James W. Goll

B. Childress
Jun 04 2010

    "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."   Psalm 119:105

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word
    of truth"   II Timothy 2:15

    "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom..."   Colossians 3:16

I have traveled thousands of miles in recent years, criss-crossing many nations by airplane, train and automobile.  
Scores of times, what has helped me to get to the right place at the right time is a good road map, either printed or
electronic.  Turning on my cell phone to check in with the right person at the last minute has saved my neck more than
once.  Though I am sensitive in my spiritual orientation, I tend naturally to be one who gets lost rather easily.  Those who
know me well call me directionally challenged.  I need all the help I can get.

God has not left us on our own,
mapless or helpless, to try to figure out how to get to His destinations.  He has given us
our personal Tutor, the Holy Spirit, to guide us into all truth.  He has also given us His road map of life, the Word of
God.  This manual spells out in plain print much of our most desperately needed direction.  But as with any road map, it
won't do us much good if we keep it stuffed away in our glove box or on a shelf collecting dust.  We have to take it out
and use it.

If we haven't read our Bible, we should not act like we know where we are going.  Without it, we could take a wrong turn
on the road and double the length of time it takes to get to our destination.  We need to get smart!  We need to take out
the map and study it so that we get to know the territory we are entering.  We will need to review the road map many
times, in order to end up at the right place without running out of gas or even running off the road.  To complete our
journey with the Lord, we must study, read, and meditate on the written Word of God.  As we read it and chew on it, His
Word will begin to dwell richly in our heart and mind, and we will reach the destination He has planned for our lives.

My Companion and Friend

Like most pastors, I own several editions of the greatest Book ever written.  But there is one in particular that has been
my daily companion for more than 20 years.  It is torn; it falls apart often; it has been round the world with me.  My
favorite Bible is marked full of love notes from my kids, such as the one our third child, Tyler, sent me when he was
about three years old.  Innocently, he tore Isaiah 42 and 43 to shreds.  My wife quickly gathered up the fragments of
those favorite chapters of mine, taped the little pieces all back together and, before I got home, stuck them back in my
Bible where they belonged.  They are still that way today - I love it!  A bit later, little Rachel, our fourth child, decided to
draw pictures for me in I Peter, in red ink.  Her scribbles are there today, and I love every blot!  

Once while I was on staff with Metro Christian Fellowship in Kansas City, I was in one of the upstairs offices doing some
prayer counseling.  I always took my favorite Bible with me just in case I needed to give a Scripture to someone as a bit
of medicine for what might be ailing him or her.  But after that appointment, I could not find my favorite brown leather
New American Standard Bible for days, so I used other Bibles.  They were okay.  But I felt a bit lost.  My personal bible
contained sermon notes I had written when I had heard the teachings of Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, Francis Frangipane,
Jack Deere, and many others.  Where did my Bible go?  I cried out to the Lord, "Where is my Bible?"

For many days, I used what I call the Necessary in Vineyard Bible - the
New International Version (NIV).  I chomped on
the New King James.  I tried huffing down the original King James Version.  All are great versions, but I did not feel right
without my familiar version.  After about four weeks of this, I wandered back upstairs in the Metro office building to the
same room where I had had my appointment.  There was my brown leather Bible lying on the carpet!  I gleefully
exclaimed, "I found my friend!  I found my lost friend!"  I was beside myself with joy.  I felt the Holy Spirit was pleased that
I was so pleased.  It's the Word of God, so much more than a book of doctrine, history and good teaching, and it just
didn't taste the same if I wasn't chewing on my favorite copy.  I had been as lost as if someone had switched road signs
on me.

Do you have a "close friend" Bible, one with words you can hide in your heart readily, one you can chew on?  I read my
favorite Bible - and it reads me!  It is the only book ever written that is not just ink on page - it is alive and active, sharper
than any two-edged sword (see Hebrews 4:12).

Store Up the Word of God

We are admonished to hide God's Word in our heart.  As we do this consistently, we establish safety, security and
protection for our lives.  We then have a basis from which to judge the multitude of voices that come our way.  We have
a vast well of His words to draw from in times of need.

There's a direct correlation between
hearing and hiding the Word of God within our heart and mind.  Both are keywords,
action words.

I grew up in a rural community, where my mother was famous for her canned produce, which she had grown in our large
garden.  She would often put up a hundred quarts of green beans and dozens of pints of corn, homemade pickles and
even bottles of grape juice.  In the heat of the Midwest summer, she would get out her pressure cooker in our little
kitchen to produce food that would feed her family during the winter ahead.  When winter set in, we were glad that Mom
had invested so much time storing up in a time of plenty for a time of need.

Just as my mother stored up fruit, vegetables and produce to be used, eaten and enjoyed at a later date, so we store up
the written Word of God (
logos in Greek) so it later can be "eaten" as a life-producing spoken word (rhema in Greek).  
Through reading, studying, repeating, memorizing, praying and meditating on the written Word, we accumulate an
enormous resource in our mind and heart that can be submitted to the Holy Spirit's transforming power.  A quickening
work of God occurs and the written logos becomes activated into a present-tense, spoken, rhema word of God.

Comparing Logos and Rhema

The term "logos" (written word) is used 331 times in the Greek New Testament.  The word "rhema" (spoken word) is
used more than 70 times in the New Testament.  "Logos" is used well over four times as often as is "rhema," which helps
us to see the relative importance of the logos, the sure foundation, the written Word of God.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states:

The significance of rhema as distinct from logos is exemplified in the injunction to take up the sword of the Spirit which is
the Word of God, or the spoken rhema word used in Ephesians 6:17.  Here the reference is not to the whole Bible as
such but to an individual Scripture which the spirit brings to our remembrance or our use in a time of need, a
prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with the Scripture.

Below are some further differentiations that also show the relationship between the written Word of God and the spoken

    1.  Planning and the execution.  Logos is that which is in the mind before communication occurs.  Rhema is the
    vocalization, the articulation involved in expression.  Logos is the thinking and rhema is the saying.   Logos
    signifies the thought and rhema emphasizes the speaking.

    2.  Message and the vehicle.  Logos connotes the planning and the purpose.  Rhema represents the execution of
    the plan or its oral expression.  Logos is the content; rhema is the vehicle for the context.  Rhema emphasizes a
    spoken message or the preached gospel, while logos stresses the message itself.

    3.  Whole and the part.  Logos can signify the whole speech, the entire message or the complete doctrine.  The
    rhema can represent the individual supporting arguments.  Logos tends toward the whole, while rhema means a
    specific part of the total word.

If we want to move in the inspirational rhema element of the Word, we must store up the logos content of the Word.  We
can't have one without the other!

Hearing the Word Releases Faith

We read many things, but do we always really hear what we read?  Romans 10:17 tells us, "Faith comes from hearing
[acoa in Greek], and hearing by the word [rhema] of Christ."  "Acoa" means to have audience with, to come with ears.

This is vitally important.  The inner attitude of our heart will determine whether we've heard what is being stated.  In other
words, we can read the written Word and leave unchanged.  But if we approach the Word of God with the correct inner
attitude of the heart by coming with ears ready to listen, we will give full attention to the Word, have an audience with it
and leave changed.  If we come with a heart of submission, expecting to receive like a child or student from his or her
caring parent or teacher, we will receive much.

How do we develop these important inner attitudes and expectancies that will determine how we hear and thus what we
receive?  Glancing again at Romans 10:17 - "Faith comes from hearing" - we see that our faith comes and continues to
come by having an ongoing audience with God's words through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Our faith quickens us, energizes us, releases and motivates us to take action.  It requires the written Word and the
spoken word, the logos and the rhema, to be brought the effect of God's Word, creating faith in our lives.  I want to
receive and exercise faith.  I know that faith pleases God.  It enables me to live in new life.  So, if I want to hear God's
voice, I must come to God with my ears on.

Meditating on the Word of Life

We can read the Word.  We can pray based on the words we read.  But the approach to the Scriptures that will best
help us to turn the logos into rhema is the spiritual discipline of
meditating on the Word of Life.

In Wasted on Jesus, I attempted to dust off the art of meditation and give some clarity to it.  I wrote that the word
"meditate" means to think deeply, or to reflect on something.  To "reflect" on something means to contemplate or ponder
it.  "Contemplate" means to gaze at or think about intensely.

These words are slow, careful words.  When we are meditating on Scripture, it is not so much the amount of text we read
as what we chew.  It may be no more than a single verse.  It may only be a few words such as "as the deer pants for the
water" (Psalm 42:1).  Peter Toon, author of
Meditating as a Christian, writes, "Meditation is...taking to heart, reading
slowly and carefully, prayerfully taking in, and humbly receiving into mind, heart, and will that which God has revealed...
by the indwelling Spirit of Christ."

I often turn to the contemporary writings of Richard Foster, a brilliant author and writer on spiritual disciplines.  In
Finding the Heart's True Home
, he writes:

    In Meditative Prayer the Bible ceases to be a quotation dictionary and becomes instead "wonderful words of life"
    that lead us to the word of Life.  It differs even from the study of Scripture.  Whereas the study of Scripture
    centers on exegesis, the meditation upon Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage.  The
    written Word becomes a living word addressed to us.

Meditation is an awesome tool to aid all of us as believers in hearing the voice of God.  Let's chew on the Word of God.  
It is our daily bread.

Gathering Our Manna

The children of Israel had manna as their daily bread when they wandered in the wilderness.  It was bread from heaven.

    "Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and
    gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.  And it shall come
    to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they
    gather daily.

    And it came to pass, that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay
    round about the host.  And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay
    a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.  And when the children of Israel saw it, they said to
    another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was.  And Moses said unto them, this is the bread which the LORD
    hath given you to eat."   Exodus 16:4-5; 13-15

The Israelites didn't know what the flake-like things were.  Many times God's voice or even provision comes in a way  
that we do not instantly identify as such.  We do not readily recognize the answers to our very own prayers.  We
respond, "What is this?  That can't be God!"

The story continues in verses 16 to 19:

    "This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for
    every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.  And the
    children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.  And when they did mete it with an omer, he that
    gathered much  had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to
    his eating.  And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning."

But some did not follow Moses' orders, and they left part of it until the next day and it bred worms.  When the Israelites
obeyed the Lord's commandments, every family had all that they needed.  When they obeyed, the manna did not spoil.

Real-Life Applications

We must gather the Word as manna every day.  Our portion today is only good for today.  We cannot live off
yesterday's manna.  If we do not eat today's portion, we will have lack and need.  But if we abide in His Word daily, we
will have life within.  That's the basic message here.  We cannot live life today on yesterday's Word.  By the same token,
we cannot expect presumptuously to hear God's rhema today when we haven't gathered in His logos yesterday or last
week or last month, chewing it and digesting it.  We can't get God's voice activated in our life without first putting it into
our heart and mind.

It's an issue of obedience.  Each of us needs to gather his or her own manna, although we may gather and eat it
together, in each other's company.

Once I was praying for someone, and I was about to jump in and solve his problem for him.  Suddenly, it was as if the
Holy Spirit had slapped my hand and said to me, "Don't put the spoon in his mouth!  Put it in his hand and teach him how
to feed himself."  We must equip and teach each other the necessities of spiritual disciplines such as reading and
meditating on Scripture.  There is no substitute!

If we want to end up at the right place at the right times to see the written Word turn into an immediate word from God, if
we want faith that pleases God, and if we want to hear His sweet voice - get out a road map, read it and follow the
directions.  We will surely make it to the end of our journey with manna to spare, just as the Israelites experienced every
Sabbath when the extra food they had gathered didn't spoil as it did on the other days.

The Word of God - it's your road map for the journey of life.  And the One who wrote it, the Holy Spirit, is your personal
Tutor, waiting to speak a word into your ear: "
This is the way, walk ye in it..."   Isaiah 30:21.


THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO HEARING GOD, by James W. Goll, Copyright 2008, Regal From Gospel Light.