Four Things To Look Out For While Reading The Bible

I don’t know any other topic I am consistently passionate about other than the Bible. I want to see every child, woman, and man to grab a hold of the Bible and not let go. To look and look at their Maker until they resemble His likeness. But with that said I thought it was important to note how to be watchful of ourselves when we read our Bibles.

1. Studying Or Reading The Bible Doesn’t Earn God’s Love.

God’s love is perfect so there is nothing that we can do to add or take away from that love. I wish I could say that this is a lie that I only believed when I first had saving faith in Christ. But it is a lie I am inclined to believe this to this very day. I realized only once I got saved that I have a performance streak in me. I wanted to prove just how lovable I could be to this God. And the other side of that coin was that when I knew in myself that I was wholly unlovable, I sank into the pit of despair. This takes reminding ourselves of the Gospel every day. We may not read a chapter of the New Testament every day. But we must repeat the Gospel to ourselves with intentionality.

For example:

“God accepts and loves me because of Jesus Christ. I have experienced the great exchange with Jesus. He has received the punishment, separation from the Father, and death that my sins deserved. And I have received His righteousness. I am a child of God and He is jealous for me.”

We can spend hours in the Bible or we can spend minutes, His love will not change for us. But also I think Jen Wilkin said it best, “The heart can’t love what the mind does not know”.

Scripture reading is so good for our souls. It makes obedience look good and sin look bad. It anchors our often troubled souls. We have a new need for God’s truth every single day that we awake. We love the Word so that we may love God more and keep His commands not that He will love us. He already does, He loved us even while we were His enemies (Romans 5:8). How amazing is that! And we are no longer His enemies we are His children.

2. That Any Truth Gleaned Is Revealed To Us By God

It didn’t take long for the sin of pride to grip my heart when reading the Word. At one point every time I would open the Bible I would discover so much truth that I began to believe the lie that it was my wisdom that had garnered these truths. God quickly responded to this by showing me that it wasn’t within myself that I had gleaned these truths. In those following days the Bible that was opened up to me like an oyster was shut tight and I couldn’t make it open to me. The Holy Spirit soon convicted me and I repented. I’ve always fancied myself to be bright, and I thought that explained why I understood so much of the Bible. When in all actuality it was my Teacher, the Holy Spirit who gave me these truths. Now I come to the Word as humbly as I can, with lots of prayer. I believe that those days where I don’t understand certain passages of the text reminds me just how dependent I am on God to understand His Word.

3. Searching Scriptures Only To Find A ‘Word’ For The Day.

I get it, I do, sometimes we just have to make a beeline for the book of Psalms. The toil of everyday living or the storms of life have us going to and fro, and we need to be anchored in God’s truth. But I often would come to the Bible so weary that I wasn’t trying to learn about God, I just wanted to be assured that it would all be alright. I looked intently for the verse that could speak into my life that day. Instead of looking for the attributes of the God that never changes.

The Bible is about God, period. We do gain insight into who we are or into human nature by reading the Word. But if we come to the Bible only to look for ourselves we are cheating ourselves.

I think for a while I didn’t realize that seeing various attributes or the character of God could anchor my troubled soul as well. This God whom Enoch walked with, I walk with today. The God that was faithful to David will be faithful to me. I had no idea that what I needed the most was to see God, and not myself.

“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.” – Corrie Ten Boom

I usually sneak a line or two in my prayer before reading the Word. For example:

“Lord, clear any ill-motivations that I may have for coming to Your Word.”

Some wrong reasons that I’ve come to the Bible include:

  • To share something on social media.
  • To check Scripture reading off my to-do list.

In themselves neither of these reasons are sinful. It is good to use our platforms to make much of God. And Scripture reading is a spiritual discipline that needs to be on our list of daily priorities. But because of the sin in our hearts any good thing can be perverted and twisted.

I may only be sharing to gain some vainglory for myself, or to make much of myself and not Christ. This is a problem. I may get so caught up in scratching meeting with God off my list that I don’t ask Him give me a desire for His Word. Or I don’t ask Him to bring revival into my heart. And even more importantly I don’t repent of these feelings. I know that the word of God is sweeter than honey (Psalm 19:10;119:103). So when I can’t taste the sweetness there is something wrong with my taste buds. And this too is a problem

4. That Reading God’s Commands Are More Important Than Keeping Them.

God prizes obedience to His commands over our own knowledge of them. All through Scriptures God tells us over and over again that keeping His commands is what really matters to Him. He told it to King Saul by way of the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 15:22). Jesus spoke about the man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7:24-27). And James warned us not to be hearers only but to be doers of God’s word (James 1:22).

The blessing comes in the doing not in the knowing.

This took me a while to grasp. I certainly know the miserableness of knowing better and not doing better. I think on some level we all do going through this lifelong process of sanctification. God has given us a portion that He knew we could handle. He’s given us today, and to practice the truth we’ve attained (Philippians 3:16)

Last Things

Even though I present these four things to look out for while reading the Bible, let us not cease to press on to know God. Meeting with God is more important than anything else we can do. Let us still put that important meeting on the top of our lists. Let us still come to the Word weary-hearted. Finally, let us be watchful but let us not stop gleaning from God’s enduring Word.

Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.

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What I’ve Learned This Year (2017)

With 2018 just around the corner, I thought I would compose a list of some things I have learned this year:

I’ve learned that personal holiness isn’t an option.

I’ve struggled in the past few months wrestling with this idea of pursuing holiness. I know that God in Christ has called me to holiness(1 Peter 1:5). Often times the thought overwhelms me and takes my breath away. Indeed it is a high calling, one that we will not perfect on this side of glory. Yet God wants us to share His nature (Hebrew 12:!0) so it is something that is worth every effort. I would go back and forth in my mind, ‘Why pursue holiness if I’m going to continue to fall short of the glory of God? Why pursue holiness (which is perfection) when I will not become perfect in this life?’ And to be transparent it is still something I’m tossing back and forth in my mind today. The facts: God has called me to be holy and He has given me all I need to be like Him(2 Peter 1:3). I think the already-and-not-yet aspect of Christianity is slightly frustrating me. I want to be perfect now, and that will never be my reality. I think once I got saved I realized that I have some perfectionism and I can be more driven by my performance than my love for God. It is a grace a to be in Christ but often times I am overwhelmed by how often I need to look to Him. What I mean is this, Jesus is my righteousness, He makes me acceptable to the Father. And yet I find myself wanting to earn God’s love and have a righteousness of my own. It is humbling, and I so need to be humbled. I need to not make myself “lovable” but be compelled by God’s love for me in Christ.

I’ve learned that it is easier to fall away from God than it is to draw near Him.

There is no such thing as a ‘happy middle’ in Christianity. We are either drawing close to God or we are moving far from Him. And I notice for me that the shift is swift, and often times I’m so far away from God before I even realize it. It is when the means of grace (prayer, Bible study, devotions, fasting, etc.) become something to check off my list than a means to draw near to God. I’ll find myself racing through these just to do the things I’d rather do. And don’t get me wrong we need to discipline ourselves in these matters so that we will do them. But we have to be mindful that we don’t earn God’s love because we do them, no are we working to earn righteousness, because Christ is our righteousness. If we aren’t drawing near to God with these means of grace He’s given us, allowing Him to renew our minds, focus our gaze and warm our hearts with His fire, we are moving away from Him.

I’ve learned that there is this perfect Christ-follower in my head, and she is so much better than me. Yet she is not standard, Christ is the standard.

So often I get overwhelmed comparing myself to her. She loves the Lord. She’d rather read her Bible, or Christian books than settle for a night of binging on Netflix. She prays all the time. She goes to church, even when she doesn’t feel like it. She cares about and loves people. She is perfect, and I am not. Now, there is nothing wrong with none of her activities. I aim to be more Christ-like but I am not her. This woman in head never struggles, she never is tried by fire nor does she sin. She is perfect! I don’t need to go on social media to compare myself to others because there is a non-existing person that I already do that with. I have to remind myself that Christ is the standard, He actually exists and doesn’t desire for me to be so tortured.

I’ve learned that God isn’t leaving my side.

I think I’ve given God many reasons to leave my side. In my mind, He would still be just to throw to the towel with me. But if He did He would be no God.  As challenging as my walk is, and will likely continue to be God has not given me over. Were it not for those hard-headed Israelites in the Old Testament I would not know that God is so compassionate and merciful. I would not know that He is a covenant-keeping God. There have been several times I desired to walk away from God, not because I stopped believing, or because He isn’t good. But because walking with Him was harder than I expected. And still, He never left my side. God is faithful even we aren’t. Because of those dark moments (that I wouldn’t wish for anyone else) I know my name is written in heaven. I’m even surer of my salvation in Christ. I know that even when I am a mess, and I can’t lift my eyes heavenward, God will complete this good work that He’s’ started in me (Phil 1:6).

I’ve learned the significance of tithing, and generosity in general.

This is mostly due to the four-week series my church did on this subject. It wasn’t very long after I joined a church, that I understood the importance of tithing. But my Pastors Dr. Marcus D. Davidson Jr. and Frank Kennedy Jr. expounded several scriptures about generosity. Before I came to know God I presumed churches were after the member’s wallet. But when God gave me faith in His Son, I saw in the Scriptures that giving wasn’t a man-made idea. From Genesis to Revelation we see God’s people giving out of what He’s already given them. And again we don’t give to earn God’s grace or favor. We give because we want our treasures to be in heaven(Matthew 6:19-21).

I’ve learned that you can’t have pet sins.

Gluttony has been a pet sin of mines since the Holy Spirit first convicted me that it indeed was a sin. In the past, I have tried to put it away, and exercise self-control, only to eventually give up and decide to try to control it instead of killing it (Romans 8:13). A pet sin is a sin dear to your heart, one that you refuse to let go of. You convince yourself that you can keep it and control it. But sin can’t be controlled it can only control you. When we seek to not put sin away but rather keep it, we desire to reverse the roles, but that is impossible. Sin will always be master and we can only be slaves to it. Besides sin isn’t something to take likely. It puts barriers between us and God. We can not be a slave to two masters, we will love the one and hate the other(Matthew 6:24). You may put sin in a little cage, and sometimes take it out and pet it, but it will always control you. And you will never control it.

This year has gone by too fast. I’ve learned a lot this year, I’ve had days on the mountain and days in the valley. But God has been with me every step of the way, although dark and confusing. I think if I had to think of one word to describe this year, I would say ‘crawling’. Seeing that I am still somewhat of an infant in Christ. I am learning to walk with God, sometimes I fall, but He always picks me right up. My earthly father died this year, only months ago, but God has reminded that I still have a Father, an eternal one at that. All in all, I am blessed even when my own eyes can’t see it.

Thank You for following my journey as I walk with God. May God bless and keep you. May your heart be filled with gratitude. May you be contented. May you love the Lord with all your strength.

Please, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. And, stop by my shop and pick up some cute tees. Thank you for checking my little square of the Internet, be sure to follow and like. Thanks for reading and supporting my blog. I pray that it edifies you and glorifies God.