Have you ever read through a portion of scripture and had NO CLUE what was going on? That’s how I was feeling this morning as I was doing my daily Bible reading. I had to pause and take a “Like, What!?!” moment. Do you ever get those during your time in God’s Word? I’ve gotta tell you, this wasn’t my first, and I know it won’t be my last. But, thankfully I’ve got a strategy to work those clueless moments through.
I’m going to propose that treating scripture like you would eat a meal can be a useful analogy to help you get the full benefit from your bible – especially in those times when you might be confused or confounded by the Word. It might sound a little loopy, but you’ll be happy to know that this analogy is not too far fetched – it was actually Jesus who first refers to himself as the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35). Let’s look at some ways that I approach His table in order to apply His words to my life:
“I Am the bread of life”, Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again”
(John 6:35; ESV)
- Set the table – Pray: I always start off my time in the Word in prayer. Just like setting your dinner table, prayer creates a context for you to come into a time of absorbing God’s Word. My prayer is often simple and short, but I believe what the Bible tells us – that if we pray about it, God provides us with wisdom and understanding (James 1:5). The Holy Spirit can open our eyes to things previously unseen or misunderstood – but the key to this knowledge is prayer (Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:2-3; 1 John 5:14). When I set the table to begin reading my bible my request is always that God would allow me to understand His message for me in the verses that I’m reading today.
- Spice it up – Study: My dad has this funny ritual at meal-time – he always adds pepper to his food and then proceeds to sneeze loudly for the next five minutes. It’s a funny thing for him to do, but he feels as though adding “something extra” to his food makes it more palatable. In the same way, rather than accepting a bland time in God’s Word by letting those question mark verses pass me by, I dig into study. The Bible is not supposed to be a place of confusion, it’s literally God’s Word to us – His kids – and like any good parent, He doesn’t want us to fall behind (2 Timothy 3:16a; John 14;16-17). Every part of the Bible has a purpose, so by skipping over the parts of the Bible that confuse or baffle us, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. If we ignore the parts of the Bible that challenge us, we miss out on an opportunity to hear from God (just like my dad feels that he misses out on the flavor of his meal if he doesn’t add some pepper).
- There are many amazing study tools online that can help you understand what’s happening in the Bible. One of my favorite tools is the free Logos Bible app. All within the one app you can read the Bible, peruse several different concordances and scholarly articles to help you decipher ANY verse in scripture, search word studies, and many other options. (This little “info-mercial” is totally not sponsored, Logos Bible is just the app that I use and love and it could be helpful for you too.). Do some research and find an app or website that works well for you.
- Second portion – Read it again: If you’re confused by a section of scripture, perhaps a second portion is what you need. Sometimes, the wording can be part of the confusion. I like to look up the same verses in another version of the Bible. The amazing thing about the internet is that you can find any version of the Bible you’re looking for (you don’t have to own piles and piles of physical bibles). I personally like to do comparisons with the Message version and other plain English versions to see if a turn of phrase can help me get to the deeper meaning in the verse. Taking a second portion (or a second read through) can help enlighten you to the meaning of the scripture.
Digest – Apply the Word to your life: As I write this, the Easter candy season is in full swing. In our home that means Cadbury Mini-eggs – they’re just so irresistible. The unique thing about these little delights is that the more you eat, the more you smell like them. That sweet vanilla-chocolatey smell that covers your lips and fingers is just so scrumptious that it makes other people around you also crave the same treat (my seven year old can never be fooled when I’m eating Mini-eggs, he can smell them on me and then I have to share). 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, says that we Christians should becomes like an aroma of life to those around us. Like when we eat those chocolatey treats, the people around us should be able to sense that we’ve been with Christ. Reading Scripture and digesting it should have an impact on our lives; it should become an irresistible ambiance of love that entices and comforts those around us.
- A wonderful way to digest the Word of God is through worship. When we worship we meditate on what the Word means to us and thank God for his Amazing gift of the “Good News”. Worship is an act of acknowledging God for who He is, and giving thanks for what He’s done for us. Worship comes in all different shapes and forms – for example: it can be expressive (through music, art, and poetry), it can be physical (by expressing your gratitude through dance, running, yoga, or even sport), it can also be internal (through quiet times with God, journaling, or documenting your faith). Just like the way that you digest food in order to distribute nutrients to your body, worship and praise allows you to absorb God’s presence and apply it to your life as a whole.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
(2 Corinthians 2:14-15)
So, rather than tell you what I uncovered during my time in the Word today, I’d like to encourage you to create your own “meal plan” – maybe taking cues from how I study the Bible, maybe finding a study plan online that fits for you, or maybe even thinking outside the box to make a plan that is very personal and unique. I’d love to hear what God reveals when you start “dining” in His Word. What nuggets did you discover? Did you hear from God during your time of digestion? How do these verses apply to your life? I’d love for you to take the challenge and see what God has in store for you in those verses that just don’t make sense on the first read through.