“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (John 15:10).
Struggling with fatigue, I discovered why some Bibles are red-letter editions.
I’ve been studying God’s Word for more than 50 years now in my training and professional life and personal life. I learned Greek, Hebrew, systematic theology and other disciplines. I had read the Bible through several times, as well as been an educator. Yet I didn’t have the answer to my exhaustion.
A Barren Condition:
Feeling barren inside one day while I was writing yet another article, I had to find relief. Leaving my office, I walked to a sitting room big stuffed chairs, where my wife has her devotions. Needing any chair that wasn’t my office chair, I sat and allowed the plump cushions to comfort me. Starting to feel a bit better, I bowed my head and came to the Lord, weak and burdened. All I wanted was what He had to say to me.
After a period of resting in His arms, a quiet voice told me that I needed a red-letter edition Bible. I was shocked out of my reverence and got up to look in my library for one.
The Past 50 Years:
Much of the past 50 years has been a search for context world. I was taught that a text taken out of context is a pretext. This is why the Bible can be used to support any position, no matter how strange. Not comparing passages, searching for inspiration’s broad view; taking a verse in disagreement with its immediate context; not understanding what similes, parables etc. are; or, adding information to the Bible, are common and have given birth to cults such as Pharisees and Jonestown (where poisoned beverages ended disagreement with the leadership). Searching Scripture to see: “If these things were true” (Acts 17:11) was the Berean path I had attempted to walk, but searching had become an end unto itself. My relationship with Jesus was suffering.
When I remembered that being childlike was the necessity for being saved and status in the kingdom (Matt. 18:3-4), I wanted my child-like trusting relationship with Jesus back. Children often don’t know all the facts, but they should be able to rest in their father’s love for them. I wanted to relax in His loving arms.
Having a Hard Time:
Reading the words of Jesus could not be taken just for what He said without my making sure that I knew who He was talking to and what the context was. My heart and mind were constantly struggling for accuracy. “A sad state indeed,” my tired soul sighed.
Matthew 9 is an example. I had to make sure how many men were involved; what was their medical condition; what was their emotional condition was; where Jesus was going; how the men approached Jesus. I couldn’t just hear Jesus say: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and, “Be it done to you according to your faith” (vv. 28-29). I was forgetting what the Lord had taught me a few months ago as I was attempting to find out what faith actually is. (I had been taught, “He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). There is only one type of faith that pleases our Lord and is effective: "Come to Me, believing in My existence then, believe totally in your heart that I’ll reward you if you diligently seek Me."
A convicted believing heart that has a personal relationship with Almighty God through Jesus is a heart that sees answers to prayer, blessings and healings.
I realized these are not just words to me as the past 50 years have been determined by whether I had Hebrews 11:6 faith. Living faith determined whether I had the fruit of the Spirit and been successful in the harvest field. Dry, rocky, carnal periods had been mixed with abundant harvests and the peace that passes understanding. Inconsistency had reigned.
I Began to Feel Free:
Learning all the contextual things was good, as I want to be true to the words of the Word (Prov. 30:5), but I had to get free from the tyranny of my mind. Ultimately, I needed my Lord, not the imposing information about His ministry. I had to confess that I was an addict who was addicted to contextual considerations to the extent that I wasn’t searching first for my hearts’ needs, which are met in my relationship with my Lord, Jesus.
Embracing His words and opening my heart to Him, I began to feel free. I began to experience a warm, unencumbered blessing. I knew the Holy Spirit was ministering to me as the Word said no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11). Also, I knew that only the Spirit teaches about Jesus (John 14:26).
I found what a frightened 17-year-old boy had found. Going away to a Christian college, far from home, he had held on to the words of Jesus. Matthew 6:33 told him that Jesus said that if he would seek His kingdom first and foremost, everything he needed would be given. This verse has been a life verse, and I testify to its truth now as an experienced old man. What Jesus spoke to me as a lonely lad, He speaks to me today.
Why Did I Love John 14-17?
I just had to find out why John 14-17 have been my favorite chapters. I found that out of the 117 verses in these chapters, only five weren’t red-letter verses. These chapters were my favorites because that’s where my heart wanted to be all along, abiding in the words of Jesus.
When Jesus went away, He said He was going to send a Comforter who would teach God’s children about Himself. He couldn’t be with them physically anymore, but the Holy Spirit could be with them spiritually. The words of Jesus comfort as the Spirit restores the presence of Jesus. Coming to Jesus, He gives peace, a peace with heavenly and eternal qualities that pass understanding.
I Hear His Voice:
This is why I’m now reading a red-letter edition of the Bible and circling the verses that the Spirit of God lays on my heart about what my Lord wants me to understand and practice. These verses speak to me as if I am one of the privileged few who walked with Him on the dusty roads of the Holy Land. I hear His voice and feel His love while a fresh wind stirs my heart and eases my congested mind.
Red-letter editions highlight the words of Jesus and bring the light of a new day. Read with me and hear what Jesus has to say.