What does your attitude and approach to your personal Bible study reveal about you and what you expect of Jesus?
This was a very thought provoking question from my BSF study this season, where I constantly felt reluctant to read the Bible because I was afraid I wouldn’t “encounter God”.
These words often get thrown around in Church and among friends: Don’t just know the Word of God, know the God of the Word. That we must encounter the God of the Bible rather than only increasing in theological knowledge.
But what does it really mean to encounter God?
Should I be feeling His presence strongly whenever I read the Bible, as if He is speaking directly to me there and then? Is it some sort of internal stirring? Must I always learn something so wow that it’s gonna stick with me for the rest of my life? Will I come out of such a session feeling even more in love with Jesus?
It happened again today. I was reading Isaiah 39, a short eight verses on King Hezekiah’s foolishness and his seemingly selfish thoughts. Honestly, it was just another “Okay, so I’m reading about this guy showing off and how God sends a prophet to warn him.” Right.
Like a good Bible reader, I tried to apply it to my life. I guess it would be a warning not to be foolish and place my pride and security in earthly treasures like Hezekiah. Plus, that God was gracious enough to warn him.
But to me, it was a repeat of what I’ve been learning about God in the entire book of Isaiah. Yes, He is gracious and that’s truly great. However, it didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye of my expectations, and I ended my Quiet Time feeling slightly disappointed.
Regardless of feelings, every time I read the Word, my soul encounters the living God.
Every time this happens, I feel a bit reluctant to continue the next day. What if this happens again? Maybe it’s just the book I’m at? Maybe I have the wrong perspective when approaching the Bible. A part of the joy in me to read His Word and know Him more dies a little with these unmet expectations.
But something my aunt once taught me from John 14:26 stays with me:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
He will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that I have said. I may not remember or understand every word I read, nor the full details of the accounts I pore through, but everything I feed on from the Word gives the Holy Spirit fodder to bring to mind and heart whatever I need for any situation I find myself in. From my eyes to my head, to my heart.
And if I believe that 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then I can have faith that regardless of feelings – or lack thereof – every time I read the Word, my soul encounters the living God.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Like physical exercise, flexing our spiritual muscles don’t usually result in 180º transformations in an instant. It’s progressive, one brighter level of glory to another. And as long as we are faithful to keep showing up, we will witness for ourselves the marvellous changes God has in store for those who store up His word in their hearts.
“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
This article was first published on Pei Yi’s blog and was republished with permission.