Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Confessions of a Bible Reader

Losing Its Grip

Have you ever read passages in the Bible and thought to yourself, So? I have - more times than I care to admit. Recently, Jeremiah 18-19 affected me that way. What a prophet said to a rebellious nation thousands of years ago can feel irrelevant to daily living in the 21st century.

I don’t feel good about my apparent disinterest to certain portions of the Holy Bible because I respect the book’s life-changing content. Several factors lead to my ambivalent reactions. First, distracting thoughts encroach on my intimacy with Scripture. In some cases, passages are so familiar that I switch to “review mode.” Other times, a bedtime portion of Scripture is too small to provide adequate context for deeper meaning.

God’s Creative Mentoring

True to His nature, however, God has been faithful to guide His work-in-process (me) toward completion (Philippians 1:6).

I became a hope coach for young people in 2011. During training, experienced coaches told me that coaching would enhance my grasp of Scripture. Indeed, it has.

Two years ago, I began writing devotionals for CBN. Initially, I shared stories from the bicycling adventures that my wife and I treasure. With biblical truth embedded in them, integrating Scripture was easy.

This year, however, I was challenged to work the process in reverse, to begin with the daily Scripture from CBN’s reading plan, then connect a personal story to it. The plan was to submit one devotion for the same day of each month for the year. I began by absorbing the Scripture for the 29th of each month well in advance.

At first, applicable stories sprouted without fertilizer. Soon, though, they eluded me. Last month, for example, a link between a story and the daily reading only fused after I attended a particular event.

Little did I realize, I was learning the value of meditating on a specific passage. Its meaning for the day was not apparent until I asked God to reveal what He wanted to say through it. An automobile engine only fires when a spark jumps a gap in the same way lightning from above strikes earth. That’s how His revelation works. It sparks present-day applications of ancient Scriptures.

Scriptural Sparkplug

There was no combustion this month. After several weeks of rereading Jeremiah 18-19, I could think of no personal story that mirrored the pottery lessons for a nation losing its spiritual way. However, when pairing this excerpt with its New Testament counterpart for the day, a compelling message ignited.

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power ...” (2 Timothy 3:1-5a NKJV).

Sound familiar? Even an unbeliever can detect this behavior in today’s world. In Jeremiah 18:7-10, God says He will change His mind about destroying a nation in moral decay if it repents of its sin. Contrariwise, He will withhold blessings from an upright country turned decadent.

Warning signs are everywhere. We needn’t sit idle and become shattered like the pot smashed against the rock in Jeremiah 19:10-11. We can change destiny by exercising whatever influence God has given us, even if only to align our attitude with His precepts.

Revival erupts when the Holy Spirit emblazons “Gospel wildfire” in individual hearts. The Bible contains ample accelerant. If it’s not fueling you, then do more with His Word than merely reading it. Help other people apply it. The old adage works: “If you want to know something, teach it.” God will take your wick and produce a stronger burn. He may even change His mind about the fate of the people around you.

Copyright © 2019 Tim Bishop, used with permission.

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