I used to think that if I just read more Bible, it would start “fixing” me. I had the idea that the Bible contained some sort of magical power that infused people as they read. I think I got this idea from verses like 2 Timothy 3:16, Jeremiah 23:29, and Revelation 1:3. While the Bible is both inspired and powerful, its effect on your life is limited to the extent that you do what it says. Hearing the Word preached is no different; listening to more sermons won’t do any good unless you’re applying them. Reading more Bible faster will yield diminishing responses to truth, but persistently and patiently applying biblical principles to your life will allow you to reap a harvest of spiritual fruit.
If your Christian life seems dry or monotonous, try looking for clear biblical teaching that you’re not currently living by or focusing on. I’m talking about the simple parts of the Bible that are easy to understand but hard to put into practice. Pray without ceasing – how’s that going? Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you – how are you doing in that department? Do not envy anything that belongs to your neighbor – been thinking about that lately? It’s easy to read over these familiar verses and simply move on thinking, “Yep, there’s that…something I’ll be working on until I go to heaven.” Focusing one of these and making progress in it is a sure-fire way to infuse life back into your Christian walk.
Do you ever scan quickly through Bible passages hoping to find something new, or something that you didn’t know before? Ever disappointedly reach the end of the passage and think, “Maybe my breakthrough is in the next passage”? You’ll end up exhausted and empty with this strategy. Instead, read a passage slowly until you get to something that, even though you might already know, you’re not currently practicing. Now, stay on that verse and read it over and over until you begin to understand how you can implement its principles into your life. Continue studying it until you put your new understanding into practice. The number of pages you cover in the Bible may decrease, but its positive effect on your life will dramatically increase.
Let’s break down an example: Philippians 4:6-7.
Do not be anxious about anything…
Stop! Do you worry about things? Meditate on this phrase and think about if this is something you need to work on. If so, proceed to the next part of the verse to figure out what to do instead.
But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God…
The solution is clear! But it will take time and effort to make this your new habit. Start by writing this verse on a 3×5 card and take it to work with you. When you feel yourself becoming anxious, reread the card and take a moment to pray about what’s stressing you out. Next, memorize the verse and think about it as you fall asleep. Think about why God doesn’t want you to worry and how He wants to reveal himself to you through what you’re experiencing. Now, move on to the promise for additional hope and motivation to give your worries to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Do you feel the peace of God yet? If not, reexamine how to turn your worries over to God. Did you notice the thanksgiving part? Don’t forget to thank God for everything that’s going right in your life (and maybe even what’s going wrong)! Continue thanking Him for His blessings, putting your worrisome situation in front of Him, and asking for the promised peace. Working through this may take several days, or even several weeks.
Do you feel like you’re experiencing more peace and victory than worry and fear yet? If so, you might be ready to move onto the next verse!