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.

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God is the God of Another Chance

“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing— grain and drink offerings for the LORD your God.

Joel 2:12-14 NIV (1984)

With God, there is always an “even now”. In chapters one and even two, God pronounces His judgment against the nation of Judah for their disobedience. God through his prophets pleaded for the hearts of His people. Today if you’ve walked away from the Lord, or if you’ve found yourself far from Him because you’ve slowly but surely drifted away from Him. God is compassionate and He is forgiving. This is our reason for returning, because of who He is. And we return because He promises to return to those who return to Him (Malachi 3:7). This is God! A holy God who must punish wickedness, and also has compassion on all He’s made (Psalm 145:9).

God tells us how to return:

FASTING: It maybe fasting from what has consumed your attention or affections. It may just be taking a significant time to purposely draw near Him.

WEEPING: Don’t hold back, consider how committing sin has wounded the heart of such a loving God. A God who dwelled with us (John 1:14), died for us that He may rescue us. Weep for sorrow. Weep because you see nothing else in all this earth that is worthy of hurting His heart or disobeying His law. Weep because you know you were wrong. Weep but know that after repentance you are forgiven by Him.

MOURNING: Mourn because it is a bitter thing to forsake God. Mourn because you see the error of your ways. Mourn because you feel foolish, but know that He doesn’t call you fool, He calls you, “Beloved.”

There are endless examples in the Old Testament of God loving and pursuing undeserving people. People who didn’t deserve His grace didn’t deserve to be called by His name. Yet because He loved them and He keeps His covenant, time and time again He’d send His prophets to a stubborn people. The book of Hosea vividly describes the rampant idolatry of God’s people. How they even believed that their idols were the givers of their food, water, grain, oil, and wine. How does God respond to all this?

“Therefore I am now going to allure; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)

God will separate ‘her’ (the people of Israel) from gods and in the desert or wilderness and ‘she’ will finally come to her senses and love the Lord. ‘She’ will see that all this time it has been the God of Israel who has given her necessities and luxuries. God would restore Israel in this desert and join them to Him forevermore (Hosea 2:19).

We are not like the people who shrink away from God or completely despair of life itself. We are people who draw near to Him with our backsliding and He heals us (Jeremiah 3:22). We come to Him bare-handed with our broken and contrite hearts. And He will not despise us (Psalm 51:17).

                                                                 ———————

I encourage you to never get weary of repentance. To never get weary of coming to Him broken for your sins. He will not get weary of forgiving us and reviving us to life again. And do not cease to be in awe of such a God. A God who is offended and yet forgives. Forgiveness is not a hint that God takes sin lightly, but rather how serious sin is. And don’t be deceived, you can live a life that is pleasing in His eyes. When you hear a whisper saying, “You can’t overcome this ________ .” Know that this is a lie. You can overcome any besetting sin. You don’t need to be “stronger” you need a stronger love of God. Read the Word continually and see how worthy this God is of all your affections. Note how His promises are better and truer than anything sin promises you. Cling to God and don’t let go.

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.