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Fresh Eyes…

As we get older, and in an effort to stay sharp, Janet and I have been working on jigsaw puzzles on our kitchen table. When each of us had our annual Medicare cognitive exams, we both passed with flying colors but we still look for ways to stay on top of our game. I’m not generally a big reader, and although we watch TV, we thought we would like something that could challenge us. Puzzles were the answer – at least for us.

So we started with a brand named Ravensburger, in part because they make a line with larger pieces and it is easier for Janet to handle with her arthritis. We started with 300 piece puzzles and eventually worked up to 500 pieces. The 750 piece puzzles are still a little difficult for us. But we find from time to time that we get stymied and search for pieces without much success. Then, we walk away and it is amazing how when we return, we undoubtedly have better luck with what Janet refers to as “fresh eyes.”

That phrase has become part of our vocabulary after an absence of many years. Both Janet and I had grandmothers who used the phrase “fresh eyes” in our youth. They always told us, especially when we lost something, to walk away and come back later with “fresh eyes.” Now I am one to misplace stuff from time to time and they were right, asking Janet to help me has worked almost every time. Her “fresh eyes”, with a new perspective on the situation, have been indispensable to me!

It also occurs to me that we can get stuck in our reading of the Bible from time to time. Many of us have heard or read certain verses so many times that we tend to glance over them or not dwell on new perspectives that God may be giving us. As many years as I studied in seminary, I know that I suffer from the same thing! There are times that I just need “fresh eyes” to see what God is trying to say to me through the Holy Spirit.

Tonight, our Bible study started up again for the 23rd year. We have been together the entire time and I am acutely aware of the importance of handling God’s word carefully. Throughout the years, our faith has been strengthened and our studies are much more in depth than they were more than 20 years ago. We are in the 5th book of the Psalms and, at times, I recognize the psalms can all sound the same.

Recently, I asked God for “fresh eyes” to teach again this summer. After all, we are in the last section of this important book and I want to make sure that we finish this study well, particularly since we have been in and out of the psalms for the past four years. We started tonight in Psalm 107 and will continue through the last one, Psalm 150! It will be the first time that I will have taught through the entire Old Testament book.

So how can we keep our reading of the Bible fresh? For one, we can read different versions of the Bible to get various translations and see which ones resonate with us. Some versions are more literal in their translations, such as the King James (KJV) and the New American Standard (NASB). Other are phrase by phrase translations, such as the New International version (NIV). And still others are paraphrases of the Bible, such as the Message! Each of us must decide for ourselves which versions we will use for our primary reading but it is good from time to time to augment our reading with a different translation,

Another way to have “fresh eyes” is to pray that God, through their Holy Spirit, will bring the Scripture alive for us in new and exciting ways. The Bible is a miraculous work. Divinely inspired, but written by human authors, the Holy Spirit has a way of providing deeper meanings to us as our faith matures. Prayer is an important way that can help us unlock additional insights that God chooses to reveal to us. After all, each of us has a specific mission and what we need to know will be revealed to us.

Our verse for tonight is from the fifth book of the Psalms. The psalmist tells us in this short verse, in Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”  While this verse is from the Old Testament, it applies to our studies throughout the entire Bible. My encouragement this evening is that God always wants to give us additional new insights into His Word. My prayer is that God will give us “fresh eyes” to continue to see His will for our lives through the reading and study of His divine Word. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

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