This post is the 2nd in a series on “taking heart”. If you missed the first post, called “The Science of Taking Heart”, you can read it here: http://www.robynterry.com/2013/07/26/the-science-of-taking-heart/
I mentioned in my first post I see the Word of God as the “input”. The Word is the first step we take toward changing our thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. Until we are in the Word, we are at the mercy of our own faulty thinking and feelings. Often, we are not even aware of our thoughts. The Word helps us think about what we are thinking about. The Word exposes our thoughts in the same way a flashlight exposes a dark corner. It shines a light into our hearts and reveals what is inside of us. Consider this passage, “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
This is another very common passage that may come across as a chastisement. This verse may evoke feelings of guilt or negligence on your part. Or you may have a few reasons (excuses) why this verse does not apply to you. Things like, “I don’t like to read” or “I don’t understand what I am reading” or “I just can’t find the time”. I have two points to make in response. First, we cannot understand spiritual things without the Spirit of God inside of us. If you find that you are struggling, ask God to help you. If you are a Christian, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. He is there, it is you who has ignored or underutilized Him (More on the Holy Spirit in my next post). Ask God what a passage means, and then wait for His answer. More on Bible study method in a minute. The second comment I’d like to make is that I am not trying to hit you over your head with your Bible. Please don’t write me off as some obnoxious know it all who “doesn’t understand” or as saying something that does not apply to you because _____________ (you fill in the blank). I assure you this passage is Truth and applies to all of us. I hope you will listen long enough to let down your guard and take to heart the appeal I am making to you.
True change begins in the mind, in our thoughts that trigger everything that follows them. The Word is the only thing that can break down our defenses and get behind the walls we erect between ourselves and God. He has given us His Word to help us. He has given us His Word because He wants to be in a personal, active relationship with us. When you open your Bible, it is the same as picking up a telephone to call a friend. You are opening a communication line with the Living Lord who wants to talk to you! He stands ready to breakthrough the strongholds in our minds with life-changing Truth. It is important that we open our Bibles with reverence, understanding we are approaching God. We come with a humble attitude and openness to what He wants to say to us.
Let me offer a few practical thoughts on Bible study methods.
Time to Meet
- Some people believe if they are not a “morning person” they are somehow disqualified or unfit for time with God. Morning people are not super-spiritual, or the spiritual haves vs. have-nots. The time of day could be morning, afternoon, or evening. You know best when you are most relaxed and open to God. For me personally, I need to meet with God before I get pummeled by the day. I am usually fried by evening and don’t have the capacity to do any serious thinking/reflection. The most important thing is to have a regular, recurring time established. Make it your best time – give God the best of your time and attention.
- Schedule this time like you do any other appointment. And protect your time with God with the same vigor as you do other things that are important to you. If you sincerely believe you are too busy, I would suggest that you seriously evaluate your priorities and where God fits into them. We make time for what we value. I am sorry, just saying….and I have to practice what I preach on this too.
- How much time? Again, not as important as having a time. Some only have 15 minutes, some a half hour or longer. I would suggest time enough to read at least a passage or two and pray/ask Him what He is saying in it.
How to Spend the Time
- How much should I read? Quality is more important than quantity. It really doesn’t matter if you read five chapters or whole books of the Bible in one sitting if you don’t remember a thing you’ve read. It would be better to simply pick a book of the Bible and read slowly through it. A couple of verses or a short passage is enough in one sitting. You would be surprised how much is really there if you slow down enough to meditate on it.
- As you read, notice words or phrases that seem to jump out at you. That is not an accident. God is very precise in speaking to right where we are in that particular moment. I often read a passage several times, taking note of those words and phrases.
- The most effective method I have found to read my Bible, and actually get something out of it, is to ask three questions about what I am reading.
- What does it say? (who is speaking, to whom, what are they saying, facts)
- What does it mean? (what is the lesson or point being made)
- What does it mean to me? (Ask God to help you understand what He is saying to you right now through this passage). I like to journal this step in my notebook. Often this turns into written prayers and usually a take away action or two for me to follow-up on. Example, send someone a note or card on something specific they are struggling with. You may be surprised to see how specific and detailed this step is. God really does speak to us if we have hearts open to hear Him.
The Word is available to everyone. This is the most valuable and underutilized treasure the Lord has given us. Everything we need for life is found here. If taking heart is growing in wisdom, it starts in the Word. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).
Write the Word on the tablet of your heart and God will rewire your heart, one beat at a time in perfect rhythm.