During our Green Room session this past Sunday, several people submitted questions related to reading and responding to God’s Word. The whole sermon was based on the importance of taking this step and understanding the role the Bible should play in our daily lives, so these questions were natural as many were wrestling with how to move forward. I thought it was great to have people asking these questions; in many cases, people think the sermon on Sunday is all the Bible they need. I’m glad God is stirring within our church and showing us all how He wants to connect with us as we live, work, and play (not just on Sunday.) At the same time, taking these initial steps toward reading and responding to God’s Word more consistently can be difficult to figure out, so here are some thoughts to get you going…
- Reading God’s Word is a matter of the heart… Our lack of desire and intentionality to read the Bible is because we’ve allowed other things to fill a longing of connection that exists within all of us. Somehow, someway, we’ve exchanged an insufficient substitute for what should be a life-giving experience with Jesus. If you truly want to know God more, read His Word, and respond to His promptings, then you’ll have to admit to Him your lack of desire for this in the past. Confess it to God, receive His forgiveness, and ask Him to place a hunger for His Word inside of you. This is where the blessing comes according to Matthew 5:6. If you simply try to add Bible reading into your life without understanding the condition of your heart, then your new found adventure will almost surely end much quicker than you’d like. Own the condition of your heart and let God’s grace renew your Spirit as you allow Him to start speaking into your life.
- Everything will fight against you… Just as reading the Bible with the desire to respond to it is a matter of the heart, it will also be a spiritual battle. The absence of the God’s voice in your life is exactly what the enemy (Satan) wants. He knows every voice in your life, even the seemingly good ones, fail to compare to the power and clarity that comes from God. Therefore, as long as you are not listening to God regularly, he (Satan) has you where he wants you. As you let God create the hunger in your heart, be prepared for everything to interrupt or fight for your attention. For example, if you decide to wake up 10 minutes early to read the Bible before your day begins, then be prepared for a restless night or an unusually strong desire when you wake to snooze for those extra 10 minutes.
- Make a plan that speaks to your life right now… How you start will greatly determine how much you actually end up reading and responding to the Bible. Because of this, you should be wise with what you start reading. Make sure what you read from the Bible relates to your life. You might want to start at Genesis because that’s the beginning of the Bible, but it may not be the best place to start if, for example, you are struggling with a lack of joy. However, Philippians, which is commonly referred to as the “joy book” would be a much better place to start. For someone struggling with sin and decision making, they might want to start with 1 John toward the end of the New Testament. If you are doubting God’s love for you, then perhaps you should start with the gospel of John. These are just some examples, but if you need help finding a book a in the Bible related to your situation, then don’t hesitate to reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Feel free to use devotions, but use them cautiously… I love good devotions. They have a way of speaking right into our lives in very applicable ways. However, there is a downside to devotions. Most devotions will focus on a verse or a few selected verses each day followed up with the author’s commentary on the selected Scripture. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but in the midst of using a devotion, make sure you are paying attention to what God is uniquely saying to you. It may or may not be something the author is saying in their notes. Devotions can easily become a checklist task for us because of their format, so be cautious and make sure you are listening for God’s unique promptings as you work through your devotion.
- Welcome some accountability… Share your desire to read and respond to God’s Word with someone else and allow them to hold you accountable. As they do this, just keep in mind the accountability should be more focused on making sure you are listening and responding to God rather than just them asking you if you read the Bible. Read AND Respond.
I’ve written a few other blog posts that may be helpful for you, so if you want more thoughts on this topic, then be sure to check these out…