Do you find it difficult to read the Bible and find meaning relevant for your life? Do you even want to read the Word? I have hope for you because I was just like that when I first started.
My reading and studying the Bible has evolved over the years. I used to struggle with spending time in the Word, only doing it out of duty really. I was caught in a cycle of inconsistency as well. Then I changed two things that made a huge difference in my life of faith.
First, I began praying daily for a few months this prayer, “God, give me a passion for You and Your Word”. I taped index cards with reminders about this prayer just to be sure I would be consistent. This prayer began influencing my desire for the Word which made a wonderful impact on my consistency. I found that God actually answered my prayer with real joy for my Bible study time.
During this time, I also began getting up earlier to give God consistent, uninterrupted time. If the kids got up early, I sent them back to bed or up in the playroom for book time . I taught them that Mommy’s Bible time was most important and unless it was an emergency, they were to wait quietly and patiently. I did not let them believe that they were more important than God. Their juice need or play time could wait. As long as I woke early to give time to God first, that was the commitment that I expected them to abide by, no matter if they woke unexpectedly early or not. By prioritizing God and His Word first thing in my day, the devil did not get as much of a chance to interrupt or distract me. I had my time with the Lord on a regular basis and that profoundly changed my affections for studying and being able to gain relevant meaning for my life.
As much as I changed in the beginning with my increased desire and consistency, I also changed as I continued studying. My reading the Word has evolved over time. As I read a particular passage I was studying the other day, I noticed how I automatically made adjustments in the way I interacted with the text. I wondered if it might benefit some of you to explain how it works for me, in case some struggle with trying to read the Bible and gain value for everyday life.
When reading 2 Samuel 5:17-21 and 1 Chronicals 14:8-12, the same story given in two different sections of the Bible, it spoke of David “inquiring ” of the Lord. It described a situation where David inquired and then responded accordingly. It was so simple and matter-of-fact.
I have begun taking the time to do more than read the Scriptures. I want to understand. So oftentimes, I slow down my process of reading and take a step back in perspective, asking “why” and “how”. I consider why God said what He did or why the people did what they did, or why the event happened as it did. Then I look at how something was done or achieved.
So as I looked at these two passages, I pondered why David inquired and the lesson is obvious. It reinforces faith and the relationship with his higher authority. David knew he was God’s. He also knew he was in the safest place by asking advice and wisdom of the Lord. When David “inquired “, he was in reality committing himself to his All-Knowing, All-Loving, All-Powerful Creator and Sustainer. Who better to turn to for matters in life?!
David looked to God and what he received from his inquiring was practical. He gained so much more than just advice. He acquired guidance, ability and outcome. He had already learned the potential. When David sought God, he received His help exponentially.
I learn from David why to inquire but also how; through prayer and the Bible, what God has already said on certain matters. This is where digging deeper comes into play. Sometimes there is plenty of wisdom but we have to search deeper in the Scriptures to find and understand it better. Case in point, 1 Chronicles 13:1-14 and 1 Chronicles 15:1-26.
David found out the hard way what can happen when we don’t inquire of the Lord. In chapter 13, he inquired of his military officials and priests about whether it was good to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, but he did not bother to determine how it should be accomplished. God had given Moses specific instructions for handling the ark and it was written in the Law for future generations to remember. So when David neglected to learn the proper way of carrying out his good and approved desire, God’s wrath broke out and it cost a man his life.
David was dumbfounded as to why his good plan did not go well. He was also profoundly grieved that it cost Uzzah his life. But David being David, he went digging deeper into God’s Word to determine how he went wrong. He obviously found his mistake because by chapter 15, he gave different directions on how to carry the ark back and went on to explain what the mistake had been.
I have found that it is good for me to dig deeper like David. When I don’t understand God’s actions at times in the Word, I have gone searching for further explanation of the matter. So as I came across the first instance with David and how things went so terribly wrong, I looked up the corresponding Scriptures to give insight. I found Numbers 4:15 gave the reason for God’s wrath. Not just anyone could carry the ark nor in any way they saw fit. The Kohathites(from the tribe of Levites) were to carry it using poles but they were forbidden to touch it or “they would die”. When David chose to use a cart with oxen pulling it, he was in disobedience. Therefore it did not go well.
I find it interesting as I compare the events as I dig further to understand. The oxen stumbled and it was not without it’s trouble the first time but in the second attempt, there were no stumbles or such. Makes me want to ask “why” or “how” did it happen that way. Then I read in 1 Chronicles 15:26, ” Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD”.
Bingo! God helped His people with what needed to be done when they went to the effort to inquire of Him. So by digging deeper for myself, I learn that I can expect God to help me with necessary tasks if I take the time to inquire for His guidance, ability, and outcome. I can ALWAYS expect God to help me when I chose to act in accordance with His commands.
As you see, there are times to step back in perspective as we read the Bible and there are times to dig deeper, all in the process of living life by God’s will and purpose. That is where we find the “sweet spot” in life, our utmost for His highest!