I am absolutely convinced of this truth: The most impactful thing you can do for your soul is to read God’s Word in a comprehensive way and on a consistent basis. There are two points in that truth worth mentioning:
- Read the Bible comprehensively, that is read it from cover to cover.
- Read the Bible consistently, that is from day to day.
You probably agree with my statement above. In fact, I can’t imagine a true child of God saying, “I don’t think God wants me to read all of His Bible on a consistent basis.” Those kind of Christians don’t exist, because people who say those kind of things are not truly Christians. So, I’m not going to spend time trying to convince you about something you already know—instead, I would like to help equip you to get more out of your Bible reading.
1. Pray for the fog to be wiped away.
I really can’t stress this enough. Let me say it this way. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize that I need God’s help to understand it. The reason for this is that the Bible is a spiritual book meant to convey spiritual truth, which is not discerned by the natural mind (1 Corinthians 2). It’s not like reading a science textbook. It’s not like reading your favorite mystery novel. This is why I say that the first thing you should do every, single time before you open the book, is to bow your head and pray.
But, what should you pray for? Well, I suppose the easiest thing to do here is to just tell you what I pray for every morning: Lord, please wipe away the fog from my heart so that I can see you clearly today.
That fog may be there because of sin, if so then I am prompted to confess my sin before God and to get my heart right before I dare try to understand His Word. That fog may be due to my almost three month old son waking up three times through the night, which is to say it may be the fog of exhausted sleep deprivation. In that case the spiritual windex may be asking God for sharpness of mind, renewal of energy. Lord, make my mind sharp for the next sixty minutes. I have the rest of the day to be tired, but I have the next hour or so to spend with you. I don’t want to miss out because I’m tired. Give me a sharp mind in your grace. That fog may be just my sinful heart being apathetic towards a glory I can’t naturally comprehend. In that case I ask the Lord to remind me that I am privileged to look into things that angels have longed to look into. (1 Peter 1:12)
I’m not trying to give you prayers to repeat. If you know me at all you know that I completely and utterly despise giving people prayers to repeat. I’m just informing you of how I pray. It’s a day-by-day basis, it’s a case-by-case scenario. Every morning the problems are new, but thankfully so are His mercies. I just try to be genuine with God and ask Him to prepare my heart by wiping away whatever fog is hanging over my heart that morning. Wipe away the fog Lord, so that I can see you clearly through the window you have given me in your Word.
2. Look for the Glory of God.
So often, I think people miss God in the Bible because they simply are not looking for Him. We miss Him because we are too busy trying on the shoes of the people we are reading about. Our human tendency is to play dress up in our minds as we read the story of Scripture. We seek ways that we relate to Jospeh, to Samson, to David, to Peter all while ignoring the primary point of the stories we are reading.
But, what is the primary point of the Bible? The primary point is to reveal God to you. The Bible is not your self-revelation, it’s God’s self-revelation. And, it’s not a bad self-revelation either. It’s revealing to you the glory of God. That is the Bible is wanting to reveal to you the supreme worth of knowing, trusting, and loving The Lord. The Bible wants to know how God acts, how He responds, and what He plans so that you will marvel at His majesty.
I think the problem that most people run into is that they get so caught up in trying to identify with the characters of Scripture, that they glance over the amazing things that God is doing. What I mean is that by trying to see the glory of the human characters, you miss the glory of the God working in and through them.
So, perhaps an example is helpful here.
Last week, I read through the story of the life of Jospeh (Genesis 37-50). It’s a remarkable story, and it’s really easy to identify with Jospeh. How many times have we found ourselves afflicted by the meanness of people close to us? How many times have we been mistreated by people when we were innocent? It’s something that we all experience in a number of different ways. And, because of that, it is super easy to identify personally with Jospeh. I don’t think that is necessarily a terrible thing, until we press it to the extreme. The events of Jospeh’s life are not your events. Joseph’s life story isn’t your life story. Joseph received a pair of divine dreams that forms the foundation for the rest of his story—I don’t think you are getting divine dreams about your family bowing down to you. Again, you can’t press your identifying with Jospeh too far. But while it’s easy, and perhaps comforting, to identify with Joseph, I think that is a secondary purpose to you seeing God working in the life of Joseph. Here’s what I mean: the stories about Joseph are not primarily for you to identify with him, but to introduce you to the Sovereign God who preserves His children through tough times to make much of Himself. If you’re looking to much into Joseph, you may just miss The glory of The Sovereign and Faithful Lord.
3. Ask the tough questions.
Not that the questions are intellectually tough. What I mean is to ask the questions that tough to digest. Have you ever thought to ask why God chose to let Nimrod begin his tower building project at Babel, only to scatter them all over the earth? Or perhaps as you read through Joseph’s life you begin to ponder why God let Joseph’s brothers and Potipher’s wife treat him that way? Why didn’t The Lord prevent the pit and the prison? Or perhaps you are blown away at why The Lord let’s David live like a fugitive in the caves for years before removing Saul from the story. And one of my more recent favorite questions: why did God, who put Jacob’s hip out-of-socket with one touch, decide to wrestle with Jacob all night?
These are just a handful of mind-blowing questions that I think we encounter when we read the Bible with the purpose of meeting The Lord. These stories are meant to teach you about The Lord, so it only makes sense to ask why He does and says certain things. But, how do we find the answer to those “tough” questions?
I’m not trying to be too simplistic here, but the answer to all of those tough questions is ultimately found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament is just leaning on its tiptoes to God breaking into human history in the person of Jesus. Every story, every character, every page is just salivating as it thinks about what the New Testament will reveal. For all the rays of glory that we see radiating through the lives of the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets, and kings—we see fully in the face of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:3)
Therefore, ask how the life of Joseph foreshadows Jesus. Ask how the scattering of the Babelites shows the greatness of Christ. Ask how the prophets words get ultimately fulfilled in the Gospel. Pray for the Lord to wipe away the fog, look through the window, and look for Calvary. My prayer is that these short and concise thoughts will help equip you to read your Bible in such a way, so that ultimately you will see His glory and be changed by it. (2 Corinthians 3:18)