Hello and Happy Spring! I hope you are seeing signs of warmer weather and a few daffodils sprinkled throughout your day. My full extent of Spring is defined by newness and Easter (my favorite holiday). I love seeing the violas and tulips displayed around town. It is exciting to watch the buds begin to form on the rosebushes and trees in the yard. These signs bring the meaning of hope to mind for me and help me better understand the purpose of winter.
REVIEW: ATTENTION STAGE
Today we are discussing the “M” stage of AMPS: Meaning. However, I feel I need to revisit and clarify the first step, Attention, before moving forward. The Attention stage is the breadth of Bible Intake, a time to simply read and/or listen to God’s Word by engaging in at least one chapter at a time. It is crafted to give you an overview and allow the Holy Spirit to point out areas.
This is a stage where you are reading the Bible with the knowledge that all Scripture points to Christ. Think of this type of Bible intake as basic reading and/or listening for the broadness and entirety of God’s Word. The basic points are 1) Pause, pray, and posture your heart to hear God every time you approach His Word; 2) Read and/or listen to full chapters at a time (safeguards from cherry picking); 3) Think about how the chapter/s point to the full story of Christ; 4) Allow the Holy Spirit to highlight words, phrases, verse/s for you (be in tune to hear the active-living Word).
Please, if you have any questions or concerns about the Attention steps of AMPS, ask me. Remember, this is a skeleton framework for you to build your own Bible study methods and techniques. There is nothing more or nothing less to the Attention stage than the four basic points listed above. Now, the way you respond to those or what you do with your Attention experience can vary.
Let’s move into the Meaning stage. In this aspect of Bible intake, this stage can be referred to as the depth step. Why? Because it is where you have to consume God’s Word through discovering its original implication and importance in history. It equips us to intensify our Scripture knowledge and invest in the Lord’s meaning.
Where do I begin? How do I start? What does this entail? I know, I have had those very same questions. So, let me try to share what I have discovered through three basic areas.
3 MEANING FAQs
Where to begin: I would encourage you to study one chapter at a time. Maybe read/listen to a chapter for your attention stage and then study it in depth for several days. AMPS is not designed to be carried out daily. (I would love to do go through the entire process every day!) Want a suggestion? Start with John.
Another suggestion would be to study the background of the entire book you are reading. The main take away is for you to go deeper into understanding and comprehension of what you are reading.
When I first began, my primary purpose was to achieve and establish true clarity for the Scripture that seized my attention when reading a chapter at a time, listening to a sermon, reading a devotional, etc. It was my starting point and it gave me “spot knowledge” so to speak. Since then, I would have to say I have found it essential to continually concern myself with the meaning of all biblical text to obtain the distinctness and focus of God’s words. With that being said, please understand studying the “attention” areas or highlighted portions after reading/listening is a great beginning.
Start where you are!
How to start: Study Bibles are extremely helpful when digesting Scripture. It gives some insight to true understanding and even the context in which it was written. Pay attention to the subheadings. They are tools to help our minds “chunk” the information and attach it to similar knowledge in our schema. There are many Bible commentaries online you can reference as well. Let Scripture define Scripture–so, you may want to invest time into reading some of the cross reference verses provided. My favorite technique is to read my “attention” verses in various translations.
Getting started is basically taking a step to deeper understanding! Please don’t make it complicated. It can merely be one thing that deepens your understanding. This is an ongoing adventure to strength your relationship with the most important person in your life, GOD! Try several strategies and research more to incorporate throughout your journey.
Start where you are!
What meaning entails: I might define meaning as anything that helps you dig into the context and build a firm foundation of knowledge according to God’s connotation. The primary goal is for you to open your Bible in confidence by knowing God will provide you with complete comprehension if you are willing to do a little extra work.
Here are a few things you could include:
Write down your questions.
Reread God’s Word in several versions (NIV, ESV, NLT, TPT, …)
Use commentaries, reference other Scripture, and read resources such as Bible book summaries
Cultivate an interrogative mindset (author, author’s background, historical setting & culture, original recipients of the message, events)
5Ws & H: (historical references)
Who wrote it? Who are the people?
When was it written?
Where are they? Where does the passage fit in the unfolding of Scripture?
What is occurring? What is being said? What is the author’s intended meaning?
Why was this written? Why is this part of God’s Word?
How was this applicable then? And now?
Identify keywords: Maybe use a Bible dictionary (language concordance) & find the Greek/Hebrew meaning
Deal with reproof & new revelations: Did you discover a flaw in your past comprehension/application?
WOW! I know…it may be overwhelming but remember… Start where you are!
PRIMARY GOAL: Discovering the Full Meaning of God’s Word by growing in relationship with the LORD.
ONE PRIMARY TIP: Let it be pure joy!
YOU GOT THIS!
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.
Acts 9:3 (ESV)
Did I capture your attention? Can you imagine your lips telling the world what you just ate through chameleon color-changing abilities? Mine might appear like dirt since my favorite thing to savor is the darkest chocolate possible. (YIKES!) What about you?
Matthew 6:22 states, “The eye is the lamp of the body.” So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body can be full of God’s pure light. Our eyes are arrested by many things throughout the day. Vision is an intake device controlling what can charm our senses, entice our minds, and even sway our hearts. This is why good marketing schemes can invoke our thinking and cause us to react outside of our norms. Oh those eyes!
Lets look to the Bible for some vision advice:
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25-27. (NIV)
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29
He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, He who rejects unjust gain. And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; Isaiah 33:15 (NIV)
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37 (ESV)
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)
Our attention will be engaged in any environment we entertain, healthy or not. Bright and flashy or dark and luring-humans have an eye for things that standout. Marketing experts profit from this sense by leaps and bounds. Just ask Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow-Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. (Side note: maybe we should make all Bibles purple poke-a-dotted) It is a known fact that the eyes tend to be drawn to things out of the ordinary. Ponder this: Remember seeing something you wish you had not seen but were drawn to it? You can’t seem to get it out of your head.
“The almighty Father provides Scripture as a method to procure our attention.” (pg. 89). “However, it takes effort on our part to place ourselves in God’s environment…” (pg. 90). The Holy Spirit gently draws us to particular verses as we engage in God’s Word and He does so according to God’s purpose and will.
Let us not forget, Scripture is the Voice of God-the very words which separated light from dark and brought everything into existence. Why wouldn’t we want to hang out among powerful, life-giving words and let it capture our attention? Well, I don’t know about you, but I have overused all the excuses you could probably utter…”I’m too busy, I’m not sure it all applies to me, I need to focus more on my career, I lack the motivation to stay in the Bible daily, I don’t understand some of Scripture so…, I’m not ready for God’s disciplined lifestyle, I don’t know where to start, etc.”
However, when the bright light was placed on my life, much like Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus, it exposed my excuses, sins, and flawed ways. I stood before the LORD guilty in so many ways. God had to use drastic forces to get my eyes back on what really mattered-Him! I wasn’t placing myself in Scripture so He could speak to me nor spending the time I needed in “listening” prayer to fully hear His words of discernment and guidance. I was doing life “my way” much like Saul.
“The LORD longs for our awareness of Him. God knows exactly what ensnares our interest. He is never surprised by what is attractive to us because His attention is continually on us. The Lord longs for us to reciprocate interest in Him.” (pg. 88-89). He knows how to captivate us, but He is gentle and patient–not to mention He gives us free will.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8a (NIV)
Chapter 8 of Crown the Sword is all about what to do once God draws our attention to certain passages of Scripture when we spend time reading His Word.
See your story in the Bible as you read it.
Highlight it and date it in a manner that is right for you.
Heed to His promptings and write out those verses to reflect upon throughout the week.
Place the verses in prominent area you frequent regularly.
Fill your environment with His Voice-Scripture.
Keep your Bible open as an invitation throughout your day to stop and read a bit.
Think outside of the box and let your creative juice flow.
Post the Scripture on your social media accounts.
Talk it over with a friend.
Pray it out.
First and foremost, let it draw you to the feet of Jesus. Hang out there for a bit and let Him take your vision to heights unknown. Your eyes will be amazed at the remarkable sight revealed — discovery of a magnificent power beyond the color-changing ability of a chameleon.
(P.S. What was the last thing you ate?)
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no weekend war that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Ephesians 6:10-12 (Message)
Hello sweet friends! I hope your week has been good. We have had tornadoes, hail, rain, blizzard, snow, sunshine, and spring days all in one week. You never know what to wear or how to prepare. It has felt a little chaotic to say the least.
How’s your daily Bible intake? Does it ever seem a little sporadic? I know mine does. There are times it is so unorganized and unplanned that it might resemble the worst junk drawer on the face of the earth. It definitely gets out-of-whack when I have too many pans in the fire. (Not that I am currently doing this or anything like it!!!)
I just wanted to pause today and share a method I created for my personal Bible intake. This corelates with Part II of the book Crown the Sword if you want to know more details. During my searching for more of God’s Word in my life, I found bits and pieces of various Bible study methods I liked, but never one that encompassed everything I needed and valued. So, over the years God revealed AMPS to me.
AMPS is a very basic skeleton for anyone to build upon. Ideally, I would love to go through the entire process daily. However, time doesn’t always allow. However, it is important to engage in every stage and not just get bogged down into one step in the process.
Just give it a try. Make it your own. Find a new way to engage with God and His Word. Start with pausing and prayer each time you begin. Please find joy in your daily Bible Intake. Don’t make it a “TO DO”, make it a celebration of drawing nearer to the one and only who loves you beyond comparison, GOD! Make it a “Ta Da” and find pleasure in each moment you spend engaging and infusing Scripture into your life.
Download your copy of AMPS in a different format than presented previously. ENJOY.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 (NIV)
God wants us to present each moment to Him in obedience, let Him rule our lives, and submit all of our ways. I don’t know about you, but I struggle in doing so. I have to humbly remind myself I cannot accomplish His purpose without humbly surrendering to His leading. It starts the minute my eyes open each morning. Each day is a gift given and it is my responsibility to hand it over so the LORD can lead it. Trust me, when I depend on myself and my ability to handle life (good or bad) I fall short every time. His direction and instructions far exceed my own. Besides, He knows the future so I need to trust His jugdment!
When I made the commitment to live my life through an open Bible, I began searching for a routine to assist me. A plan to keep me from failing. A way to live out Joshua 1:8 (NIV) “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Anything to keep me plugged into God and His Word. I wanted a good connection.
If there was an approach to studying Scripture and learning to infuse it into my life, I was willing to try it. There are many of them out there. (yet, I find it hard to discover who created them?) I love the primary goal of each-to allow the very Voice of God to penetrate your soul. I think it is essential for everyone to determine ways to study Scripture and open their heart to discovering new methods and techniques for a lifetime. Also, I believe the Holy Spirit will guide and prompt you to a deeper understanding as you travel together with God.
Listen friends, ten years ago I was probably hesitant to study Scripture on my own without an associated text, facilitator, or sermon notes. God prompted me to go deeper into knowing His Voice and stop “cherry picking” verses and memorizing Scripture just to quote it and manipulate it to what I wanted it to mean.
AMPS was primarily created for my own personal Bible study because of gaps I found in other methods. They fell short on focusing and fully listening to God, gathering the entire meaning from context, praying out Scripture, safeguarding my understanding, etc. The list continues. So, I began with four categories: attention, meaning, perspective of God, and saturation. This is an extremely lean skeleton. It may even be missing a few bones, but it is the foundation on which I have begun building my Bible study methods.
I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts from the book along with so much more I have to tell you about AMPS. Hang in there friends! Press into those study questions. They are essential in Chapter seven to help you digest the second half of Crown the Sword! Let the journey begin…
Crank up the AMPS Bible Study Method
Prepare your heart-Pause
Read with purpose
Be aware of what catches your attention
History: author/timeline/location/original audience/culture
Identify: Attributes of God, promises, instructions
Translations: read more than one
Entire Context: main message
Seek the full counsel of Scripture: investigate cross references
|P:||Perspective of God |
Pray for God’s perspective
Present your concerns, thoughts, and confusion to the Father
Ask the Lord for the meaning, clarity, and personal message
Be open to reproof
Ponder the application for your life
Ask the Lord for help to live out Scripture
Infuse His instructions into your life
Pray out Scripture: claim His promises over your life and circumstances
Crown-(verb): a mark of honor, to officially recognize, adorn, to pay tribute, to signify reverence, etc. Handing over reigning authority and giving up control is what it personally means to me. The Crown is my choice to rank the highest treasured possession in my life. It goes beyond a physical act and lip service. The crowning takes place daily when I make my choice what will rule my day.
We all have crowning power. In a recent social media conversation with a pastor, we briefly discussed this concept. He stated that in Ephesians 6 “we’re biblically exhorted to “crown” Christ” and therefore we should do likewise to His Word. I responded by saying that Christian or not, we all crown things in our lives. My philosophy is we all own one crown to do with as we so desire. Now, I may move my crown from item to item, but I can only crown one thing at a time. After doing so, it has the power to reign and control my actions, thoughts, words, and goals.
I have “crowned” myself in the past. Manipulated Scripture to fit my need. Convinced myself that “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself without relying on ANYONE!” (pg. 69). I knew people would let you down and I had a long list of proof especially when it came to the opposite sex. So day after day, I “crowned” my personal strength and had a motto, “Love what YOU do and do what YOU love!” It even hung on the wall in our living room. Why? Because it was about satisfying that deep hunger inside of my heart and no one else seemed capable of doing so, so I would just have to do it myself. (Miss. Little Red Hen)
Boy, this is when the disclaimer should pop-up and say “Do NOT try this in the home of your heart! It can prove fatal and/or harmful to those who try!” Red flags, flashing lights, sirens, caution tape-whatever catches your inward attention: PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT CROWN THE WRONG THING! Go retrieve the crown, hold it in your hands, and really think about the authority you want to reign over your life. What will give you life everlasting? What will furnish you with a reliable life manual?
God invites you to crown Him and therefore crown His Word.
I leave you with a direct quote from the book:
“My sweet heavenly Father extended a fresh encounter with Him and gave me the gift of renewal and redemption through Scripture. The invitation I accepted from the Lord is the same He extends to you-come and experience the miraculous possibilities of a life submitted to His authority. Your willingness to let Him reign unlocks a world of potential beyond your imagination! I am living proof!” (pg. 71).