By Li Yili, United States
As a Christian, reading the Bible is one of the necessary contents of spiritual devotions. Then what should we do to get more out of reading the Bible? Grasping the four key elements will let you have an unexpected harvest.
1. Reading God’s Present Word
God’s present word represents His latest work, and He provides us with these words according to our present needs. If we follow His words, then we can receive His praise. Just as during the Old Testament age Jehovah God laid down the laws, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:24-25). But when the came to do the work, according to those people’s needs at that time He bestowed upon them more suitable principles of practice, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44). If people at the time continued practicing God’s word in the Age of Law, they could not obtain God’s approval. Because God had expressed new words and done His new work. The prophecy in Revelation has appeared for many times, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” In the last days, when the Lord returns, He also will say new words. If we can read the present words of God, then we will be those who follow closely the footprints of the Lamb. Only in this way can we be approved by God.
2. Directing Toward the Practical Problem to Read the Bible
Every day we all encounter all kinds of things. If we read the Bible following the prescribed order, then we will somewhat abide by the rules and can’t easily achieve good results. Instead, if we read the Bible directed toward our problems, then we can be provided and guided with God’s words and make our difficulties solved, because God’s word is just the lamp to my feet and the light to my path. For example, in real life, the difficulty we encountered is that when we get along with others, we have no forbearance or patience. Then we should read the words of the Lord in this aspect, just as He said, “And why behold you the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?” (Mat 7:3). “I say not to you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Mat 18:22). If we casually find a verse to read, we can’t solve our problem. So it is also especially important to read the Bible directed toward the practical problems we face.
3. Quieting Ourselves Before God and Using Our Hearts to Pray and Ponder God’s Word
When we read the Bible, if we don’t pray to God or try to figure out His words through our hearts, then we will only remember some chapters and verses and know the surface meaning of scriptures but not understand the implied meaning, much less can we know in speaking this word. So we don’t know how to practice His words. Thus, in order to get more out of reading the Bible, we have to practice quieting ourselves before God, using our hearts to pray and ponder His words. For example, the Lord Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 18:3). If we don’t ponder the spiritual meaning of the word but only appreciate the surface-level understanding of it, we will think that God wants us to become the likeness of little children. But we won’t contemplate how to become such likeness, so we still have no path to practice. On the contrary, if we ponder the word of the Lord through prayers, we will realize that becoming as little children should refer to being honest, innocent, open, released and without any restriction, that is, the likeness of an honest person. Only men with honesty can by God. When putting God’s word on ourselves, we can find that we often lie every day and aren’t open to people. And this will impel us to practice the Lord’s word and make ourselves become honest people gradually. So when reading the Bible, we must carefully try to figure out God’s word. Only by doing this can we achieve the results. Otherwise, what we understand is all letters and doctrines forever and can’t become our life.
4. To Know God’s Disposition in God’s Word
Reading the Bible, we not only need to ponder the spiritual meaning of God’s word carefully, but we need to know and understand God’s disposition in His word. Let’s take the word of the Lord Jesus as an example again, “Truly I say to you, Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 18:3). After we carefully try to figure out this word of the Lord Jesus, we will know that God likes honest men, which shows God’s substance is trustworthy, and only by being honest men can we . From this, we can see that God’s disposition is righteous and holy. Once we know these, we will have a reverent heart for God and will practice in accordance with His word. And we will no longer hold onto our imagination, and no longer believe that by sticking to the Lord’s name or through labor, we can enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, it is very important for us to know God’s disposition in His word!
All of the above are four key elements of reading the Bible. And I hope it can give you some help in your reading the Bible and spiritual devotions. May God lead us to make a lot more effort in His word, so that our life may progress more quickly.