Friday, October 31, 2014

Digging Deep: It Is All Grace

I will write a few more practical tips on Bible reading later, but I wanted to wrap up the series today with this...

It is all grace, my friends.


Apart from Christ, there are a few ways your Bible reading endeavors might turn out...
  1. You continue to think "I should really read the Bible more" and then proceed to do nothing about it...
  2. You eagerly embark on an ambitious plan, read diligently for a few days or weeks, and then crash hard when unforeseen circumstances steer you off schedule and you stop reading altogether.
  3. You actually stick with it for quite a while, maybe indefinitely. But you do it on your own strength and it puffs your pride. As the days turn to months and you check off the boxes, your time in the Word slowly transforms from an act of worship to a mindless religious activity. Before you know it, you've read the whole Old Testament, but you haven't asked the God of the Book to change your heart.

Friends, I've experienced all these scenarios at different points of my life; sometimes I still struggle with my motives and my desire to read the Word.

But I now approach my Bible-reading with a completely different mindset. I approach God's Word with a heart of thanksgiving and humility. I meditate on the fact that the Bible is a gift to me - one of the best gifts I've ever received. And then I ask for God's help in accepting the gift, because I know I will misuse it without His guidance. Apart from Him, I will either neglect the Bible or turn it into a gospel-less benchmark to prove my own worth.

But knowing my weakness, I open my hands and invite Him in. When I pull my Bible onto my lap, before I open it, I turn my palms up toward heaven and say "Teach me, Lord." And before I ever write a study note, I literally hold out my pen and whisper "Spirit, Your words, not mine. Father, your will, not mine."

The goal is not to conquer Bible reading on your own. You will fail; I promise. You will become overwhelmed, discouraged, or prideful. The goal is to draw near to the Living God and be transformed by the power of His Word. The good news is He desires to meet you in His Word. All you have to do is ask. The Bible tells us that God delights in giving us good gifts {James 1:17, Luke 11:13}. So open your hands and ask Him for what you need. One minute. One verse. One page. A little energy. A little desire. A little clarity. His grace abounds. Just ask.

1 comment:

Christy said...

I have SO loved this series! It has really helped encourage me to read the Bible with more intention and an open heart. I am great about reading every day -- have been doing it for about 4 years now -- but I get lost in #3 of those scenarios quite often. Or I just read it for the sake of doing it and my heart isn't in it. I especially struggle when I read things that I feel like I "already know," as if the Lord couldn't continue to teach and instruct me over and over and over with the same verses! ha! I do want you to know that your series has been super helpful to me and to my church small group. We have put some of your practices in place while doing some of our studies and it has gone really well. I had a solid hour to study on my own the other night (unheard of!) and I tried out the homiletic method. I've done parts of this in the past, without knowing it was a "method" but I really enjoyed putting it all together. I'm so encouraged by your heart for the Lord! Thank you so much for sharing! I could have commented every day (but to be honest, I usually read while pumping at work...and typing isn't the easiest as I'm sure you know!). haha! Thanks again!