Have you ever gotten lost while reading your Bible? You’re wandering through Judges, and as you’re reading about bloody sacrifices, bloodier battles, and a long-haired strong man killing hundred of Philistines with a jaw bone, you suddenly realize, I have no idea what this means for me today. What do ram sacrifices, the sun going backwards, and a long line of oddly named judges, have to do with budgets, disciplining your children, and spending eight hours in a cubicle? I’ve been there, and frankly, it can be pretty discouraging.
Let me give you two simple questions to ask when you’re reading Scripture and feeling lost. These questions came directly from a sermon by a man named Mike Bullmore. The questions are:
What Does This Passage Tell Me About God?
At times we forget the obvious: the Bible is all about God. Every passage points to God, revealing something about his character, his desires, or his actions. The OT sacrifices tell me that God is holy and that he takes sin seriously. The Psalms tell me that God is sovereign, and yet he’s also an intensely personal. In every book of the Bible, the glory of God bursts through and the story of salvation is unfolded. So when you feel lost, step back a moment and ask, Where is God in this picture? What work is he doing in this scene? How does this passage point to God’s saving work in Christ? Where’s the glory, and where’s the story?
What Does This Passage Tell Me About Myself?
For each revelation of God there is an appropriate response from us. His majesty calls us to humbly worship him, His goodness compels us to thank him. His commands require obedience, which in turn leads us to ask him for the grace to obey. The Bible isn’t simply information to be digested, it requires a heartfelt response. So as you read, ask yourself, How should I respond to what I just read? Is there a command I must obey, a sin I must repent of, or a blessing for which I should be grateful?
I find these questions to be tremendously helpful, and they have a simplifying effect on my devotional life. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t dive deep into Scripture, or read commentaries, or do word studies. Those are all wonderful tools. But ultimately Scripture is the story of God revealing himself to and redeeming sinners. When we keep that in mind, things get much simpler.
+photo by Sarah Jane
Originally published May, 2008