Learning to utilize the lamp to plan next steps, avoid pitfalls
-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
By J. Hogan
Twenty-five years ago a missionary from Campus Crusade shared a simple system for helping folks learn to easily get something out of opening up a Bible.
Even then, before Twitter and dwindling attention spans, Barna Research Group was finding fewer and fewer Christians were spending much time in the word, and those numbers have continued trending downward. We are a digital, short format, video-oriented society now.
The method relied on the notion that God is alive and willing to interact with a person, and He does so, for the purposes of this system, through the words of the Bible and prayer.
A simple system, it can be summed up in a few phrases. Choose where you’re going to start reading, pray for God to show you what He wants to find in the passage, read until you feel that portion has been revealed to you, and write it down to return to throughout your day, trusting that further insight is always possible as you do so.
It’s slightly more involved than that, but not much. I created a teaching tool called “How to have a great quiet time with God” from it and have used it ever since to help folks develop a habit of reading the word, or to get back into it after a dry season.
There are two notions involved there that I know to be true, but many folks reject out of hand. One, that there is a God who desires to interact with us, and two, that there are essential, valuable truths to be learned from God’s word.
Now, if you reject either of those notions, the system would be of little interest to you.
If, however, you believe those things are possibly true, the results of using the system can be enlightening, even life-changing.
I believe you can get much from the word without praying during the task, and you can get much from prayer without having to have a Bible open… but I believe wholeheartedly that you can often get much more from both in tandem.
You may read two passages in the same week that speak to truths that could baffle you, but interacting with God during the time in the word will likely sort it out.
You might be feeling like you’re stuck, spinning your wheels in life, and read, without praying, from Matthew 28, “Go forth, making disciples of all nations” and feel like maybe it’s time to quit your gig and head off to the mission field. That seems odd, but many have been convicted over centuries to do just that and gone off to share the gospel with others for the rest of their lives.
The next day, uncertain and still unsettled, you might read from Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Without interactive prayerful fellowship with God, this all might just add to your discombobulation, but, if you’re trusting and communing with God as you’re in these passages, He can easily clear it up.
Now for those whose faith tradition denies that God has a dialogue with people, the point isn’t moot… the faith tradition’s stance on the matter is.
Jesus said “My sheep will know my voice.” That would, of course, be the most useless passage of scripture ever if Jesus said it then decided to never speak to His own.
As you read God’s word and interact with Him, you’ll grow and know more and more about God, His character, and what He’s looking for from you in this life. Remember his word isn’t a spotlight shining off at the horizon, but “a lamp unto my feet,” helping us to take the next step and avoid pitfalls.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.