I met my wife Lacy in the Summer of 2000. I was sitting in Sunday School class when she walked in the back door. She was the new girl, and I immediately knew I had to meet her. It wasn’t long after our initial meeting that we began dating. And during our courtship, I wanted to be with her as much as possible. I wanted to know everything about her. In fact, we were both so enamoured with one another, that we would email each other during the day when we were not together. We have three huge notebook binders filled with these love letters to this day. And the more I began to know about Lacy, the more intense my love for her grew.
And eleven years and four kids later, my love continues to grow for my wife. As with any marriage, we have had our ups and downs, but we never pass up opportunities to just spend time together. We never pass up opportunities to just talk, and to learn more about each other. I continue to pursue my wife, because I love her. And a passion for this pursuit of her creates a heart in me that loves her more each day.
But imagine for a moment that I told you that I love my wife, yet I didnt know much about her. Yeah, I knew the basics of where she was from and common knowledge about her, but I didnt know the deeper things of her heart. Worse than this, what if I told you I loved her, but I really hated spending time with her. What if I was totally honest and told you that it bored me to spend time with her, so therefore we would talk maybe once or twice a week. And even then, I had her on a stop watch as to the amount of time I had to endure being with her. What if I said to you, “I just dont have time to spend with my wife. Im so busy. But I am telling you that I love my wife.”
I would have just told you that I dont know much about her…..
That I have no desire to know the deeper things of her heart….
That I dont enjoy spending time with her…..
That she bores me……
That I intentionally spend time with her one a week…..
And that even then, I do it not half paying attention to her.
This sounds ironically much like the relationship between many Christians and Jesus. I have met so many people who will tell me that they love Jesus, yet their knowledge of him is no deeper than what they learned of him in their fifth grade Sunday School class. They say they love Jesus, but will also say that they are not much for reading their Bibles. They will say they love Jesus, but the only time they really spend with him is the times when they come to church. And even then, they are the very ones who are looking more at their watch and wondering when the service will end rather than seeking the Lord. But bless God, they love Jesus.
Here is a good way to put your love of Jesus to the test. Try loving your spouse the same way you love Jesus. If you are only in his word once or twice a week, then only spend time with your spouse once or twice a week. Most of us would be humbled very quickly. Ill make a very bold statement, that if you do not have a desire to know the deeper things of God, and if you do not hunger to be in his word daily, then you do not love Jesus. Because love is defined with passion. When you love someone, you make time for them. Not because you feel like you have to, but because you want to.
Having a great marriage is not hard, but it does require work. Just as knowing God is not hard, but it does require work. If you truly love God, then you will desire to spend time studying his word. Because in his word, he has written a love letter to us, and given us everything we need to know about him! Our love for him grows out of our devotion to seeking and knowing him through his word. Here is one of the biggest excuses that I hear from people as to justifying their lack of zeal for God.
I love Jesus, but I dont read the Bible because its hard for me to understand.
I remember when I would get a love note from Lacy. I would read it a hundred times, meditating on every word. Reading into the way she said things to determine what she was feeling or what she meant when she wrote it. I analysed her letters, because I love her and I wanted to know her. Yet when it comes to God, we mainly flip open our Bibles for one of three reasons. One, we are in church and we open our Bibles because everyone else is doing so. Two, we are looking for a passage of scripture that applies to our live to comfort us in some way. Or three, we feel bad because we haven’t been reading our Bibles, so we flip it open and being randomly reading for no reason other than so we can say we read our Bible that day.
I have a few problems with people who will say they dont read their Bibles because they dont understand what they read. To begin with, lets start with the heart. Always ask yourself, “Why am I reading the Bible?” Is it out of guilt? Is it because I want something out of it for me? Or is it truly because I want to know God more intimately? Our reasoning for reading Gods word should first and foremost be that we seek to know him in a real relationship.
Secondly, if you are someone who has used this excuse before, there are things to consider. First, how are you reading the Bible? Are you taking your time, meditating on the verses and really seeking to understand what they mean? You cannot read the Bible like you would skimming through the Sunday paper and expect to gain any depth to your understanding of God. There are also different translations that can easier than others to understand. My personal favorite is the English Standard Version. For a new Christian, I would even suggest getting a Bible translation called the Message, which is written in modern language and paraphrases harder parts of the Bible. But if you get The Message, I would reccomend reading this translation with one like the ESV opened as well.
As for where to start and how to read the Bible, I believe there is no better place to start than the book of John, which is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus. From there, I might go to one of the letter of Paul, such as Ephesians. You might even purchase a few Bible commentaries on a book of the Bible you are studying, to give you a deeper insight as to the historical significance of the verse, and a better understanding of what is being said. If you apply this level of dedication to reading the Bible, you will be amazed at the things you begin to learn about our God that you never realized.
If you really want to begin to study Gods word, here are some steps to take;
1. Find a Bible Translation that is easy for you to understand. (Again, I suggest an ESV version).
2. Choose a particular book of the Bible and begin to study it daily, working your way through verse by verse. (I suggest John).
3. Whatever book you choose to study, buy you a commentary to assist you in your study. (A perfect commentary is The Believers Commentary….Here is a direct link if you want to order) Believers Commentary Order
4. Get a notebook and journal DAILY the things that God is teaching you, referencing the scripture.
Also begin to look at the things you are filling your mind with. What in your life is fighting for your attention when it comes to God? A good starting point is what you read. If you can say you love reading worldly, tabloid magazines yet have no desire to read about God, it may be a good indication of your love or lack of love for God. It may be time to transform your mind, which does take work. So how do you do that.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”Romans 12:2.
Renewing your mind begins with changing the things you put into your mind. Let me preface this by saying, if you are a person who doesn’t read, then begin to read. Saying you want to know more about Jesus but you are not a reader is like saying you want to lose weight but you dont workout. A friend once told me he didnt read because big books were intimating. But did you realize that if you commit to reading just ten pages a day in a book, you can complete most books in a months time?
Along with this, it is important to make sure you what you are reading is of sound, biblical doctrine. Christian romance novels or books that can be known to stray from Biblical teachings such as “90 Minutes in Heaven”, or “The Shack”, will do very little to deepen your knowledge of God and even give you unbiblical information. Do some research on different authors. Ask your pastor about authors that will assist you in knowing God on a deeper level. Off the top of my head, some of my personal favorite authors are John Macarthur, John Piper, David Platt, Francis Chan, Voddie Baucham, Paul Washer, JD Greear, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Mark Dever, DA Carson, Tim Keller, Michael Horton, Randy Alcorn, JI Packer, and RC Sproul, just to name a few.
And aside from reading, if you desire to know God intimately, begin to love the church. Not just to go once a week so that you can check it off of your list of to do’s. Rather, get involved. Become connected through Bible Studies and volunteering to do ministry with the body of Christ. Spend time with your pastor and make it known to him that that you want to grow in the Lord, and that you wish to serve Jesus with your life.
This journey to seeking God more deeply through the church and personal devotion to scripture is only the very beginning of an abundant life in Christ. Because once you begin to know God, you being to know his mission, and his calling on the lives of his children. I honestly believe with all my heart that if someone tells me that church bores them, and the mission of Christ is not exciting to them, then they dont know the Jesus of the Bible. Because living radically for Jesus is an adventure that no Hollywood movie script could ever contain! The call for the children of God to go to the ends of the earth proclaiming Christ to those who do not know Him is the greatest privilege.
John Macarthur was once speaking to a room full of preachers, and he told them that out of all the presidents and celeberties on the planet, he was speaking to the most important people on the face of the earth. Because they were the ones that were soldiers in Gods mission. Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to give us life more abundantly in Him!! He called his disciples to radial abandonment of the things of this world! If that simply meant that they were to go to church once a week and never read their Bibles, how is that life giving or even radical?? We as believers were called to so much more!!
Going to church doesnt make you a Christian. Even reading your Bible doesn’t mean that you are a Christian. The overflow of what you are passionate about in your heart is the sign of your love for Christ. Here is what I am getting at. Read this passage of scripture below about two prostitutes. Both women had babies. In their sleep, one of the prostitutes rolled over on her baby and killed it accidentally. So she went and stole the other woman’s baby, and put her dead baby with the mother of the child she stole from. When the real mother awoke, she realized that the dead baby wasn’t hers, and so the two women each argued before the king that the living child belonged to them.
16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.
19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”
22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”
But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.
23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”
24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”
But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”
27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.” 1 Kings 3:16-27.
King Solomon realized the real mother not because of anything motherly she did, but because of the overflow of her heart. She was willing to give up her baby if it meant that the child would live. Again, you are not a Christian because of Christian type activities that you do. You are marked as a child of God because of the overflow of your heart, that you would sacrifice things such as your time, and even worldly pursuits not because you have to, but because you want to so that you may know Jesus better and that he may be glorified through your life! Just as King Solomon saw the true mothers overflow in her self denial, so King Jesus knows his children from their radical devotion and self denial in following Him. Not because they have to, but because they love him and want to.
Are you a child of God defined by false claims that you are a real child of God just as the prostitute claimed she was the real mother, all the while your hearts desires betray your profession of faith? Or can you honestly say that Jesus is the treasure of your life, and that you want to know him more greatly than anything this world has to offer? The call to follow Christ is great. But how much great is our reward in Heaven that the Father will lavish over his children…his children who loved him with the example of their lives. Dont just say that you love Jesus, mean it. Seek Christ with all your heart, and he promises that you will find him.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13.