All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Most Christians adhere to the belief that God's Word (scripture, specifically) is a, or perhaps the key to having a rich and growing life. Most of us would agree that God's Word is the authoritative foundation on which we stand, believing Jesus when He said "whoever hears my words and puts them into practice" builds their life on solid rock. Furthermore, we know that God's Word isn't just a foundation, but that it's food. Our souls hunger for what only God's Word can give us, and most of us have spent, do spend, or will spend our resources chasing satisfaction from materials, experiences or substances that cannot and will not satisfy our souls the way the Word does.
We've all been duped by counterfeit soul food, haven't we? That all said, many of us struggle to engage and encounter God's Word in a way that genuinely transforms, satisfies and secures us, don't we? We have our moments; perhaps we heard a Bible preacher/teacher unpack or proclaim the Word in a way that carried that transcendent punch that only the Word of God can. Or maybe you experienced the joy of a friend or mentor sharing a revelation they got from the scripture, and you were able, in a small way, to chew on a morsel of the glory God revealed to them through the Word. But, for many of us, we struggle to read the Bible and "get anything from it."Here's the question so many of us are asking; how can we get into the Word of God in such a way that it can get into us?
Now, there are a lot of practices and even more proven tools of scholarship that really can be helpful for reading the Word of God in such a way that it changes us; however, for our quick purposes today, I want to give you three simple tips that can help you as you approach the scripture. (You don't need more degrees than a thermometer or access to a monastery to go deep into the Word, God will meet you where you are).
Here are some tips:
1. Ask The Holy Spirit to help you. (Revelation)
This one sounds obvious, but it's incredible how often I forget to do this. The Holy Spirit (the "paraclete" in Greek, which means counsellor or helper) is the incredible gift of God's presence with us! There is nothing in the Bible that the Holy Spirit doesn't have complete knowledge, mastery and awareness of, and there's nothing in your life that He's unaware of, knowing exactly how you communicate, what you need, and how you need to hear it. If anyone can bridge the gap between the mysteries in the Scripture and the limits of our understanding, it's the Holy Spirit. It's incredible to me how often and how quickly The Spirit shows me something in the Word, simply because I breathed a quick prayer like; "Holy Spirit, what does this mean?" or "Holy Spirit, speak to me through the scripture today." When we pray out loud and ask Him for help, it's incredible what can happen. Try it; I dare you!
2. Don't read the Bible to finish; read it to change. (Repetition)
Reading or hearing the Word of God is never a waste. The "win" is not how fast you can read or even how much you can read; the "win" is being in and around the Word so consistently and repeatedly that it eventually gets into you. I have found that more often than not, the revelations I have had from the Word of God haven't happened for me when I've reached the end of some reading goal, as though God had the prize for me at the end of the race; nor have they happened when I've been able to cover a lot of ground quickly. The revelations I've had through the Word have mostly come through osmosis and absorption; the slow, consistent process of being around something consistently enough that you start to mirror it. It's more important to be into the Word deep enough and consistent enough that it gets into you. Don't read the Word to finish; read it to change. Consistency and repetition will lead to clarity and revelation, eventually.
3. Mind your inner indicators. (Resonance & Resistance)
There are clues inside of us that will tell us when the black (or red) text we're reading becomes is moving beyond the page and is seeking entry into the deepest parts of us. There are two ways we can know the Spirit of Christ is standing at the door of our hearts and knocking, seeking to gain entry. First, if we sense in our hearts a deep resonance. If something within us leaps as we are reading, or like the arcing of metal in a microwave, sparks start flying, we can know the Lord is approaching. Your soul will tell you when it is beginning to hear what it needs to hear. Second, in the same vein, the Word doesn't only teach, equip and deposit; it also cuts, removes and rebukes (it's a double-edged sword, remember?) There will be times, many, where something in you wants to resist (usually resistance doesn't come in the form of repulsion, but, more often, it looks like distraction or diversion). Resistance is a clue that you are on the right track, and if you press forward, you're going to get to the freedom and life the Lord is looking to bring to you. If you sense resonance or resistance, these are indicator lights on the dashboard of your soul that can tell you you're on the right track; KEEP GOING!
If you try to keep these three things in mind as you get into God's Word, I believe they will slowly start to transform not only your experience in the Word but your life overall.
I pray this week as you dwell on the Word of God, it will begin to "dwell in you richly."
I pray that as you read the Bible, that the Bible would read you and speak new life into you.
I pray that as you get into God's living Word, God's living Word would get into you.
Grace and peace,