The Bible. The Word of God. Sixty-six books spoken through the mouths of prophets, apostles, and patriarchs. Men who had dramatic, life-altering reformational encounters with their Creator. Thirty-nine books foreshadowing the Promised One. Twenty-seven books giving account and spelling out the implications of the fullness of glory witnessed and the reality of what these men touched when the Word of Life appeared. Jesus Himself! Not mere words of men’s interpretation and opinion, or words initiated through human will, but rather men carried along by the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit gave these men strength to hold onto to the truth of this revelation through great persecution. Peter hung on a cross upside down, John was boiled in hot oil, Paul beheaded under Roman rule, and countless others through the centuries paid a high price for this testimony. Let our opinions and views bow to these testimonies that have been preserved for us, and let our lives be transformed by these words from Heaven!
The Scripture teaches us who God is, what He values, and how He sees the world. It gives us His motivations, it teaches us how He reacts to men’s actions. It teaches us how to be pleasing to Him, how to bear fruit in every season, and how and where we can find mercy. These things are of great value to us, and we need to fill our mind with them. Correct thinking it vital to the Christian life.
However, it was never meant to end there. For years it ended there for me. It was as if the Bible was like reading a menu at the best restaurant in town every day but never actually ordering any food. The promises in the Bible are to be experienced by us, just like the food on the menu isn’t merely for us to read about and imagine, but actually to order up and eat with great joy! We now have the currency to experience the promises! That currency was the costly obedience of Jesus Christ on our behalf through His work on the cross! So now when I read a promise in the Scripture I understand that I have the currency necessary to experience what is offered on the menu of heaven. And because God so values relationship He will wait for me to come to Him and ask Him for what I see promised in the text!
Now, when I read the Scriptures there are times in life where I am experiencing discontentment in my heart, not feeling satisfied, and then I will come across the promise of a verse like John 6:35. I will turn that verse into prayer. I will say “God, you said that anyone who comes to your Son will experience a fullness and satisfaction in this life. Will you release that promise in my life? Jesus come satisfy my soul, come and
meet my desire for fulfillment and exhilaration! Help me to not look for this desire to be fulfilled with worldly things which will never truly satisfy me.” Or if I read a Scripture like John 14:12 it creates a desperation in my heart to see God’s power released through my life that will glorify Him. This drives me to persevering prayer. We pray until we see the promise. The Bible becomes my prayer manual. It becomes like the passenger train that always leads me into an encounter with God, because I know that I am praying in the will of God, which He always promises to answer. I have seen God be so faithful to answer these prayers in my life. God values prayer because God values relating to His children. He loves when we simply start talking to Him and believing like children that He is for our good.
There are five things that I want to encourage you to stop and have a conversation with God when you come across in the Scriptures. Perhaps log these conversations with a journal. If you come across a promise, a command, an description of what God is like, something that speaks to your identity as a Christian, and lastly a warning, turn that information into a conversation with God.
If you come across a promise, I would encourage you to thank God for it, ask Him to help you have a deeply rooted belief in that promise, and ask Him to start making this promise real in your life. When you come across a command, ask God for strength to start walking it out in your life. Thank Him for His ability to change your desires, and for giving you the Holy Spirit who will empower you to obey the command. When you come across a description of what God is like, turn it into praise and begin to say out loud who God is. For example, When I read John 3:16 I will say out loud, “God you so love the world, you love broken men and women, you are willing to come after us in a costly way!”
If you see something describing your identity as a believer, agree with what He says about you. Renounce the lies and self hatred in your heart that you have held onto that are contrary to what He says about you. Thank Him for how He sees you. Ask Him to help you believe the truth revealed in Scripture more than the lies fed to you by your life circumstances. Finally, when you come across a warning given ask the Holy Spirit to bless you with strength to heed that warning. Any area where it is clear that you are in sin repent wholeheartedly before God, and know that He will forgive you. Ask God to allow you to walk soberly in this area in the future. Turn these warnings into prayer for the lost people that you know.
I believe this approach with revolutionize your experience in the word. If it is boring at first, just keep going! I am praying for you. It takes the Holy Spirit to help us understand and love the Word. Ask God to awaken your heart so that you can understand and enjoy the Word, and that dullness, distraction, and blindness be broken off, while glory and light begin to consume your soul!
- If you haven’t already, wake up before the demands of your day start taking over. If you are not used to spending a lot of time before the Lord take ½ hour and begin pray-reading the Word. If you are used to spending time take an hour or more to spend undistracted time with Jesus.
- Read 5 chapters a day in the New Testament and a Psalm a day mixed with prayer and journaling. If you do this you will read through the New Testament by end of the first week of DTS. You will know Him deeper. You will know yourself more. You will have perspective you need. I know that this is an undertaking but it will be worth your time!