The first thing I do every morning after pouring my first (of many) cups of coffee is throw on my housecoat and take the dog outside. By the time that’s finished I usually feel somewhat “human” so I find a quiet corner to have my daily quiet time. Like most of you I love that daily time with Scripture, but am frustrated because some days it felt as if I was in the very throne room of God, then other days it felt as if God was 1,000 miles away.
Of course I’m aware that every day in Sripture isn’t going to be a spectacular experience (like when your reading through the Levitical laws) but it wasn’t till recently I realized my way of reading Scripture made it hard for God to speak.
Before explaining the mistake let me share with you a few sentences God used to reveal weakness in my bible reading. It’s from Grasping God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
Keep in mind we are not yet asking the question “what does the text mean?” We are simply asking “what does the text say?”
These questions are referring to the hermeneutics (interpretation) of Scritpture which first understands the context in that day, then finds biblical principles in it that can also be applied to today…however it can easily refer to our quiet time as well.
Many days while drinking that first cup of coffee I’m praying something like this to God;
- Lord what do you want to tell me today?
- Lord please speak to me!
- What has God been trying to say to me through His Word?
Those prayers are a beautiful thing because they openly confess my need to hear from God on a daily basis. but at the same time it affects how I read Scripture. During my quiet time I ask myself.
- what is God saying to me?
- what sin do I need to confess?
- What promise can I claim?
- How does this passage directly relate to what I’ve been experiencing?
In other words I approach the text asking “what does the text mean for me?” Instead of asking “what does the text say.” At first this may not seem like it’s too big of a deal (I mean God does speak to us through His word) however looking for something I view as meaningful keeps me from seeing the theme of the actual text.
For instance this morning I read this in devotions from Leviticus 22.
Lev. 22:4 “ ‘If a descendant of Aaron has a defiling skin disease or a bodily discharge, he may not eat the sacred offerings until he is cleansed.
Now I could have spent a long time trying to figure out what a sacred offering meant for me in 2016, but this would mean overlooking the fact this passage isn’t referring to the sacred offering (words used six-times), the major idea was who could (or couldn’t) eat the sacred offerings (speaks of eating sacred offerings at least five times.) A biblical principle would be it was something Holy or set-apart only for those priests who were clean morally to eat…anybody else who tried to eat it would die (Lev. 22:3). Yet in my rush to find “something meaningful” that idea will be overlooked.
I’m not saying that approaching Scripture asking “what does it say?” Instead of “what does it mean?” Will make quiet time a more exciting experience. In fact it’s much easier to look for something that speaks to me, because studying the grammar and key words of a passage is hard work.
However it’s as we allow God to speak to us through His Word (instead of reading meaning into it) that we discover key biblical principles. And it’s as we meditate on those principles God will draw us closer to Him.