Have you ever been reading in your Bible and something stands out to you, and you ask, “What does this mean?”
Maybe you’ve read that passage a gazillion times (okay, maybe not that many, but a lot), and you think you know what it means, but you realize there’s a word or phrase in there that you’ve always kind of just glossed over in the past because you didn’t really know why it was there. I’ve done that. Too many times, I think.
Up until a year or so ago, when I would come across words/phrases/verses I didn’t understand, I’d ask those whom I hung around with — the ones I knew read their Bibles, too. Either they’d say, “I don’t know” or they’d give me their take on what the whole passage was saying. I was usually content with their answer or I’d just shove the question into the back of my mind and move on.
Lest you think I’m not that spiritual, I will point out that many times when I would come across those questions in my personal Bible study, I would ask God for the answer as well…but I didn’t always wait on Him to get an answer.
It was much easier to ask someone who I could physically see and hear, or that’s how I used to think. Now, I realize…I’d rather get the correct answer than just any ol’ answer. So now, I wait on the LORD for the understanding of His truth.
What do I mean when I say, “wait”?
When I have a question about something I’m reading, I ask the LORD and I keep my mind’s ear tuned in to hearing from Him.
I keep reading. I read all around the text to get more context. When there are references in the passage to some other part of Scripture, I go read that. Then I read all around that text to get more context.
Then I dialogue with Him. “Is it saying this?“, The Spirit usually brings something from Scripture to mind that either answers the question or gives me more to nibble on. And I keep pressing in. “Is it saying that?” I get the same response.
Then when I think I understand what the passage is saying, I go back and read the original passage with that new understanding, and either it doesn’t fit or *bam* things make much more sense.
Then I get up and do a little jig, because I know I just had a conversation with the Father. It wasn’t just me prattling off a wish list (or a list of demands) and then moving on only to go on about my own business. I asked…and I sought Him through His Word. I waited to get an answer by lingering a little longer in His Word.
Now, there’s times when I am not able to linger in His Word…the kids are calling me, my husband needs me, my chores are screaming at me, the phone rings, my eyelids get too heavy…you get the idea. But, I keep my mind’s ear tuned in to hearing from Him. And lo and behold, he speaks! Not audibly, mind you, but ideas are popping into my head…other Scripture is being brought to my memory, or I’ll run into someone or something throughout my day that directly speaks to the very thing I was asking God about. It is SO cool how that all works out.
But it hasn’t always been like that.
For many, many, many years (I’ve been a Christian for a long time) I didn’t dialogue with God that much. Truth be told, I wasn’t that familiar with Scripture. I had the general gist of a lot of the New Testament, with some very familiar passages. But I was very ignorant of a lot of the Old Testament…I found it to be rather dry, so I usually steered clear of that. I’d read small passages here and there, but I didn’t usually invest much time there.
Now, I had a lot of knowledge…I’ve been in church most of my life. I attended a Christian university for four years, been to my share of Christian conferences and retreats…I hung around in Christian circles for over 30 years. But most of it was second-hand knowledge.
I’ve known for a long time that the only way for the Holy Spirit to bring Scripture to our remembrance is to get the Scripture in our heads first.
It wasn’t until I started reading the Word of God in bigger chunks that I started experiencing the kind of dialogue I’m talking about here. PLUS, I was eager to hear what the LORD had to say. I wanted His answers to my questions, not just any ol’ answers.
What were some of the questions I asked? Well, I’ve already addressed some of them on this blog, but here’s a short list:
- When the Word says, “If you love me, obey my commands”, which commands am I, as a gentile-turned believer, to obey?
- Why don’t we, as Christians, keep the Sabbath day commandment?
- How is it that we, as children of the promise, receive the benefits of the promise but do not partake in the responsibilites of the promise?
- If the Law of God has been put away, then why do we pick and choose what we’ll obey?
- How come there are two sets of rules: one for the Jew and one for the Christian?
- Why are the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation only
Jews (from the 12 tribes of Israel )…where’s the church in that?
- Why can’t I make heads or tails of all the prophetic books?
- Why do we celebrate the holidays of Christmas and Easter when they’re not mentioned in the Bible?
- Why don’t we celebrate Passover, when we know that Jesus
is the Passover Lambdied at Passover?
- Why do we say Jesus died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday, yet Jesus
said he’d be buriedreferred to “three days and three nights”?
- If Jesus said he didn’t come to abolish the law, but that he came to fulfill it, then why do we consider the law abolished after he fulfilled it?
There’s something else I’ve discovered this past year, that is unique to this generation…the Biblical resources found on the internet.
I have a Strong’s Concordance in my personal library, and the fact of the matter is I think I’ve only picked it up to use a handul of times since college (that was 20 years ago).
I have a few versions of the Bible, but I spend most of my time in one. I’ve always thought it would be cool to get a Study Bible, but I have an aversion to ones with commentary mixed in. Have you seen some of those Bibles? Many times there’s more of man’s word on a page, than God’s Word. I want to spend more of my time reading God’s Word, and I think those Bibles would deter/distract me from that.
Ah, but the internet… I just Google a phrase and I get scripture verses in return. (It saves gobs of time, as opposed to leafing through pages.) Now, I usually just go to the sites that are strictly Bible, such as Bible Gateway. I can read the Bible in multiple translations.
And then I can go to places like Blue Letter Bible and drill down to the original Greek or Hebrew and find the definitions of the original words. This is a great tool to get back to the original intent of the written word, rather than our modern day understanding of the translated English words.
Recently I discovered E-sword, a free software package that is jam packed with Biblical resources. I’m still new to using it, but it makes studying God’s Word so much easier for the common man.
So what is my word of encouragement to my fellow believers in Christ?
Open your Bibles and read them. Keep reading them. Ask God for understanding. Don’t just turn to man for your answers.
I think it’s okay to hear other input, but be careful who you ask. Ask someone who reads and studies their Bibles. But if you want the absolutely correct answer, turn to the Man upstairs (He’s not really a man, He’s the Creator of all mankind, YHWH).
Then, don’t stop asking the tough questions. As I’ve personally seen in my own life, most men (& women) can’t handle all the tough questions being asked, but YHWH can. He wants us to ask the tough questions. But we need to have our hearts right in order to get answers. We need to ask with a teachable heart, eager to learn. Not eager to argue. Not eager to convince God of our way of thinking.
But let me issue this Word of Caution: God will answer you when you humbly seek His truth. Sometimes that truth conflicts with what we’ve always thought to be true. And you will come to a crossroads. I did. You will have to decide to pursue God’s truth or continue with what’s been comfortable in the past. Whatever decision you make, it will cost you.
I personally have chosen to pursue God’s truth. My walk here on earth has gotten suddenly more rocky and uncomfortable, but my walk with the LORD has grown deeper. My compassion for mankind has swelled. My tolerance for persecution has raised considerably. My focus has shifted from the temporal to the eternal. Now the love I have for my neighbor is a result of an overflow of my love for YHWH.
Now I understand why Jesus prioritized the greatest commandment to be loving the LORD your God with all of your heart, soul and strength. Because I find when we do that, we can better love our neighbors…especially when it feels like they don’t love us.