Helps for Reading God’s Word

Reading God’s Word  is something I have struggled with in the past (and still do struggle with).  A little while back, I wrote down some short points which were impressed on me as important to remember as we seek to read and study the Bible.  They were first and foremost for my own benefit – some short reminders for the next time that I struggled with it, but I thought that I would also share them (edited somewhat) on my blog, with the hope that they might be of help to others also.

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1. Approach God’s Word with prayer. Pause before entering into His sacred book and look to Him for guidance and illumination. Pray that He will guide and teach you as you read His Word. So often our spirits are dull of understanding; pray for quickening that you might learn what He would show you.

I cannot stress this first point enough.  It is too easy to approach God’s Word without due preparation – to rush into it quickly (and rush through it just as quickly).  Yet, His Word should not be approached lightly.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. . . . Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: . . . Teach me, O Lord the way of thy statutes; . . . Incline my heart unto thy testimonies.” (Psalm 119:18, 27, 33, 36)

2. Free your mind from all other matters. This is hard to accomplish, yes.  But we ought not to be thinking of the day ahead with its worries and concerns when we come to read God’s Word. Lay those at His feet in prayer and fix your thoughts on the Word before you.
It is the Book of all books; through it God speaks. If we were to go into the presence of the queen, we would not be thinking of anything else; so it ought to be the case when we come to hear the King of Kings.

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.”  (Psalm 57:7)

3. Come ready to hear God speaking to you through His Word. “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth” ought to be the attitude of your heart. We ought to long to hear the Lord and thus we ought to come to His Word with our heart ‘listening’ for His word to us.

4. Come expecting to be fed. “Open thy mouth, and I will fill it.” The Lord will not disappoint those who come to Him in trustful
expectation of sustenance from His Word.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

5. Come with a heart made clean in the blood of the Lord Jesus. For, how can we approach the holy God still in our sins? Yes, at the time of our salvation we are forgiven all our sins, both past and future, but this does not eliminate the need for continual repentance, a coming daily to be washed anew in the fountain of Christ’s blood. We ought daily to seek Christ’s forgiveness for our sins – if we come to God’s Word with a sin unrepented of, we cannot expect blessing.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”  (Hebrews 10:32)

6. Hold onto what you learn in God’s Word.  Oh, read carefully and think deeply on what you read; if possible write down  what you feel you are being taught from God’s Word. And don’t put it away and forget about it ‘til next time’, but instead try to dwell on it and live according to it throughout your day.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”  (Hebrews 2:1)

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I would add one final point, and that is, do not give up if reading is difficult.  Persevere prayingly.  The Lord will bless those who earnestly seek to read His Word – not a cursory reading, but a deep, serious reading and meditating on it.

My Baptism

I was baptised on Sunday evening. The more I look back at the occasion, the more I realise how God was with me, strengthening me and upholding me. I also realise how many of my prayers were answered. The occasion was faith-strengthening, to say the least.

My mother had invited 66 people to the service. In our small church, that many people would have overwhelmed them. Suffice to say, only 19 were actually able to come. Before the service, we had 13 of these people round at our house and my sister made some cakes for them. ;)

I was expecting to feel nervous beforehand. With previous experiences of public speaking, I have felt very nervous. But on Sunday, my nerves didn’t set in at first. I was more filled with eager anticipation and peace. I can’t think of any better way to describe it.

However, I was called up to the front of the church to give my testimony. I walked up there okay, feeling slightly nervous. I prepared to begin my testimony. But I could not say a word. The congregation was looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to speak, but I could not speak; it was as though the power to speak had left me. I saw one of our visitors smile at me encouragingly, but that didn’t help. I cleared my throat nervously – that didn’t help either. I almost collapsed into giggles. I felt frozen with nerves – how could I begin? I assure you, that long pause felt like hours.

Don’t ask me how I ever started to speak, but I did. In all honesty, there is no sensible reason why I should ever have begun. But God must have strengthened me and given me the courage to speak. I know that God did not forsake me at that point. He was with me!

I gave my testimony. My sister says I spoke too quietly. My father says I rushed a little. I say that they were fortunate I gave my testimony at all; I felt as though I couldn’t speak at one point. After that, everything went fine. Indeed, once I had started speaking, I began to relax and became less nervous. Once I had finished my testimony, I recovered from my attack of nerves, and was surprisingly confident.

I was duly baptised… and got wet. It was very quick and not at all scary, to my relief. The service over, I had been baptised, and apart from that nervous moment in the pulpit, my fears had been ungrounded. Though I could well say, “What fears?” The Lord had removed my fear. What a marvelous answer to prayer!

After the service I was a little overwhelmed by all the people who came up to me. To say the least, I would quite happily have sat up a corner on my own! But, no, people insisted on coming and telling me I had done very well. I felt as though they were joking; I didn’t do that well really.

Spiritually, I have been blessed with peace. I had beautiful peace, for I had obeyed my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I also have added assurance that God answers the prayer of His highly undeserving, doubtful children, as well as knowledge that God would never forsake me even in my most nervous moment.

I really am trying to write up a record of what happened – a record of God’s faithfulness and love to me.

My Testimony

I’ve already broken my ‘no computer on Sunday rule’ so I’ll now give you two blogs into the bargain…

My Testimony

Until I was 12, I didn’t think much about God and my relationship with Him. I knew about God, I believed He existed; yes, both these were true of me in a sense. Yes, I knew about God, but I had no desire to know any more about Him than I knew. I believed He existed, but I didn’t think of Him as more than a benevolent personage in the sky who I couldn’t see, but who could see me! I heard countless sermons on my need for salvation, but these must have gone in one ear and out the other! I went to church and took notes, but I did this only because it was what I had always done. I was religious, but not regenerate.

Sermons had always gone over my head. But one Sunday, something was different. Just before my 12th birthday, I was brought to the point of asking myself whether I was saved for the first time in my life. What was in that sermon, I can’t even remember, and I have a strong suspicion I was uncomfortable mainly because of the way the preacher looked at me. This question bothered me for a little while, but I successfully shoved it to the back of my mind, and got on with life as normal.

But I wasn’t allowed to forget about it for too long. New Year’s Day 2006, once again I was awakened to the fact that I had no assurance of my spiritual welfare. One thing stuck in my memory: “Unbelievers, care for your souls.” I was brought to wonder, “How well am I caring for my soul? Am I saved?” The question bothered me.

For the next five weeks I tried to forget about that question, but I was not allowed to forget. Sermons at church, hymns, sitting down quietly: all these brought the question back to my mind. My efforts to find peace were all in vain; my doubtful prayers to God seemingly ignored. Looking back at that time, however, I realise that if God had given me peace then, I would have gone on living the same as I had done before. Those weeks of doubt, uncertainty, and unrest were necessary to bring me to true repentance.

I turned to reading God’s Word in February, 2006. I found my much unread Bible, dusted it down and began to read John’s Gospel. I continued my reading the next morning, before praying once again. I now had something to base my prayer upon. I felt (how I have grown to hate that word of late) no happier about the state of my soul afterwards.

But that afternoon two things happened which touched me about a sensitive point, my age. Firstly, I was asked for my date of birth at the bank when I went to withdraw some money, and for some reason, I took it personally. And then, secondly, I was asked whether I had a Boot’s card in Boots. I took both to mean that I looked much, much older than 12 (which I did), and being rather sensitive to that, I was miserable. Miserable, until came the realisation that however old I looked, God still loved me. In fact, He loved me so much that He sent His Son to die for me on the cross, and that the salvation He offered was MINE! At that realisation, I knew peace and joy in my heart.

Since then, almost 2 and a half years have passed. Looking back, those years appear at first to have been filled with doubt, disobedience, failings, backslidings, and fearfulness. But looking past my imperfectness, the love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness of the Lord shines out brightly. It has been shown to me many, many more times than I deserve.

September-December 2007 appears to have been a dark and silent period of my life. I realised a little while ago that I might even have dropped reading my Bible. I certainly dropped writing in my Bible notebook, my diary, and my other notebooks! I do know that 2007 especially was filled with doubt, doubt of my salvation. My only lifeline appears to have been church and the sermons I heard there weekly. In October I was driven to asking, “Why Lord? Why me?”

Christmas was when the Lord began to work in my heart, bringing me back to Him. However, I did not fully return to Him until I eventually obeyed Him in February. This year have I at last submitted to His will and, with His strength, partly conquered my fear…

I was dreadfully anti baptism. At first I brought up all the excuses I could think of, but I gradually became quite rebellious. Last year, God had begun to work in my heart concerning the matter. When I at last requested baptism this year, I did so because I desired to obey Christ completely. I am getting baptised in obedience to my Lord and as a testimony to others of my new birth in Christ – to signify to all that I have come to new life in Him.

I know of some who may think that I am simply following in my parent’s footsteps. That was true of me 2 and a half years ago, but it is no longer true. No longer am I following my parents; I am rather following my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is He I follow and obey. It is He Who strengthens and upholds me. I can say with my whole heart, I am His and He is mine.