“The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (TLB)
I know nothing more practical and powerful in making faith dynamic than personal time alone with God in His Word. God desires to connect with us personally as well as corporately in worship. We simply cannot get by with a vicarious relationship and experience the abundant life Jesus promised. But if we’re honest, finding time isn’t as much of the problem as understanding how to connect with God when we read Scripture. It can seem daunting when you just open the Bible and begin to read it for the first time. You may feel lost in the pages and wonder how you experience God when your reading unfamiliar stories of verses that seem confusing at first. It’s so easy to give up and trust others to explain it to you. Don’t do it. Don’t rob yourself the joy of being in God’s presence and experiencing the refreshing joy and wonder of His Spirit speaking to your spirit through His Word.
I want to share with you a model that has really helped me to keep my mind from wondering or getting bogged down in what I don’t understand as I read the Bible. I ask myself seven directive questions that personalize God’s Word in my life and helps me connect with the author. I found these questions in a book years ago. You may find it helpful to write them down in the front or back pages of your Bible until you’ve memorized them. They will help you focus in on what God may be saying to you through the passages you are reading.
- Is there an example for me to follow? In John 13:15-17 when Jesus served His disciples in a way that demonstrated love and humility, He said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Many passages in the Bible present models for us to follow. Is there an example in what you are reading that God would want you to follow today?
- Is there a sin for me to avoid? Knowing the will of God is not as a great a challenge as doing it. Over ninety percent of God’s will is revealed clearly in Scripture. The Bible not only teaches us what to do but also what not to do. Colossians 3:1-11 is one example of this as well as the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. As you read daily, the Holy Spirit will convict your heart of sin. Learning to listen to His cautions will save you much pain. The Bible even records the mistakes of others that we may learn from them as well.
- Is there a command for me to obey? God’s direct commands are for our good so that we may experience His blessing and peace. Obedience always brings blessing. The challenge when you read a command that God specifically speaks into your life from Scripture is doing it immediately. Sometimes you may need to stop reading and go do the thing God is speaking to you in that moment. James 2:20 says, “When will you ever learn that ‘believing’ is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.”
- Is there a promise for me to claim? The Bible has many promises. Some are personal but many are universal and apply to us all. Some are conditional while others may be unconditional. The context will determine if this is a promise for you to claim.
- What does this passage teach me about God, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit? The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. He longs for us to know Him and all that we can know of Him is revealed in Scripture. Knowing God will become a lifelong pursuit as you learn to connect with Him daily in His Word.
- Is there a difficulty here for me to explore? I’ve had many questions as I’ve read the Bible. Don’t allow what you don’t understand at the time prevent you from doing what you do understand. Keep reading. Very often what you don’t understand in one part of the Bible will be explained in another part as you keep reading.
- Is there something in this passage that I should pray about today? The Bible is a great prayer book as well. We learn to pray from the models of prayer in Scripture. Learning to pray back Scripture and personalizing those prayers is speaking to the King in the Kings own language! If you’re reading a particular prayer in the Bible try to rephrase that prayer as your own prayer to God or intercession for others in your life.