What Makes Going Deep in the Bible Hard for You?

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen

As believers, all of us desire to be in the Bible more often than we are and with greater depth and intimacy than we do. But we don’t all struggle with the same challenges with our Bible reading.

For one person, their biggest obstacle might be not knowing how to read, interpret, or understand the Bible. They’ve never been equipped to do so, which results in regular frustrations of putting the Bible back down without having a clue what they read. For others, it might be distractions from a phone blowing up with emails and text messages. Each of us have unique circumstances, varying levels of maturity, and our stages of life might differ. This is important because if we want to go deeper in God’s Word, we have to diagnose what’s personally keeping us back. We need to ask, “What are my biggest obstacles to more consistent and more meaningful times reading God’s Word?”

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Making Observations (Studying the Bible)

A common approach to studying the Bible is the Inductive Method. The goal is to draw out and rightly interpret a passage, not read into it or force our own meaning into it. While people use various words or acronyms to explain steps in the Inductive Method, the most simple is Observation-Interpretation-Application. In this post, I’ll provide suggested questions for learning how to make observations in a passage of the Bible. The observation stage asks, “What do I see?”

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Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson

In a sermon this morning, I shared one of my favorite quotes from Jared Wilson’s Imperfect Disciple. Jared is one of my favorite authors today, and in my opinion, this is his best book yet. Below is a short summary from my Amazon review, followed by a few of my favorite quotes to entice you to sneak this into your Christmas list.

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Renew Your Mind in Community

In my last post, I shared some thoughts on how to renew our minds so we fight error with truth. While any of it could be done in some form of Christian community (small group, bible study, discipleship relationships, etc.), it might have felt more individualistic. The ninth point in that post highlighted just how important a community, or a group of Christians living life together, is for thinking biblically together.

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10 Ways to Renew Your Mind

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?” Martyn Lloyd Jones

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Growing in Christ includes putting off sinful behaviors and putting on Christ-like ones, but it begins with battling at the levels of the heart (desires) and mind (thinking). The two are inseparable (Matt. 15:18-19). The heart leads our head down certain ways of thinking, and our wrong thinking reinforces wrong desires.

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Brokenness Precedes Usefulness

“Brokenness precedes usefulness.”[1] Despite our failures, despite our weakness and weariness, despite what was done to us or what we’ve done to others, and despite hard seasons that feel like we’ve been put in the garage because we’re no longer useful, God uses broken people. In fact, God often walks us through a season of suffering or humility to make us usable.

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What do we mean by identity and why it matters

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What is identity?

Our identity is who we are and what is most important about us. Our identity is how we define ourselves at our core and what makes an individual who they are. It’s not merely a reputation or our image—what we or others think about us—but it’s what we understand as basic and defining about us. Image comes out of identity, but identity is more fundamental.

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Chasing Contentment

Erik Raymond has become one of my favorite authors, and not just because of his love for Boston and its sports teams. I regularly visit Erik’s site at The Gospel Coalition: Ordinary Pastor. He writes with a pastor’s love of the Word and love of people. You can always bank on his words being Christ-centered, and therefore, full of the life-giving grace of Jesus. Like Jared Wilson, Raymond uses a very readable, conversational, sometimes humorous tone to find new ways to drive the same old gospel into the heart.

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How to read the Bible with identity in mind

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Since my identity is found in Christ and sanctification is the process of the Spirit remolding me into his image, I find it to be of great help when I read the Bible to first focus on who Jesus is (worship) and then think about what is true of me because I’m in Him (identity) before tying it into how it applies to my thoughts, affections, and actions (ethics). This keeps my sanctification firmly rooted in a longing to see and become like Jesus as well as an awareness of what’s true about me (indicative) and available for me now that I’m in Christ.

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Thanksgiving Resources

(For an updated reading plan different from what’s below, see this blog.)

If you’re looking for some additional resources and ways to practice giving thanks, here’s a place to start.

  • Read a book specifically on thanksgiving or gratitude. Some recommendations would be Thanksgiving by David Pao; The Things of Earth by Joe Rigney; One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp; Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss; or God is the Gospel by John Piper.
  • If a book seems like a bit too much of a commitment right now, read one of the following articles.
  • Listen to a sermon on thanksgiving.
  • Sing Christian hymns or worship songs related to the theme of giving thanks.
  • Do something as a family that makes this an enjoyable and memorable experience, such as a gratitude tree.
  • As you interact with other Christians—in formal settings such as small group or informal settings like work or a restaurant—ask them what God has done for them that they’re thankful for.
  • If things like gratitude trees are a bit too artsy for you, just keep a list of things you can thank God for. Keep a journal, a sheet of paper in your Bible, or use something on your phone like “Notes” to record and revisit these reasons for thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Verses
Below is a list of 30 verses that mention giving thanks, thanksgiving, or thankfulness. I’d encourage you to read them at the start of your morning and meditate on (chew on) then throughout the day. There are plenty of related words in the Bible tied to this theme we could have looked at, or even words showing the problem with a lack of thanksgiving (such as ingratitude or murmuring). A quick word search on Logos resulted in 132 occurrences of thank/thanks/thankful and 38 occurrences of thanksgiving. So this is meant to be a starter rather than an exhaustive list. Hopefully it helps cement the importance of and joy in giving thanks in your heart, as well as providing some specific examples of what it looks like in the Bible.

Day 1: 1 Chr. 29:10-13
Day 2: Ps. 30:4
Day 3: Ps. 100:4
Day 4: Col. 1:3, 12
Day 5: Col. 2:7
Day 6: Col. 3:15-17
Day 7: Col. 4:2
Day 8: Ps. 107:1, 21-22 
Day 9: Ps. 118:1, 19-21, 28-29
Day 10: Luke 17:16 (see 17:11-19)
Day 11: John 6:11, 23
Day 12: John 11:41
Day 13: Ps. 50:23
Day 14: 1 Cor. 11:23-24
Day 15: 2 Cor. 2:14
Day 16: 2 Cor. 4:15
Day 17: 2 Cor. 9:11-15
Day 18: Eph. 5:4
Day 19: Eph. 5:20
Day 20: Ps. 147:7
Day 21: Ps. 136:1-3 (see all of 136)
Day 22: Phi. 1:3
Day 23: Matt. 15:36
Day 24: Acts 27:35
Day 25: Ps. 138
Day 26: 1 Thess. 3:9
Day 27: 1 Thess. 5:18
Day 28: 1 Tim. 4:3
Day 29: Rev. 4:9
Day 30: Rev. 7:12