I sat down after lunch today to do some long overdue personal devotions (thanks to a friend who leads by example so well!) . My plan was to read Exodus 20 (10 commandments) and see where I went from there. Peterson (translator of The Message) has an introduction to each chapter in the Bible and after reading Ex. 20 and skimming through a few pages, I found myself at the introduction to Leviticus:
“One of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame Him. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes. But our Scriptures are even more stubborn in telling us that we can’t do it. God cannot fit into our plans, we must fit into His. We can’t use God- God is not a tool or appliance or credit card.” The intro goes on from there and ends quoting Romans 12:1-2:
” So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life- and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to it’s level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
This introduction so intrigued me that I went to Romans and began reading. I have read Romans before, in different translations, and I have always thought it was an important book. But today it struck me, perhaps it was just the mood I’m in but I believe it might just be this particular translation. Finally someone wrote the Bible in plain English and utilized the way common English is used in everyday life. I read chapters 12-14 and besides the above quote Romans 14: 23b caught my attention and will be put on the fridge to remind me every day: “If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.” In the New King James (Scofield) version it says, “for whatever is not from faith is sin”. I do not know if Peterson’s translation is exactly as God intended, only God knows that but I do know that Mr. Peterson has given me new understanding and a new reason to stop looking at everyone else’s problems and start working on my own. If we cannot face, in our own lives, those things that are not consistent with our core beliefs and being- then we cannot believe we are living according to God’s plan for our lives.
Thank God for those doldrum days, thank Him for your job, keep Him Holy and He will fix your life from the inside out.