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Let me clarify what I mean. You’re reading this article full of my words. That’s great. And I’m thankful that you’re reading it. But imagine if you were meeting with me in a coffee shop, and we were interacting together about what I have written here.
Or, you could think about it this way. I have a family blog for our children. I’m producing that blog so my kids will have my words long after I am gone; I started journaling in 1994 for that purpose. Which would be better: to read my words after I’m gone or to interact with me about those stories?
Though a Bible study is essential and fantastic, you can take your Bible studying to another level by interacting personally with the Author of the Bible while you explore the Bible, and that is what I’m talking about here.
I know that when a person talks about how much time you spend with God that it can send echos of guilt through the soul. My goal here is not to provoke you for guilt-motivating purposes, so relax a bit. I want you to think about the difference that can exist between studying the Bible for personal, academic purposes versus exploring God’s Word academically while talking to the Author as you reflect upon His Words. So let me ask,
How much time are you spending with God and His Word?
I’m not talking about entering into a physical closet when you do this. I’m speaking of the “praying without ceasing” habit as you read and reflect upon God’s Words. There can be an other-worldly difference between doing devotions, reading the Bible, or going to a Bible study versus spending time with God and His Word, as I have described here.
Bible studies and devotions, as great as they can be, can turn into legalistic, “check this off my list” activities without Spirit-empowered intentionality. What began as the best, Spirit-filled intentions can lose its potency because it devolved more into a rote exercise than a real relationship.
Intentionally engaging God with His Word for personal application can ignite the soul, setting it ablaze as you cuddle with your Lord and His Word. Be a “cuddler” with your Father and His Words. Are you?
Are you a Spirit-filled, God-centered, Word-saturated cuddler?
Most folks who struggle with personal and relational issues in life do not have regular snuggle time with God. The Lord and His Words are a side item at best, or as I said, a rote exercise, not a real relationship. It is rare to counsel a person who saturates himself in God and His Word regularly.
But the happy soul who is saturating himself in the Lord during personal study is keeping in step with the Spirit. I’m talking about a side-by-side, praying without ceasing, enjoying a God at my elbow kind of life. Even when something knocks this person off his feet, he rebounds quickly because “the Lord was there” in their moment of sorrow.
In the middle of Joseph’s drama, it says in Genesis 39:20, “The Lord was with Joseph.” I love those five words. They are simply profound. The placing of the “with part” in the holy text was no accident. It speaks to an active God, but don’t miss that Joseph had an active relationship with his Maker, too.
The boy with a coat of many colors had a walking, talking, living, breathing, adventurous relationship with the Lord. God was big in his world, and everything else was smaller. If you are a Christian, God is “with you,” too, but are you “with God?”
As you care for others, you will begin to see a pattern that many of them do not have a reciprocal with Joseph, with God relationship. God may be with them because they belong to Him, but their affections are “with” something else. They have yet to embrace the “God is with me” lifestyle practically, reciprocally.
Carefully discern what I’m teaching here when caring for those within your sphere of influence. If the struggling soul is not snuggling with their greatest love, you want to make a courageous and compassionate appeal for them to return to the Lord.