Thursday, November 20, 2008

Climbing the Steps (Number 7 in a series)

“With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119: 10-12 (KJV)

My sister has a house in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The setting is lovely, with vistas in several directions to feed your soul’s desire for God’s beautiful creation. My bedroom is on the second floor, so I have an even higher view from my bedroom window.

That view comes at a price: I must climb the ten feet to the second floor before I can enjoy it. When I first arrived, I had to pull myself with the banister to reach the top of the seventeen steps. As I went up and down each day, my legs became stronger and I could go higher before I needed the help of my arms.

This week, I made it all the way to the top without the need to pull myself up. And I’ve done it several times since! This increase in strength didn’t come quickly. It came from repeated usage of my legs to climb the stairs – ascending and descending until my strength was up to the task.

Scripture is much the same. If we read a verse once and go on, we haven’t built all the strength it has to offer, haven’t seen the ever better view of God the verse had to offer. Repeated reading, pondering and praying on what God would have you to find in this passage are keys to getting more from your scripture reading.

Going deep into God’s Word is a step-by-step process. Too often, we focus on accomplishing a certain number of verses per day, rather than a deeper understanding of what we read. Take the time to set up your Bible reading for optimum results. Here are a few guidelines to consider.

• Prepare a place to study. Whether it’s your kitchen table, the corner of your couch or a formal desk, be sure the place is ready for you with space to spread out your Bible, a journal or notepad to record your thoughts, insights and questions, and whatever other reference material you might choose to use. Using a consistent place enhances study.

• Prepare your head to concentrate. Put aside the world – turn off the television, put your cell phone on quiet mode and get away from the computer. Let your mind be focused on what you are about to read.

• Prepare your heart to listen. Spend some time in prayer before you read. Ask God to point out what He would have you learn from this passage and how He would have you apply it.

The more you hide God’s Word in your heart, the easier it becomes and the higher you can climb, just like those stairs. Knowing God’s Word helps you face the world from His perspective – and that’s the one that counts!

How do you study God’s Word? Are you going for quality or quantity? Think about ways to improve your Bible study and you will find ways to improve your walk with God.

© 2008 Mary Beth Magee

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