3 Great Questions to Ask When Studying the Bible: HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THE BIBLE (Part 2)

This post first appeared on Revive our Hearts, a ministry I highly recommend for their incredible resources and commitment to sound biblical teaching.


If you missed Part 1 of this series, start here:
Christianity Doesn’t Have to be Wearisome or Bible Study Boring:
How to Fall in Love with the Bible (Part 1)


When my dad spoke, I listened—except when I was engrossed in a TV show. Those times, I’d look him straight in the eyes, say, “Yes, sir,” and then panic after he drove off because I had no idea what I’d promised to do while he was gone.

My dad was a kind man, but he demanded respect and obedience. When he spoke, he didn’t mean, “Hear my words but do whatever you want.” He meant, “Hear my words, understand what I’m saying, and respond in proper obedience.”

Our kind heavenly Father calls us to the same, if not a greater, level of hearing (Luke 11:28Matt. 7:241 John 2:3–6). I call this shema-hearing, based on the wonderful Hebrew word shema. 

Shema implies a fullness of listening where we hear the Word of the Lord, understand its meaning, and respond in proper obedience.

Right before God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He demanded their full attention, saying, Shema, Yisrael.”

Hear, O Israel [Shema, Yisrael]: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deut. 6:4–6)

Hear, O Christian

Like the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6, God calls Christians to hear, understand, and respond to the Truth that He is the Lord and there is no other besides Him.

He is the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are to love Him with our entire being—all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We’re to fix our hearts on His Word so that it continually holds our attention and directs our every decision (Mark 12:29–31).

This is the heart of Bible study and “The Character of God Bible Study Method” (which I’m about to explain): 

We are to hear God through His Word, to understand who He is and what He’s said, and to respond out of grateful hearts in humble obedience to what He has shown us about Himself and what He’s doing.

As we linger in the pages of the Bible and practice shema-hearing, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to see who God truly is.

And we’ll never be the same.

The Character of God Bible Study Method

This Bible study method isn’t a three-step miracle to a victorious Christian life. Methods don’t transform. God does. He is our prize of great worth.

Any transformation we experience as we use this method is the happy result of hearingunderstanding, and responding to the God of the Word through the Word of God. Shema!

When you read the Bible, keep these three questions in mind:

1. HEAR: What is God saying to the original audience?

The Bible’s authors wrote for the people of their time. But God also meant it for us (1 Cor. 10:11Rom. 15:4). The authors wrote in a manner their contemporary audience understood but that doesn’t always make sense to us.

If we jump straight to what the passage means for us today with our 21st-century mindset, we’re likely to make it mean something God never intended.

If we remember the passage’s historical, cultural, and literary context, we’ll avoid inserting our modern worldview into the ancient text.

Consider questions like these as you read:

  • What was happening in history at the time this book was written? (Was Israel in captivity? What kind of king sat on the throne?)

  • What cultural elements of their time need to be considered in the passage? (How did the ancient culture view strangers and hospitality? What were the common rules of warfare in their day?)

  • How does the type of literature the author wrote affect the passage’s meaning? (Was this author using poetic symbolism and imagery? Is this a historical book giving literal details?)

If you don’t know the answers to these questions and others like them, don’t worry. A good study Bible (such as the Reformation Study Biblethe MacArthur Study Bibleor the ESV Study Bible) or website (like BlueLetterBible.com) can provide great insight into the ancient culture and context.

While you’re learning, keep reading through the Bible and reminding yourself never to forget you’re reading an ancient text through your 21st-century lens.

2. Understand: What does this passage reveal about the nature, character, and ways of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

The more we see and understand about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more our hearts will soften toward the things of God. We’ll respond with conviction, repentance, and true worship—especially in light of how the Bible shows us how unlike God we are.

As you read through a passage, write down what God has revealed about Himself, His character, or His ways. 

  • What does God teach the original audience (and us) about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in this passage?

  • How do we see the presence or work of Jesus in this passage? 

  • In what way is the work of the Holy Spirit in view?

  • What truths does God expose about man and our true nature?

3. Respond: Ask yourself, “If I really believe and act on what God has revealed, how will my heart be changed and my life be different tomorrow?”

Belief demands a response. Or as James teaches, “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

True belief not only demands a response, it can’t help but respond. And it results in having a peace and joy independent from our circumstances. It anchors us in the unchanging bedrock of God Almighty.

  • What kind of response does Scripture lead us to in this passage? Conviction? Repentance? Worship?

  • Are there any promises I need to remember or trust God to keep?

  • Has this passage revealed an area of sin in my life? Or unbelief in my heart about God?

  • Is there anything I need to confess? Do I need to seek forgiveness?

  • Are there ways I’ve been making the Bible about myself rather than about God and His glory? The Bible is for us, not about us. It’s all about Christ.

Fix Your Eyes upon Jesus

In the past, I’d read a Bible passage and immediately ask myself application-type questions, rather than first looking for God in the text.

Rather than responding to what I learned about God, I made the text about me and how I should live. I’d inadvertently turned Christianity into a life of “read this, then do that, and you’ll be happy.” Except I wasn’t happy. I was exhausted.

Once I quit applying the truths like well-learned lessons, and instead, fixed my eyes on the Triune God, I couldn’t look away.

The truth of who He is soaked into my soul, and my heart began to love what He loves and hate what He hates. His Word began to direct all my interactions and thoughts as a natural overflow rather through a wearisome effort. God was glorified, and I was joyful and energized.

The Miracle of God’s Word

I told my son after the birth of his twins that the most dangerous thing he could do as a father or husband is to stop reading the Bible.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by life and responsibilities, to be consumed by great and wonderful things like the birth of your children—especially twins. But if we allow anything to keep us from God’s Word, we cut ourselves off from the Bread of Life who feeds our soul. We set ourselves up for discouragement, frustration, and powerlessness, which impacts every area of our lives and those we love most.

As my son raises his children into adulthood, he’ll expect them to hear what he says, understand what he means, and respond out of obedience—even if they’re engrossed in a TV show. He’ll demand this because he loves them.

God has set His love on us. Oh, that we would have hearts willing to set aside the time to linger in His Word and look for the One who loves us most. Shema!

When I think back to those early days and hard years when Christianity seemed wearisome and Bible study was boring, I marvel at the miracle God’s Word has done in my heart and mind.

What about you? Does Christianity ever feel wearisome and Bible study bore you?

Seek the God of the Word through the Word of God. Discover the glorious truths He’s revealed about Himself on every page, and let them transform you. Shall we get started?

In the beginning . . . 





Christianity Doesn’t Have to Be Wearisome or Bible Study Boring: HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THE BIBLE (Part 1)

This first appeared on Revive our Hearts, a ministry I highly recommend for their incredible resources and commitment to sound biblical teaching.


Christianity is wearisome, and Bible study is boring.

Yes, I said it. But never out loud. Only in my private prayers did I dare voice my frustration and discouragement. Failure fatigue had worn me down. I’d lost my will to try even one more time to master the fruit of the Spirit, the “Blessed are Ye’s,” and the “Thou Shalt Nots.”

After almost twenty-five years of reading the Bible, attempting to apply it to my life, and failing miserably, the Christian life had come to feel more like a sentence than a pardon. A sentence of only striving, failing, and seeking forgiveness while carrying the guilt of being underwhelmed by my “abundant life” in Christ.

But what could I do? Walk away? I agreed with Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

I had enough smarts—or more accurately wisdom from the Holy Spirit—to know the problem didn’t lie in Christianity and certainly not in God, but in me.

I reached for my Bible.

The answers must be within its pages. I’d never read it from cover to cover because, well, it’s ridiculously long. But I was out of options.

Before I resigned myself to accepting Christianity as a wearisome existence this side of eternity, I determined to read the whole Bible. If it took me a year, so what. I would read every note, comment, and even the maps in search of the secret to contentment Paul enjoyed despite shipwrecks, snake bites, and prison (Acts 27:27–28:5Phil. 4:12).

Show Me Your Glory

I didn’t know when I opened my Bible to Genesis 1:1 that the desperation in my heart echoed Jacob’s: “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26).

I didn’t realize when I called out to God, “Show me Yourself on every page,” that my heart’s cry mirrored Moses’: “Please show me your glory” (Ex. 33:18).

I never imagined that I only thought I knew God until His Word humbled me and Job’s confession became mine: 

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.”

Job 42:5

In that crisp morning hour as the sun rose and the coffee perked, I simply flipped to Genesis 1:1 and prayed, “Lord, I’m done learning how to live a good Christian life. I just want You. Show me You!”

It took me three years to reach the final page of my Bible, but it only took a few months for the Bible to transform me. God had answered my prayer. Oh, how He answered.

I Saw the Lord High and Lifted Up on Every Page

If you’ve read Genesis, you notice Adam and Eve appear in the midst of Creation and quickly steal the show. (Unless, like me, you’re ignoring them and just looking for God.) This time I didn’t focus on those two sinners and three ways to avoid falling for Satan’s lies like they had (which isn’t a bad lesson, but I didn’t want any more lessons).

Instead, I noticed the Almighty God of Creation. Or more accurately, I noticed the Almighty’s absence. Only two chapters into the Bible, something nefarious was afoot in the garden, and God was nowhere to be seen. Except, He had to be there. He’s everywhere (Jer. 23:24Ps. 139:7–12). Hmmmm . . . 

I looked at the garden disaster with more studious eyes.

This time I saw a God who waits to act when I would’ve rushed in screaming. A God who will allow pure evil to accomplish pure good. I saw a God who is utterly unlike us.

I’d only just begun my journey, and already I realized how little I actually knew or understood about the God who created me and saved me.

I kept reading.

Throughout the old familiar stories, God continued to reveal Himself in surprising ways. The Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus were threaded through every book of the Bible, not just the New Testament.

Bible scholars knew this long before Gutenberg ever bound a Bible, but I’d never seen it. I’d been too preoccupied with learning how to be a better version of myself (and failing at it) to see His unmatched character and overwhelming glory on each page.

But now I saw that the Old Testament isn’t just a long foreword to the real story that starts with a baby in a manger. And, more importantly, I discovered the Bible isn’t about me. It’s all about Jesus, who reveals the Father and is glorified by the Holy Spirit.

Show Us the Father and It Is Enough for Us

The disciple Philip was onto something when he said to Jesus, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). It is indeed enough, but Philip had seen Him. He and the other disciples had walked with Jesus for nearly three years, and yet they didn’t understand that Jesus and the Father are One.

More than once, Jesus had told them He must be betrayed and die, but that He would rise again on the third day. But His disciples didn’t understand. And because of what they didn’t understand about Jesus, when the sun rose on that third day, they were cowering in a locked room rather than holding a resurrection party at His tomb.

Their ignorance about Jesus had driven them into fear, confusion, and despair. Our ignorance about Him drives us into the same traps today, even many who have been Christians for years. And we’re without excuse.

God hadn’t yet opened the disciples’ minds to see the full truth of who Jesus is (Luke 24:45). But today at the very moment of salvation, every Christian receives God’s Spirit. He knows the mind of God and is our teacher (John 14:2616:13–141 Cor. 2:10–16).

Reading the Bible, but Missing the Point

Since God had given me His Word and His Spirit at salvation, why was I only now being transformed in ways I’d longed to experience? Because I, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ days, read the Scriptures but missed the point.

It’s not the sheer act of knowing the Bible that changes us. The Pharisees knew the Scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament). They quoted long passages from memory, taught them daily, and practiced countless religious traditions. And yet many of their hearts remained hard toward Jesus.

They’d missed the point that all the Scriptures—all the law of Moses they vehemently proclaimed—pointed to Jesus (Luke 24:27John 5:45–46). They didn’t see who He is. And if we’re not careful, we’ll miss Him, too.

There’s simply no escaping it. If we want to grow in our faith, we must know God—His character, nature, and ways. But we will never truly know the God of the Word apart from the Word of God. The whole Word of God—even Leviticus. As pastor and theologian A.W. Tozer so brilliantly stated: “Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.”

It’s Not about Mastering Scripture;
It’s about Scripture Mastering Us

After I abandoned my fruitless attempts to master the fruit of the Spirit, the “Blessed are Ye’s,” and the “Thou Shalt Nots” and simply read the whole Bible to find God, everything changed. Well, I changed, because I finally saw the point of Scripture. It’s not so we can master the Bible. It’s so it can master us. And that’s when Bible study becomes an adventure and Christianity an abiding joy.


In Part 2 of this series, I share three questions to ask when we study God’s Word to help fix our eyes on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and bring richness to our Bible study.

3 Great Questions to Ask When Studying the Bible: How to Fall in Love with the Bible (Part 2)

3 Great Questions to Ask When Studying the Bible: How to Fall in Love with the Bible (Part 2) by Jean Wilund via @ReviveOurHearts.com and @JeanWilund.com


If you haven’t started reading through the whole Bible, join our Whole Bible Reading Challenge. No one says you have to start on January 1st and read it in a year. Today is a great day to start.

Join the Whole Bible Reading Challenge


If you’ve started reading through the Bible but gave up and now you feel like a failure, this post by Heidi Jo Fulk will help you stop the loop replaying in your mind that reminds you of everything you haven’t done—or shouldn’t have done: How Do I Stop the Infinite Loop That Replays in My Mind?




Stressed? See How Jesus Handled It (Discovering a Daily Devotional Life—Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth)

Stress!

It’s relentless and comes at us in many forms.

Not all stress is bad stuff. Some are highlights—a wedding, a new baby, that new job or career!

But stress is stress. And it takes
its toll.

Even Jesus faced stress—lots of it.

Consider Nancy Wolgemuths’ observation:

You talk about a long to-do list, a difficult deadline. Jesus only had three years to accomplish the eternal plan of redemption.

Doesn’t that put our stress into perspective! LOL.

How Did Jesus Handle Stress?

Jesus handled stress by regularly meeting alone with God.

Jesus’s insane schedule would bury the rest of us. Nevertheless, He faithfully met with God.

If you’re thinking what I was thinking when I first thought about this truth, you’re ready to point out that Jesus is God. Surely He had supernatural energy to enable Him to meet with God on little to no sleep.

True, Jesus never stopped being God even as He clothed Himself in flesh. But, He clothed Himself in flesh. Human, sleepy, limited flesh. He felt the same exhaustion, hunger, and thirst we experience.

But He never doubted or forgot something we often struggle to believe or remember: Time with God empowers because God feeds us with everything we need for everything we face.

Need strength? God is our strength.

Need hope? God is our hope.

Need peace? God is our peace.

You get it.

And if we all really get it, we’ll follow the example of this young mom of six children, including a set of triplets.

“I will do whatever I have to do to start my day with Christ.”

The Power of a Devotional Life

In the podcast below, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth walks us through Scripture to see how the personal devotional life of Christ empowered His redemptive journey to the cross. And how a devotional life gives us everything we need to face every day and every stressful moment.

Dear Student, please listen to this podcast. You just read 10 chapters in five textbooks. How can you possibly find time to listen to a podcast, much less enjoy a personal devotional life? Do it while you’re walking or driving to class.

Young mom, please listen to this podcast. You’re sleep-deprived and have curtain crawlers tugging on your legs and babbling in your ears. Distract your kiddos with tasty food and listen while they chew.

You who are suffering through deep grief or chronic pain, please listen to this podcast. There’s nothing you need more than the Lover of your soul.

All of us can keep stress from destroying us by letting God transform us despite stress—and even through it—when we commit to a daily devotional life because it’s in our devotional life that we’ll truly come to know the One who’s able to save and Who’s doing a great work in and through us as we trust in Him.

Listen to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth as she opens God’s Word and shows us how we can thrive in the face of stress through a deep devotional life in this encouraging podcast from Revive Our Hearts.

When life is busy, can you really take time to get alone with God? Revive Our Hearts' Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth via JeanWilund.com



Do you find it hard to love the Bible? You’re not alone. And there’s hope! You can learn to fall in love with the Bible. I did, and it changed my life.

Christianity doesn't have to seem wearisome and Bible study boring! Learn how to fall in love with the Bible (Part 1) by Jean Wilund via ReviveOurHearts.com




What Are You Seeking When You Mine God’s Word?

Are you seeking the right thing when you mine God's Word? "In this sacred mine we dig, not for a wedge of gold, but for a weight of glory." Thomas Watson via JeanWilund.com


What are you seeking when you mine God’s Word?

Thomas Watson’s great quote got me thinking about this question.

In this sacred mine we dig, not for a wedge of gold—but for a weight of glory.

Thomas Watson

When I sit down to read the Bible, what am I mining for?

Am I merely digging for a wedge of gold? A nugget of Truth to carry me through the day? 

Or am I digging for a weight of glory? To truly know the God of the Word who is carrying me through every day and into eternity?

May we all mine for the Weight of Glory, who is seated on a throne of gold—a mountain of gold—and reigns forever.

Let me quote again from Thomas Watson’s book A Body of Divinity as I did in my post about my run-in with the Secret Service (Is Your Heart in the Safest Place?):

“God is better than anything you can put in competition with him.”


Here’s the full excellent quote:

“God is a superlative good. He is better than anything you can put in competition with him.

He is better than health, riches, honor. Other things maintain life, he gives life.

Who would put anything in balance with the Deity?

Who would weigh a feather against a mountain of gold?

God excels all other things more infinitely than the sun excels the light of a candle.

It is the enjoyment of God which makes heaven.

‘Then shall we ever be with the Lord.’

The soul trembles as the needle in the compass, and is never at rest until it comes to God.“[/box]


What about you? Do you truly know the Lord? Do you know Him through mining His Word?

Ah, to know the Lord. There is no greater joy.

What if Knowing Jesus Isn’t the Joy You’d Hoped It Would Be?

May I be so bold to suggest that if knowing Jesus isn’t the joy you’d hoped it would be, you do not really know Him as He can—and should—be known.

It’s possible you don’t really even know Him at all.

You may know a lot about Him. But that’s not the same as knowing Him.

Those who know the Lord as they should, know Him through His Word and have surrendered to Him and His Word.

Social media is filled with people are “all about Jesus.” They LOVE Jesus. But they are not “all about His Word.”

It’s impossible to be “all about Jesus” and not “all about His Word.” They’re inseparable.

“If you love Me…”

Jesus said if we love Him, we’ll keep His commandments (John 14:15).

How can we keep His commandment if we don’t know them?

Even if we do know them intellectually, we won’t keep them if we don’t know Jesus as we should because keeping them rightly comes from knowing and loving Him truly.

I feel like I need to repeat part of that thought because that was a long sentence:

Keeping Jesus’ commandments rightly comes from knowing and loving Him truly.

May this be the year we mine God’s Word as never before and discover God as we never knew Him—but as He has always been.

Who’s with me?

What’s your plan? I’d love to hear!





If I Could Only Share One Message—Join the Whole Bible Reading Challenge

Several years ago, I dreamt I’d been given 4 hours to live.

I felt healthy in my dream. Nevertheless, the doctors doomed me to only four more hours of life.  

I agonized over how to spend
those last hours.

I wanted to enjoy my husband
and our three young children, and all my family and friends. But there were
things I needed my children to know before I died. Things that would impact
them for the rest of their lives. For eternity.

If I just told my kids what they needed to remember forever, they’d forget. They were too young to even understand. I had to write it all down.

The clock ticked away my
precious moments as I desperately scribbled into a notebook.

There’s
too much! I don’t have enough time!

And then I woke up.

Whew!


After I woke from that
nightmare, the question continued to nag me. What would I do if I only had four
hours left to live?

And then a new question boggled my mind:

What if I could only share ONE message? What would it be? 


One Message

After more than a half-century of living, I now know what my one message is—and will always be:

Know the Word

Know the Word of God because you’ll never truly know the God of the Word apart from the Word of God.


Know the Word of God because you’ll never truly know the God of the Word apart from the Word of God.

The Knowledge of God

The late pastor and theologian AW Tozer wisely said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

Where we get the information that forms our thoughts about God makes all the difference.

Most professing Christians read a verse or a chapter from the Bible here and there, now and then. Best source. Weak commitment.

They depend on getting the majority of their knowledge of God by attending church each week. Unfortunately, too often pastors do little more than give a motivational message with a verse or two scattered throughout.

Even the best pastor pales in comparison to the full Word of God.

A shallow knowledge of God may hold us if we lose a good parking spot, but it will likely fail us if we lose our health. Or a loved one. And when we stand before God on Judgement Day.

We need to learn everything we can about God from God. And He has spoken to us through His Word.

Are we listening?


Join the Whole Bible Reading Challenge

The Bible is the final word we need for everything.

Whether you read it in one year or two. Or even three. Just read it, and read it all.

Reading the whole Bible is the best New Year’s Resolution anyone can make.

Plenty of reading plans abound to help. Choose one from the many listed below:

Perhaps you’d like to start with a free 30-Day Reading Challenge. Revive Our Hearts is working through the Book of Acts together for the month of January. Sign up here.

But don’t stop at just reading
Acts. Keep reading. You only have 65 more books of the Bible to go. (Don’t
panic. A couple are only one chapter long.)

No matter how you get from Genesis to Revelation, remember this:

The goal isn’t for us to conquer the Bible. It’s to let the Bible conquer us.


But What If You’re Not a Christian?

Maybe you’re not a Christian.
Read the Bible anyway.

It’s the best-selling book in
history. That alone makes it worth reading.

But more importantly, one day you’re going to stand before God and face judgment for your conviction that Christianity isn’t true and that Jesus isn’t the only way to heaven.  

You owe it to yourself to
read the whole Bible and consider whether your conviction is actually worth
holding.

With your eternity on the line, surely you want to make an informed decision. You can make a gut reaction without reading the whole Bible, but not a properly informed decision.


Choices. Choices.

We make a lot of choices over the course of our lives. The most dangerous one we can make isn’t to swim with alligators or venture down hard wooden stairs in slick slippers. It’s to ignore the Bible.  

Don’t ignore the Bible. Join me in the Whole Bible Reading Challenge!

Who’s in?