9 Heart Postures to prepare you to read your Bible
I recently read a short book (Short books are my favorite!) entitled, Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst. The author gives nine heart postures that will help us correctly and effectively approach God’s Word. Let me summarize them, although I encourage you to get the book. All the quotes in this blog are from the author, Matt Smethurst.
“I am convinced that a prayerless approach to God’s Word is a major reason for the low-level dissatisfaction that hums beneath the surface of our lives.” Read that quote again. We must learn to approach God’s Word with prayerful intent. Always, always pray and plead with God to open your eyes to the riches found in His Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to unblind you to the glory, sufficiency and beauty of Jesus that is found in His Word. Never read the Bible without praying!
“Your Bible is tangible evidence that the Maker of the Universe is a communicator; He’s someone who initiates, who reveals, who speaks.” Every time you pick up your Bible or your electronic device to read the Word of God, remind yourself of God’s unending grace toward you. We should never take for granted that the Lord God would pursue a relationship with us. We should have the same attitude as the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 when he cried out, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Humble yourself before God. Then and only then will you be ready to receive the glorious treasures found in God’s Word.
The Bible is not meant to be a hobby; it is meant to be food that daily nourishes our soul. “Is it any wonder that nibbling long enough from the table of the world would leave us with little appetite left for God? If we’re snacking on cheese puffs, we shouldn’t be surprised when we don’t have room for steak.”
We don’t realize how desperate we are for the Word of God. Jesus quoting Deuteronomy said in Matthew 4:4, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Dear follower of Jesus, today, recognize how desperate you are for the precious Word of God.
Psalm 111:2 records these striking words, “Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.”(Emphasis mine)
Studied. This is an interesting choice of verbs. The works of God are great, and they are studied by his people. Jesus told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. When you open your Bible is your mind engaged, alert, and active. Are you ready to actively study the Word of God?
We must note this difference. This is not studying like you prepare for an algebra or a physics test. This is study like you spend time with your children or your spouse continuing to pursue and engage with them because of your deep love for them; you delight in knowing them at a deeper level.
We study the Lord out of Love. We are overwhelmed by His unending and matchless grace and we respond with an engaged and alert mind.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all our heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statues of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?"
Did you notice the dizzying speed of requirements that God gave Israel? There are five: fear, walk, serve, obey and love. Notice God wants all of you. “God is interested in both your actions and your attitude. Feet, hands, mind, heart-he wants it all.”
Child of God, never forget the importance of obedience. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
God is happy. We don’t use the word “happy” to describe God. But He is. Infinite joy defines the continual community of the Triune God. His joy stretches back from creation, contained within a triangle of love. Joy is at the heartbeat of God.
John 15:11 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” The angels announced the coming of Jesus was “good news of great joy!” Psalm 2 tells us the blessed man’s delight is in the law of the Lord. The Bible is bursting with joy that flows down from God as water flows over Niagara Falls.
As you prepare to read the Bible, come with a joyful heart. One more verse. Jeremiah 15:16, “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”
Get happy in God! Read His Word and may your soul rejoice and sing with gladness! The discipline of reading God’s Word results in deep joy and intense delight.
Matt Smethurst tells a compelling story of living overseas and sharing the gospel with a young atheist named “James.” His secular worldview built up a seemingly impenetrable wall around his heart like the Great Wall of China.
Matt secured the 1979 “Jesus” movie to continue gospel sharing with James. A few minutes into the film Matt became concerned because James was a hip and modern college student familiar with Hollywood’s latest and greatest. He thought the subpar acting and archaic special effects would render the movie ineffective.
As the movie ended, James turned and looked at Matt and said with deep-rooted authenticity, “that was the best movie I have ever seen.”
The gospel doesn’t need our help to make it “cool” or relevant. There is intrinsic power in the gospel.
The gospel is God’s explosive power to save, sustain, and sanctify his children. We must come to the Bible expecting God to move in our hearts. The next time you open your Bible anticipate that God is preparing to move in your life!
Christianity flourishes in community. God created us so that cultivation of our souls thrives in the garden of gospel community. In essential things: unity; non-essential things: liberty; and in all things: charity. As you immerse yourself in a flourishing and gospel-saturated church culture, your soul will soar.
The practical application of this is to read and discuss the Bible with others believer. Listen and learn how the Holy Spirit has revealed truths about God’s Word to them.
Jesus tells us to see Him on every page and find Him in every story of the Bible. Luke 24:27, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Jesus is speaking after His resurrection to two men on the road to Emmaus. Beyond the fact that it would have been epic to be led by Jesus in this Old Testament Christ-centered study, this passage gives us a template to read the Bible with Jesus at the center.
I find three steps helpful to effectively study the Bible. Beneath each step I will list some helpful questions to ask so that you might correctly handle the Word of Truth. A complete list of questions can be found in chapter 6 of Growing Up by Robbie Gallaty.
Observation - What does the text say?
What is happening in the text?
What are key words in the text?
When and where do these events take place?
Interpretation - What does the text mean?
How do the verses relate to one another?
How does this passage fit into the larger story of the book it is in?
How does the passage relate to the storyline of the Bible?
How does this passage point me to Jesus?
Application - What does the text demand of me?
Is there an application already in the text?
Is there a command or exhortation for how we should live?
What would the application look like in my life?
I placed in italics two questions under Interpretation. These two questions will help you read the Bible Christo-centrically. Remember, Jesus is on every page and in every story.
Today, open your Bible, place your face in it, and read, study, meditate, memorize and soak in the Word of God!