“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Victory ... in the Red Zone, by Randall D. Kittle

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While I was praying, the Lord gave me an insightful vision. At first I saw a football field with a glowing red stripe alongside the white stripe at the twenty yardline. Then I saw a team coming out of the huddle and going up to their line of scrimmage at this twenty yardline. Next, I heard the voice of the Lord say, “Victory is determined in the red zone!” With that the picture changed, and I saw a Bible opened to the book of Matthew with the words of Christ glowing with the same red color I had seen on the football field.

In football, the “red zone” is the area on the field between the twenty yardline and the goal line. How a team performs in this area often determines whether they win or lose the game. Teams that have trouble keeping the ball moving forward once they get inside the twenty yardline or those who struggle stopping their opponents in this part of the playing field rarely manage to win. But those teams who can continue to push the ball forward even after they have entered the “red zone” and teams whose defenses are able to shut down the other team’s offense once it gets into scoring range almost always gain the victory. To a great extent, mastery of this small portion of the field is what determines victory or loss in the game of football.

In this vision, God is telling us that gaining the victory in our Christian walk is much the same as on the football field. Only the "red zone" the Lord is stressing is not the area near the goal-line, but the red letters in the Bible — the words of Christ. While all of the Word of God is critically important, it is mastery of this portion of the Bible that is vitally important for gaining the victory. God is desiring us to have every day be a “red-letter” day, as we spend time communing with Jesus through the Bible. After all, Jesus is the greatest Victor of all time, and it is only because of Him that we will gain the victory.

We need to understand that the Word of God is more than ink stamped on trees that have been ground up and bleached. It contains life! Look at what Hebrews 4:12 declares about the Bible:
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” See the life? It is living. It is active. It is penetrating. It divides. It judges. The Word of God is supernaturally alive because it contains the very breath of God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). The breath of God is supernaturally contained in the Scriptures, and when we read it, it is as if Jesus Himself is breathing fresh life into our spirits. This shouldn’t surprise us, for it was through Jesus the Incarnate One that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14).

The Lord is calling us afresh in this day to read and study the Gospels, which contain the “red letters” of Christ speaking. God’s desire is that we encounter Jesus, the Living Word, through His written Word, the Bible. Let me encourage you to start this fresh relationship with Jesus through spending time in His Word today. He wants every believer to have encounters with Him through His Word on an ongoing basis. I would like to challenge you to commit to read through the Gospels every month for three months. I believe this is God’s strategy to train our hearts to experience the life of the Lord through His written Word. I designed the following chart to give some helpful ideas on preparing to make the most of your time. May you gain the victory as you fellowship with Jesus in the “red zone” of His Word.

Strategy for Victory!
Preparation
#1 - Schedule specific times to read the Word. A regular time with the Lord in the Word is one of the best ways to snatch victory out of the jaws of the ever urgent and pressing cares of life.

#2 - Make reading the Bible a dialogue. Open each session with a prayer asking to not only read the Bible, but encounter Jesus through the Bible. Respond to what God is saying (see below).

#3 - Use tools that help you focus on what God is saying. Highlight or underline important words or phrases (focusing on words like “all” and “every” can help you gain great insights into the vastness and power of God). Perhaps use a commentary or study Bible (but focus on the Word).

#4 - Consider buying a new Bible. Perhaps get a different translation, larger print, study Bible, etc.

#5 - Consider “Journaling,” making notes of your study time. You can outline by paragraphs, record impressions, and write down prayers, promises, or revelations the Lord might give you.

The Game Plan
#1 - Read Through the Bible from Front to Back. Everyone needs to do this at least once. It gives you a wonderful perspective of God’s plan for man and the cohesiveness of the Bible.

#2 - Read Your Top 10. Make a list of the ten books of the Bible you are most interested in reading, and then study one in depth each month.

#3 - Read the New Testament in a Month ... To do this you must read 10 chapters each day.

#4 - READ THE GOSPELS THROUGH IN A MONTH ... There are 89 chapters in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Plan I - 3 chapters/day
Plan II - 2 chapters/weekday & 5 chapters/weekend days

Winning Attitude
#1 - Have a Spirit of Dedication … Read the Bible with a “Yes!” in your spirit.
As you read, keep a heartfelt desire to obey what the Lord is saying. Be obedient to God to the point of casting off any sin you are practicing that He reveals.

#2 - Have a Spirit of Devotion … Read the Bible with an “I Love You” in your spirit.
Look for things your Beloved has done for you and promises to you, and rejoice in them and Him.

#3 - Have a Spirit of Surrender … Read the Bible with a “Here I am send Me” in your spirit. Have a heart of servanthood that desires to be spent or poured out for the Lord.

#4 - Have a Spirit of Being Accepted by God … Read the Word of God with the stamp of God’s acceptance across your spirit. Have confidence that the Lord loves you just as you are.

Execution
Certain verses you come across should elicit a response on your behalf. Remember your aim is not to merely read so many pages or spend so much time, but to encounter Jesus! Make your response immediate and brief (as in a conversation with a friend). It will generally take only 3-10 seconds.

#1 - Verses that Stir Devotion and Love … Receive the kiss of God touching your heart as you read them. Express love from a thankful heart in prayer or proclamation.

#2 - Verses Exhorting us to Believe Something about God … Pray for a spirit of revelation (Lord, reveal it to me), and thank the Lord that it’s true — even if you don't feel it!

#3 - Verses Calling us to Obey Something … Pray a prayer of commitment and ask the Lord for a divine enabling (Lord, help me remember this is no longer part of my life and strengthen me to overcome it.)


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