Cell phones have become an integral part of our lives. We use them not only for talking but also for texting, taking pictures, accessing the internet, and my favorite playing Words with Friends. Cell phones are so much more versatile than our old land lines, yet there is a certain amount of upkeep that was not required of our home phones. If we want the flexiblity of going mobile, cell phones must be charged. If we’re expecting a call, we must keep a cell phone nearby because the ringtone that matches our personality isn’t as easy to hear as the old “brrrinngggg” that could be heard all through the house. If we don’t want that same personalized ringtone to embarrass us during the preacher’s sermon, we must activate the silent feature. Our cell phone can be a valuable tool which is available anywhere we go, but if we forget to turn on the volume or don’t keep the battery charged, its features do nothing for us.
God’s word can also be a valuable tool, but if we don’t use it properly is no more beneficial than a dead cell phone. Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” I have to be honest and tell you there are many times I read the Bible and get nothing from it. Then there are times I suddenly understand something I’ve read many times and wonder how I never saw it before.
Why is it that sometimes we learn something from what we’re reading and other times the scriptures are just a bunch of words? Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So then why don’t we always hear from God through the scriptures we read?
As I contemplated these questions, I discovered some important factors that are sometimes overlooked in my own bible studies.
1. Preparedness – We need to recharge our batteries and be prepared to hear from God through scriptures. This preparation is accomplished through a heart of repentance. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We must prepare our hearts and remove anything offensive within us.
2. Expectancy – Unfortunately, sometimes I read my Bible with no other goal than to get my daily passages read. That’s like carrying a cell phone without turning it on. Pray before reading and ask Him to reveal Himself to you through the scripture. Invite Him to your quiet time, and then expect to hear from Him. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
3. Attentiveness – God desires a personal relationship with us, but often we read through the scripture without pausing to absorb what God has to say. It’s difficult to hear when we put away our Bible and disconnect before He has time to speak. In Mark 4:9, Jesus instructs, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He can’t speak to us if we never stop long enough to listen.
Like cell phones, God’s word has access to many features: encouragement, love, promises, forgiveness, guidance, hope, and best of all eternal life. How often do we go to God with our wish list but never read the Bible and wait for His answer? Frank Laubach said, “The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.”
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