Friday, February 5, 2021

Exploring Your Word in God's Word


Exploring Your Word in God's Word

For me, having a word of the year and living out intentions must be grounded in God's Word. That requires exploring my word and intentions in the Word of God. I do that in a number of ways:

  • Doing a word study of my selected word. If my chosen word is one that is repeated throughout the Bible, such as peace or love, then doing a word study will produce a lot of verses to select from and my task is to narrow it down to those that support my reason for selecting that word. However, if my word is more of a concept then it will require more digging. This is the case for my word this year, RHYTHM.
  • Another way to explore my word in God's Word is to study areas that support the intentions I have set for living out my word.
  • I also will select a theme verse or passage to serve as a guide through the year with my word. So an in-depth study of that verse or passage will be an on-going practice through the year.
  • Then there are spiritual practices that I can use to me grow spiritually through the year. The word I choose for a particular year can help determine which practices (also know as spiritual disciplines or sacred rhythms) to engage in and explore that year. For example if I've chosen a word, such as love, which by its nature biblically calls for action to others, I may want to engage in serving practices through the year and focus on active ways  of loving others. But I will also want to engage in practices that connect me with the love of God, like Bible study, prayer and meditation.
So this will serve as our guide this month:
  • Today we will look at word studies in the Bible.
  • 2/12 Creating Bible studies for our intentions.
  • 2/19 Our theme verse or passage Bible study.
  • 2/26 Determining spiritual practices to accompany our word.

Doing A Word Study With Your Word

I am a huge fan of word studies. In fact, the Words Challenges I do are basically devotions that come out of word studies. Every year I will do a number of word studies with my word of the year. This past summer when we did the Thessalonians Words Challenge I created a document to walk people through the steps of a word study. You can click on the picture of the document below to open the full three page document as a PDF. Feel free to print it out. Also visit the Bible Study Tips & Techniques page here on my blog for other study tutorials. You can also find it in the menu at the top of my site.

Having said all that I have about my enjoyment of word studies and doing them with my word of the year, I find it is not as easy for me this year. My word, rhythm, is not actually found in the Bible, rather it is a concept. It's not as easy to do a word study with a concept. But there are ways to accomplish the same thing.

1.  A search of modern translations and paraphrases may reveal your word. For example, my word is used in The Message Bible, which is a modern paraphrase, rather than a translation. In fact, my word is found in my theme verse in The Message. 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

2.  You can use the synonyms of your word to see if any of those words  reveal verses that will help you live out your word. Some of the synonyms for my word are flow, movement, pulse, pace, routine, balance. They didn't really produce much either. Although when I did a search on 'movement' the following verse came up for the word 'move' and I feel it fits my word well.
"For in him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28. This verse has a sense of our life flowing with the rhythms of Christ. I may do more with that as the year progresses.

3. If searching for words does not result in much then it's time to search for concepts. We will get into this deeper next week when we explore creating Bible studies for our intentions, but let me give you a quick example of how I have started doing this. One of the ways I keep spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy is by maintaining a healthy rhythm of work and rest. Rest, for me, includes treating my body well, being creative, making space for downtime, and practicing Sabbath rest - dedicated time spent with the Lord. All of this is an on-going process that requires being intentional. The word 'rest' is also in my theme verse. While looking up the synonym words for my word I came upon the Greek word 'sunanapauomai'. It includes part of the word for rest used in Matthew 11:28 (anapauo). Sunanapauomai is a word made from the words 'sun' which means together and 'anapauo' which means to refresh or to rest. So, it is to refresh or take rest with someone. I ran across the following verses where Paul speaks of being refreshed by being with other people:
"[Pray]so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company." Romans 15:32
"...for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours." 1 Corinthians 16:18
"And besides our own comfort, we rejoiced still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all." 2 Corinthians 7:13
"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people." Philemon verse 7

It would appear that Paul is telling us that part of the Lord's refreshing for us comes about through other Christ-followers. I was not looking for this. In fact, if I'm really honest, I usually am refreshed the most by solitude. But I sense in this that God may be calling me to embrace something different this year - to include others in some way in my time of rest. I did something this past summer that turned out to be quite fruitful. As I began preparing for the Thessalonians Words Challenge I also began a Zoom Bible study with a few other ladies going through the Thessalonian letters. It was very beneficial. So this year I want to go through another book and have asked a friend to journey through it with me. I need the accountability of another to keep going through the book to the end. And I need the companionship of another as we dig into the book and talk through its meaning and pray together. I often do so much study by myself, and I like being by myself, maybe too much sometimes - and maybe I have overdone being by myself throughout this pandemic. Now, this doesn't appear on my intentions list that I made last month, but maybe it should. It felt like a clear directive from the Lord. It can also give me more to study in the months ahead, looking at what the Bible says about being in community together, being encouraged by one another, etc.

Last year I made a video that walks through how to use the websites I use when doing a word study.

So, now we have a few ways to get us started in exploring our word of the year through God's Word: Do a word study, study synonyms of your word, study a concept. Again, we will explore studying concepts more next week when we explore creating Bible studies from our intentions.

If you have a word that you are struggling to find in the Bible or if you have any questions about any of the steps to doing a word study, please feel free to email me, Or start a conversation in the Words Art & Faith Group on Facebook.

I hope you'll try doing a word study this week and see where God leads you!


  1. So helpful, Mary! Thank you!❤️

    1. Thank you Shawna! I'm so glad it's something you can use. :)

  2. Thank you. I have been looking for a blog like yours for a while now. My word for this year is FOCUS.

    1. I'm glad you found my blog! Focus is a great word, Carolin. I hope you will join us in the Words Facebook group as well. :)