a thought for thought translation (such as the NCV and many others). The NIV is considered to be a thought-for-thought/word-for word translation. And then of course there are complete “paraphrased Bibles” (like “The Message Bible”). The only reason I bring this up, is because many do not understand the difference, and it is something I am asked about occasionally.
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