In our local church (extraordinarychurch.ca) over the last several weeks we talked about the Bible and its life-changing content. We explored some ways you can engage Scripture in a living, vibrant, revealing way, as opposed to something instructional or informational only. Here are a handful of ideas for you to consider.
Memorize Your Favourite Verses
We all have our favourite verses. Some of them we love because they’re comforting or extraordinarily inspiring, providing that extra boost of biblical hope when we need it.
I want to encourage you to memorize Scripture. Here are a couple of Scriptures for your consideration.
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.…”
Here’s one we love to quote, especially the first part of the verse. God causes all things to work together for good”to make us more like Him. When we truly believe that God not only works in, but causes events in our lives to conform us to His character, we will no longer doubt, worry, stress, or become anxious when hard times hit us. We will instead rest assured that God is at work in every situation in our lives to make us more like Him and nothing – absolutely nothing – takes Him by surprise.
Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
If you and I considered ourselves crucified with Christ and our motto was “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” we’d be much less concerned about our image or reputation, and we’d be all about Him and His concerns.
When we indeed die to self, we no longer worry about whether or not we’re getting respect for who we are and what we do. We wouldn’t be bothered by misunderstandings that cast us in a bad light, situations that are to our disadvantage, circumstances that humiliate us, jobs that are beneath us, or rumours that are untrue. Being crucified with Christ means His name is my name. I can live knowing He’s got my back because it’s His back.
Read The Whole Story
We must learn to read the whole story of Scripture from beginning to end. The Bible is God’s story of redemption, the revelation of Himself and His plan for the world. All those stories and all those characters are parts of the whole, characters in the drama, but none of them is the point. They all point to the point: Jesus Christ came, lived a perfect life, died an innocent death to save sinners and kill death and sin, and will one day return to right all the wrongs.
If I wrote you a letter, you wouldn’t start reading that letter in the concluding paragraph. You would start reading it at the beginning.
While I think it is good to read the Bible occasionally from Genesis to Revelation, I am not suggesting that you do that. However, I would encourage you to start reading each book or letter in the Bible, by starting at the beginning. This approach will help you with context.
Read To Know Him
This is the advice I would suggest to any Christian who finds the Bible to be stale and lifeless: look for Jesus. So much of what we miss in Scripture is because we look for characters and themes and lessons other than Jesus. But He is both the primary character and the central plotline of Scripture. To search for anything else first is to rip out the heart of God’s Word. Because Jesus, as John 1 tells us, is the Word made flesh.
Every page of Scripture points to Jesus. It all fits together to point to Him and to glorify Him and depict Him and reveal Him. When we read the whole story and see Jesus throughout the pages, we see Him anew, not as whatever preconceived notions we had. We see Him as more than a teacher, more than a healer, more than a model character. We see the breadth of Jesus from the man who sat with children and loved widows to the sword-wielding King of justice and glory.
Read And Study
I prefer the New King James Version for study and read various translations. Sometimes a different translation will make a point with greater clarity.
Additional resources and books are helpful too. Some will prefer commentaries; others will gravitate to Bible study curriculum. Each serves a great purpose in helping us dig in and understand more. Don’t shy away from them. Find the ones that fit your learning style and take full advantage of them.
If you seek to do anything I’ve shared with you in your own power, you will dry up, run out of motivation, get bored, become arrogant, lose faith, get confused, and turn from God. It is inevitable.
To connect with God through His Word is a work of His Spirit and not something that can be formulated. All the suggestions I just made are not the equation that adds up to a relationship with God. They are ingredients that must be present, but only His Spirit can mix and prepare them in such a way that we see Him in His glory and are moved to follow and honour Him.
So pray that your understanding is opened and your eyes enlightened when you read. And He will do just that.
And as you delve deeper into God’s Word, you will find that the Scripture is the only information that can bring out a life-changing transformation.