I Have a Bible Question

I am a teacher.  I love to help people learn to read the Bible and reflect on it.  My passion is to see people drawn into a closer walk with the Lord as a result of engaging the Scripture.  So you can imagine my excitement when someone walks up to me and says, “I have Bible question.”  Teachers love students with questions.  Questions mean they are hungry to learn.  Now picture the look of disappointment on my face – hopefully not – when they ask me some question about an obscure Bible fact or mystery.  They ask something that will never nurture their relationship with the Lord, such as “What did the gold the on posts of the tabernacle symbolize?”  Why can’t they ask me to help them grasp what Paul is referring to when he writes, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)?

Too often Bible study is focused on gathering facts and trivia.  It is about gathering data that supports a theological agenda at the expense of life-changing engagement with the Lord.  I would much rather enter into a discussion on what “Christ in me” looks like and how it provides a “hope of glory,” than a debate on angels or the details of the tabernacle.   What about you?  Are you reading the Bible in order to nurture your relationship with Jesus?  Or are you studying the Bible to win a trivia contest?

Chew on This for Awhile

I’ll never forget my first week of gymnastics practice at Georgia Tech, 37 years ago.  I would arrive at the locker room to get dressed for our workout and two of my new teammates would be talking to each other about Bible verses they had written out on small index cards.  They were telling each other the insights they had gleaned from their respected verses as they thought about them while walking to and from classes that day.  Eventually they included me in these discussions.  At first I thought they were weird. I had never seen anyone mediate on Scripture and I certainly had never heard anyone talk about what God was saying to them.  Yet I wanted what these guys had.  I wanted to learn to how to have God speak directly to me from the Bible.

The Willow Creek Association made the following discovery during their Reveal Survey: “Reflection on Scripture is the most powerful spiritual practice to help people move forward in their love for God and others.”  In other words, meditating on Scripture is the single most important practice for the maturity of a follower of Jesus.  Meditating on Scripture is the concentrated reflection on a verse or passage until we not only understand it in its Biblical context but we have heard from the Holy Spirit as to how it intersects with our lives.

Mediating on Scripture can take many forms.  My teammates taught me to write out a Bible verse each day during my devotional time with God.  They encouraged me to carry that verse around with me throughout the day.  So I did.  As I went from class to class, I remembering asking questions about the verse:  What does it mean? What am I to do with it?  I personalized the verse: “Jim. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so Jim may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).  I would paraphrase the verse: “Whenever I am in a conversation I need to make sure my words are always kind, forgiving and point people to Jesus.”  Most importantly, I prayed about the verse.  I would pray that God would help me understand the verse and show me how he would have me apply it that day.

You may want to do this with the verses you are memorizing.  After all, memorization without meditation is an empty discipline.

Today, I meditate mostly by writing about a verse in my SOAP journal.  That exercise has all the ingredients of good meditation: Observation (What does it mean?). Application (What am I to do with it?), and Prayer (Lord, help me apply this).

What is your favorite way to mediate and reflect on Scripture?

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