What do you look for when you read the Bible?

What do you look for in the Bible

Many look for something to meet their current need. They are sad and want comfort. They have a problem they need help with. They feel lonely and unloved, and they need affirmation that God cares for them. They’re frightened and anxious and need to know God is in control and will take care of them.

Those aren’t wrong motives in themselves. The Bible does help and comfort us. God wants to meet our needs. But the Bible is so much more than a momentary fix.

We talked a couple of weeks ago about reading the Bible to foster our relationship with God. Part of getting to know God is learning truth about Him.

Most people don’t approach their time in the Bible eagerly wondering what doctrine they are going to learn that day. The word “doctrine” smacks of theological arguments, dry, dusty old books, and difficult academic language.

But what if we thought of doctrine as bedrock truth that helps us get to know God better and helps us live for Him?

Which is better?

To feel momentary relief from loneliness, or to be convinced beyond all doubt that God will never leave us or forsake us?

To question God’s handling of a situation, or to rest in the fact that the Judge of all the earth will always do right?

To struggle with feeling unloved and unworthy, or to remind ourselves that God has accepted us in Christ and has always dealt with us in grace, not according to what we deserve?

One way to mine the Bible for truth about God is to write down that truth as we come across it. Several years ago, Mardi Collier told her husband she wanted to get to know God better. He suggested she go through the psalms and write down every truth about God that she came across. As she came to a new truth, she’d write it across the top of a notebook page, and then list verses underneath as she found them. Some of the page titles focused on what kind of Person God is: My God is holy, My God is good, etc. Others shared God’s actions: My God hears me, My God is in control, and so on. Her study ended up covering the whole Bible and eventually became a book, What Do I Know About My God?

You may or may not want to do a full-fledged study like that. It would certainly be beneficial. But at the very least, the mindset shift of actively looking for truth rather than looking to the Bible as just a problem-solver, as something to make us feel better, or as just part of our routine for the day, will enrich our time in the Word and our relationship with God.

We still need to read the Bible, even when we feel we have a good grasp on particular truths. We’re forgetful. We need reminders and reinforcements. We can always learn truth more fully.

The better we get to know Him, the more we see Him as He truly is, the more we love Him, and the better we represent Him to others.

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34 thoughts on “What do you look for when you read the Bible?

  1. Hey Barbara, great thoughts, and I love this perspective. “But what if we thought of doctrine as bedrock truth that helps us get to know God better and helps us live for Him?”

    It’s a great reframe for when I’m in the middle of some of those more difficult books. Thank you for the reminder to keep studying His word and to keep growing!

  2. Barbara,
    This is why I need to be in the Bible everyday – especially on the “good” days. We need to drink in its truth during the “full” times so that we have something foundational to turn to when we are empty. Love the idea of going through the Psalms…
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  3. “What do I know about God” – you are so right – it would be such a good personal God study – I want to do that with Psalms!

  4. yes, good reminder to keep pressing in. honestly, we won’t every fully grasp any truths about God since He is far more than we can grasp. But so grateful for the Word of Truth that allows us to know Him more and more.

  5. It is amazing how God reminds me of Himself – who He is, what He does, and His faithfulness to His people whenever I open the pages of His Word. What a wonderful idea to go through the Psalms – something tells me I would never come out of the Psalms!

  6. This is a good topic! I am BEYOND grateful to have been raised in the church, where I was pretty much marinated in Bible stories, Bible verses, Biblical sermons, etc. from birth. Then reading the Bible from elementary school. It’s wonderful to have that rock-solid foundation to draw on throughout life.

  7. What a good idea, to write down each truth about God as we come to it in the Bible. I am reading through Psalms right now. I am going to try that method of study tonight. I often use a Psalm as a prayer when I run out of mu own words to pray.

  8. This is so great. I currently have a family member who is choosing to interpret God’s word to fit his narrative right now and it’s been so painful to watch. Reading it for truth’s sake and not to fit what we want is the better thing.

  9. Thanks for sharing this notebook approach. I can see that being very helpful. When it comes right down to it, the Bible is a book about God–no matter what else we try to make it do or say.

  10. I grew up in the church but I never read the bible until I was in my forties. It changed everything for me. It grew my relationship with God and that has made all the difference.

  11. When we look for God in the Bible, we will find him. He’s the goal. I grew up in a denomination that worshiped the Bible as much as God; it took me a few years to realize it was wrong to idolize the Bible over God. Thanks for helping us understand how to use the Bible to find God; he’s the treasure we’re looking for.

  12. “The mindset shift of actively looking for truth rather than looking to the Bible as just a problem-solver, as something to make us feel better” – I need to make more of a conscious effort for this shift. When I do, I find it so enriching but too easily I slip back into problem-solving mode.

  13. Thanks for this reminder to explore and adjust our motivation when approach the Bible! My takeaway: “We still need to read the Bible, even when we feel we have a good grasp on particular truths. We’re forgetful. We need reminders and reinforcements. We can always learn truth more fully.” Thanks!

  14. I love your perspective on this. I’ve also found that actually studying the Bible just to learn and know God leads to those truths becoming part of me

  15. Pingback: Take Off the Gloves! A Guide to Political and Other Discourse - Lauren Sparks

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