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When the Spirit does not open the Scripture,

the Scripture is not understood even though it is read.

–Martin Luther

The Amplified Bible says that Selah (often used in the Psalms) means “to pause and calmly think about what you’ve read.” When we do this, we digest the words and their message, rather than move across them in rote fashion. Practicing Selah adds richness to our time with God. We go beyond a discipline and linger with Him while pondering. We allow nourishment to flow into our souls.

The intention of scripture is to reveal the Lord and teach us His ways. It should be a matter of reverence for us each time we read God’s word, for we are opening communication with our Maker. To hear, we must keep still and pay attention to what is being said.

When God’s word has our full attention, we will hear. An unfamiliar scripture may suddenly have a particular word for us, maybe one of encouragement or explanation of a trial we are going through. A recognizable passage may show us something we haven’t seen before, some broader way of thinking. That is the Holy Spirit in action! He is speaking to our hearts, our needs. And that is when we need to practice Selah. To take time to ponder God’s teaching moments and ask what is He saying that applies to us in a very specific way. I treasure these times and like to note the date and maybe a few words beside the scripture. On seeing this later, I may or may not recall why it helped me that day, but the one thing I will remember is that it was an intimate moment with God.

That same kind of intervention of the Holy Spirit can come through Bible teachers. Dr. Charles Stanley says it this way: What we hear from teachers will be different because the Holy Spirit gives us what we need to hear. Isn’t that wonder-filled?  That God is not just able to speak to each of us individually, but that He desire it? I recall the time a pastor visited and I told him how much I appreciated something he had said from the pulpit. He asked what that was and after hearing it, he shook his head and said he didn’t remember it at all, but he got this feedback often–different people taking away different things from his messages. It is evidence of the Holy Spirit moving over us to bless us just as we need.

God doesn’t give us this personal attention without divine purpose, however. He does it that we may be in relationship with Him. R. C. Sproul, in The Holiness of God, said The call to holiness was first given to Adam and Eve. This was the original assignment of the human race. We were created to shine forth to the world the holiness of God. This was the chief end of man, the very reason for our existence.

In a society of self-centered people, it is sobering and necessary to remember that it really isn’t “all about us” and never will be. It is about Almighty God and our relationship with Him. It is about submission and obedience so that we may experience the love of God in the abundant ways He has planned.

Let me leave you with these words of John Wesley:

To candid, reasonable men,

I’m not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. 

I have thought, I’m a creature of a day,

passing through life as an arrow through the air.

I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: 

Just hovering over the great gulf;

til a few moments hence, I am no more seen;

I drop into an unchangeable eternity. 

I want to know one thing – the way to heaven;

how to land safe on that happy shore. 

God himself has condescended to teach the way;

for this very end He came from heaven.

He hath written it down in a book, O give me that book! 

At any price, give me the Book of God.